A controversial proposal to develop a Burns Bog-adjacent property for light industrial use has moved a step closer to becoming a reality.
In a decision dated Aug. 3, the Agricultural Land Commission’s South Coast panel approved MK Delta Lands Group’s proposal to exclude its 62.7 ha (155 ac) property at 7969 Hwy. 91 Connector (referred to by the panel as Property 1), located just west of the Nordel Interchange, from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The panel also signed off on adding MK Delta’s 78.1 ha (193 ac) property at 7007 Hwy. 91 (referred to by the panel as Property 2), located on the western side of the highway adjacent to the 72nd Avenue interchange, to the ALR.
The project has been referred to the ALC’s executive committee for final approval but no date has been set.
MK Delta’s plan is to develop Property 1 into nine lots between 9 and 25 acres in size, to be used as logistics centres or for light manufacturing.
In exchange for developing Property 1, MK Delta proposed to transfer ownership of three nearby parcels of land to the Corporation of Delta to protect them from further development.
Those plots include Property 2, a 6.1 ha (89.2 ac) property at 10770 72nd Ave. (located at the southeast corner of the 72nd Avenue/Hwy. 91 interchange) and an 18.5 ha (45.6 ac) sliver of “buffer” land adjoining Property 1 to the south.
MK Delta’s application was given third reading and provisional approval by Delta council on July 26, 2016.
The proposed development has drawn the ire of environmental groups and many Delta residents due to its potential impact on Burns Bog and several vulnerable species of wildlife.
The ALC panel concluded both Properties 1 and 2 had a similar agricultural capability, noting that cranberry production would be the most suitable use for either. However, it found that doing so on Property 1 would be “unreasonably difficult” due to the damage done by decades of peat extraction. Similar damage to Property 2 was not as extensive.
The panel also ruled out the Corporation’s plan to add Property 2 to the Burns Bog Ecological Conservation Area.
“The panel finds that the placement of a covenant that restricts agriculture is not appropriate for a parcel within the ALR as it would preclude any future remediation and development of Property 2 for agricultural use,” the decision says. “For this reason, the panel is opposed to a restrictive covenant, and requires that any rezoning or future [official community plan] re-designation of Property 2 must not prohibit agricultural uses.”
Delta must also seek approval from the ALC before rezoning the property or amending the applicable community plan.
“That’s their policy, not allowing agricultural land into conservancies, and so we’re fine with that,” Delta CAO George Harvie told the Reporter. “But we’re the owners and so we still have the right to farm it or not to farm it.”
If the ALC’s executive committee gives the plan its blessing, the proposal must next gain the approval of Metro Vancouver’s regional planning advisory committee and board before returning to Delta council for final consideration.
MK Delta’s property at 10770 72nd Ave is also the subject of a development application that has been put on hold pending the outcome of the Property 1 proposal. It includes a maximum of 1,100 housing units (640 apartment units and 450 townhouse units), up to 12,077 square metres (130,000 square feet) of ground-oriented retail/commercial space, and 14 ha (35 ac) for open space, parks and stormwater retention.
That project has been on hold since January, 2015.