On Monday, May 8 Langley Township council voted in favour of ignoring the concerns of residents of 216 Street in Walnut Grove.
In effect, they endorsed the transformation of what was planned to be a pedestrian friendly residential area into a full fledged major truck route.
Because it would save truckers a few minutes when traffic is congested on 200 Street.
Were options available? Yes they were.
Glover Road had its truck route designation removed and re-routed because it was counter to development interests in Fort Langley. The same considerations were not made for the residents of 216 Street.
Families who give their life savings to live in a peaceful community were ignored to placate the interests of the trucking industry for reasons that seem to be relatively minor. The developers on 216 Street have already made their money and not much left remains to be had.
The root cause of the problem seems to stretch some 20 years back.
The part of the Township that planned communities and approved development applications envisaged a pedestrian friendly community for families on the portion of 216 Street between Hwy 1 and 96th Avenue.
Unfortunately that division of the Township did not talk to the other division of the Township that planned a major truck route through the same artery.
Instead of correcting any mistakes, the Township council voted to align with business interests.
It is more important that truckers going to Port Kells have an option to save five minutes on their journey than suffer a few traffic lights on 200 Street.
In exchange, the safety of our community’s children gets to be compromised.
The fact I pay a King’s ransom in mortgage payments and that no realtor alerted me to the fact that a major truck route was planned is inconsequential.
Profits before community is the clear mandate.
The fact that trucks frequently fail safety inspections due to lack of industry compliance is swept under the rug.
So what is the cautionary tale? The community around 216 Street will be an urban planning failure.
Who plans a major truck route through the middle of a family friendly residential community?
The Township of Langley does.
I would gather this is an urban planning failure in the eyes of most reasonable people. The Township mayor and council had an opportunity to own this mistake and do something to make it right.
A concrete wall for three blocks and the most minimal of sidewalks across from an elementary school is the best they could do.
A trucker’s right to shave five minutes off their journey whenever they see fit seems to come first. It’s complete incompetence in planning. Why should your neighbourhood be any different?
So here is a cautionary tale to the residents of the Township.
Don’t expect your mayor or council to come and leap to your defence when you see development plans that make no sense.
It is clear that commerce comes first no matter how minor the benefit might be.
Were you sold on a peaceful idyllic community? Unless you are a multi-millionaire that means squat.
Don’t expect sympathetic ears from duly elected officials to listen to your concerns. Don’t expect mistakes in community planning to owned up to and made right. Don’t expect your realtor to leap to your defence and point these things out before you purchase.
Your are on your own plain and simple and nobody is there to leap to your defence.
Your life’s effort… and associated exorbitant mortgage… amounts to little in light of corporate interests.
The only fortunate thing is that we live in a democracy where this can theoretically change. Unfortunately, that interest is all too often bought out. What are you willing to do to try and affect any real change?
Think this can’t happen to you? Think again.
– John Wollenzin, Langley