Pitt Meadows could lose more than 100 acres of farmland if CP Rail gets the greenlight to expand its operations in the community.
Plans for the CP Logistics Park [cplogisticspark.ca] were unveiled in December following consultations with the municipality, Katzie First Nation and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority last summer. A public consultation on the project wraps up this week. The last of three open houses will be held tonight via videoconference and a survey of local opinion closes January 15.
“CP is proposing to construct a multi-modal, multi-commodity transload and logistics facility adjacent to its Vancouver Intermodal Facility in Pitt Meadows, to meet increased rail demand in Canada’s largest trade gateway,” the rail company says.
The project description outlines plans for 13 silos accommodating 15,600 tonnes of peas, lentils and beans (the equivalent of 147 train cars, or one unit train), an auto transload facility, and 11 tanks for holding ethanol and transportation fuels from Alberta and the US Midwest for distribution locally and overseas.
The project will occupy 101 acres south of Lougheed Highway. CP acquired the properties making up the site between 2012 and 2017. The land falls within the Agricultural Land Reserve. However, rights Ottawa granted to the company at its founding eliminate the need for it to file an exclusion application for railway expansion.
This concerns Shannon Roberts of Blooming Meadows, who operates a small-lot mixed farm with her sister near the proposed facility. She also worries about site safety, light pollution and the effect of particulate matter from site activities on her laying hens and field-grown cut flowers.
“A dirty flower is not a sellable flower,” she says, noting that hundreds of trucks will be needed to bring fill to the site, which sits on the floodplain adjacent to the Pitt River.
Preload will affect the water table in the area, which already suffers from drainage issues.
“I honestly don’t feel like I’m going to be able to farm my land,” she said. “I feel like it will be flooded.”
Similar concerns were raised when CP bought 58 acres of the site in 2012. Pitt Meadows, which is set to receive $4 million in property taxes each year from the proposed development, said at the time it was confident CP would work to mitigate drainage problems.
Agricultural Land Commission CEO Kim Grout, then director of operations for Pitt Meadows, told local media in 2012 that CP brings a long-term vision for its properties.
The commission is among the parties that intend to provide feedback on CP’s plans for the farmland.
Construction of the logistics facility is set to begin in 2026.