A temporary public plaza to be created on the site of the former Alder Inn in downtown Aldergrove will have a $150,000 budget, Langley Township council has decided.
The site has been vacant since the Alder Inn was demolished in November last year, after the Township spent $5.4 million to buy the former hotel and two neighbouring lots.
But by the summer of last year, before the building came down, the Township was asking for public input on what should happen to the site.
Township staff presented several options, but recommended a packed gravel surface with space for a portable event stage, portable tables and chairs stored in a steel container when not in use, and some modular planters with benches and other seating areas. Some overhead string lighting will illuminate the site in the evenings.
The container can also be used for “bike valet” storage when public events are being held. While there won’t be washrooms on the site, portable toilets could be required for major events.
There are more than 60 parking stalls in nearby lots.
The area will be available for use by local groups to have public gatherings, as long as the COVID-19 restart plan allows, and staff are aiming to have it done by as soon as July 1. Although there have been no official plans laid for a Canada Day event on the site, there have been inquires from the Aldergrove Business Association about whether it would be available, said Chris Marshall, manager of parks design and development.
Councillor Eric Woodward and Kim Richter initially backed the idea of putting forward the project with a budget envelope of $100,000.
“My main objective for this is to not use the Aldergrove Community Amenity Fund for this,” Woodward said, as the modular planters, furniture, and containers could end up in other communities. The project is to be funded out of the 2022 budget surplus instead.
Other councillors generally agreed with the scope, but had concerns about the cost of getting electrical servicing and the other planned features for that cost, below the $150,000 staff had estimated.
Coun. Steve Ferguson asked for the “ballpark” figure for electrical and water hookup costs for the site. Staff said the projected cost was $20,000 for hooking up electrical systems to the site.
“Could we not go with what staff have said?” Coun. Bob Long said, speaking about the $150,000 recommended price.
Coun. Blair Whimarsh’s motion to increase the funding back up to $150,000 was approved, and the overall plan also got a thumbs up from a majority of council. He was concerned there wouldn’t be enough funding for the project’s electrical hookup.
Work is expected to start on the site soon.
Before it was demolished, the Alder Inn, a 71-year-old building, hosted a beer and wine store, a schnitzel restaurant, and Langley’s last strip club.
Most of its functions were shut down after a serious fire in 2019.
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