Architectural drawing of townhouse project proposed for former Langley school site.

Architectural drawing of townhouse project proposed for former Langley school site.

Town houses instead of a school

District’s land swap deal generates flak from Routley area parents

When Sonia Heer and her husband bought their first house, they chose Langley’s Routley neighbourhood to be near a school.

The property near 200 Street and 70 Avenue was owned by the school district and the Township of Langley and it was designated for use as a future elementary school.

By the time Heer’s children were school age, they would be able to walk to class, she assumed.

Then a green-and-white Township of Langley development permit sign went up on the 15-acre site.

On Monday (May 2), a letter arrived explaining an application has been made to use the property for a 103-unit townhouse complex and a public park space.

That was when Heer learned the school district, Township of Langley and a private developer negotiated a land swap that traded the Routley space for another location in the Yorkson neighbourhood at 20626 84 Avenue.

The Yorkson site is a few blocks away from the new Lynn Fripps elementary school, currently under construction at 21020 83 Avenue.

“That’s not walking distance,” said Heer, whose children are now two and four years old.

“It’s frustrating. I feel like we’ve been lied to.”

A written announcement issued last month by the school district said the land exchange was approved by the “Minister of Education through the Land Disposal Process provided in the province for such a transaction,” adding it “occurs at no additional cost to the Board of Education and provides an excellent site for a future school.”

A Township of Langley report on the proposal conceded there is a lack of space for new students near Routley, but said that will be “somewhat alleviated” when the Lynn Fripps school opens in 2012.

The report notes that the Routley neighbourhood currently falls within the catchment area of Willoughby Elementary School at 208 Street and 80 Avenue which has “limited capacity available” and the problem will only get worse this fall when all-day kindergarten starts.

“Where are all the kids in our neighbourhood supposed to go?” asked Heer.

An area resident set up a website to organize opposition to the proposed re-zoning at http://rz100361.com.

The name is the Township file number of the rezoning application.

On the web site, Pete Pretorius urged parents to turn out for a Monday (May 9) public hearing on the rezoning, set for 7 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Township municipal hall at 20338 – 65 Avenue.

“We have been deceived,” Pretorius said.

In an online forum on the site, Routley resident Ravi Sandhu said another townhouse project is “the last thing the neighbourhood needs.”

Brent Perry said the new townhouses will only mean more traffic.

“Everyone was told that there was going to be a school built in this area,” Perry said. “This is the reason why people bought in this area. The traffic is bad enough in the area and adding more will certainly increase the danger to children.”

Lea Lianza, who lives across the street from the school site, said she strongly opposes the rezoning “as I think a primary school is needed and that is why we bought here in the first place.”