Despite an environmental appeal, the Yennadon Lands future as an employment district in Maple Ridge moved a step closer to reality, with city council giving first reading to the necessary bylaws.
The plan is part of the city’s commercial and industrial strategy, and a staff report noted the properties at 128th Avenue and 232nd Street are flat, easily serviced, and have access to arterial roads. In December of 2020 council endorsed a plan to create an employment area there, and told staff to prepare a bylaw to amend the Official Community Plan.
The Yennadon lands are adjacent to residential neighbourhoods, and the development will restrict building heights, and encourage building forms and uses that are in keeping with the surrounding residential context. It could eventually serve the needs of the technology sector, light manufacturing companies, and professional offices, all of which offer a high employment density, noted the report.
There are 13 properties ranging in size from 0.5 to four hectares, and the total land area is 25.4 ha (63 acres). Some of the land is vacant, and some single family housing.
Zuzana Vasko spoke as a delegate to council, opposing the development. Vasko lives on 126th avenue and said the area is close to her, “and also very close to my heart.”
She spoke about the importance of conservation of forests and intact natural areas, and offered council slides showing a variety of wild animals – coyote, bear, deer, bobcat, bald eagles, herons and owl that were taken by residents of 126th avenue.
“I believe that these animals are part of our community as well,” she said. “Intact ecosystems are much of what makes Maple Ridge unique and special. It is why many of us chose to live here.”
She said the area has more value to wildlife than it does as a way to provide a shorter commute to work.
“I would love to see a culture where this is valued much much more, and certainly no less, than the need for local employment,” she said.
Coun. Kiersten Duncan asked that a wildlife corridor be maintained through the development. Staff responded there would be a 30m setback from a creek, and there is also a conservation area in the development.
Duncan said she understands the city is “in dire need of industrial land,” and while she is uncomfortable with the development, she said she could support first reading to move the plans forward.
Mayor Mike Morden said council must balance social, economic and environmental commitments.
“And I want to support the staff’s work here in getting that right balance, in my view, and the details will come as we go forward here,” he said.
Council unanimously supported giving the bylaws first reading.
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