Growth doesn’t pay for itself.
That has been the message, both spoken and unspoken, as Langley Township and City both grapple with some serious budget issues this year, as both communities see taking on debt as preferable to putting off major projects.
Virtually every serious issue – crime (RCMP wants 15 more officers) roads (widening wanted everywhere from Willoughby to Highway One) schools (portables) is about the explosive growth Langley has experienced in the last decade.
The community has been through periods of rapid growth before. Walnut Grove’s development from farms to suburbia in the 1980s and ’90s was far from trouble free.
But right now, we’re being asked to take on multiple burdens at once. The booming economy is great – but it also means that more and more people want to move to Metro Vancouver, and Langley (along with Surrey and Abbotsford and Maple Ridge) are going to absorb a much larger share of them, simply because we have the most affordable housing.
All that growth means Langley – and the region – is being asked to transition fast. A little more than a generation ago, you could still fairly describe Langley, and much of Surrey, as farm country. Now we have all the pressures of urban communities. Many neighbourhoods are skipping straight from rural infrastructure of two-lane roads, small storefront libraries, and outdoor pools to the expected amenities of big cities.
This isn’t an editorial that can even offer answers. Growth at this pace simply doesn’t pay for itself. Langley has some hard years ahead, as we play catch up with the fact that increasingly, Metro Vancouver isn’t just a name – it’s the big city where we all live.