File photo White Rock council is formally objecting to a Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy land use designation amendment allowing for industrialization of an area of Delta adjacent to Burns Bog, shown here in a 2013 photo.

White Rock council goes on record as opposing Delta land-swap

Environmental sensitivity of Burns Bog cited as reason for unusual step

In a rare move for the city, White Rock council has gone on record as opposing a development proposal in another jurisdiction.

At its July 22 meeting council not only voted against endorsing a Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy land use designation amendment for an area of Delta adjacent to Burns Bog, but also supported a motion from Coun. Scott Kristjanson to send a letter to Metro Vancouver expressly opposing the change.

The proposal, from the City of Delta, is to change the designation of a 155-acre parcel in the Tilbury-Sunbury area next to Hwy. 99 from agricultural to industrial, in exchange for the transfer of 328 acres of environmentally sensitive lands from the owner, MK Delta Lands Group, to the city.

But that exchange is not enough – in the eyes of several councillors who spoke out – to justify establishing an industrial area close to the bog.

“Burns Bog has been referred to as ‘the lungs of the Fraser Valley’ for many, many years,” Coun. David Chesney said. “It’s the largest undeveloped urban land mass in North America… It’s home to over 400 species of birds that migrate through the region.”

Chesney added that the bog is protected against development for the long term.

“In 2004, four levels of government (federal, provincial, Metro Vancouver and Delta) came together to purchase 2,025 hectares of land for $73 million. I don’t understand why we’re even considering this, to be very honest. I will not support the carving up of Burns Bog in any way, shape or form for industrial land.”

“I’m very nervous about introducing industry into the bog…it’s a very important area,” Kristjanson said. “This seems like a small wedge trying to carve off more of the north-end of this bog.”

Sole voice speaking for the move – and voting for endorsement and against the letter – was Mayor Darryl Walker.

“This is what you might call a land-swap, in which a piece of what is the bog is taken out and a larger piece put back in,” he said.

Responding to a request from Walker for confirmation of this analysis, Carl Johannsen said the land being proposed to be reincluded in the bog area had actually been subject to a mixed-use residential proposal around seven years ago which would have “expanded the urban footprint of Delta” – but had been denied by Delta council.

Also speaking against Delta’s proposal were Coun. Erika Johanson and Coun. Anthony Manning.

“All of the property concerned is bog – it may not belong to Burns Bog, but it is bog,” Johanson said. “I am concerned that these lands are environmentally sensitive…I believe that no development of these lands should take place.”

Manning said he could not support the proposal unless convinced that the lands involved in the proposed swap “were an apple for apple comparison.”



alexbrowne@peacearchnews.com

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