A proposal to fund road expansions in Willoughby will be considered, but not started right away, following a vote at Langley Township council Monday night.
Councillor Eric Woodward had called for a new amenity fund, paid for by development across Willoughby, that would be put towards road upgrades on several major roads, including 208th Street, 200th Street, 202A Street near R.E. Mountain Secondary, 80th Avenue, and others.
“We need to reform the system that has created 208th Street,” Woodward said.
“Development has created the problem, and development needs to solve it,” he added.
Council split on Woodward’s motion, approving a report and analysis of Woodward’s plan, with a report back to council in the near future.
However, they voted against actually drafting the new policy and bringing it back to council to consider implementing.
Several councillors had questions, with Coun. Blair Whitmarsh asking whether the amenity contribution shouldn’t be coming from all across the community, considering roads like 208th and 216th Street are used by drivers from many areas.
He said he was concerned about the costs to developers and residents that might result.
Mayor Jack Froese said he wanted to hear from developers, and worried about borrowing against the fund and whether the Township might be stuck with debt servicing costs.
Coun. Petrina Arnason described the idea as a helpful “outside of the box” proposal and talked of possibly rolling it out in Brookswood-Fernridge, the next community to see major development.
Woodward said after the vote he is excited about the prospect of finally achieving badly needed policy reform for Willoughby, and said he hopes the report can come back to council by mid-June.
“There may be other options for council to consider as well, and staff can confirm the numbers and a potential policy structure that aligns with our DCC [development cost charges] program,” Woodward said.
Right now, even major arterial roads such as 208th Street are only widened to their full four lanes, with new sidewalks, bike lanes, another other features, when lots are developed, with the developers shouldering the costs.
Local residents have complained for years that this means 208th Street abruptly widens and contracts between two, three, and four lanes at various points between 68th Avenue and the overpass in the north.
It also means that sidewalks start and stop, or are only built down one side of certain streets.
There are about 1,400 developable acres available for building in Willoughby, Woodward noted in a memo on his plan.