The Abbotsford Tulip Festival has had another request turned down by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to increase its parking capacity.
The festival – which has drawn huge crowds over its first two years – had sought to double the amount of parking available at the North Parallel Road site to about 13 acres, from the present 6.5.
A previous application had been rejected in 2016, but the organizers returned to the ALC last fall with a similar proposal for a non-farm use. The festival owner, Alexis Warmerdam, argued the land in question had been rendered unusable for farming by the previous owner, who dumped concrete, logs, garbage and boulders on the site. She pledged to deposit gravel on the site for parking and then, over 15 years, remediate the property to bring it back into agricultural production, similar to work done on properties where gravel is removed.
But in a decision released on Jan. 29, the ALC came to the same conclusion as before, telling Warmerdam that the property has sufficient parking for a temporary event. It also found that the property has “prime agricultural capability,” and referenced a report submitted by the applicants that said removal of the fill could help return the land to production. Removing that fill, the panel suggests, doesn’t require the land to first be converted to parking, and doing so “would negatively impact the agricultural utility of the property by reducing the area available for cultivation.”