A proposal to increase housing density in the Brookswood area of Langley was voted down by Langley Township council Monday night.
Only Mayor Jack Froese and Councillor Grant Ward supported the proposed Brookswood plan.
Council held a special meeting at the 1,400-seat Christian Life Assembly in Langley to accommodate the crowd that showed up for the debate on the Brookswood and Coulter Berry proposals.
First on the agenda was the proposed plan to increase the population of the Brookswood area by allowing multiple-family dwellings and smaller lots.
Councillor Charlie Fox tried to convince the rest of council to send the proposed plan back to Township staff for a re-write which would answer the objections raised by plan opponents during a marathon multi-evening public hearing.
“It’s time we took a step back,” Fox said, arguing a re-write would be better than throwing out the plan because that would also junk the input from the public hearings.
“I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Fox said.
But he could not convince a majority of councillors.
“Starting at zero is not a bad thing,” said Councillor David Davis.
Councillor Kim Richter drew cheers and applause when she said Brookswood should not follow the example of the higher-density Willoughby neighbourhood in Langley, which she described as “an experiment in high density” that is going to go wrong.
“We have to leave the wood in Brookswood,” Richter said, adding she would be seeking an order to ban clear-cutting in Brookswood that, some have suggested, is the work of would-be builders who expect higher housing density will be allowed.
Councillor Bob Long said sending the plan back for amendments was “dangerous” and a new process should be started.
Councillor Michelle Sparrow said the plan does not respect Township planning guidelines that call for respecting the character of neighbourhoods.
“My gut feeling is, I can’t support it,” Sparrow said.
Sparrow was applauded when she referred to the involvement of “influences outside the council table” in the planning process, an apparent reference to the group of developers who covered the cost of the Brookswood planning process by the Township.
Councillor Steve Ferguson said the proposed changes could not proceed given the degree of opposition in the community.
“We have to be unanimous on this plan or we can’t move forward,” Ferguson said.
Councillor Bev Dornan said it was clear the plan, as it stands, “certainly did not meet the needs of this community.”
Ward said the plan could be adjusted to meet resident concerns.
“There is a lot of tweaking that can be done,” Ward said.
Froese said the plan was only a “general guideline” that will allow for more public consultation before decisions about the exact size and location of new housing are made.
“We’re in the middle of a process,” Froese said.
After the Fox proposal to revamp the plan failed to pass, council voted 7-2 to reject it.
Later that evening, Long said he would be pressing council to immediately begin work on a new Brookswood plan that would include material from the public hearings on the defeated proposal.