Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Last Night at City Hall

City of Langley council held a public hearing last night for a proposed redevelopment on the corner of Fraser Highway and 201A Street. This area is identified on the Downtown Langley Master Plan as the “West Gateway.” While SFOT supports redevelopment, we had some concerns and submitted the following:

Dear His Worship the Mayor and Members of City Council,

We are writing to you today representing South Fraser OnTrax, a community group supporting sustainable communities. Many of our members are also property owners in the City of Langley.

It has come to our attention that there is a plan (Rezoning Application No. 01-08 / Development Permit No. 02-08) to redevelop 20168 Fraser Highway into a residential complex. While we certainly support redevelopment in the City, and most especially a complex that will support a sustainable pedestrian and transit oriented downtown, we have some concerns.

The townhouse component of this development facing Fraser Highway, a mixed-use corridor, is currently not being designed for any mixed-use or commercial use. While storefront commercial units along this corridor may not be warranted according to the Downtown Langley Master Plan, live/work units are. Why is the City not asking for a large percentage of live/work suites in this complex, especially for the suites that face Fraser Highway? We believe that by ignoring the commercial and mixed-use intention of the zoning, you will be causing the street scene to appear significantly disjointed.

Live/work suites will attract professionals to downtown Langley. These businesses will contribute to the City economy. Again, live/work units are also suggested in the recently announced Downtown Master Plan. As the report says about the West Gateway, “Live/work [will be] permitted along the street front.”

The City of Langley currently suffers from a number of residential only complexes that sometimes attract undesirable tenants, many of whom put a significant strain on police services. By encouraging mixed-use in this complex, the City would be attracting business owners that would occupy their suites and demand a clear level of civility and decorum within the Strata. This perspective should be added to the list of the crime prevention strategies that the City is in the process of implementing. We understand that some home-based businesses will be the compromise here in this complex, but a watered-down usage like this is simply not acceptable to us.

It is our understanding that this developer was considering some commercial units along Fraser Highway, but decided not to do so after reviewing the unsold commercial units at The Muse complex. But one must examine that developer’s overpricing of those commercial units and the fact that The Muse has a significantly less number of total units than this proposed development.

South Fraser OnTrax respectfully urges Mayor and Council to include a significant portion of live/work units to this development.

Thank you for attention to this important issue.
We were informed that City council approved the bylaws to construct this project without Live/Work. We were told that Mayor Fassbender believes this project fits in with the Master Plan. We are disappointed that Live/Work was not considered.

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