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Spetifores found support for initial development plans

We continue the Spetifore family history from farmers to owners of land that became the focus of a lengthy public hearing in 1989.

We continue the Spetifore family history from farmers to owners of land that became the focus of a lengthy public hearing in 1989.

Delta underwent substantial growth and change in the 15 years following the opening of the George Massey Tunnel in 1959.

Highways 99 and 17 crisscrossed Delta's farmland along with numerous underground service corridors.

The farm community was generally affected by urban encroachment and increased traffic. No farmland was more affected than the Spetifores' main acreage, with housing on three sides and essentially isolated by dense urban development.

Planners and consultants have long debated how farmers and homeowners can best co-exist. Conflicts range from chemical use, noise, smells and dust to vandalism, theft and traffic, to name a few. Green space, ditching, fencing and hedgerows have not mitigated the problem.

The family was part of the farm community for over 50 years before concluding it could no longer compete in the agro business. In the 1970s Delta council was generally supportive of the Spetifores' attempt to develop the acreage.

While an earlier attempt to exclude land from the ALR was rejected by the GVRD, the regional parks department entered the fray in the late 1970s. This department became aware of George Spetifore's interest to develop 220 acres of foreshore east of Boundary Bay Road and south of the Beach Grove residential community. This acreage was never farmed nor in the ALR.

GVRD Parks agreed to support the Spetifores in the release of their main farmland (in the ALR) in exchange for a "gift" of the 220 acres of foreshore as a dedicated regional park. Up to that time the only use of that land was brant hunters and the occasional dog walker.

No one could have anticipated the galvanizing of the community against this proposal a decade later. The GVRD conducted two votes on the application and it was rejected by a single changed vote. There was local opposition to this outcome as it was generally known that Belcarra, with its single vote, had scuttled GVRD's support.

Delta council re-entered this issue with an application to cabinet minister Rafe Mair and members of the environment and land use committee on Oct. 17, 1979 requesting removal of 543 acres from the ALR. In forming this direction, Delta held a special meeting of council on Aug. 8, 1979 to receive a professional agronomist's report on the Spetifore land, which concluded the vast majority of soils were classified as 4 and 5 (5 being the worst), noting lack of irrigation affecting productivity.

A public hearing on the subject application was held on Sept. 18, 1979. Records indicate 11 people spoke with the general sentiment favourable, including a notable local professional agrologist in favour of the land's exclusion. The materials received were then packaged with Delta's request for exclusion from the ALR.

Delta's rationale for support of the exclusion was based on "poor soil characteristics, significant conflict with adjacent urban land uses and less than two years supply of developable land to meet a very strong demand for residential and other urban uses."

To be continued.

And a good night to you, Lawrence.