Monday, April 16, 2012

Township's Economic Development Strategy

This afternoon Township of Langley Council will be receiving and possibly endorsing its new economic development strategy. The goals of the strategy are to:

1. Help create additional jobs so that there are more jobs than working residents to maintain employment opportunities for local workers
2. Maintain the diversity of the local economy by helping existing companies to expand and by attracting new industries
3. Facilitate infrastructure improvement that contributes to economic development
4. Contribute to town centre development
5. Help create a learning community
6. Enhance quality of life for Langley residents

According to the report manufacturing and transportation/storage businesses play an important role in the community, but they would also like to attract professional services, green technologies, educational, and sports and leisure jobs to the community. It is interesting that attracting more low paying retail jobs to Langley is not our their priority list.

One of the exciting parts of the economic development plan is to promote the development of a new downtown core for the Township of Langley that would "help improve the sense of place for Township residents, and assist in attracting businesses with the mix of amenities that a downtown core would provide."

This new downtown needs to following to succeed:
The most pressing infrastructure need in the Township is transit and transportation. The EDD can play a role in providing strategic research on transportation issues and opportunities within the community highlighting business and labour market needs.

Specific areas of action include:
-Support for announced projects. As an example, the Township and Translink are co-operating on a new transit exchange and park & ride facility in Walnut Grove, which will enable a significant increase in both transit and park & ride services.
-Research and business case development for new services and projects; and
-Input into Translink’s long-term planning processes (i.e. the South of Fraser Area Transit Plan), including the future possibility of Skytrain or light rail services.

What I really like about the vision in this plan is that it sees Langley as two different, but complementary places: a strong urban community and a strong rural community. It doesn't focus on creating suburban sprawl.

With all the politics around TransLink lately, I feel that the Township is going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place to see this vision become reality until the local and provincial governments sort out the mess that has become of TransLink.

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