Steves says Delta should follow Richmond’s lead on MK Delta proposal

Delta should be following Richmond’s example when it comes to the planned MK Delta Lands industrial proposal adjacent to Burns Bog.

That’s what long-time Richmond Coun. Harold Steves told the Optimist following his council’s decision to inform Metro Vancouver that Richmond is opposed to the City of Delta’s proposed amendment to the Metro Vancouver regional growth strategy.

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Richmond went through the same debate with the Lulu Island bog, he said.

“We traded some industrial land with the federal government to get part of the bog years ago. It became the Richmond Nature Park. Then, the federal government offered us half of the 134-acre Garden City lands parcel if we rezoned the remaining half residential. They also offered $10 million for irrigation of East Richmond farmland,” Steves explained.

“Instead, we spent $10 million on irrigation from the Richmond capital budget and bought the entire 134-acre bog parcel for $60 million. Now part of it is being farmed by KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), part is park with a trail around the entire site and 85 acres will be enhanced as sphagnum bog by a dike around it and raising the water table. Delta could fund the irrigation to Westham Island and protect the bog just like Richmond did. There is still another 134 acres that isn't protected. It is federally owned bog. Because it is between the Garden City lands and the (Richmond) Nature Park, it isn't threatened.”

Earlier this summer, the Metro board granted first and second readings to a land use designation change from agricultural to industrial and referred the MK Delta Lands development proposal to municipalities for comment.

The development west of Highway 91 near Nordel Way and the South Fraser Perimeter Road includes 2.2 million square feet of industrial space.

Delta council granted conditional approval following a public hearing in the summer of 2016, but final approval was pending a number of conditions being met.

The plan also includes the transfer of all of MK Delta’s other land holdings, which total 132.7 hectares (328 acres), to the City of Delta for conservation, including land east of Highway 91 where the company had originally sought to build housing.

Responding to an earlier Optimist story, Delta Coun. Dylan Kruger said the development is an unprecedented opportunity to conserve 328 acres of pristine land. It will be added to the 5,045 acres of Burns Bog that was purchased in 2004 to establish an ecological conservancy area, he explained.

As far as protecting the existing bog, he pointed out all of the property in the land swap is privately owned, and that the 46-acre site of the proposed industrial development was a peat mine.

“The site is currently zoned for agriculture, however due to the poor quality of the soil it was determined by the ALC that it would be very difficult - even impossible - to farm anything there. As a part of the development, a 100-metre protective buffer will be installed to protect habitat as well as for storm water management. In addition, a contribution of $6 million will be provided to Delta for crucial agriculture drainage and irrigation upgrades on Westham Island, which our farmers desperately need. An additional $5 million has been pledged for transportation and community amenities.”

The regional district is now assessing the municipal comments and will report back to the board in a few weeks.

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