A proposal to allow development on 50 acres of Aldergrove farmland was narrowly rejected Monday afternoon by Langley Township council, which voted 5-4 against the idea.
The owner of the land near 26 Avenue and 272 Street has tried and failed three times since 2001 to get the property out of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
In his latest application, the agent for owner Slavco Obrovac, Pacific Land Resource Groups Inc. of Surrey, argued development should be approved because it will mean more people living in Aldergrove which “has the potential to help meet the overall needs of the community, particularly by supporting local commercial businesses and reversing declining school enrolment.”
Obrovac was asking council to refer his application to the Agricultural Land Commission, the provincial agency that regulates the ALR.
Councillor David Davis said the issue is whether farmland should be protected.
“I think we have to draw a line in the sand here,” Davis said, telling council colleagues “I feel you don’t support agriculture” if they voted to endorse the application.
Mayor Jack Froese took issue with that, saying “voting yes or no [on this proposal] doesn’t determine whether you support agriculture.”
Councillor Bob Long said the parcel of farmland is “urban land” that abuts residential homes.
Long agreed with the owner’s argument the development would help the local community, saying “we need to find ways to get more people in Aldergrove.”
Councillor Petrina Arnason took a different view, saying “I don’t think this is an appropriate way to grow.”
Councillor Angie Quaale said the proposal “feels like urban creep to me” and voted with Councillors Davis, Arnason, Kim Richter and Michelle Sparrow against sending the application to the ALC. It was a 5-4 vote, with mayor Froese, and councillors Whitmarsh, Long and Charlie Fox in the minority.
Councillor Blair Whitmarsh said the project fits within the Aldergrove community plan and should be sent to the ALC to get their feedback.
“It’s not good government to decide on the fly that we don’t like the community plan,” Whitmarsh said.