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Updated: Hundreds rally to protest densification in Brookswood

Township vote on controversial new Brookswood/Fernridge Official Plan is planned for Monday, March 31.
Aine Sunderland and Lily Aylen, both eight, carry a sign during Sunday's (March 30) march from Noel Booth Park to Brookswood Park in opposition of the new Brookswood/Fernridge Official Plan. More than 250 concerned residents turned out to speak out against the densification of Brookswood, on the eve of the Township vote to approve the controversial new plan.

Hundreds of Brookswood residents and their supporters turned out in the rain on Sunday, to rally against the densification of their community in the wake of Langley Township’s proposed Brookswood/Fernridge Official Community Plan.

“What we’re seeing here, I think from everybody that is here, [is] a lack of confidence and trust in the council to represent the desires of the people,” said one Brookswood resident who spoke at the event and only identified herself as Anna R.

The march of 250 to 300 demonstrators, carrying colourful signs decrying densification and compromise of Brookswood’s rivers, forests and liveability, started at Noel Booth Park at 12 p.m., and ended with a rally at Brookswood Park.

Cars honked in support along 200  Street as children, families, a large canine contingent and residents of all ages took part in the energetic gathering, which was contained and peaceful.

According to Anna, residents are concerned about local hospital ability to handle additional capacity, school overcrowding, woodland clear-cutting and access to transit.

As well, she said the local aquifer — one of the most vulnerable in the Fraser Valley — won’t be able to sustain such a large increase in population, which may result in the need to bring in outside water resources that could raise water rates up to 10 times.

One speaker at the event, a Willoughby resident who shared her family’s experiences of the densification and development that has taken place in that community, said it serves as a warning for Brookswood.

“Out of 120 speakers over three nights [at the Brookswood public hearings], I believe that I personally heard 40 people use Willoughby as a synonym and an adjective for poor planning,” said Keri Ross.

“We’ve got our own words in Langley for poor planning — it’s Willoughby.”

She told the crowd, who cheered loudly at her comments on the Township’s unwillingness to admit to problems in Willoughby, that lack of sidewalks, the disappearance of back yards, parking availability and access to infrastructure like transit resulted in a 2013 home assessment for her family that was reduced by $32,000.

“They need to look at what our aquifer can sustain … and they have to come up with the maximum population that is sustainable based on what we have here,” said Anna.

Langley Township council was to vote on a third reading of the bylaw authorizing the controversial plan during its regular meeting Monday night.

The meeting was to take place at Christian Life Assembly, as a large crowd was expected.

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