Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Motordom on the Langley Bypass

New Auto Mall and Strip Mall on Glover Road and Langley Bypass

One of the things that I have an issue with in the City of Langley is the type of development allowed to be built along the Langley Bypass. If you ever drive or dare to walk along the Bypass, you’ll see some of the worst examples of auto-oriented development in the Metro Vancouver. Some of the reasons I hear why the Langley Bypass is so uninspiring is that either this type of development is “temporary” and will be replaced with something better in the future or that the Ministry of Transportation will only allow this style of development. Both these reasons are really just excuses because I believe we can build things better. I full understand that the automobile must be accommodated in Langley, but not at the expense of sustainability, livability and good urban design.

The latest intersection to get the “Bypass” treatment is Glover Road at the Langley Bypass. Where there was once a field, the City of Langley has approved a gas station on one corner, auto dealership on the other corner, and an auto-mall/strip mall on the third corner. The final corner is already a hotel and restaurant. Glover Road is designated as a Gateway Street to Downtown Langley, yet the City has approved developments that make Glover Road no different than the Langley Bypass, and certainly not a gateway to Downtown Langley.

The icing on the cake for me was the approval and subsequent installation of two 4-storey Las Vegas-style signs that are actually taller than the apartments right beside the auto mall on Glover Road. While most municipalities in Metro Vancouver and indeed Canada have sign bylaws that restrict these types of signs, it seems that the City of Langley is embracing these signs which are a throw-back to the mid-twenty century auto-orient suburban “boulevard” which other cities like Surrey (think King George Boulevard in Whalley) are try to correct. It will be interesting to see if we’ll see more of these mega-signs in Langley.

Four-Storey Auto Mall Sign on Glover Road. (Four-Storey Apartment, Left Background)

The City of Langley has missed its last opportunity in the near future to building something lasting, urban, and elegant that connects the Langley Bypass area to Downtown Langley creating a truly welcoming gateway to Downtown. I can only hope that the City of Langley will start to apply more pedestrian-friendly and sustainable development standards for the rest of the City, and the Langley Bypass when it starts to redevelop in the future. Surely we can design communities that embrace transportation diversity with a great public realm.

No comments: