Glen Valley residents are keeping the pressure on Township council to retain 25 acres of forest that are currently listed for sale.
Two weeks ago council caved in to public demand and agreed to take an adjoining 21 acres of forest off an auction website, but Mayor Jack Froese said that the Township would go ahead with plans to sell the five five-acre parcels near 84 Avenue and 260 Street.
Several residents returned to council on July 23 meeting, urging the Township to stop the sale.
“I urge you again, please give time, thought and room for public dialogue before making a rash decision or wielding a pen,” Hillary Ruffini told council.
“The conifer and mixed forest in Glen Valley is the last accessible area where you can see and feel what Langley pioneers faced,” she said, noting that 130 years ago most of Langley was a vast conifer forest.
“They give people more of a touch with the past than old photos could ever do,” Ruffini said adding that the land is a mere five minutes from Fort Langley and the three museums that honour the community’s pioneers.
Scott Perry pointed to Stanley Park as an example of the foresight of our founding fathers which has given an abundance of returns over the years.
He noted that shortly after a windstorm destroyed many trees in Stanley Park in 2006, $10 million was raised from private donations to restore the park. In fact, Perry pointed out, the actual economic loss attributed to the trees was only $1 million.
The sale of the Township’s forested inventory in Glen Valley is tied to the purchase of the Aldergrove Elementary School site. The municipality had hoped to use $2 million from the sale to finance the project which is part of a plan to build a pool, ice rink and recreation centre costing approximately $33 million.
When Froese announced that the sale of the 21 acres would not proceed, he challenged residents to come up with the shortfall.
Perry revealed that a number of people committed to protecting the land have come up with a plan to meet that challenge.
They propose the formation of a non-profit organization, Watchers of Langley Forests, to facilitate the process. He said that WOLF would approach a number of bodies for funding, including the provincial government, Metro Vancouver, the Habitat Conservation Trust, the Fraser Valley Council, Ducks Unlimited, the B.C. Natural Trust, and other philanthropic funding partners.
The group hopes to work alongside other local partners such as the Salmon River Enhancement Society, Langley Environmental Partners Society and Langley Field Naturalists.
Another local resident, Kirk Robertson, warned council that the decision to sell the 25 acres is irrevocable.