The fight to stop the Southlands from being developed continues for a local group, which had a new colourful map produced to show the area's ecological importance.
The British Columbia Ecological Agricultural Trust Society (BCEATS) recently commissioned Briony Penn, a naturalist, environmentalist, artist and map maker, to create an artistic map of the Southlands and Boundary Bay.
"I just wanted something out there so that the community would have another vision of the Southlands that wasn't just development," said BCEATS director Peter Cummings. "I wanted it to be a-political and help this amazing scientific information to get out to the public."
Cummings said several environmental groups, such as the Wilderness Committee, OWL, the Pacific Parklands Foundation and others, have endorsed the map.
"As the Boundary Bay map illustrates, the value of an area like this goes well beyond its use as a port and a place for people to live. It's an important stopover and habitat for numerous birds. It also offers places for many other plants and animals to live," said Denise Coutts, executive director of Pacific Parklands Foundation, which is working on having the map available for download on its website.
"Its fields, forests, bogs and marshes are also part of a network of green spaces that provides many natural benefits to the people of the Lower Mainland and beyond."
Coutts said, according to a study by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pacific Parklands Foundation, benefits provided by all of the Lower Mainland's green spaces and wetlands - such as filtering air and water, combating climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, and protection from storms and floods - are worth about $5.4 billion a year.
Pitching a $5-million cash offer and $200 million in tax credits to the Century Group, which owns the controversial Southlands property, BCEATS says it hopes company president Sean Hodgins will take advantage of Environment Canada's Ecological Gifts Program, instead of trying to develop the Southlands.
Hodgins earlier dismissed the offer as a publicity stunt.
Delta council officially received Century Group's application to amend the Official Community Plan (OCP) for the 500-plus acre Southlands property this fall and approved a lengthy public consultation process.
The process will start early in 2012 with a series of public information meetings before council considers preliminary approval of the application. If given that approval, the applica-tion would then be subject to its first public hearing.
If approved, the next hurdle would be an actual development application.
The Century Group wants to develop 950 housing units on 20 per cent of the property and give the municipality the remaining 80 per cent, primarily for small-scale farming and public uses.
The housing would be built on the areas with the poorest soil quality, said Hodgins, while measures would be undertaken to improve the agricultural capability of the rest of the site.