Letter: Half of Murrayville land parcel to remain in ALR – owner

Editor: I am responding to the letter from D. Harkin (the Times, Feb. 3) regarding an Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) exclusion application for the property we own on 48 Avenue in Murrayville.

48th Avenue Investments Lt. has spent the past year working with our team of professionals preparing a thoughtful proposal to preserve most of the features and amenities that D. Harkin refers to in the letter, including retaining 50 per cent of the land in the ALR.

The site is 38 acres and is in the ALR. The application does not seek to remove the entire site from the ALR; rather, only the easterly portion (roughly 19 acres) to create approximately 22 suburban residential lots.

Of these 19 acres, approximately five acres will be preserved as riparian habitat along the north east and east property lines, in accordance with the Township’s Streamside Protection bylaw. This land will be dedicated to the Township in an improved state.

Any invasive species will be removed and the area planted with native species.

The end result will be a rehabilitated water course and a landscaped buffer between the existing homes and the proposed new ones.

Presently, the north-south water course is an open ditch without any significant shrubs or native trees along its banks.

It is important to note that watercourse setbacks vary between ALR land uses versus residential land uses.

Agricultural have a different and lesser set of regulations that apply to riparian areas. Under the current agricultural zone, should any of the permitted uses be built, there are no requirements to improve the watercourse.

The existing agricultural zoning permits numerous soil-based and non-soil-based intensive agriculture uses, such as greenhouses, poultry, mushroom and intensive livestock production. All of which are economical and viable agricultural uses for the site.

The site forms the tip of an ALR peninsula located between the developed residential areas of Murrayville and Brookswood-Fernridge, creating a venue for ongoing urban-agriculture conflict. The Right to Farm Legislation and the ALR protects the rights associated with the ability to farm unencumbered. Given these two bodies of regulation are federal and provincial, the municipality does not have jurisdiction.

The proposal includes a north-south street greenway connection that will form part of the Township’s arbour ribbon — a landscaped buffer of varying width along the urban-rural interface that extends from Murrayville and runs along the east side of Willoughby to connect to Walnut Grove.

The arbour ribbon will provide passive recreation opportunities, such as trails, and will also create a physical separation between urban development and agricultural uses, provide wildlife habitat, protect landscape heritage features and provide tree planting and interpretive opportunities.

With this proposal, the balance of the land, the westerly portion of approximately 38 acres will remain in the ALR and is proposed to be deeded to the Township of Langley in an improved agricultural state, which involves: decompacting subsoil, installation of subsurface drainage, and irrigation and soil fertility enhancement for the purpose of a municipal tree nursery or related low-impact agricultural use.

Thus, the agricultural land is preserved while green space is added to the arbour ribbon.

The proposal provides an overall vision for the urban-rural interface and a cohesive strategy that eliminates the potential for ongoing urban-rural conflict along the north west boundary of Murrayville and the ALR by creating a desirable permanent buffer.

By bringing this land into development now, there is an opportunity to improve the agricultural capability of 50 per cent of the site, bringing this land into production with agricultural uses that do not conflict with existing residential uses and these compatible ongoing uses secured through municipal ownership.

David Dungey

48th Avenue Investments Ltd.