Wednesday, July 21, 2010

200th Street Growing Up

As reported on Langley Politics, there was a big win for smart growth, mixed-use development along the 200th Street corridor in Langley.

Back in July 20, 2009, Township council approved stand-alone commercial development going forward along 200th Street (between 76th Avenue and 80th Avenue) before mixed-use development. This was a huge blow to sustainable development along the 200th Street corridor and would have set the gears in motion for a unsustainable future. This area is called the Jericho Neighbourhood.

The official plan for this neighbourhood was sent back to staff and on June 15, 2010 SFOT delivered a presentation on how limiting commercial floorspace and building mixed-use is better for sustainability and better for the local economy.

Council must have taken our presentation to heart because around a year from the original unsustainable vote, they "voted unanimously (moved by Bateman, seconded by Ferguson) to give third reading to the Jericho subneighbourhood plan with two amendments suggested by staff. The developers of the commercial area at 80th and 200th will have to build residential at the same time, and small scale commercial uses will be added, at grade, next to the public plaza." I hope this is a trend for development along the 200th Street corridor.

Also interesting from the Langley Politics post is council's new found appetite for high rise development. This is certainly good news if we want the rest of Metro Vancouver to pay attention to our transit needs. High rise towers are certainly not needed for the density or pedestrian environment required for streetcars or light rail. This could be done with mid-rise development along arterial roads like 200th Street and 208th Street with walk-up apartments and row houses along collector roads in the standard grid pattern, with single family houses spread through the mix. My fear for Langley is that this region seems to equate high rise towers with rapid transit, and without at least a few of the towers we are likely to get light rail sometime in 2080. Even Abbotsford has high rises.

Either way, I think Township Council should be commended for supporting mixed-used along 200th Street.

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