The controversy surrounding a waterfront development in Maple Ridge could not sink the project, but a landslide ultimately caused it to fail.
The 26-house subdivision was proposed for a 20-acre site on the South Alouette River at the north end of 240th Street.
The Alouette River Management Society (ARMS), local environmentalists and the Katzie First Nation strongly opposed it. ARMS donated $ 36,000 to a legal fund to fight the project, after launching its Save Our Salmon (SOS) campaign in late 2019.
ARMS and those taking a stand against the project said such development should not occur in the floodplain as it could alter the hydrology of the river and lead to loss of riverine habitat.
They said the maximum allowed on the site under existing regulations was seven or eight houses.
Ken Stewart, chairman of the group, argued that allowing development would set a precedent for future development along the river.
In June, opponents denounced the development in an online public hearing that lasted almost until midnight.
Katzie First Nation said the development “is not in line with our long-standing dialogue with the Crown to restore the historic and progressive impacts of the Alouette-Stave-Ruskin hydroelectric facilities on our rights, titles and interests” . The group also said the city failed to meet its legal requirements for consultation and engagement.
A week later, councilors voted to approve the plan.
An environmental planner for the city said about 62% of the 20-acre site has been set aside for conservation, and that included areas along the river. The setback from the top of the river bank is more than the 30 meters required by higher governments for floodplains and provides a wide corridor for wildlife, he said.
Planning director Chuck Goddard told council only about 16 lots would be allowed on the site without a density premium. In return for the density bonus, the city gets a dedicated three-acre waterfront park, improvements to road, sewer and water systems, the placement of landfills for the future and 62% of the site preserved in a “Green and natural state”. ”
âThis could be an open door for the Alouette watershed to be fully developed,â said Cheryl Ashlie, former city councilor and past president of ARMS.
ARMS had launched a legal challenge to the city’s approval process. This caused an overhaul of the public hearing, but did not stop the project.
Ultimately, this happened after the project was rejected by the provincial government. According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Trisand Properties has submitted an application to the province or permission to work in and around a stream. He proposed to backfill part of the Latimer stream, a tributary of the Alouette, and to build a canal to compensate for the impacts on the habitat. On September 2, the request was denied by the province.
The developer appealed, but record rains caused a landslide on the site which effectively buried their proposal.
âThe landslide was actually a blessing, as no one was hurt and no house was hit,â Coun said. Ahmed Youssef. âThere are at least two houses from which we should perhaps have collected people. ”
Although the ARMS took legal action against the city, Stewart did not anticipate there would be any hard feelings against the waterfront group and said they had no hard feelings with the city councilors who approved the project.
âARMS has our mandate and we try to be as non-political as possible,â said Stewart.
âWhoever the mayor, the MP or the MPs, we work with them and try to move our agenda forward.â
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