Nearly 1,000 names have been collected so far on a petition to stop the sale of Township land at 252 Street and 84 Avenue in Glen Valley.
The land, which nearby residents believe is a park, is full of mature conifers and is popular among local walkers and cyclists. It is part of eight parcels of Township land in Glen Valley that have been slated for sale to raise funds for purchasing Aldergrove Elementary School, which will be converted into a community centre.
But neighbours to the Glen Valley property believe the land is a unique spot in Langley and should be left alone.
The petition, along with many drawings from children depicting the forest, were hand delivered to the Township civic facility on Tuesday.
They have signatures from as far away as the United Kingdom, Belize and South Africa.
“We try to preserve our history in terms of wonderful heritage sites. (The forest) is living heritage. It predates most of our buildings,” said Glen Valley resident Barbara Shelly.
“Forests that are this old really give a reminder of our heritage and our continued history. How rarely we get to experience a forest like this,” she said.
The land was put up for sale on the BC bid website in May and and was closed on June 29 at 2 p.m.
Township staff will now present a report to council on July 23. It will then be up to council to decide whether to accept a bid, put the land back up for sale or take it off the market entirely.
The BC Bid process is one of three vehicles the Township uses when selling land, said Scott Thompson, manager of property services for the Township. They may also use their own staff to try to sell property or engage the services of real estate agents.
“Depending on what kind of property it is, where it’s located, we’ve been having some success to date with using BC bid,” Thompson said.
“That is more typically the start of the process and then we’ll try to sell it on our own after that and finally use the services of realtors.”
Erin Perry, who moved to the area five years ago, says the first time she took her kids for a walk in the forest “it was like a fairy garden.”
Her family walks and rides their bikes down there regularly — often on a weekly basis, depending on the season.
“It’s become a special place for my kids as each year they’ve grown,” she said.
It is also a place of “peace, serenity, and quiet,” said Ellen Klemm, a longtime resident of the area.
She describes her relationship to the forest as “a love affair” and says its important to preserve it for our kids and grandchildren.
“Kids are becoming out of touch with nature,” she said. “It is important that we save this site for them.”
Petitions are still available at Wendel’s Cafe in Fort Langley, 9233 Glover Rd., or online at www.ipetitions.com. Search “save 100 year old Conifer Forest, McLellan Park 252 Street and 84 Avenue Glen Valley, Langley” on the right side of the page.