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Delta Staff Reccomends Southlands to be returned ALR

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Tsawwassen Area Plan

In a report filed on Friday, February 4, the City of Delta staff have recommended that Council apply to have all lands currently zoned agricultural to be put into the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). This includes the contentious 530 acre piece of farmland known as the “Southlands”.

The report was created following a highly contentious public hearing on October 26 & 27, which involved two days of criticism from the community and resulted in a rejection of the proposed update to the Tsawwassen Area Plan. Following the public hearing,  was instructed to create a report that more closely reflected the majority public opinion. Mayor Lois Jackson was forced to scrap the original Area Plan after three days of public hearings. Citizens were outraged at a plan that proposed densification of the town center and changes in land-use designation that would see the possibility of town homes under the power lines and the destruction of many communities including the Highlands and Camaro Drive. These changes would have allowed for a possible 45% increase in population over the next 10 years.

In this report, staff recommends modest growth and increased protection of agricultural land. This report will be discussed at the Council meeting on Monday, February 7. If accepted, the recommendations would go to a public hearing on March 1, 2011.

“The return of the Southlands to the ALR would send a strong message that agricultural land is meant for agriculture,” stated Dana Maslovat, one of the organizers of Southlands the Facts, “The recommendations reflect the majority opinion of Tsawwassen, and this is an opportunity for Council to start to rebuild the trust they have clearly lost with the community.”

The potential re-designation of the Southlands agricultural land to accommodate a housing development dominated much of the public consultation process. This piece of farmland was the cause of the longest public hearing in Commonwealth history and a resident run plebiscite in 1989, which prevented a 2000 unit development that was proposed for the same property.

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