Public hearing for agri-centre proposal

Farm equipment dealers would move to rural area

A new agri-centre is proposed is east Abbotsford.

A new agri-centre is proposed is east Abbotsford.

A proposal to consolidate agricultural equipment dealers to a centralized location outside the city’s urban development boundary received preliminary approval at council on Monday and will move to an upcoming public hearing.

The proposal would see the agricultural businesses move to east Abbotsford on a 33-acre parcel at the intersection of Atkinson and Eldridge roads.

Currently, many equipment dealers are located along Sumas Way – also home to many commercial retailers – which causes congestion and traffic issues.

Corpus Management Group (CMG), which has brought the concept forward, states it has been endorsed by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association and the University of the Fraser Valley.

While the project has support from agri-businesses – CMG lists PrairieCoast John Deere, Avenue Machinery, Caliber Equipment, and Handlers Equipment as being interested in moving to the site – city staff recommended the project be denied.

The staff report says the project will influence the development of lands outside the urban development boundary, and it will be challenging to service the proposal and the city is unable to provide industrial-level water supply service, sewer and fire protection.

But the report from CMG says farm equipment dealers do not require the same level of sanitary, water and storm services as a typical industrial development. It indicates the site will be provided with on-lot septic disposal systems.

The project requires rezoning of the site and an official community plan (OCP) amendment.

The site is currently designated as suburban residential and city staff noted the city has yet to grow into the area residentially and is years away from understanding the long-term residential needs of the area.

Coun. Patricia Ross said, “I think the threat is very real that some of these businesses will leave town. Some of them already have for a lack of space to go to.”

Coun. Henry Braun said if the city moved ahead on the project and later there is a problem with inadequate services, taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

He said the city has all sorts of industrial land – not on Fraser Highway – that needs to be developed.

Council voted in favour of sending the proposal to public hearing, with Couns. Braun and Loewen opposed.