Brookswood OCP defeated

If there is to be a new Brookswood Official Community Plan, the process will have to start over again.

Langley Township council defeated the Brookswood/Fernridge OCP in a seven to two vote Monday night during a meeting held at the Christian Life Assembly Church.

The mostly-full church was packed with residents bearing signs or t-shirts asking people to leave Brookswood alone.

It was plain from the first moments of the meeting that the controversial proposed OCP would not be passed as it was.

Councillor Charlie Fox suggested sending the OCP back to Township planning staff for some significant revisions.

He suggested reducing the density, bringing down population projections from 42,000 in 30 years to about 35,000, minimizing road impacts along 196th Street and 40th Avenue, and adding more consultation and community input.

The outpouring of concerns from the community meant another look had to be taken at the OCP, Fox said.

“It’s time that we took a step back,” he said.

Not everything in the new OCP should simply be tossed out, Fox said. He pointed to changes such as tree protection and aquifer protection in the newer version. The OCP was last updated in 1987.

“There’s a significant number of upgrades in the 2014 document that I think have value,” Fox said.

Other councillors, however, wanted to start fresh.

The plan was meant to preserve the existing character of Brookswood and Fernridge, noted Coun. Michelle Sparrow. 

“In my opinion, it does not,” she said.

Sparrow also mentioned the contentious fact that a group of Brookswood landowners helped jump start the planning process by providing a $500,000 loan to the Township.

“It concerns me that influences from outside this council table and staff are what drove this process forward,” Sparrow said.

Few of the councillors were in favour of the plan as it existed.

“To me, it’s fairly clear that it’s not going to fly the way it is,” said Coun. Bob Long.

“We need to go back to the drawing board,” said Coun. Kim Richter.

Only Coun. Grant Ward said he might support the OCP without major changes.

“I am in favour of the OCP generally,” Ward said. He did say there was a lot of tweaking that could be done to the plan.

The swing vote on the amendment proved to be Coun. Steve Ferguson, a longtime Brookswood resident himself.

He initially had positive things to say about a possible amendment, but then saw the rest of the council divide over it.

“We have to be unanimous on this plan, or we can’t move forward,” said Ferguson, who grew emotional during part of his comments.

The council voted five to four against a referral for changes. Councillors Bev Dornan, Ward, Fox, and Mayor Jack Froese were in favour.

Froese said that whatever happens next, even if the density of Brookswood remains the same, a lot of work could be done to update the OCP, including environmental and aquifer protection.

The council voted seven to two on the main motion, defeating the OCP. That means no immediate change in density or new development plans for Brookswood.

Long made a motion at the end of the meeting, calling for a new OCP process to start, using all the information collected from the previous process and hearings.

Richter added a motion calling for a moratorium on clearcutting.

Both motions will come up for debate and vote at a later meeting.

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