Saturday, July 5, 2008

First Sustainable Healthy Living Co-op in Langley

Statistics Canada says that of the 93,725 residents of the Township of Langley, 45,770 are age 40 to 85 years old. In TransLink’s new Transport 2040 strategic draft, their research indicates that one-quarter of the population of Metro Vancouver will be over 65 years of age by 2040. Note that I previously blogged about Township staff taking steps to preserve the 200th Street transit corridor, which is vital to this development and all future growth in the area. We will need transportation options, keeping this high-density development area traffic-congestion free, while servicing the needs of our seniors and handicapped residents.

Our population is aging, and we desperately need to plan now for new sustainable communities and transportation options that support our aging population. Enter Leo Mitrunen of the Mitrunen Development Corporation, a man with a sustainable plan. Leo and his family own land in the Township of Langley’s planned Jericho Sub-Neighbourhood in the Willoughby area. Its together with the new Events and Recreation Centre at the Willoughby Community Park. Leo says that before the Township began to implement sustainable community strategies and a Sustainability Charter, his group was advocating for a healthy living co-op development.

Leo Mitrunen’s dream is to see a high quality, innovative, development and neighbourhood. This community would embrace a new approach to a healthy and complete way of living. Leo believes this Jericho community can become a model for pro-active health options and sustainable planning for seniors across Canada.

The Mitrunen's land, the Maples at Latimer is located on 20 acres of the approximate 100 acres total, at the south end of the project site. Much of their lands will be dedicated to park and green spaces. The Maples at Latimer will be a 55+ independent living campus community that will provide four stages of senior support to include:
  • Independent Living
  • Supportive Home Care
  • Assisted Living
  • Complex/Palliative Care
The community will embrace a holistic and sustainable way of life. Residents will own their own homes and afforded an opportunity to participate in the on-site Maples Healthy Living Co-op that will deliver health services to them. The mission of the co-op will be “Taking Care Home”. The community members will own and control the co-op. Leo envisions a range of health, support, and advocacy services being provided right there to residents of the Maples at Latimer Creek. The community will promote and support “active seniors” that will pro-actively participate in their health, in order to achieve their full potential. To thrive over their years of aging. Health and social needs will therefore be met within this local community whenever possible. The residents will be very connected to the greater Langley community of communities, as the Township is taking steps to protect our very important 200th transit corridor. Leo is a strong supporter of transportation options that include walking, cycling, the Interurban, streetcars, and bus connections where necessary. He hopes his development's residents will be able to enjoy this elderly and handicapped friendly mode of travel. The streetcars would provide loading direct from the curb, without the need for stepping up at all.

Leo’s dream is that the Jericho Community and the Maples at Latimer Creek will be a walkable community, including the supportive transportation options we have identified. A nearby neighbourhood-scaled commercial centre will cater to the day-to-day living and health needs of the community and the Maples at Latimer Creek residents. This commercial complex will be mixed-use and will also provide live-work options.

Lastly, Leo’s group embraces Smart Growth BC’s strategies for smart development. They have distilled these down to seven (7) short planning and design guiding principals that they consider the keys to building this vibrant, healthy community:
  • Neighbourhood Connectivity
  • A Healthy Community
  • Diverse Seniors Residential
  • Environment + Open Space
  • Neighbourhood Commercial
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Sustainability + Smart Growth
The Township of Langley staff will be scheduling the preparation of a new Jericho Sub-Neighbourhood Plan, which will then allow Leo and his team to file a development application and obtain a permit for this project.

South Fraser OnTrax joins with Leo in encouraging high-density, transit-friendly development along this important transportation corridor. Such development will support the walking, cycling, streetcar, and Light Rail/Interurban options that we desperately need in the Township and our region. The Jericho Community will provide the mixed-use shopping and amenities to make our neighbourhoods more walkable and complete.

We wish Leo and his Mitrunen Development Corporation much success with this mixed-use sustainable community and health co-op. South Fraser OnTrax will follow the progress of this exciting Maples at Latimer Creek project, and keep you informed.

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