Land currently proposed for co-housing project should become a park instead, says a member of the family that formerly owned the land.
Cassandra Janzen has started a petition on Change.org calling for the land at the corner of 203rd Street and 66th Avenue to become Shalom Janzen Park.
Janzen said her family had an agreement with the Township that sometime after the property was sold in 2003, it would become parkland.
“My grandparents would have never agreed to sell it if they knew this is where it would end up,” Janzen wrote in the preamble to her petition.
However, according to Scott Thompson, the Township’s manager of property services, there were no contracts signed at the time of the sale that oblige the Township to turn the land into a park.
Thompson said his understanding was that members of the cohousing group had also spoken to at least one former owner of the land about their plans.
From 2003 to the present, relatives of the original owners have continued to live on the land as tenants of the Township, but now an agreement to purchase the property has been signed by Compass Cohousing.
Compass is a group who want to collaboratively design and build a townhouse-style cohousing project for between 34 and 37 units.
The group issued a statement noting that they had been in touch with members of the Janzen family about the plans for the site.
“We would like to clarify that what we want to build is not something we’re doing to make a profit, but rather a community where we plan to live ourselves,” the statement says.
“Early in our negotiations with the Township of Langley, the Township explained to us that the Janzen family wanted the land to be used for a purpose they could approve of. Accordingly, we were in contact with the family, and received encouragement that they were favourable to what we hope to build there. We have proceeded based on that approval.”
Cohousing projects resemble ordinary townhouse and condo developments from the outside, but the future residents don’t just buy a unit. Instead, they’re involved at every stage of the process, from finding the land, to helping design the complex, to working together once the project is built.
The group spent about five years working to find a suitable piece of land, which is priced at about $3.6 million. Now that they’ve found a site, they have an upcoming meeting on Dec. 8 at which they’re hoping to recruit new members who will invest and work together to get the project built.