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Southlands debate continues in Delta

A proposal to put a piece of Delta farmland back into the Agricultural Land Reserve is proving contentious as council heads into its third public hearing on the issue this evening.

The Southlands property, a 538-acre former farm near Point Roberts, was removed from the ALR more than 30 years ago and has been dormant ever since. It's included in Metro Vancouver's Green Zone under the region's most recent growth stratety plan.

However, in a surprise move last month, Delta's chief administrative officer George Harvie recommended that the property be put back in the ALR.

The first public meetings on the issue have attracted hundreds of residents both opposed to and in favour of Harvie's recommendation.

Local opposition has thwarted previous attempts to develop the property. The latest development proposal is from B.C.'s Century Group, which purchased the property in the early '90s. In 2006, Century Group president Sean Hodgins proposed a vision for the land that would see one-third of the site developed for housing, one-third for community amenities like parkland and one-third for agriculture.

While some see the proposal as a new vision for urban agriculture, others, including longtime ALR defender Harold Steves fear it will only further drive up prices of farmland in the area.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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