Column: How will SkyTrain change Langley?

Columnist Frank Bucholtz looks at density, bus routes, and the possiblity of other light rail lines

As SkyTrain to Langley moves one step closer, it’s important to think of what changes that can bring to the community.

TransLink is in the midst of a consultation process about the proposed line between King George Station and Langley City. It is part of an expedited effort to build a business case and bring the project to the TransLink board and the Mayors’ Council by July, in order to get the whole complicated process of actually building the line underway as soon as possible. Likely completion date for at least the first part of the line is 2025.

Whether that line will extend all the way to Langley City at first is questionable. The amount currently available for construction is not likely to cover the cost of the whole line. However, the commitment to go to Langley has not changed.

SkyTrain in Langley almost certainly means there needs to be higher density along and near the corridor. This could mean high-rises near Willowbrook and along a portion of 200 Street and Fraser Highway. While that may seem a fantasy, consider what has been and is happening in places like Lougheed Mall, Brentwood and Metrotown. Most of the high-rises in those areas are a direct result of SkyTrain.

SkyTrain also needs an extensive system of bus feeder routes. Langley does not have a lot of bus routes and large areas of the Township have no transit service at all. This will need to change. SkyTrain in Langley would also benefit from a large park and ride lot, which would encourage people who do not live near bus routes to use transit for at least part of their journey.

There are not too many large properties in the Willowbrook and Langley City areas, but future uses of those properties will be critical to both the success of SkyTrain and future community development. Will industrial use of land along the current rail corridor be replaced with high-rises, or other transit-oriented development? And if so, where will those businesses go, when there is already a shortage of industrial land in the Lower Mainland?

The existing rail corridor also raises some additional questions. Former Langley Township mayor Rick Green is actively pushing for use of the interurban corridor, which extends all the way to Chilliwack, for a hydrogen-powered passenger rail operation.

The cost to establish such a passenger service would be significantly lower than any purpose-built rapid transit line, and the corridor is already owned by BC Hydro. In addition, provincial legislation has preserved it for future passenger use.

If such a service does come about, an ideal junction between the two types of rail transit would be in Langley City. This would make it much more practical for users from further up the valley, in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, to consider transit. It would also reduce pressure on Highway 1, which is rapidly becoming a parking lot. The high cost of housing has pushed many people further out and this type of service could provide a viable, low-cost option to daily commuting.

Langley City has been giving plenty of thought to its future over the past decade, and it may become a much more populated city than plans have called for. The Township has significant plans for the 200 Street corridor, a significant portion if which remains undeveloped. While the plans call for density, SkyTrain may mean even more density is desirable.

Langley residents will have to weigh these possibilities as they consider the possibility of SkyTrain. They can take part in TransLink’s online survey at www.surreylangleyskytrain.ca until April 26.

Just Posted

A happy Thanksgiving for ‘bully breed’ dog rescue

Shelter raises awareness about dog rescue during National Adoption Weekend

A good scare, for a good cause at Langley home for Halloween

The Haunted Graveyard of Brookswood starts Oct. 24

Spartans defeat Mariners in overtime thriller

Langley-based hockey team opens 2019-20 regular season with an emphatic win

Russ and Sandy Rosen invite Langley to be a part of Bez

Bez Arts Hub holds gala with music by Shari Ulrich for potential sponsors, patrons, and partners

VIDEO: A loss at home for Langley Rivermen

Jake Livingstone finds net for the only Rivermen goal in a 4-1 loss to Coquitlam

No holiday for campaigning leaders on Thanksgiving weekend, but pace slows

There is a little over a week to go before election day, and advanced polls are now open

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

PHOTOS: Kipchoge becomes first runner to dip under 2 hours for marathon

Olympic champion and world record holder from Kenya clocks 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds

Most Read