by Dan Ferguson
An attempt at a compromise that would preserve some of the forested area of a proposed Aldergrove subdivision failed to win enough votes at Township council Monday afternoon (Mar. 2).
Councillor Kim Richter suggested splitting the proposed Bertrand Creek Trails Estate development near 28 Avenue and 276 Street in two, with housing in the north and forest in the south.
Council considered the Richter plan after hearing from several opponents of the development, who agued the property should be maintained as a “walkable” green space close to residents.
The Richter proposal would eliminate 20 housing units from the planned 61.
“It would be a shame to lose this last little urban forest in Aldergrove,” Richter said prior to the council vote.
“Are these 20 homes worth the loss of a three-acre forest? I don’t think so.”
Richter had the backing of councillor Petrina Arnason, who called the Richter proposal a “reasonable compromise” that would preserve the “last real green space in Aldergrove.”
Councillor Charlie Fox spoke against the proposal, saying most people would like to see the site, the location of a former sewage treatment plant, developed.
“There are a great number of silent people [who haven’t appeared before council] who say, move on,” Fox said.
“And I represent those silent people.”
Councillor Blair Whitmarsh said the Richter proposal was “game playing.”
Councillor Michelle Sparrow proposed an amendment to the Richter proposal that would have allowed increased housing density on the north to make up for the loss of housing spaces in the south.
Councillor Bob Long dismissed the idea, saying the existing proposal represents the most potentially profitable configuration for the Township, which is hoping to fund the new Aldergrove pool with the proceeds from the project.
Council voted against the Richter proposal and the Sparrow amendment by a five-to-four vote, with mayor Jack Froese and councillors Whitmarsh, Long, Fox, and Angie Quaale in favour of proceeding as planned, and councillors Richter, Arnason, Sparrow and David Davis voting for splitting the site.
The development has been a source of controversy since it was approved on the basis of a 2012 assessment that determined there were no trees worth preserving on the property.
Critics of the project complained the arborist’s report confused the types of trees, an error that the company responsible confirmed while insisting the errors were not enough to justify saving more than a single tree.
The property is the former site of the Aldergrove sewage treatment plant, which operated from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s when it was decommissioned and the area was hooked up to the Abbotsford treatment plant.
The property was clear-cut for a farm many years ago, but over the years second-growth trees have taken over the southern, unused portion of the acreage.
The property was never included in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for protected farmland.