By John Russell Walsh - It has come to our attention that the City of Abbotsford is appealing the ALC's decision to deny the removal of 225 acres of A1 farmland adjacent to the Gloucester Industrial Estate by adding the exclusion to the recently revised Official Community Plan (OCP). The community of Bradner requests that any decision to either approve or reject this or any other exclusion application needs to be based on reason and facts.
Here are the key questions the Bradner community has answered to consider relative to the City of Abbotsford's endorsement in their new OCP:
Is there a pressing need for additional industrial or commercial property near the Gloucester industrial area? Is the current development running out of land?
It has taken about 40 years for the existing Gloucester development to reach 60% occupancy. Recent photographs of signs posted in the existing Gloucester development for properties currently on the market. As these photos clearly show there is no shortage of land in the existing Gloucester development. The evidence strongly suggests that there is no pressing and urgent need to add even more land on the Abbotsford side of the Langley border to Gloucester Estates.
They demonstrate beyond any doubt that in the current development - there is absolutely NO shortage of industrial land.
Is the existing road and rail infrastructure capable of handling additional commercial vehicle traffic in the area?
The answer to that question is – NO. The existing road infrastructure in the area has been identified by a major engineering company as sub-substandard.
The 56th Avenue road allowance through the existing industrial estate to the freeway interchange at 264th Street does not meet international standards for an industrial park. Travel lanes have been built to residential street standards - incapable of handling semi truck traffic. There are no right turn lanes. No left turn lanes. There are no guard bands between vehicle lanes and sidewalks. There are no provisions for industrial trucks to park at the restaurants so drivers shut down their rigs on the travelled lanes with their hazards flashing.
The red semi in the photo below is parked in the middle of 56th Avenue while the driver visits a restaurant.
The road allowance is also too narrow, services such as water, sewer, gas etc. are buried underneath the paved lanes. So each time a new development is added – or services need repairing - the road needs to be dug up, traffic disrupted and repaved. The section of 56th Avenue through Gloucester Industrial Park sports 179 cuts and patches, making the road about as rough as a paved logging road.
The point at which 56th Avenue joins Highway #1 - just west of 264th. Street is a deathtrap. Here are a series of photos which illustrate the inadequate interchange:
then, within 100 meters, reach freeway speed of 100 km/hr to merge properly. Vehicles entering the freeway at 56th/264th merge at slow speeds and create daily congestion on Highway #1.
The above photos clearly illustrate the engineered 'choke point'. Notice the silver truck (top right) it's not on the freeway but is on a second merge lane, with a collision point dead ahead of it.
It does not take a road engineer to figure out that this design is a recipe for disaster.
The photo below shows the intersection of 56th Avenue and 264th Street. Industrial traffic – must make a left turn through the traffic light in order to travel southward on 264th Street to the US border, or to the eastbound entrance to the freeway.
Unfortunately much of the left turn lane area is occupied by a large cement obelisk, greatly reducing the holding capacity of the turn lane. So weekdays on 56th Avenue back up eastward to about half way through the industrial estate.
Traffic waiting to turn left must first move into the left hand travelling lane in order to veer around the obelisk and because the actual left turn holding space is inadequate, traffic is unable to move back to the left turn lane and so it clogs the lane going straight through the light and onto the freeway. There is a right hand lane but it does not allow traffic to travel forward onto the freeway, but requires instead a northbound right turn at 264th Street. These design flaws cause tremendous traffic gridlock in the area.
Many of the left turns from 56th Avenue into businesses along the road are improperly radiused making it impossible for large trucks to negotiate turns without either running over the curbs and medians, or moving out into oncoming traffic lanes. This is an industrial estate so there are many large vehicles. The photograph below illustrates how the curb, protruding out into the roadway at a near-90 degree curve radius, has caused traffic to drive across the median, destroy the shrubbery, and scuff the curb.
While a railroad does exist in Gloucester Industrial Estates it's a remnant of the original Interurban line with 5 miles missing in the middle and 17 miles missing at the western end of the line.
Some years ago our government, which owned the line at the time, sold 5 miles of track in the Langley area to CP Rail who removed it. The 17 mile section from New Westminster to Vancouver was abandoned and later sold in pieces to local residents. In order to remain operational at all, the current owner of the railroad – Washington Marine – has to lease it back from CP Rail on a per use basis - avoiding the missing 5 mile stretch through Langley.
But... CP has priority use. So Southern Rail is only able to pass through the leaseback section during limited times of the day.
In addition, most of the railroad crossings through Abbotsford are 'uncontrolled' - meaning there are no lights or crossing arms. Increases in rail traffic will spike the number of train-traffic collisions that already occur frequently.
Furthermore, the train switching yard on the east end of Abbotsford blocks 8th Avenue, aka Vye Road, just west of Sumas Way. The City of Abbotsford has been repeatedly warned that an overpass is needed but they have failed to comply. Abbotsford has now been served notice by Transport Canada of the inadequacy. The rail switching yard on 8th Avenue is mentioned because that's where rail cars are assembled. And where additional rail cars would be assembled to serve any expansion of Gloucester Estates.
Both the road and rail infrastructure are already dysfunctional, inadequate and incapable of handling even the current level of traffic - let alone the additional traffic that would result from the industrialization of the West Bradner area.
Is the proposed land to be removed from the ALR unsuitable for farming?
This question involves the suitability of the existing A1 zoned farmland, for farming. A question that prompts us to believe that we Bradner's live a very sheltered life here and don't know very much about what is transpiring in the rest of the world.... here are a few photos of farms in other parts of the world.
Is the City of Abbotsford's application being made in a professional and impartial manner?
We notice that the City of Abbotsford has endorsed industrializing the west Bradner farmland. Did Abbotsford make that endorsement in a reasoned and unbiased manner? Unfortunately, probably not. The City of Abbotsford stands to rake in a fee of $25,000/acre in exchange for its support. 240 acres x $25,000 = $6 million. What's that word used to describe the offering of favours in exchange for money...?
So from an impartial, analytical and reasoned perspective, removing west Bradner farmland from the ALR would seem to be ill advised and inappropriate. The community of Bradner is united against this exclusion.
More on this topic...
The ALR Exclusion Application has been Resurrected for West Bradner...
ALC DENIES the West Abbotsford ALR Exclusion!!
Save Bradner from Industry
About the Author - John Russell Walsh has been a Bradner resident since the 1970's. He is a blueberry farmer, former teacher, Candidate for the BC Reform Party and entrepreneur - cablevision owner (Pioneer Cablevision – Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs) satellite television pioneer, radio studio owner (Pat Burns Hotline). His father, John Walsh, was the former Superintendent of Policy and Legislation as well as Assistant Deputy Minister of Education for the BC Government.
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