The City of Abbotsford request to have about 200 hectares of land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve to accommodate future industrial growth has been denied.
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) delivered its decision to the city Friday, according to documents now available online.
In the decision, the ALC says the lack of available industrial land in the region isn’t sufficient reason to allow non-farm uses on the two blocks of land. One of the blocks was located in Bradner, just north of Highway 1 adjacent to Langley Township; the other was situated just north of Abbotsford International Airport.
At a public hearing last summer, the proposal drew opposition from dozens of Bradner residents, along with others who called for the protection of farmland and greenspace in Abbotsford. Some spoke in favour of the proposal, and there was more support for the removal of the lands north of the airport, despite the fact those properties were more commonly used for active farming.
In February, Mayor Henry Braun said he wasn’t confident that the ALC would rule in Abbotsford’s favour, noting statements by the NDP about the need to protect and preserve farmland. While the ALC is independent, Braun said at the time: “The panel members read the newspaper and listen to the six o’clock news too.”
In its decision, the ALC wrote:
“The Executive Committee appreciates that the Applicant has completed a three-part Industrial Land Supply Study and that Special Study Area A and Special Study Area B were identified in this study as having a high potential to accommodate future industrial growth in Abbotsford. Although the Applicant submits that there is a “dwindling supply of industrial land in Metro Vancouver and [that] major industrial parks in the Lower Mainland [are] nearing capacity”, it is not the role of the Commission to solve this supply issue.
“To address the Applicant’s submission that the Proposal would allow the City of Abbotsford to provide employment opportunities for a growing population, the Commission previously agreed to the exclusion of 180 ha of ALR land within the City of Abbotsford for the purpose of accommodating industrial uses as part of the City in the Country Plan (CIP), of which only 50 ha have been excluded to date. Although the Application identifies constraints regarding the industrial use of the remaining 130 ha of the CIP lands, the Executive Committee does not find this to be sufficient rationale to support the exclusion of additional ALR lands for industrial uses, and furthermore, the Executive Committee finds that agricultural lands can also generate employment opportunities.”
Check back for reaction from the city and Bradner residents. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your say.