The fate of two large blocks of farmland will be the subject of what may be a contentious public hearing Monday evening.
Council is deciding whether to ask the Agricultural Land Commission to remove about 700 acres of farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve in order for the properties to be used for regional industry development. One block of land is located just north of Abbotsford International Airport, while the other is in Bradner, just north of Highway 1 and just east of the Langley Township boundary and the Gloucester Estates industrial park.
Council has already heard that the region is running out of industrial land. The two blocks have been identified by staff as the most suitable for industrial development.
The Bradner parcels have been described as having marginal agricultural utility, although residents in the area have spoken out against the plan, citing a range of concerns, including surrounding traffic.
The proposal to exclude the parcels north of the airport from the ALR has met with less opposition, despite much of the land being productively farmed at the current time.
Last month, council voted to send the proposal to a public hearing, although Coun. Patricia Ross was opposed. She said a public hearing should be held in the fall, to give stakeholders and the public more time and to ensure those who wish to comment aren’t on summer holidays.
The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium. The hearing will be the last opportunity for public input before council directs staff whether to prepare an application to exclude the properties.
The Agricultural Land Commission will have a final say on whether – and how much – of the land can be used for non-farm uses.