Last night, I attended the City of Langley’s Committee of the Whole in regards to a new 7-Eleven development that I posted about yesterday. While I sent in a written submission about the development, I attended so I could provide more feedback on the project.
At the Committee of the Whole, several residents who live next to the proposed new 7-Eleven where concerned that it would become a magnet for sex trade workers, and for people selling and buying controlled substances. This was a concerned expressed by many on Council as well.
A Committee of the Whole is meant for people to discuss the built-form of a proposed development and its design elements only.
If City Council wanted, they could ban future 24-hour convenience stores from certain zones in the community. That being said, I’m not convinced that banning 24-hour convenience stores would be in the best interest of the community.
Many people at the Committee of the Whole, including some on Council, targeted 7-Eleven as the reason for increased criminal activity along 56th Avenue between Fraser Highway and 203rd Street. The built-form and the demographics of area are the primary reasons why this area is a perceive crime magnet.
For example, some streets and parking lots in the area are poorly lit. There are also many dark areas where people can hid. This is due to how buildings and their parking lots are sited. Because there are no eyes and ears on the street (the 7-Eleven has a blank wall facing 56th Avenue, there are no mixed-use buildings, and other businesses along 56th Avenue aren’t open late), and because of the built-form, criminal activity is attracted to this area.
Back to the topic of the design of the new 7-Eleven. One of the things missing in the original design was safe, comfortable sidewalks connecting from both 56th Avenue and 200th Street to the store. At the Committee of the Whole, 7-Eleven proposed to extend a sidewalk from their store to 200th Street. During the Committee of the Whole, a 7-Eleven representative told City Council that building a sidewalk between 56th Avenue and their store was too costly.
Later on at the Council Meeting, Councillor Hall proposed that the 7-Eleven build a sidewalk connecting their store to 56th Avenue as a requirement of being issued a development permit. In the end, this was supported by both 7-Eleven and Council.
In my letter, I also requested pedestrian scale lighting within the development; this request appears to have been glossed over. At the end of the day, I am happy that Council required 7-Eleven to include proper sidewalks to enhance the walkability to this new store.