A council vote Monday could help pave the way for a new museum in Fort Langley, by demolishing buildings on eight residential lots.
Council voted unanimously in favour of a heritage alteration permit for the lots, which are on King Street, Mavis Avenue, Royal Street, and Mary Avenue. Councillor Eric Woodward did not vote due to a conflict of interest, as his foundation owns a significant amount of nearby property.
According to a staff report, removing the buildings is required because federal funding for the new museum project requires that the Township has to show expenditures, and that it has to demonstrate the project is “shovel ready” in order to obtain further funding.
The homes are all located between the current Langley Centennial Museum to the west and the grounds of the Fort Langley National Historic Site to the east.
None of the buildings is a heritage site, as they are all mid-century homes along with various sheds, garages, and outbuildings.
However, the site itself has a considerable amount of history, according to the Township’s report. It was the second area farmed by the Hudson’s Bay Company in Langley, between 1839 and 1888. It remained farmland into the early 1950s, and between then and the 1970s, the farmland was subdivided and the current homes were built.
While there aren’t thought to be any settlement-era historical structures, the site’s history of occupation by First Nations people goes back thousands of years.
Throughout demolition and new construction, archaeological monitoring will take place at the site.
Langley Township announced major plans for its land around the site in 2018, including a partnership with the Kwantlen First Nation. A new, much larger museum and a cultural centre are planned for the area, with some residential development helping to pay for the costs of the the site. The land nearby is largely Township-owned and has been rental housing for years.