NORTH DELTA â€” A North Delta developer is rejecting a proposed land swap idea pitched by a Delta council candidate over a controversial piece of land.
During an all-candidates meeting on Oct. 21, former councillor Heather King, who lives in Tsawwassen, suggested a land swap of the 36-hectares (89 acres) of land on the southeast corner of Highway 91 and 72nd Avenue in exchange for the long-vacant and undeveloped property known as Paterson Park in Ladner.
The land in question is located adjacent to the 2,200-hectare Burns Bog, the largest raised peat bog on the west coast of North America. Several biologists and environmentalists have decried the proposal as infringing on the "lagg" of the bog, the transition zone considered by many to be essential to the bog’s hydrology.
"When I knock on doors during this election, people in Sunshine Hills in North Delta have one common concern on their minds. They donâ€™t want development on the bog," said King, adding redeveloping the site would be too costly.
She said Paterson Park, which is located on the southwest corner of Highway 17A and Ladner Trunk Road, would be an ideal development due to its proximity to the Ladner Bus Loop, Leisure Centre, schools and other amenities.
But Teresa Cooper, spokeswoman for MK Delta Lands, said the company is reluctant to comment on any proposals during the middle of a municipal election. She said that their latest proposal, which includes 450 three-storey townhomes and 650 four-storey apartments, will come before Delta Council in early 2015.
"We’ve been working on this for about eight years and we’ve done all of our consultations and we’re very confident in our proposal and we’re excited to take it to council once the election is over," she said.
As it stands, MK Delta Lands already has a land swap proposal on the table. If approved, the company would donate 78 hectares of land it owns on the west side of Highway 91, which could then be absorbed into the contiguous Burns Bog Conservation Area.
As well, the company has stated it will only develop half of the 36-hectare subject property, leaving large portions for green space, including a natural tree buffer along the highway.
Even if MK Delta Lands was interested in Paterson Park, there’s no easy road to that land swap deal either. Paterson Park is a nine hectare (23 acre) parcel of land located at the southwest corner of Highway 17A and Ladner Trunk Road.
It was purchased by the Delta Agricultural Society (DAS) in 1902 and known as the fairgrounds until 1951 when it was renamed to honour AD Paterson, a former MLA and honourary president of the DAS. A harness race track was the cornerstone of entertainment for Ladner residents from 1898 until it closed in 1968.
After a number of failed proposals, which included shopping malls and multipurpose recreational facilities, the DAS sold four hectares (10 acres) of the eastern portion of the land to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) for $3.5 million 1993. The expectation at the time was that the university would build a campus in Delta. But that never happened. Delta owns the other half.
Any plan involving redevelopment in Paterson Park would require the co-operation of both the Corporation of Delta and KPU to sell or lease the land.
In March and April of this year the Delta Seniors Planning Team held a series of forums proposing the creation of a housing development there, but so far no developers have stepped forward with any concrete offers.
[Correction â€” An earlier version of this story indicated Heather King lives in North Delta. In fact, she lives in South Delta]