It was a full house inside Township council chambers on Tuesday night, as nearly 50 people stood up to voice their opinions on the Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan during a public hearing that lasted four and a half hours.
In fact, so many people turned up, that several had to listen from a separate room, and were brought in by staff when it was their turn to speak.
The majority of residents told council about their concerns with the draft plan, ranging from loose wording and environmental protection to infrastructure and lot sizes, while others urged them to pass the document as quickly as possible.
The draft community plan includes a range of housing — with 91 per cent single family, six per cent multi-family and mixed use, and three per cent manufactured home parks — along with a tree protection bylaw, seven new schools, 100 acres of additional park space and 50 km of new trails and greenways.
By 2042, an estimated 39,000 residents will call Brookswood-Fernridge home.
One of the largest groups represented at the public hearing were residents from Cedar Creek Estates mobile home park.
Located at 3031 200 St., the 50-year-old park is open only to people over the age of 55, and is home to many retirees.
The draft plan changes the park’s land use designation from manufactured home park to rowhouse/townhouse, which had many speakers worried that the 150 senior residents who live there will become displaced.
Karen Jarvie said that the residents feel there is a “lack of understanding and compassion for our community.” The mobile home park is “not the Trailer Park Boys,” but rather a safe, affordable retirement community where seniors can age in place.
“What we all would like to know is, where do you expect us to go?” she asked. “Where do you expect us to live after we’ve put money into our homes? By voting yes, you will be making 150 seniors homeless.”
Four other mobile home parks located south of 26 Avenue have been protected with the manufactured home park designation, but Cedar Creek has not, she added.
An equally popular topic of the night was lot size, with multiple people speaking against the 4,000 square foot lots proposed under Single Family 3.
Brian Cameron said the argument that the smaller lots will help with housing affordability is a “red herring” and that the only winner will be the developer. He believes affordability can be reached by building smaller homes on 7,000 square foot lots.
He is also worried that the “lifestyle and character” of the area will be destroyed — the very features that drew him and his wife to Brookswood 30 years ago, despite both having to commute to Vancouver for work.
“I’ve been to a lot of these council meetings, I’ve watched your votes. In my experience, I see a lot of 5-4 votes pass, and I don’t like 5-4 votes,” he said. “I think if a plan is excellent, it’s nine to nothing — that’s what I’d be shooting for.”
However, not all were displeased with the plan.
Evelyn Faulkner brought a petition bearing 84 names, representing 47 properties in the Cedar Ridge south area, asking the Township to expedite development, and to make their area top of the list for the new neighbourhood plans.
She said she represents properties bounded by 43 Avenue, 40 Avenue, 212 Street and 208 Street, where most of the residents are over 55 years old and have no municipal water, sewer, lighting or sidewalks.
“This is hardly the way residents in the Township of Langley should be living in 2017,” she said.
Art Bergstrom purchased his property on 32 Avenue over 20 years ago with the understanding that development would come. He thought the 2014 plan was good, and believes the 2017 plan is as well.
He also agrees with 4,000 square foot lots because he wants to see developed land used to the best of its ability. He hopes that this will help protect “other pristine land” from being eroded.