The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) wants Maple Ridge to look at improving soil conditions in the Albion Flats.
This is the latest requirement added to a growing list of preconditions already before the District of Maple Ridge in its quest to pull land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve for retail development.
The ALC recently sent negative decisions to two property owners on the northwest side of 105th Avenue who were trying to have their land excluded from the land reserve, citing drainage problems.
But the report also stated chromium levels on the 23451 105th Ave. property, owned by the Wynnyk family, are "unacceptably high."
This gave the District a definitive answer on developing on that side of 105th Avenue, and now the plan is to submit a block application for several properties on the southeast side, where Planet Ice and the fairgrounds are currently located.
In its decision to the two property owners, the commission indicated that the agricultural problems, namely drainage problems, were "primarily from inadequately serviced urban development," and that the "ultimate responsibility for ensuring adequate urban development servicing lies with the local government."
The commission added that the District, in consultation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, "is in a position to ensure that the problems are remedied and agricultural suitability is restored."
Comments from the ALC in 2011 indicated that the commission might entertain pulling land out of the ALR on the southeast side of 105th Avenue, but this would be conditional on certain improvements: a review of drainage and streamflow conditions, a traffic study, an agricultural remedial action plan, and consultation with Fisheries and Oceans.
Tony Pellett, regional planner with the ALC, said the commission has been "in discussions" with Maple Ridge for years about the drainage issues on the Albion Flats.
"The commission would like to see it made suitable for farming again," Pellett said.
District staff hope to put in the block application in the fall or winter.
@ Copyright 2013