$18 million truck facility waiting on ALC approval

Construction could finally commence this year on a major project aimed at alleviating truck congestion as well as queuing and parking along Deltaport Way and the causeway.

A joint initiative funded by Transport Canada, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, a truck staging area is to be built on provincially-owned land near the intersection of Highway 17A and Deltaport Way.

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First announced a couple of years ago, the $18 million facility would be leased to the port. It would accommodate up to 140 trucks on the east side of Highway 17A and, to the west, a parking area for 40 early arrival trucks, a restroom and an inspection area for B.C. Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement. Only port-authorized trucks would be allowed to access the facility, which would have surveillance cameras monitored by port security.

The initial layout involved the removal of just over four hectares (10 acres) of farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve to accommodate 25,000 square metres of asphalt.

Additional farmland that's privately owned would be used for an access road.

The project is awaiting approval from the Agricultural Land Commission.

Asked for comment on when an ALC decision would be made, and construction would commence, a ministry spokesperson said they have no comment on the project at this time, other than they were anticipating "a major announcement" in the near future.

A report by Delta staff notes several concerns, including traffic enforcement and policing for Delta as well as pressure on the province to use the facility as a regional overnight parking facility.

Other concerns include the facility being designed to be "scalable" to accommodate port growth if Terminal 2 is approved, which means "significant implications" for adjacent agricultural lands.

Delta wants steps taken to compensate for the loss of any agricultural land.

"The other impact that bothers me a great deal, although the horse is already out of the pen, is that this will be a visual impact on our rural agricultural land where suddenly you're driving along Highway 17 and looking at farmland to the left, and farmland to the right, and suddenly we're going to be looking at an asphalt parking area with 140 possible container trucks parked in a rural area," said Coun. Ian Paton.

Paton said he doesn't understand why a couple hundred acres of farmland within the Tsawwassen First Nation that's now covered with sand, and no longer farmed, can't be used for such projects.

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