Maple Ridge city council is embarking on a works project that could make the million dollar bicycle path to nowhere along the Lougheed Highway, between 216th Street and Laity Street, seem like a bargain in comparison.
I like to think of it as the ‘Golden Road’ to Silver Valley.
The plan to upgrade 232nd Street to urban standards has been in the city’s long range capital plans for several years, but the possible cost hasn’t drawn much attention or comment.
If approved, the cost of upgrading of 232nd Street from 132nd Avenue to Silver Valley Road will eclipse other similar projects by hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars before the work is completed sometime in 2018.
In 2016, city council approved hiring McElhanney Consulting Services to complete a conceptual design for the project.
City council is now considering the expenditure of up to $282,000 to prepare preliminary and detailed designs for the proposal, which is included in the long range capital plans with a price tag of $5.7 million.
The work will entail upgrading 232nd Street to a two-lane arterial standard in a configuration that includes pedestrian and cyclist safety and some parking. The plan will also require the re-location of an equestrian trail that utilizes a section of that portion of 232nd Street.
The west side of the street will include a divided pedestrian/cycling path, while the east side of the street will include a pathway. The pathways will be also separated by barricades from the roadway.
Aside from these elements, pending a review of the proposal by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources, a re-design of the intersection of 232nd Street and 132nd Avenue could also be required and may add to the overall cost.
Frank Quinn, Maple Ridge general manager of public works and development services, agreed that the project will be costly, but added that probably more than 90 per cent of the total cost will come from development cost charges collected from development in Silver Valley.
Quinn added that the project design and construction will deal with some challenging topographical and environmental constraints.
The difficult terrain in Silver Valley was one of the reasons that it was designated as Urban Reserve 2 in the original official community plan in the early 1980s. In that early document, the south side of Thornhill was designated Urban Reserve 1.
In addition, prior to the change in the designation of the two urban reserves, the official community plan called for substantial infill in the existing urban area prior to expansion to the urban reserves to avoid ugly urban sprawl.
That sprawl became inevitable when the boundaries of the existing urban area were moved east from 240th Street to the base of Thornhill, thus allowing the development of thousands of small single family lots, which still lack adequate schools, commercial development and recreational facilities.
Despite practical original planning considerations, the urban reserve designations were switched more than 30 years ago and development began in Silver Valley, which, much like the Albion area, still lacks schools, commercial areas or recreational opportunities.
While the main cost of the ‘Golden Road’ to Silver Valley will be paid through development cost charges to the Silver Valley area, the worth of the official community plan and the accompanying amendment processes has been proven flawed and cannot be relied upon by potential home purchasers or developers.
Although the original Silver Valley plan, which had required the approval of regional and provincial authorities, had called for schools, it now appears highly unlikely that schools will ever be built there without huge costs.
It’s definitely a high price to pay for those wonderful views.
– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.