Friday, May 30, 2008

City of Langley Densification

Today's Langley Advance has an article about a recently approved residential development coming to the City of Langley, and the new 50% increase in density rules. South Fraser OnTrax was interviewed for the article and a short quote from us was included. We previously sent a letter to mayor and council that was read at the public meeting.

We said that we are always pleased with more densification, as it will lead to better transit and perhaps more transit options for our community. But we were disappointed that this development was not mixed use. A model that has been very successful around the world. We also feel this decision contradicts the City's own Master Plan that calls for this specific area to serve as the "Western Gateway" to the city and include mixed-use along Fraser Hwy.

Mixed use development here would have included some commercial units street-level that could have been small businesses and perhaps even a small cafe for complex residents to mix and mingle. An opportunity for neighbours to meet and talk. It also provides for more eyes on the streets and if these businesses are opening evenings, they increase crime prevention efforts by bring more "legitimate users" into the street scene.

Some or all of the suites could have been live/work, similar to The Muse building just down the street. We heard that some of these new units will be only 400-500 sq. ft. While some owners will occupy such a suite, most likely investors will buy these small units and rent them out. While South Fraser fully supports affordable housing options for all, we have a history in the City of Langley with apartment buildings that needs correction.

Landlords don't always want to pay for proactive management of their rental suites. They remain off-site and allow the tenants to police themselves. Things deteriorate and the Strata or the police become the defacto property managers for the owner. With mixed use we get the affordable housing options and because some suites are owned by proactive business owners, the Strata remains aware of issues and problems and deals with them and the offending suites' owners. A healthy mix of owners and tenants is always a good thing.

If the City of Langley continues to approve developments because of the cash influx to the city only, and continues to ignore the larger master plan and mixed-use, history of buildings with police problems will continue to set us backward, destroying good plans.

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