Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday Council Meeting

I’m still recovering from Monday’s Special Council Meeting that was followed by a Public Hearing that ran until after 11:00pm. As a transit advocate it was great to see all the new high-density or transit-oriented development bylaws and development permits come into public view in greater detail. One development in particular will be one of the greenest projects since the Township Hall. The developer hired a consultant to incorporate some great green solutions and will even provide a couple of hybrid vehicles to form a car co-op within this mixed-use strata property. We are still waiting to hear back from the developer group with permission and photos so that we can reveal it to Langley readers here.

What was very disappointing to see, and something that I see often as I attend each and every Township Council Meeting and Public Hearing, is the off-based opposition to such developments. Much of the opposition usually includes people who are concern that the value of their property will go down (which is rarely/never does) if anything but strip malls and large lot home are built near their lot. Last night was no exception.

First I saw a Township Council candidate fight a Yorkson neighbourhood single family home development on the basis that it would offer higher density “skinny homes”. In her opinion this higher density land use was not in keeping with the “higher-end” new homes like hers. It should be pointed out that this proposed development was consistent with the neighbourhood plan, and the hearing was only to talk about the form, character and sighting of the project.

It seemed to me that the message from the opponents was this: higher-densities and transit-oriented developments are great as long as it’s not in MY neighbourhood.

Despite many hearing notices being mailed by Township staff, public notices printed in both local newspapers and Township website, and a large sign that is required to be posted on the proposed sign (and admittedly viewed by a neighbour that spoke), Township Council was accused of forcing this development through without proper notice and called “dodgy” several times. The fact the homes in the area were under construction at the time of notification was not emphasized much by the opponents. Council unanimously voted to hold further readings to allow this neighbourhood to meet with the developer to express their development concerns.

Next there was a lawyer openly threaten excessive amounts of legal action, while he arrogantly bullied council over what will be one of the high-density, transit-oriented, mixed-use, and greenest development that we have ever seen. Did this lawyer and his client realize that in the process of his council antics they assailed and insulted the good citizens of the Township of Langley?

Finally, there was a Walnut Grove application that would add medium-density townhouses to what was previously a low-density neighbourhood some 15-18 years ago. As if land was that plentiful, the opponent wanted to see single family homes on large lots again.

While these public hearings are made to allow for input, it would be nice to see citizens that represent what is good for Langley and not themselves. From time to time (and including last night), a few do come forward to support these developments in light of the over-arching good of the Township of Langley. For those of us that advocate for quality sustainable development and transit options from a purely social-good motivation, we do hope that more will join the cause and think more about their neighbours in the process.

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