News Views: No means maybe?

Council's reversal on Albion flats threatens to delay things yet again

“No tilt-up warehouse-type shopping centres” on that Albion flats, has been Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin’s battle cry for a few years now.

Yes, he realizes that many people want more shopping to come to the District of Maple Ridge, perhaps second only to Mission for its rural rusticness.

No, Maple Ridge’s character will not be sold out. Coyotes, evergreens and salmon will continue to be a part of the district’s character.

Council’s decision to allow a private application to remove land from the west side of 105th Avenue at Lougheed Highway for development is really testing the resolve and goodwill of the Agricultural Land Commission.

Councillors say they had an obligation to the community to approve that application, essentially giving land owners carte blanche to put forward any proposal they want.

The fact one of the major landholders on the west side has partnered with Genstar Dev. further adds to the confusion and concern.

Council has said repeatedly it wouldn’t consider removing land from the ALR for suburbs. Yet Genstar, if anything, is a suburb specialist. Its website shows no commercial developments. Are more homes in the boggy, floodplain of Albion flats what council has in mind? Then why the blank cheque given to the two landowners by allowing these applications?

And how will the commission itself react to such an application. The commission has spent several hours doing an in-depth of the district’s plan for developing all of Albion flats and said in simple terms – no development on the west side. Keep that for farming it said.

And what did the District of Maple Ridge do?

Exactly the opposite.

It should have heeded the land commission’s advice, as the mayor said he would in December. Instead, two months later, a reversal, a contradiction.

The east side of 105th Avenue may not offer a development of a scope that the west side would allow. But council has just heard from the ALC rejecting the option. What part of ‘no’ doesn’t it understand?

Council’s decision has again dazed and confused debate about the Albion flats and will prolong yet again any resolution of this divisive, long-simmering issue.

– The News

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