A decision on pulling out land from the agricultural land reserve in Albion has been pushed forward until at least March.
Two applications by private property owners are pending on the northwest side of 105th Avenue, and a land swap deal between mall developer SmartCentres and the District of Maple Ridge is currently being negotiated.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said it's "frustrating" waiting for movement on the Albion Flats.
"The shovels going into the ground seem to be getting further and further out," Daykin said.
As council, however, they work as the "facilitator" to attract retail to the area. After rezoning a parcel of land, someone still needs to come forward to build a mall and people need to fill the mall, Daykin said, citing the expression "retail follows roofs."
There's a need for a "critical mass" of people for schools, shopping, and transit, he said.
In December 2011, the Agricultural Land Commission, which decides whether land can come out of the agricultural land reserve or not, stated that the northwest side of 105th Avenue in Albion would most likely not be considered for exclusion from the ALR.
This land is largely owned by SmartCentres and other private property owners. Last June,
SmartCentres approached Maple Ridge council and asked to swap the fairgrounds land, adjacent to which they have a 10-acre parcel, for their land on the northwest side of 105th Avenue, which the ALC has indicated is still viable for agriculture.
Discussions are ongoing with SmartCentres on the details of a land swap, said Frank Quinn, general manager of public works and development with the District.
If the District decides to go ahead with the land swap, two applications will have to go to the ALC: one from SmartCentres for non-farm use on their land on the northeast side of 105th Avenue so the fairgrounds can be moved there; and a block application from the District to remove the properties, including Planet
Ice, the current fairgrounds, the SmartCentre's parcel, and parcels owned by several other parties, from the southeast side of 105th Avenue so that shopping can be developed.
Despite the ALC's comments, applications by the Wynnyks and the Ducharmes were forwarded by council in the fall to the ALC.
Because this decision has been pushed forward, Daykin said he would like the District to start preliminary work on an application to remove land on the southeast side of 105th Avenue, as it might eventually be developed for shopping.