Last week Mayor [Ernie] Daykin announced that because of the ALC decision on the Albion lands, the District of Maple Ridge is negotiating a complicated property transfer with SmartCentres, which is a huge real estate development company, usually housing Wal-Marts.
Talk about a cat and a canary.
Although my mind is a little hazy, I think we are talking about 300 acres, give or take, with 105th Avenue running down the middle.
These lands used to be in the Albion diking district and are located roughly between Super Dave's car dealership and 240th Street.
Back then, the land was productively farmed, which was made possible because a diking district was formed and pumps were installed to control the water level.
This land is what we call a "flood plain," because it FLOODS! As development happened in the drainage basin, the diking district couldn't keep up with the increased runoff, and eventually the District of Maple Ridge allowed the diking district to go bankrupt. And the land went fallow.
Mayor Daykin knows this history well and used to be one of the biggest critics of the District in dealing with their responsibility for the "south" Albion lands located south of the CP Rail tracks, one of the "forgotten industrial lands."
Interestingly, the current Albion plan is silent on the "south" Albion lands. Ernie's got some explaining to do.
The land, which we are calling the "west side," would usually be under water every year. Some of the land on what we are calling the "east side" only once a century.
With global warming a reality, we know these Albion lands will likely be under water in the foreseeable future.
If the intensity of the storm that caused the Bow River in Alberta to wipe out the city of High River and shut down Calgary should hit Maple Ridge, not only will these 300 acres be under water, likely the highlands of Pitt Meadows will be close to being an island again.
What is truly sad here, is that originally the land in downtown Maple Ridge, roughly where the ACT is located today, was donated to the District on the condition that it be used for the annual agriculture fair as well as other community events.
Along the way the District ended up finding a way to move the spirit of the donation to the flood plain and a 17-acre farm in Albion on the "east side."
So, at this stage, I guess we've got the local agricultural association somehow having a major and undefined role in this project. But again, I digress. At this point, shouldn't we be more visionary and make a plan to densify the development in 20 acres in conjunction with an overpass, transit, and ALRT station, and by using "density transfer" return 250 acres to agriculture land and maybe some sport fields.
The history of the municipality's bureaucracy in dealing with property projects is dismal.
I think it is currently: Municipality 0 - Disasters 7. Every one of those disasters had to be cleaned up with taxpayers' money.
If I was allowed, I could personally attest to a couple of them.
So watch your wallet! Just saying... Gordy Robson's column appears Tuesdays in the print and/or online versions of The TIMES. Reactions can be emailed c/o email@example.com
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