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Fernridge property owner wants land out of ALR

Lorne Bustin tells Langley Township council that his former turkey farm should not be within the Agricultural Land Reserve. It’s “solid gravel” Bustin says. “It won’t even grow hay.” - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Lorne Bustin tells Langley Township council that his former turkey farm should not be within the Agricultural Land Reserve. It’s “solid gravel” Bustin says. “It won’t even grow hay.”
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) will determine the fate of a 14.62 acre former turkey farm after Langley Township council agreed to refer an application to remove the property from the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) without taking a position for or against.

Council made the decision at its Dec. 10 meeting following an appeal by Lorne Bustin, whose family owns the site.

Bustin said the property  at 19810 20 Avenue is “solid gravel.”

“It won’t even grow hay,” Bustin told Township council

“This is not agriculturally viable land. We should be removed from the ALR.”

In order to make it viable,   a lot of dirt would have to be trucked in, Bustin said.

He added even if the ALR approves excluding the land, he would not be able to develop it for housing, but would still have to come back to council to make a case for a development permit.

Asked if he has plans of that kind, Bustin said he didn’t.

“I have no aspirations at the moment.”

Even if he doesn’t build any housing on the land, Bustin said he still requires the rezoning because that would allow him to mortgage the site and get some equity out of it, something that is not possible at the moment.

“You can’t borrow money on ALR property.”

Trying to revive the site as a turkey farm is not practical, Bustin said.

According to him, the barns were built in 1960 and are all but falling down.

They would have to be replaced.

“The cost is prohibitive,” Bustin said.

“We’re not talking chump change. It’s not feasible.”

He predicted the rising cost of land will force most farms west of 200 Street to seek exclusion from the ALR.

The majority of council did not support the proposed exclusion, but agreed to refer the matter to the ALC and allow the owners to make their case.

Councillor David Davis voted against.

A Nov. 26 report to council by the Township community development division opposes the exclusion, saying it doesn’t comply with Township or Metro Vancouver plans for the area.

The owners want the property taken out and included in the new Brookswood/Fernridge Community plan review.

The site currently has two single family dwellings, three large barns and accessory buildings.

In July of 2013, Metro Vancouver’s new Regional Growth Strategy will take effect and it designates the property as agricultural-only.

The report to council warns that if the land is take out and development is permitted, it would need water and sewer services and those should be funded by the developer.

In 1992, an application to have the same section of land excluded from the ALR was rejected by the ALC.

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