Delta farmland 'under pressure' from industrial expansion

Further port expansion may be encroaching on agricultural land

Delta Optimist
March 18, 2019

agricultural land
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says it is advocating for a halt to the rezoning of industrial land, and a more thoughtful, multi-party discussion about management of land planning that will protect the region’s agricultural land.
Further port expansion will place additional pressure on Delta’s farmlands.
That’s among the concerns an independent committee received from the City of Delta regarding the proposed Terminal 2 expansion at Roberts Bank, and what the committee will likely hear when a public hearing on the controversial project will finally to begin this May in Delta.
In a report, the city notes that there’s already been an incremental loss of almost 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of agricultural land over the last decade.
“The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has stated that construction of Terminal 2 will require 2,500 acres of well-located developable industrial land by 2035,” the city states, noting this is problematic given the industrial land inventory of Metro Vancouver (currently estimated at 6,000 acres) is expected to be exhausted in a few years.
“Delta estimates that as much as 1,500 acres (600 hectares) of prime agricultural land in Delta is under pressure from port-related development, including 200 hectares of ALR that has been optioned by real estate speculators,” the report notes.
“VFPA acknowledges that, although it is a ‘last resort’ option, it will look at options for industrial uses of agricultural lands to accommodate the land demand from RBT2, if necessary.”
According to the port authority, “Protecting agricultural land is important, and the Agricultural Land Commission has done an exceptional job of just that. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same protection for trade-enabling industrial land, which means the port authority and other goods movement businesses may have no choice but to consider agricultural land for expansion.”
The Port of Vancouver also notes, “Our intent is to work with all potentially affected stakeholders, including the Agricultural Land Commission, to ensure we appropriately mitigate for any agricultural lands we convert to transportation and trade use.
“We could look at land swaps, development of new agricultural land elsewhere or outside the Lower Mainland, and better use of existing agricultural land, among other ideas. We are open to input from stakeholders including the Agricultural Land Commission for the mutual benefit of the region and the country.”
Meanwhile, when it comes to the much talked about shortage of industrial land in the region, a new Metro Vancouver industrial lands strategy task force was appointed in December with Delta Mayor George Harvie as its chairman.
According to the regional district’s latest industrial lands inventory, of the 23 jurisdictions, only 16 have industrial lands. A notable amount of industrial lands are used for non-industrial purposes, while the conversion of industrial lands continues. From 2010 to 2015, there was a net reduction of 350 hectares (865 acres) of industrial lands.
Some of the other findings include the region as a whole having few available large sites for trade enabling logistics uses.
A report by commercial brokerage house CBRE earlier this year noted Metro Vancouver’s industrial vacancy rate fell to 1.4 per cent at the end of 2018, down from 1.7 per cent a year earlier.
An opening date for the T2 public hearing hasn't been announced yet.

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