Fox fears decision may be ‘tip of the iceberg’

Trinity Western University wants land to expand campus

The Omelaniec property is one of three parcels of land that has received conditional approval to be removed from the ALR.

The Omelaniec property is one of three parcels of land that has received conditional approval to be removed from the ALR.

The Agricultural Land Commission has conditionally approved Trinity Western University’s application to exclude three parcels within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The land covers 13.59 acres on the north and south side of Labonte Crescent on Glover Road, opposite the entrance to the independent Christian university.

The decision was released on April 1, the same day that the ALC approved the consolidation of three parcels at 23712 – 56 Ave., and 5585 and 5559 238 St., and the subdivision of these parcels, 18.4 acres in total, into 16 one-acre lots. The applicants are Sam Omelaniec and two other neighbours.

Trinity’s application was made with the Township, which supports the reason for TWU’s application, which is to expand the campus and keep a viable school in the municipality.

Future development would require the construction of a public road extending 80 Avenue to Labonte Crescent and providing a secondary entrance to the university. Approximately 55 acres still in the ALR will be used for agricultural and environmental research and development programs. A smaller parcel will be used for parkland and outdoor classrooms.

The ALC set out a number of conditions, including fencing and vegetative buffer.

The ALC said in a report that the proposed 80 Avenue extension will have an adverse impact on prime farmland unless it is built alongside Highway 1.

The commissioners concluded that the majority of the land in TWU’s application “is not suitable for agricultural use; that sections of land fronting Labonte Crescent and Glover Road, and which are to stay within the reserve, are “steep, riparian land and is not suitable for agricultural use.”

It added: “The proposal, if approved, has the potential to impact neighbouring agriculture land unless fencing is installed and vegetative buffers are planted.”

Among the conditions imposed are a vegetative and buffering plan; a covenant that fences and buffers cannot be removed without the consent of the ALC.

The Omelaniec application was filed along with neighbours Jody and Charles Shaw, and Sharon Russell. One of the conditions of approval is that their properties must connect to municipal water and sewer services, and the subdivision must be completed within three years.

The ALC said that if sewage is not discharged into a public system, a treatment facility “cannot under any circumstance contaminate the Hopington aquifer.”

Councillor Charlie Fox was the only member of council who did not support the Omelaniec application a year ago. On Tuesday, he said he was concerned because the Omelaniec property itself is a functioning agricultural operation (a Christmas tree farm), and its location at the top of the 56 Avenue escarpment places it over the vulnerable Hopington aquifer.

He noted that while the one-acre zoning is already allowed under the Township’s bylaws, the ALC’s decision will open the floodgates to more requests for subdivision.

“I feel that this might be the tip of the iceberg in terms of other properties which have similar zoning wanting to develop,” Fox said, noting that unless municipal water and services are provided, more water will be drawn from the aquifer.

“We are going to see a flood of applications from this area,” Fox said.

This will bring pressure on the Township to extend water and sewer services to the Salmon River Uplands, he cautioned.

Three other applications rejected

At the same time that it approved the Trinity Western University exclusion request and the Omelaniec application to consolidate and subdivide, the Agricultural Land Commission rejected three others.

These were:

• to exclude from the Agricultural Land Reserve eight properties totaling 36 acres at 5670 – 264  Street, and 26477, 26473, 26475, 26473, 26575, 26601, 26695 and 26713 – 56 Ave. These properties are next to Gloucester Industrial Estates;

• to subdivide within the ALR one rural parcel of 53.1 acres at 7201 – 216 St., into two lots. This property is on the base of the Milner escarpment, west of Glover Road.

• to subdivide within the ALR two rural lots totaling 19.90 acres into seven residential parcels at 23015 and 23047 – 76A Ave. This property lies on the northwest corner of 76A Avenue and 232 Street, north of the Highway 1 interchange.

Township council supported all three applications. The ALC’s rejection of the first and third listed above was a reconfirmation of earlier rejections.

One application being keenly watched involves the former Tuscan Farm Gardens, an echinacea and lavender farm at 24453-60 Ave.

The application for the 80.5 acres was filed by Lorad Enterprises Inc., of that address. The registered owners are Gar William Campbell and Lavender Hills Holdings. Inc. The current zoning is one acre residential.

The application is to rezone the land into two parcels of approximately 35.8 and 42.5 acres, with a residential development of up to 65 houses proposed for the larger parcel. The overall density would be 0.8 units per acre.

Almost 19 acres are environmentally significant and will be preserved as natural open space, if the application is approved. A tributary of Coghlan Creek flows through the property.

The Tuscan Farm owners have an agreement with Krause Berry Farms to make their (Tuscan’s) property more agriculturally viable on the land that is not part of the subdivision application to the ALC.

This application is not for exclusion from the land reserve, but subdivision within it. It is also not the first to be filed for this property.

In 1993, an application to subdivide the land into four 20-acre parcels was turned down by the ALC, and subsequent requests have also been rejected, the most recent of which was in 2000.

The property lies above the Hopington aquifer, an underground reservoir that supplies water to thousands of residents, as well as farms and businesses.

In 1995, concerned about the quality of the water, its susceptibility to contamination and the unregulated extraction of water, the Township of the day imposed a moratorium on subdivisions above the aquifer.

Despite numerous applications to subdivide, the moratorium remains in effect today.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glitter is a plastic that gets into places it should not and is part of the growing micro-plastics environmental problem. (Wikimedia Commons)
LETTER: Give gifts that stand the test of time, Langley student suggests

A school assignment got a local student thinking about the enviromental impacts of gift giving

Douglas Park Community Elementary administrative assistant Kim Langford has been instrumental in the school’s food programs and event takes extra food out into the community, feeding local street people. To prevent waste, she also forged links with local farms which take excess food not suitable for people for their farm animals. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley City administrative assistant finds food builds bonds with students and families

Kim Langford used to work in banking and accounting. She finds a better rate of return in education

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judge ponders case of alleged conflict over Langley Township council donations

The mayor and two sitting councillors could be removed from office

Brookswood Starbucks manager Sonja Olsen posed for a photo on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 at the store located at 40th Avenue and 200 Street with some of the many cards for seniors her customers have filled out (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Christmas cards for seniors idea by Brookswood Starbucks takes off

Idea is to make the holidays a little less lonely for older people in care homes during pandemic

Readers enjoy the letters to Santa from local children. Here’s one from a previous Christmas. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley’s community newspaper wants local kids letters to Santa

Children’s letters to the St. Nick could be featured in our annual special Christmas section

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read