Langley City Council has put a controversial proposal to build an urban demonstration farm along a Hydro line on the back burner by voting to receive a final report on a possible design, without taking any further action.
The decision on the Langley Urban Agriculture Demonstration Project at Monday night’s meeting followed presentation of a scaled-down plan to redevelop the 23-acre (9.4 ha) BC Hydro transmission right-of-way between 200 Street and 204 Street.
As prepared by the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, the final concept plan, if built, would have left most of the site unchanged, with 22 per cent being used for vegetable growing, orchards and “micro-production gardens.”
“This proposal also aims to address the concerns of residents by scaling back production elements, enhancing the natural character of the site and outlining a plan for long-term management that involves community collaboration,” said KPU research associate Emily Hansen.
The report estimated the project would cost $981,000 to build, and $95,500 to operate.
It did not say where the money might come from, other than listing possible sources that included grants, corporate donations and the sale of produce from the farm.
The idea of an urban farm did not sit well with some City residents, who complained the project would ruin the character of the area and create traffic and parking issues along with a potential pest problem.
About 40 people filled the council chambers at an Oct. 2 meeting to demonstrate opposition to the project that the City, Metro Vancouver regional authority and KPU were looking into.
A staff report to council observed the feedback at the open-house consultation meetings on the project was mostly negative.
“A majority of those who provided input during the consultation process did not support the use of the site for urban agriculture,” it noted.
Council had a choice of simply receiving the report, or receiving it and also directing staff staff to “investigate the business case for future phases of the project, including funding partners, community resources and neighbourhood support.”
When it came up for discussion, Coun. Nathan Pachal called for simply receiving the report without going further.
That was approved unanimously (Coun. Jack Arnold was absent due to illness).
Mayor Ted Schaffer took the opportunity to take issue with some comments made on social media, which he said suggested the urban farm was a “done deal.”
The fact the City is taking a look at a proposal doesn’t mean a decision has been made one way or the other, the mayor said.
“I take exception (to that suggestion), personally,” Schaffer said.
“I don’t see a done deal around this table at all.”
The mayor said he was “thoroughly disgusted” by some of the comments directed at City staff and members of council.