Langley Township moved a step forward towards allowing demolition of some of the boarded-up buildings in downtown Fort Langley on Monday.
The council voted in favour of allowing heritage alteration permits, which would then allow for demolition permits, pending certain conditions being met.
The fact that both sites could soon be transferred to the ownership of the Kwantlen First Nation (KFN) came up quickly during discussion.
“Isn’t this now a little bit redundant?” asked Councillor Kim Richter.
But Mayor Jack Froese noted they could deal with the application in front of them.
The lands are owned by Councillor Eric Woodward’s company and charitable foundation. Woodward recused himself from voting on the matter due to conflict of interest and was out of the council chamber during the discussion and vote.
However, after the vote Woodward said that the vote will mean only one of the sites will effectively be allowed to demolish. One of the requirements is for council to see conceptual plans and drawings for the future of the site.
A development permit was applied for, but withdrawn, for the east side sites, which are around Glover Road, Mary Road, and Church Street.
The west side properties are farther to the north, and there was not a development permit for the sites. Woodward said he believes that will block the demolition, despite the fact that future development will be under KFN auspices.
If any of the buildings are demolished, Woodward said he intends to transform the land into green space until redevelopment can take place.
Without a development application for the west side properties, Woodward said they can’t be demolished and will remain derelict.
However, as Richter noted, the Township may not be in charge of any future redevelopment. Last week, KFN and Woodward announced the intent to transfer the property and make it part of the Kwantlen’s reserve lands.
That would put the land under the authority of the KFN.
Brenda Knights, who is the head of the seyem, the KFN’s business arm, was at Monday’s meeting and said it’s hard to put into words what it means for the Kwantlen to add to their reserve land, something that has never happened before.
“It’s amazing,” Knights said of the transfer.
“We’re taught that we’re here for the next seven generations,” she said, and noted that the lands are traditional ancestral lands of the Kwantlen.
The Kwantlen have lost reserve lands in the past, including appropriations of reserve lands in Glen Valley years ago, and of the Albion dock lands when the ferry and road to it was built in the 1950s.
It could take three to five years to go through the process of transferring the lands to KFN control, but Woodward was hopeful it could be done sooner than that.
In September, the council voted not to demolish any of the buildings until plans had been presented for replacement developments.