MK Delta Lands' proposal to develop an industrial park near the Burns Bog conservancy area received preliminary approval from Delta council this week and is moving on to a public hearing next month.
The plan would see a 62-hectare (155-acre) property near the junction of Highway 91 and the South Fraser Perimeter Road developed, creating nine industrial lots between 3.6 hectares (nine acres) and 9.2 hectares (23 acres) in size.
"This site could add 2.2 million square feet of modern industrial space to North Delta to expand business, jobs and the tax base," MK Delta Lands president Joanne Barnett said during a presentation to council Monday.
The site is zoned industrial but still within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Barnett said the property is ideally located for supporting goods movement and a modern logistics distribution centre due to its proximity to the United States border, Deltaport container terminal, industrial docks and facilities along the Fraser River.
As part of the proposal, MK Delta Lands would transfer 131 hectares (328 acres), over three parcels, in the area to the Corporation of Delta to be protected against future development. A 77-hectare (193-acre) parcel on the west side of Highway 91 would be earmarked to be included in the ALR.
MK Delta would also give $11 million to Delta with $6 million going towards agricultural improvements on Westham Island and the remainder towards transportation upgrades and community amenities as determined by council.
Council also received a petition, totaling over 1,000 signatures, from the Burns Bog Conservation Society opposed to the development proposal.
Society president Eliza Olson has previously said that "every time a piece of bogland/peatland the size of a soccer field is destroyed, it releases the same amount of carbon as you would driving your car around the world three times."
Coun. Jeannie Kanakos said she has "grave concerns about the impacts of the project" and that a key issue for her is the withdrawal of land from the ALR.
Delta CAO George Harvie noted any proposed inclusion or exclusion of ALR land would ultimately be reviewed by the Agricultural Land Commission.
Coun. Sylvia Bishop asked about the total fill that would be required for the site and the impact it would have on the land's hydrology as well as the impact of truck traffic on local roads.
Council received a letter from Ministry of Agriculture staff taking issue with ALR land removal and one from the Delta Farmers' Institute noting it would agree with the site being removed from the land reserve subject to certain conditions, including there be a net gain to the ALR.
A public hearing has been rescheduled for from July 5 to July 26 at 6 p.m. in the gym at the North Delta Recreation Centre.