Langley Township will likely add 36 acres of land to the Gloucester Industrial Park, council decided, passing the third reading of a rezoning bylaw on Monday, May 9.
The eight lots sit on the north side of 56th Avenue between 264th and 268th Streets, and despite being across the street from the Gloucester Industrial Estates development, all of them have been in the Agricultural Land Reserve for decades. They will be rezoned from rural to industrial.
Much of the debate was about what the Township is getting in exchange for the rezoning, which includes environmental benefits and compensation, as well as community amenity contributions (CACs) that total $4.7 million in value.
Councillor Eric Woodward said a 3.5 acre piece of land being set aside elsewhere as part of the deal wasn’t sufficient.
“I don’t see it as a priceless benefit, I see it as 3.5 acres for 36 acres,” he said.
Also voting against the final reading was Coun. Steve Ferguson, who said he has supported Gloucester for years but “I think that this particular development still needs some work,” he said.
“We can squeeze every applicant land owner for every penny possible, and in the end we won’t get job lands,” said Mayor Jack Froese. “We need job lands, we need jobs.”
Also in favour was Coun. Petrina Arnason, who noted she’s been a champion on climate and environmental issues over the years.
“I don’t support this idea that we’re being bamboozled out of some money we should be getting,” she said.
In the end, the council voted 5-3 on the rezoning, with Woodward, Ferguson, and Coun. David Davis opposed.
The fate of the land has been debated and fought over in the courts for years.
Some of the owners originally tried to have it excluded from the ALR years ago, but the ALC originally turned that proposal down. A lengthy legal battle followed, with the courts ruling that the original ALC decision be overturned and reconsidered.
The ALC changed its original ruling in 2020. It has given approval for removing the land from the ALR.
Several councillors mentioned the lack of available industrial land in Metro Vancouver during the debate. There has been a significant shortage of remaining industrially-zoned land in the region for several years, and almost all of the Gloucester Industrial Estates are already developed.
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