The operator of Bloom Abbotsford Tulip Festival is asking the agricultural land commission to be able to dedicate more land to parking. File photo                                The operator of Bloom Abbotsford Tulip Festival is asking the agricultural land commission to be able to dedicate more land to parking. File photo

The operator of Bloom Abbotsford Tulip Festival is asking the agricultural land commission to be able to dedicate more land to parking. File photo The operator of Bloom Abbotsford Tulip Festival is asking the agricultural land commission to be able to dedicate more land to parking. File photo

Tulip festival operator asks ALC to expand parking area

Alexis Warmerdam pledges to rehabilitate area within 15 years

The operator of the Abbotsford Tulip Festival is once again asking the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for permission to double the amount of land available for parking at the North Parallel Road farm.

Alexis Warmerdam has applied to the agricultural land commission (ALC) to be able to place 10 centimetres of gravel over 2.6 hectares (about 6.5 acres) of land, with a plan to rehabilitate the area in 15 years.

Since the festival’s first year, in 2016, the incredible popularity of the event has led to parking challenges.

Indeed, Warmerdam’s application says the festival has considered a range of alternatives to increasing parking availability on site. But each of those possible solutions had a fatal flaw, and efforts to encourage people to visit at non-peak times hasn’t been able to lessen the demand on weekends.

This isn’t the first time the festival has appealed to the ALC. Last year, the ALC turned down an application from Warmerdam, saying more infrastructure wasn’t needed for “an event that is temporary and seasonal in nature.” The ALC said the use of the existing gravel parking area was reasonable if it was used for “agricultural purposes” outside the tulip festival window.

The panel concluded: “If the ALR is to be maintained in the long term, it cannot be endlessly eroded, and as such, the panel is not amenable to the further conversion of the property into vehicle parking.”

The new application says that the parcel in question is of poor agricultural quality, and that the reclamation plan would improve the soil on the land “substantially beyond current conditions.”

Warmerdam writes that the proposal “is similar to the extraction of gravel and rock from farmland throughout the Fraser Valley and we commit to returning the land to a higher class using the same methods as the above-mentioned gravel operators.”

Warmerdam writes that the tulip festival showcases and promotes local farming and benefits agriculture in the province.

A decision has not yet been made.