Trees, trucks and tolls were talk of the Township in 2017

From new community plans, to farmland disputes, 2017 was a busy year in the Township of Langley. Below are some of the stories that had residents talking in 2017.

COMMUNITY

• RAINBOW CROSSWALK: A rainbow crosswalk was painted for the first time in the Township across Glover Road in Fort Langley in September. The project became controversial after staff initially estimated the crosswalk to cost $50,000. The location was then revised, and several artists and community members raised $12,000 to cover the entire cost of its installation.

• YOUTH SHELTER: Ground was broken for the new Langley Youth Resource Centre for homeless youth in June. The facility, at 20285 62 Ave., will feature five beds, showers, laundry, and access to many youth services and programs.

• CRUISE-IN: After nearly 20 years of taking over the downtown Langley City core, the Langley Good Times Cruise-In moved to Aldergrove. The change was largely related to a dispute between the Cruise-In board and the City over policing costs. Despite the rain, on Sept. 9 large crowds came out to stroll the one-kilometre stretch of Fraser Highway where hundreds of hotrods were on display.

• TOURISM LANGLEY: After several months of discord, the City of Langley pulled out of Tourism Langley and created its own destination marketing organization (DMO). This followed a February vote on dissolution — which failed — and the March resignations of Tourism Langley’s chair, treasurer and a director. The organization remains the DMO for the Township of Langley.

INFRASTRUCTURE

• TRUCK ROUTE: Throughout 2017, many residents in Walnut Grove were vocal against the new 216 Street Interchange that will connect Willoughby to Walnut Grove over Highway One. While some opponents initially rejected the entire project on environmental and safety grounds, now that construction is underway, they have shifted gears and are continuing to advocate for the removal of truck traffic from the route.

• BRIDGE TOLLS: On Sept. 1, commuters crossed the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges free of charge after B.C. Premier John Horgan called for the tolls to be eliminated. In November, a study showed that traffic on the Golden Ears had increased by 30 per cent since the tolls were removed.

DEVELOPMENT

• NEW OCP: After months of debate, an amended 2017 Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan passed by a 7-2 vote on Oct. 23. The plan, which updates the older 1987 document, originally failed third reading by a 5-4 vote in July, when council made 15 amendments over two days of meetings. Mayor Jack Froese then called a vote for reconsideration, and the plan was sent to public hearing for a second time on Sept. 12. In total, 250 written and 113 verbal submissions were submitted to the Township regarding the plan.

• TREE PROTECTION: Along with the new community plan, an official tree protection bylaw was adopted in Brookswood-Fernridge to regulate, prohibit and impose requirements on tree clear-cutting prior to development in the undeveloped areas. In Fort Langley, residents campaigned for a tree bylaw across the entire Township, after several mature trees were cut down from a property on the corner of Trattle Street and 88 Avenue.

• AIR QUALITY: Many Brookswood residents lobbied against two applications for air quality permits at nearby industrial sites in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights business park. Several community meetings and presentations to Township council were had about the environmental impacts that the Weir Canada rubber plant and Ebco galvanizing plant could have on surrounding farms and residents. In November, Metro Vancouver issued the permit to Weir.

• TARA FARMS: The Township announced their intention to turn 33 acres of the Tara Farms property in Willoughby into a new community park in November. The land came into controversy after close to 18 acres of mature trees were cleared by the owner, and a subsequent ALC application was submitted to exclude the area from the ALR for a new road and development.

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