The land commission has decided that two pieces of farmland in Albion will remain in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Two property owners, the Wynnyk family and the Ducharme family, asked the Agricultural Land Commission to exclude their land from the land reserve citing drainage problems.
Both applications were rejected, but the commission did concur that the "agricultural suitability problems encountered by the applicants are real," and that the District of Maple Ridge "must ensure that the problems are remedied and agricultural suitability is restored."
While it's taken about a year to get answers back on the two applications, Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he doesn't regret putting them in because "we can't, or others in the community can't, second guess [what might have happened]."
Staff are trying to get a report for Monday's council workshop on the Albion Flats issue now that the decisions have been made.
Daykin said he hopes the next step - putting in an exclusion application for the lands on the southeast side of 105th Avenue - will get done by the end of the year.
"I hope that's doable," he added.
Daykin said with this decision, the District can "chart a course and move on" with planning how the Albion Flats will be developed.
In December 2011, the ALC sent comments to the District of Maple Ridge about a draft concept plan that included a large retail development on the northwest side of 105th Avenue.
The ALC came to the conclusion that the land was "suitable for agricultural use
and is appropriately designated as ALR." However, the land on the southeast side was "of very limited interest to agriculture."
About half a year later after these comments were received, SmartCentres suggested to the District that it swap its land with land owned by the District on the southeast side where the ALC has indicated it might entertain an exclusion.
The District is currently in discussions with SmartCentres about a land swap, and reports and studies are being done on the drainage problems and agricultural remediation, said Darrell Denton with the Economic Development Office.
"It's a very complex process," he said about the land swap.
Last week's decision from the ALC cited "inadequately serviced urban development" as causing the drainage problems in the Albion Flats.
Last week, the ALC said it would allow the City of Pitt Meadows to exclude land north of Lougheed Highway east of Harris Road on the condition that a road is built to ease traffic for farmers.
Daykin pointed out that both Maple Ridge with its drainage problems and Pitt Meadows needing a road are going to need significant investment. "Neither one is going to be cheap," Daykin said.
@ Copyright 2013