Fraser Valley mayors eye more ALR land for industry

Warehouses, manufacturers shifting east for cheaper property, while cities want new employers to add local jobs

A portion of the huge Gloucester industrial park in northeastern Langley Township

A portion of the huge Gloucester industrial park in northeastern Langley Township

Some mayors in the Fraser Valley are hoping to pull more farmland out of the Agricultural Land Reserve to serve as industrial sites that can provide more local jobs.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, speaking to a business forum hosted by the Urban Development Institute, said his city expects a decision soon on the removal from the ALR of about 300 acres in west Abbotsford for a new business park adjacent to Langley’s Gloucester Industrial Estates.

“That will mean an additional 4,500 employment jobs,” Braun told the audience of realtors and developers Thursday in Langley.

He said Abbotsford has seen a surge in demand for industrial development – the city is now weighing applications to build 550,000 square feet of new industrial floor space.

Incoming businesses tend to be in manufacturing or warehousing, Braun said, and are typically relocating from higher cost locations in Metro Vancouver.

Mission Mayor Randy Hawes told the forum his municipality also sees potential to remove land from the ALR for industrial use, including an 80-acre property Scott Paper used to grow cottonwood trees but no longer needs.

“We believe that could come out of the ALR and we’re quite confident that it can. That would provide a considerable number of jobs.”

Hawes said he also expects a buyer to emerge before long for the former Genstar lands in southwest Mission, which could house up to 10,000 homes. It’s considered the largest piece of developable urban-designated land in the Lower Mainland but has been in limbo since Genstar Development Co. abandoned plans to develop in B.C.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said an application to pull land in Albion out of the ALR is also being reconsidered by the farmland commission.

She said Maple Ridge strongly supports local agriculture and is committed to regional food security goals.

“But we need to be realistic about what’s happening on our agricultural land and start a new conversation about some of the other potential things we could be doing with it,” Read said.

She cited city concerns with numerous fragmented parcels of farmland where people build homes and do nothing related to agriculture, as well as a large medical marijuana plant on agricultural land.

“We would like to see more industrial land strategically positioned within Maple Ridge in areas where we just really don’t think there’s going to be a farm use.”

Surrey is also a major destination for industrial developers that can no longer find suitable land in Burnaby and Vancouver, the forum heard.

Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese said one of the innovative new industries that’s popped up in his area is a firm that feeds organic food waste to black soldier flies, and uses the protein-rich fly maggots to produce animal feed for farms.

In an interview after the meeting, Froese said he would also welcome some restructuring of the ALR to allow more logical development and make farming more feasible, with no net loss for agriculture.

“In Langley, we’ve got some areas where it’s almost a patchwork quilt, we’ve got ALR intermingled with urban,” he said. “It would certainly be nice to do some tradeoffs – take some ALR land out and put some other land that’s not in the ALR back in.”

Transit improvements urged

Mayors from Maple Ridge to Chilliwack told the forum they want to see transit improved for their residents, and have service better integrated between the TransLink system in Metro Vancouver and cities further east in the Valley.

Mission’s Randy Hawes said he expects TransLink to soon increase the $750,000 his municipality pays each year for West Coast Express commuter train service, adding he would like to see other Fraser Valley cities contribute.

“West Coast Express is, in my belief, a regional transportation service, yet Mission pays 100 per cent of the cost outside the TransLink area.”

A provincial freeze on funding for B.C. Transit has also blocked any improvement in local bus service for Fraser Valley communities, Hawes said.

“The growth is moving east at a pretty rapid rate,” he said. “We need to build a transportation system that works.”

Langley Township’s Jack Froese said he was disappointed by the defeat of the Metro Vancouver referendum on a regional sales tax to expand transit.

Nicole Read said it was a “difficult decision” when she opposed the referendum but continues to press for a rapid bus service connecting Maple Ridge to the Evergreen Line, which by next year will extend SkyTrain as far northeast as Coquitlam.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ashley Durance, seen here on Nov. 25, 2020 with her four-year-old daughter Hazel, recently released The Adventures of Mabel Mouse. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack cancer patient writes children’s book inspired by daughter with medical complexities

Ashley Durance released ‘The Adventures of Mabel Mouse’ the day before her daughter’s fourth birthday

LEFT: Krista Macinnis, with a red handprint across her face that symbolizes the silencing of First Nations people, displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
RIGHT: Abbotsford School District Kevin Godden says the district takes responsibility for the harm the assignment caused.
Abbotsford school district must make amends for harmful residential school assignment: superintendent

‘The first step is to unreservedly apologize for the harm … caused to our community’: Kevin Godden

A new Sardis secondary school logo designed by a former student, Jason Roberts. (Facebook photo)
Chilliwack’s Sardis secondary unveils new logo done in Coast Salish style

The new-look Falcon is meant strengthen connections between Indigenous students and their school

Elissa McLaren broke her left elbow in the Sept. 20, 2020 collision. (Submitted)
Victims of fatal crash on Prest Road in Chilliwack asking for help leading up to Christmas

‘This accident has taken a larger toll financially, mentally and physically than originally intended’

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld (left) and former BCTF president Glen Hansman (right).
BC Court of Appeal left to walk tightrope of freedom of expression in Neufeld-Hansman case

Is defamation lawsuit aimed at stifling free expression or does the defamation hinder free speech?

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)
COVID-19 tickets: No, RCMP aren’t checking vehicle occupancies, restaurant tables

Enforcement about education, not punishment says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Most Read