Thursday, May 29, 2014

Application to excluded 50 acres of farmland in Aldergrove

When it comes to getting land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Township of Langley, it appears that if you are persistent enough, you will succeed. The perfect example is the Wall Financial single-family housing project which is now part of the “University District”.

For many years, the Township of Langley has been trying to exclude land from the Agricultural Land Reserve around Aldergrove. The Township’s justification is that there currently isn’t enough space to make Aldergrove a viable town centre. In 1996, the Township applied to the Agricultural Land Commission to exclude a swath of land around Aldergrove from the Reserve, but was denied.

In the latest regional growth strategy, the Township was able to get Metro Vancouver to expand the Urban Growth Boundary around Aldergrove. While this land is now approved by Metro Vancouver for urban development, much of it remains protected within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

One land owner in Aldergrove has been trying to exclude 50 acres from the Agricultural Land Reserve for over a decade. The land is located along the southeastern edge of Aldergrove. The Agricultural Land Commission denied the application for exclusion in 2001, 2006, and 2010.

2620 272 Street, the site of an application to exclude 50 acres of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The land owner is once again trying to get this land excluded from the Reserve. With supportive policies in place from the Township of Langley and Metro Vancouver, the only barrier to the conversion of farmland to housing is the Agricultural Land Commission. To sweeten the deal, the owner is proposing to apply to the Land Commission to include 26 acres of land near Dewdney in Maple Ridge, and contribute money to the Township’s Agricultural Benefit Contribution fund. It will be interesting to see what the Land Commission says about the revised proposal by the land owner.

With continued and relentless pressure to urbanize farmland in Metro Vancouver, a strong Agricultural Land Commission is needed to protect the region from itself. With the provincial government's overhaul of the Agricultural Land Reserve, I only hope that is does not open the floodgates to development of farmland in our region.

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