UPDATED: Brookswood OCP passed

Langley Township council approved a new version of the OCP after three years.

Brookswood-Fernridge has a new official community plan, after Langley Township council voted for an amended OCP Monday evening.

The amended version of the 2017 OCP has come back from the dead after being defeated in July. Mayor Jack Froese called for a reconsideration, and another public hearing was held in September.

Several councillors who voted against the plan in the summer switched to support.

Councillor Angie Quaale said the July version had gone too far with too many amendments.

Neighbourhood plans for four areas of Brookswood-Fernridge, expected to be developed starting as early as next year, will help deal with some remaining concerns, said Coun. Michelle Sparrow.

Froese noted that not everyone got everything they wanted in the plan, but thanked the community for their input.

“A successful outcome to one of the most comprehensive planning processes that the Township has ever embarked upon,” said Coun. Bob Long.

Councillors Kim Richter and Petrina Arnason voted against the OCP.

“I’m not convinced this plan does enough to protect the DNA of Brookswood,” said Richter.

The plan has been changed somewhat since it was first presented earlier in the year.

The minimum lot size in Brookswood will be 5,000 square feet, up from 4,000 square feet in the original plan. Only 10 per cent of lots in any neighbourhood will be allowed to be as small as that. Currently, 7,000-square-feet is the standard for single family homes.

The maximum height for condos, in the core areas near major intersections, will be capped at four storeys, unlike in Willoughby where five- and six-storey condos are allowed.

There will be cluster housing permitted in areas where there is an interest in retaining significant stands of trees. In exchange for preserving natural areas for public use, developers may be allowed to build denser projects. The remaining forested land will be turned over to the Township or protected by covenants so it can’t be developed, said Ramin Seifi, manager of engineering and community development.

Council also debated whether development could be phased in, by only allowing one neighbourhood plan to proceed at a time.

“I do have concerns over the rate of development,” Arnason said.

She asked if the Township has enough staff resources to work on three of the four neighbourhood plans at once.

Seifi said that the Township is finishing up the last neighbourhood plan for the Willoughby area soon, and they have previously worked on multiple Willoughby plans simultaneously.

Phasing will partially take care of itself, said Coun. Charlie Fox.

“Servicing becomes paramount,” he said.

Developers will tend to build outward from existing water and sewer networks, Fox noted, which means development will take place along 200th Street and then spread beyond that. Developers have to install water and sewer pipes for new developments.

Council has been debating OCPs for Brookswood since a previous plan was defeated in 2014. That plan was highly controversial and inspired a number of public protests. After it was voted down, council embarked on a multi-year process of consultation with the community, but many residents still had similar concerns.

Issues that were repeatedly raised were tree protection, the protection of the aquifer, density, and concerns about how an influx of more than 20,000 new residents would affect parking, schools, and other local amenities.

Even as council debated, some developers grew tired of waiting for the new plan and began building subdivisions on 7,000-square-foot lots, under the rules of the previous 1987 OCP.

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