Abbotsford asked for the exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve of 200 hectares of land in Bradner and north of Abbotsford International Airport.

Abbotsford asked for the exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve of 200 hectares of land in Bradner and north of Abbotsford International Airport.

Farmland-for-industry plan not dead, Abbotsford mayor says

Council won’t ask ALC to reconsider their latest rejection of exclusion request

The City of Abbotsford won’t ask the Agricultural Land Commission to reconsider its request to remove farmland from the ALR in order to provide more room for industry. But Mayor Henry Braun warned that it’s unlikely that residents will have seen the last of the controversial proposal.

Council recently agreed with staff’s recommendation that the city not seek to have the matter re-opened before a one-year deadline to seek reconsideration closes later this month. Staff deemed that there was no new evidence that could have gotten the ALC to overturn their rejection of the city’s application. Rather, the city would be better off submitting, at some point in the future, a new application that would “be informed by the priorities of the day for the city and the province, staff wrote in their report. Coun. Patricia Ross, who had voted against the original application, also voted against Monday’s motion.

“I am supportive of keeping this open and this will come back, I predict, at some point, if not for this council then a future council to deal with,” Braun said.

The NDP government has said that the protection of the Agricultural Land Reserve is a priority, and the ALC said last year that the lands in question could be farmed and should remain in the ALR. But the province continues to review its agricultural policies, along with those governing land in the ALR.

RELATED: No industrial development on Abbotsford farmland, ALC tells city

RELATED: ALR decision aftermath: Bradner residents consider election action; mayor disappointed

The city had asked in 2017 for the removal of around 200 hectares of land from the ALR to accommodate future industrial growth. The land was located in two blocks – one north of Abbotsford International Airport, the other in Bradner, north of Highway 1 and adjacent to the Township of Langley and another industrial park. The city had argued that the supply of industrial lands in Abbotsford and across the region was quickly diminishing and that those lands that did remain were mostly incapable of serving large regional-sized industrial businesses.

But many people disagreed and the issue was the most contentious that came before council during its last four-year term. Dozens spoke in opposition at a 2017 public hearing prior to the application’s submission. Bradner residents worried that the removal of land on the western border of Abbotsford would dramatically change their neighbourhood. Many others spoke about the need to protect farmland and green space in Abbotsford.

Both blocks of land had been the subject of previous failed ALR exclusion requests.

Braun said he has been asked why the lands in question continue to be targeted for exclusion. He noted the lands have been included in the Fraser Valley Regional District’s growth strategy since 2004, and said there simply aren’t many other areas where industrial development is possible.

“We need to keep our options open,” he said. “There are no industrial lands that we can look at that are not in the ALR.”

Farming might be possible on those lands targeted for exclusion, but he said the inputs required to make it so are only increasing as the region’s climate changes.

And if the province is serious about protecting the very best agricultural land in the province – such as that on the Matsqui and Sumas prairies – he said barring the building of large homes while permitting processing facilities with concrete foundations doesn’t make much sense.

“We’re taking, in some places, some of the best land in Sumas/Matsqui prairie out of production in favour of processing plants.”

He added that the region’s changing climate may also be making the farming of those marginal plots more difficult.

“We need more industrial lands and agriculture itself is changing. The farming community needs access to lands for processing,” he said. “I happen to think that processing plants on prime agricultural lands is the wrong place to be. There should be some kind of agri-industrial land available to put those plants on.”

MORE TOP STORIES: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from Abbotsford pig farm, SPCA says


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Several Abbotsford citizens and athletes have participated in the SOBC’s Polar Plunge fundraiser campaign. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford residents taking the Polar Plunge for SOBC

Local Michelle Hill jumping into Albert Dyck Park on Saturday, several others also taking part

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

Last year’s Gift of Love Gala for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice was held Feb. 29, 2020 at Abbotsford Centre. The 2021 version goes virtual. (File photo by Lindsay Elliott)
Gift of Love Gala for Canuck Place goes virtual for 2021

Event normally held in Abbotsford each year takes place online on Feb. 27

A conceptual drawing shows the plans for a new transit exchange on Montrose Avenue, looking north from McDougall Avenue.
City of Abbotsford seeks federal funding for Montrose transit exchange

BC Transit to apply for grant to cover 80% of estimated $5.2 million cost

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

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

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

‘She very clearly had some form of control over that vehicle,’ Crown argues

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read