Council denies agri-centre project

A proposal to move agricultural equipment dealers to east Abbotsford was defeated by council on Monday

The city has denied a plan to consolidate agricultural equipment dealers in Abbotsford.

A proposal to move agricultural equipment dealers to east Abbotsford was defeated by council on Monday, with opposed councillors citing the location outside the city’s urban development boundary and lack of support from local First Nations on the culturally significant site as reasons for opposition.

But John Glazema, managing director of the proponent Corpus Management Group (CMG), expressed regret at the city’s rejection of the “40-plus million dollar project affecting long-term farm and agricultural equipment dealers in Abbotsford.”

The project had support from professors at the University of the Fraser Valley, the Chamber of Commerce, the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association and many local farmers.

The current locations of some dealers on Sumas Way causes congestion and traffic issues and one local dealer which CMG said had interest in moving to the site, Prairie Coast Equipment, has already left the community.

But at a public hearing held on Nov. 3, many neighbouring residents spoke against allowing the project in the rural residential area on 33-acres at the intersection of Atkinson and Eldridge roads.

Neighbours had concerns about the potential impact on traffic, the project’s location outside the city’s urban development boundary, the lack of services to the area, and the need to respect sites significant to the Sto:lo First Nation.

City staff had also recommended denying the project when it came forward, as the city would be unable to provide industrial-level water supply service, sewer and fire protection.

As the city has yet to grow into the area residentially, staff said that the city is years away from understanding the long-term residential needs of the area and the project could alter future development capacities in the area.

Coun. Dave Loewen said as the official community plan (OCP) is being updated and future development is still being mapped out, he didn’t think the project “is in the best interest of our future plans.”

He also had questions about the city’s consultation with the Sumas First Nation with regard to the project and said there is no agreement currently in place between the Sumas band and CMG.

A letter from Sumas Chief Dalton Silver, which was included in the proposal report, identifies the site as being used as a mass burial site for Sto:lo people killed in the 18th century small pox epidemic. The site is also home to a culturally significant “lightning rock.”

Silver said that due to the potentially adverse impacts, they rejected the plan.

But a CMG representative at the public hearing said they would not proceed without the consent of the Sumas First Nation. In a CMG new release, Glazema said CMG has had extensive discussions and meetings with First Nations and retained independent archeologists and consultants to find resolutions to the issues.

At the council meeting, Coun. Patricia Ross said the archeological significance of the site “is far more significant than we were led to believe.”

Ross said she felt they were led to believe the neighbours were on board, but at the public hearing that was not the case.

Coun. John Smith said the lack of city services to the site is an issue, but will be taken on by the developer. He said approving the project would be conditional approval and many needs would still have to be met, including an agreement with First Nations groups.

After some discussion, Couns. Loewen, Ross, Henry Braun, Bill MacGregor and Moe Gill opposed the project. Couns. Smith, Les Barkman and Mayor Bruce Banman were in favour.

Glazema said that CMG has tried for many years to find a suitable location for farm equipment dealers and will continue to work with existing dealers to find an improved locations in the Fraser Valley.

“This is very unfortunate for the agricultural industry in Abbotsford, particularly in the context of having the highest unemployment rate in B.C. and Western Canada.”

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

Just Posted

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at Abbotsford border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

UFV to launch Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford

Online event on Sept. 24 features keynote speaker Bob Rae and Steven Point

UFV wrestler Jason Bains receives four-year suspension for using banned substance

Surrey native tests positive for oral steroid Turinabol, silver national medal removed for violation

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

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

Mother-daughter charged in 2017 torched-SUV killing in South Surrey now allowed contact

Judge grants Manjit Kaur Deo permission to connect with Inderdeep Kaur Deo through a lawyer

Most Read