The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) has given the green light to the expansion of the Fraser Valley Auto Mall in Abbotsford.
The ALC ruled last month to allow 12 hectares of land that had been excluded from the agricultural land reserve (ALR) more than a decade ago for industrial purposes to instead be used to expand the auto mall, according to a decision posted online.
But the ALC also denied a request to allow another seven acres to be used for a blend of industrial and auto uses.
Twelve years ago, the land was part of hundreds of acres conditionally removed from the ALR for industrial land uses. In return, the city pledged to create an agricultural strategy, increase productivity, and develop a buffering plan.
While much of the land has been developed in the years since, by 2014, the city and the property’s owners had concluded that “environmental and topographical conditions,” including a creek and stream running through the land, had complicated development on several parcels to the north of the auto mall.
In 2014, the City of Abbotsford went to the ALC to ask for the removal of five properties, although one was removed in the years since.
In making its decision, the ALC said it considered the city’s enhancements to agricultural productivity, and found that some of the land excluded in 2004 for industrial use was “accessible only through the existing auto mall, thus would not be well suited to industrial expansion.” Those findings paved the way for the auto mall expansion.
However, in denying changes to 7.5 hectares of land, the ALC also found that allowing a blend of uses on land accessible from Mt. Lehman Road “would reduce the area available for normal industrial expansion,” which was the rationale for the conditional exclusion of the land in 2004.