A former head of Langley Township’s operations department is upset that trees are being cut down in a municipal park, apparently to create more parking for civic staff.
Rene Payer lives in Murrayville, not far from the Township’s operations centre on 224th Street. Behind the operations centre is Old Yale Park, a large swathe of green space with walking trails, some ponds, and a community garden.
When some trees on the north end of the park near the Operations Centre started being cut down in early March, the Payers asked staff leaving the operations centre what was happening, and were told the area was being converted into a temporary gravel parking lot.
“We feel a little bit betrayed,” Payer said.
He noted that the neighbours had been involved in consultations when the park was first created several years ago, and had a hand in deciding its form.
A memo written by the Township’s engineering division to Township council on March 10 set out the reasons for the parking expansion.
Currently, there are 214 parking stalls at the Operations Centre, but when all the departments are fully staffed, many workers have to park on nearby residential streets, which has led to complaints from various residents, the memo said.
To make more room, 1,000 square meters south of the Operations Centre is to be turned into 27 additional stalls, on a temporary basis.
The site will be screened by new trees from park users, and it won’t affect the trail system.
Payer said he knows the operations yard needs more parking.
Right now, a number of staff members park on the side of the road on 224th Street every day.
“I’m not crazy about that,” Payer said.
But he’s even less happy about the park losing space.
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He’s written a letter to mayor and council about the issue, and the memo notes that tree removal has been temporarily halted for now after locals complained.
However, it will have to start again to get trees down before the March 15 provincial bird nesting window, if council wants to go through with the plan, the memo said.
“It is extremely disappointing that municipal staff would consider taking over a part of the park without any consultation,” Payer wrote.
He said that he hopes the Township will set up a satellite operations yard somewhere else in the Township. Given the size of the Township, he said it was something staff were always asking for back in his day, as it would cut travel time to and from the yard to various job sites. A location in Walnut Grove or Aldergrove would help, Payer said.
The memo to council suggests that is something that staff are looking into, as it would allow them to deliver services more efficiently, as well as helping with the parking issue.
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