Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called it “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley school board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.
Langley Township council was asked: Will there be enough parks, rec facilities, and libraries for the Township’s rapidly-growing population over the next decade?
Mayor Jack Froese
Councillor Petrina Arnason
A. Yes. We manage our long-term planning by implementing updated financial plans to address our future needs.
Given escalating demand for parkland and greenspace, we must continue to set aside more money for parks and update our 2002 Parks and Recreation Master Plan to keep pace with growth and changing demographics. It is also important to review all potential funding options to reduce the burden on taxpayers.
Recent tree protection advisory committee discussions show there is a strong scientific and public policy rationale for more parkland acquisition across the Township. This could include the Horne Pit lands in South Langley, based on rehabilitation of the site to enhance protection of the existing wetland and sensitive areas around the Tatalu/Little Campbell River.
Developing recreation infrastructure is a large component of long-term planning. Significant plans are ongoing for existing Willoughby, Aldergrove, and Murrayville locations, as well as assessments of prospective options for Brookswood, Milner, and Fort Langley.
Our library master plan has been important in creating the framework for community library planning and delivery. This includes recent upgrades to the existing Brookswood library, which doubled the square footage. The Fort Langley museum also contains a new 1,500-square-foot library space, and a medium-sized, 12,000-square-foot Willoughby library will soon take shape within the Willoughby Town Centre mall.
As the Township’s Fraser Valley Regional Library representative, I am also advocating for a re-located library in the re-developing Aldergrove core area, as well as new library services within the updated Willowbrook neighbourhood plans, to correspond to SkyTrain related density and growth.
Councillor David Davis
A. No, because development is so strong and there seems to be a will to populate Langley at a rapid rate.
With high density it is hard to get enough park space for everyone.
I am concerned it becomes all about the money, we are not looking ahead with a view to our quality of life and the big picture.
As for community centres and libraries, we are already feeling the pressure, not to mention the police and fire departments and the need for upgrading. We haven’t even caught up with the development already in place, never mind adding more.
Councillor Steve Ferguson
A. Parks are important, as are recreational facilities, libraries, and of course schools!
As a growing community, we cannot allow Langley’s future to fall behind in these important areas.
We have recreational facilities in Aldergrove, Willoughby, Walnut Grove, Murrayville, and Brookswood. However. we need to expand in our Official Community Plan on the following:
1. A complete recreational facility in Brookswood combined with a new library. Also sports fields for soccer, baseball, and fastball.
2. A new library in Willoughby, and the completion of Yorkson Park for soccer, baseball, rugby, and tennis.
3. Expansion of our Aldergove recreation centre.
4. Township has five regional parks (Campbell Valley, Derby Reach, Aldergove Lake, Brae Island, and the walking trails passive parks).
Councillor Margaret Kunst
A. The Township of Langley is known for its world-class sports venues, parks, and recreation facilities. But, there is lots of work to do in this area as we plan for future growth in our municipality.
We have a beautiful new library coming online in Willoughby, and Brookswood recently added more space to its existing library location.
As we continue to grow, we will need to make more investments like these to ensure our parks, recreation facilities, and libraries will meet the needs of our growing population and must be a priority as we plan for the future.
Councillor Bob Long
A. Yes. Our staff have excellent planning skills and as long as council provides the budget – all will be good.
Councillor Kim Richter
A. Yes. There already are.
Over the past 20 years, the Township has made significant investments in recreation facilities and playing fields.
We are fortunate to now have world-class facilities and turf fields, five Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, six libraries (with a seventh soon to be opened in Willoughby), and pocket parks in new neighbourhoods.
Current population projections indicate that the Township population will increase by 25,000 during the next 10 years (approximately 2,500 new residents per year).
We do need more dog off-leash parks, more trails connecting our parks, and more protection of green space and tree canopy.
Affordability and cost of living are top of mind for Township residents. So, we will also need to keep a very close eye on ballooning construction costs, inflation rates, and tax increases to ensure that our residents get best value for their tax dollar.
I will continue to make this a priority just as I have always done.
Councillor Blair Whitmarsh
A. This councillor failed to reply to this query, prior to deadline.
Councillor Eric Woodward
A. I am very much looking forward to outlining my thoughts and ideas on this, and many other important issues, during the upcoming municipal election later this summer and fall.
Next week’s Langley school district trustees are being asked: In the wake of the flag raising ceremony, what are the next steps in Indigenous reconciliation that the district should undertake over the coming year?
Watch for their answers online Sunday.