NOTE: The province of B.C. has once again declared a week in February as Chamber of Commerce Week. This year, it runs Feb. 12 to 16, and the Langley Advance Times, worked with the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce to put together a series of stories to inform people in Langley about the local business organization and what it does to bolster and advocate for companies in this community.
Members of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce have spoken about the same transportation issues over and over during the last decade.
Top of the list was widening Highway One through Langley, and on beyond to Abbotsford and Chilliwack, to allow for the movement of goods and people.
Then there was getting more transit, vital to allowing workers to get to jobs, especially if they lacked a car.
Finally there was the ever-present question of getting some kind of bus link to Gloucester Industrial Park, the Aldergrove site that employees thousands of people, but which has no direct transit service.
If all of those goals haven’t been realized, more of them are on the way than ever before.
The expansion of Highway One will keep going, east of 264th Street in Aldergrove and all the way to Mt. Lehman Road in Abbotsford in the next phase. The project will eventually extend all the way out to Chilliwack.
“We’re thrilled to see that,” said Cory Redekop, CEO of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
The project ultimately may have to go as far east as Hope, he noted. Each stage, right now, simply moves the bottlenecks further down the line.
But ultimately, widening the highway and upgrading the aging overpasses and interchanges, particularly at 264th Street, where traffic from the Aldergrove border crossing and the Gloucester Industrial Park mingle with commuters on the highway, will make a big difference.
The newly re-designed 264th interchange will also have space for a bus loop and a park and ride.
“That should bring, finally, bus service to Gloucester Estate,” said Redekop.
Making sure that TransLink and BC Transit – which services the Fraser Valley from Abbotsford east – can bring buses to that site will be another question. But the infrastructure will be in place.
Farther west, there are other potential transit development that is hopeful – the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line that the TransLink Mayors Council wants to set to run down 200th Street, from Langley City connecting over the Golden Ears Bridge to Maple Ridge.
If built, it will be a separated bus lane with dedicated roofed bus stops and fast boarding. With its own lane, it should be able to move faster than rush hour traffic.
It’s an opportunity not just for transit, but to act as a catalyst for growth and development along the whole corridor, said Redekop.
Langley Township is currently gathering public opinion on its 200th Street 2040 plan.
Redekop says the chance to build communities around frequent, reliable transit service could help get people out of their cars.
For most of Langley’s history, people have moved into neighbourhoods with no transit service. Even if transit service arrives later, they already own cars and have built their schedules around using them. The new transit corridor offers a rare chance to have the service in place first.
Another road widening with a big potential impact will be along Fraser Highway, where Langley Township has been expanding the road to four lanes in segments over the years.
A study to look at better utilizing the industrial lands along parts of western Fraser Highway, between Otter and Murrayville, could bring jobs as well, said Redekop. Industrial land is worth its weight in gold in Metro Vancouver, and creating more along a major transport route would be a boon to business.
SkyTrain, still expected to arrive in Langley in 2028, will also be a spark for new growth, mostly in the City and around Willowbrook.
There’s one more transit dream that’s been floated that the chamber is considering. Advocacy group Rail for the Valley has been lobbying politicians at all levels for years to reactivate the old Interurban rail line that once ran from Vancouver out as far as Chilliwack.
The rail lines are still there, although they are used mostly by freight services now.
“It’s an interesting idea. We’re investigating it,” said Redekop.
The main thing the chamber wants when it comes to transit and transportation is more options, he explained.
“Our motto for transit is ‘Yes, and!’” Redekop said.
For many issues around development and local taxation, it’s the civic governments that the chamber talks to.
On transit and major roads, however, they have to get the attention of the provincial and federal governments. Those governments control the purse strings for new rapid transit, bus lines, and highway expansions.
It all comes down to funding when local businesses are hoping to be able to move goods and people around the community more easily.