News Views: Make the best of ALR decision

City of Pitt Meadows has an opportunity to make best use of land

Many are undoubtedly pleased with the Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to approve removal of 33 hectares of land from the agricultural reserve to allow development of a road shopping mall.

Led by the City of Pitt Meadows, the application was made to improve farming conditions by removing heavy traffic from Old Dewdney Trunk Road and funneling it through what will be the North Lougheed Connector, linking Golden Ears Way with Harris Road and Lougheed Highway.

Those who favour the decision will be glad that this side of the Pitt River will get another shopping mall to complement the two on the south side of the Lougheed Highway. A new mall will keep more shopping dollars in the community and spare residents having to drive outside to spend their money, some say.

From one perspective, it’s a win for two groups.  Pitt Meadows gets a road it couldn’t afford to build, instead relying on the mall developer to do so as a condition of development.

Maple Ridge commuters win as well because their toll-free drive west, will become quicker, at least in theory. With all the traffic directed to Harris Road, that intersection will need several millions of taxpayers dollars for upgrading if gridlock is to be avoided. Who pays for that?

Pitt Meadows council also has to think of its future and set aside space for a transit hub, future light rail and a long-discussed convention centre. Instead of short-term road projects that gobble millions, think long-term and plan for mass transit.

The big loss though is to farmland and the future. Although the ALC denied the proposal in Albion in Maple Ridge, why can’t the former Pelton tree nursery lands just to the east in Maple Ridge, now be excluded as well? Why stop there?

– The News