Township debates future of historic road

To pave or not to pave Old Yale Road is question Councillors are pondering

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That adage could be applied to any number of places in Langley, but perhaps it suits Old Yale Road best.

Carved from a route established by horse wagons, Old Yale was built in 1865 when, according to the book Langley’s Heritage, it was “little more than a quagmire.” Improvements to one of Langley’s first roads began a decade later.

Over the past few decades, Township council has often discussed the condition of Old Yale, particularly the stretch between the Langley City border near St. Andrew’s United Church, to the Five Corners roundabout.

This part, officially opened in 1923, was constructed in panels of concrete.

Over the years, sections have been patched with asphalt.

In fact, the section of Old Yale that falls in the City has been covered with a layer of asphalt.

Between the City-Township border and closer to Five Corners, Old Yale Road is cracked and rough, but how to improve the Murrayville to Langley City route while respecting the road’s importance to the community’s heritage, remains unresolved.

Successive councils have discussed the problem, and at a recent meeting council steered the issue back to staff.

A recommendation from the Heritage Advisory Committee triggered the most recent discussion.

The HAC wants council to spend $100,000 for a planning and engineering study that would address heritage, pedestrian access, and vehicle traffic concerns.

Councillor Kim Richter said enough is enough.

“It seems to me we’ve studied this road ad nauseam and nothing seems to change,” she said.

Councillor Grant Ward agreed.

“We need to do something about it. We cannot keep it in a state of disrepair,” Ward said. “We can’t keep standing still and do absolutely nothing.”

Before council voted unanimously to send the heritage committee’s request to staff, Richter and Councillor Bob Long came up with different solutions.

“I don’t think we should fix it, because when you fix it people speed,” Long said.

Richter remarked, “I have a great deal of trouble with the concept of heritage cement.

“Why don’t we just rip that road off, save a chunk of concrete out of it and put in a monument beside the road, and put in a road that is serviceable.”