Fort Langley, the birthplace of British Columbia and a recognized heritage conservation area – including the bulk of the downtown core – is once again in danger of losing much of its heritage identity.
Any developer wanting to modify or remove buildings from within the heritage conservation area must apply for a heritage alteration permit to do so.
In this case, the largest property owner in downtown Fort Langley, Statewood Properties, has applied for one to demolish 11 structures along Glover Road, Mary Avenue, and Church Street.
That’s a special kind of heritage alteration, if you ask me.
It includes three houses, six commercial buildings, a garage, and the small log cabin that everyone knows across from the post office.
Almost all of these buildings were lived in or had businesses in less than two years ago.
In a battle with Township staff, the developer said he would board up every one of those buildings if not able to proceed.
Now suddenly they are said to be dilapidated and unsalvageable?
One of these buildings is the small shed beside what used to be Jim’s Pizza.
That shed was used many years ago when the Jim’s Pizza building was Waska’s store and they sold Eulachon products out of the front window.
The Lampliter building was built in early 1950s (nearing 70 years old) and has a unique history.
Some buildings date back to the depression era.
No matter how you look at it in terms of numbers of buildings it’s a large area of Fort Langley’s downtown that will be demolished, changing the landscape of the village, the Birthplace of B.C. – forever.
I feel there is a huge responsibility on all of our parts to carefully consider what heritage and history is lost before it’s gone.
Just like the Township of Langley commemorative plaque in front of Gasoline Alley explains: buildings from the 1950s can define the character and charm of the Village of Fort Langley.
It’s why people love going there and many of us love living there.
There is a reason the downtown core was included in the heritage conservation area.
It’s about preserving the legacy for all of us and our kids and future generations.
George Otty, Fort Langley