Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Township of Langley's proposed University District

The controversial Trinity Western University District which includes the controversially Wall Financial Corporation 67 single-family equestrian community, now student housing, development reared its head at Monday night’s council meeting. Councillor Davis, Sparrow, and Richter seem to be the only ones on council that want to give this whole plan a sober second thought. Since I last posted about the University District, the Township of Langley has consulted with key stakeholders and received correspondence from Metro Vancouver, the City of Langley, Trinity Western University, the Langley School District, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and the Agricultural Land Commission.

Proposed University District. Click image to enlarge.

Based on feedback from those parties, the Township has reduced the University District in size from about 180 hectares to 152 hectares. The Township is now moving forward with an Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment to allow the University District to proceed. There are still major concerns. Metro Vancouver still believes that the proposed OCP amendment will violate the old Livable Region Strategic Plan Green Zone provisions and would still require the Township to get approval from Metro Vancouver under the new Regional Growth Strategy. It looks like the Township is still on the path to confrontation with Metro Vancouver.

If the Township gets its way, the University District would become a larger version of Fort Langley on what the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) calls prime farm land. Fort Langley is 120.38 hectares. Do we really need another community that is in the middle of farmland with all the issues that those types of communities create around sustainability and transportation choice?

The Ministry of Agriculture “would prefer the development of a University District in urban areas rather than alienating more farmland for urban uses.” The Ministry also has concerns about how the University District would impact adjacent farmland and lead to more farm practice complaints in the future.

The Agricultural Land Commission submitted a map which shows which parts of the University District they support and which they don’t. The Commission basically only supports the limited growth of Trinity Western University based on what has already been approved. The Commission appears to have no appetite for the removal of more land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve for the full University District that the Township is proposing.

Agricultural Land Commission map outlining which parts of the proposed University District they support. Click image to enlarge.

The City of Langley of Langley has no objection to the plan, the School District supports the district as does Trinity Western University.

With the ALC and Metro Vancouver having strong objections to the full-scale University District, I have to wonder if this plan is dead even as Township Council proceeds with final adoption of the OCP amendment.

I do not support the University District as it currently stands. I believe that Trinity Western University should be allowed to grow their campus to meet their needs, and I support the exclusion of the limited lands west of Glover Road by the ALC to support that objective. But I do not support building the full 152 hectare University District in prime farmland when there is so much development opportunity in other parts of Langley. Trinity Western University is a private Christian university which means that it is not accessible to all members of the community due to financial or religious considerations.

I’m a bit surprised that Township Council is supportive of the University District as it currently stands as the District will continue the slow erosion of farmland and rural living in the community.

1 comment:

OctaviusIII said...

As a former TWU student, I agree with your opposition. The student body is not large and wouldn't be able to support a U-District of that size. Limited development around Redeemer Pacific on the school-side of the property makes much more sense, as does allowing more growth on campus itself.