News Views: Let’s make a (good) deal

Thoughts on the rejection of an exclusion application filed by landowners in Albion

Maple Ridge council has been told, for a third time, that the Agricultural Land Commission will maintain the area west (or north) of 105th Avenue, at Lougheed Highway, in the agricultural reserve, while it will consider proposals for the east side of 105th Avenue, for non-farm uses, such as shopping, recreation or light industry.

The decision came last week in response to two applications for the west side of Albion flats to exclude land from the agricultural reserve.

After two decisions and a costly four-year delay, presumably the district now will focus on the 100 acres east of 105th Avenue in the general area of the Albion fairgrounds that hold rich potential.

Council is correct in recognizing it needs a willing partner before anything is built.

It has that in Smart Centres mall company which wants to swap its land on the west side of 105th Avenue, with the district’s land on the east, resulting in 27 acres for mall development. That can be a catalyst to kickstart other projects, such as a light industrial or high-tech park.

Whatever is built though has to be way better than another strip mall. Mayor Ernie Daykin has said many times he doesn’t want “tilt-up” buildings in Albion flats.

So now, with the district holding the advantage, it’s time to work out a deal that meets the highest standards of mixed-use development.

A given,  is that any mall-related road and traffic improvements are the developer’s responsibility.  Minimum requirements are transit facilities and state-of-the art pedestrian and cycling links between Albion flats and a fragile downtown.

If Smart Centres will pay for a new road in Pitt Meadows, council has to ensure it makes a similar investment Maple Ridge.

– The News