“The public has spoken,” voiced Langley Township Coun. Petrina Arnason at Monday afternoon’s council meeting – where the majority of councillors and mayor voted to demolish the long-standing Alder Inn.
“Having read all the different submissions from the community,” Arnason said it was clear what the majority of Aldergrove wanted.
“The community wants the building demolished now,” Coun. Kim Richter affirmed.
Up until July 13, the Township was asking Aldergrove residents and stakeholders in the community for feedback regarding Coun. Eric Woodward’s June 15 motion to demolish the 71-year-old downtown building.
“We’ve heard from the public that the building needs to come down,” said Coun. Blair Whitmarsh, referencing feedback results.
The only member of council adamantly opposed to the demolition was Aldergrove resident Bob Long, who argued that the $250,000 estimated cost of abatement and demolition of the site was counter to the Townships’s vested interests.
“If we demolish it we will have no revenue coming from it at all. At least when it’s occupied we get tax revenue of $20,000 per year,” Long said.
“It will leave a big gap in the middle of downtown,” he continued.
“I think the building needs to be sold, or at least leased,” Long said, to recoup some of the cost of purchasing it – along with two adjacent lots – for $5.4-million in June 2019.
Woodward rebutted that demolition of the central site will in fact increase the value of the property at 27214 Fraser Hwy. due to “the removal of an old building that is no longer economically viable.”
Ultimately, councillors Long and Arnason voted against the demolition – with Arnason citing concerns about the accelerated pace of Woodward’s motion to topple the structure.
“I’m just going to vote what my conscience tells me is the right decision,” she said.
Long alluded to the Township not considering a recent offer made to buy and re-purpose the hotel.
The rest of council ultimately voted in favour of demolition.
READ MORE: Is this the Alder Inn’s end?
Funding sourced for the project is to be determined by council at a later date, Township Mayor Jack Froese said.
The Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre (ACUCC), just down the road from the inn was mentioned several times throughout the meeting.
Both Whitmarsh and Davis questioned an expenditure for demolition downtown after council was informed that the lack of financial resources has led to the extended closure of the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience since mid-March, as well other recreational opportunities put on by the Township this summer in Aldergrove.
“Opening the ACUCC needs to be priority,” Davis said.