Thursday, January 24, 2013

New community plan for Brookswood/Fernridge

The Township of Langley adopted the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan in the late 1980s. The plan called for almost exclusively single-family housing with a local strip-mall commercial core between 200th Street and 208th Street, along 32nd Avenue. While the area generally north 32nd Avenue (between 200th Street and 208th Street) has developed into single-family housing, the remaining area of Brookswood/Fernridge has kept its suburban/rural form. Looking over the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan, it is quite encouraging to see how far planning has evolved in the Township.

Map of Brookswood/Fernridge Planning Area

The original community plan does not include anything around the concept of building walkable neighbourhoods with a variety of housing options. The plan lacks a trail/greenway system which has become a highlight in newer areas of the Township. The transportation section is auto-centric and only has one sentence on cycling, doesn't mention transit, and only talks about building sidewalks on busy roads like 200th Street. The road network in this plan is designed to only move cars.

As the original community plan was getting to be 20 years old and outdated, and with no major development in Brookswood/Fernridge for some time, Township council in 2004 put a moratorium on development until a new community plan could be developed.

In 2011, the Griffith Neighbourhood Advisory Corp. requested that Township Council consider updating the community plan. Council approved updating the community plan at the cost of the Griffith Neighbourhood Advisory Corp. In October 2012, the Township of Langley started the community consultation process with a series of workshops.

The workshops were well attended with 500 residents and property owners from the area. The Township provided an overview of the planning process, the challenges and opportunities in Brookswood/Fernridge, and how to realize the future vision of residents and property owners for the community. Feedback was gathered from the workshops on the themes that people thought should be addressed in the community plan.

The main themes from the workshop were that the community needs upgraded infrastructure and servicing. There was also a strong desire to protect existing trees and the environment in general. Workshop participants thought that the community should include walkways, bicycle infrastructure, bridle trails and a greenway network. There was also the desire to increase densities in some areas to provide walkable commercial centres that could support improved public transit.

The results of the workshop were presented at open houses last week with some basic concepts of how those goals could be met.

Leftmost option is the baseline. Higher-density housing and local commercial development is proposed to be clustered in nodes (middle) with the option of building higher-density corridors (right). Click image to enlarge.

Leftmost option is the baseline. Other options increase greenway and park connectivity that would go in tandem with the housing/commercial option chosen (from left to right.) Click image to enlarge.

The open house allowed attendees to pick three different paths that the community plan could take. One is basically status quo which won’t meet the objectives of what the majority of residents and property owners want, while the other two options look at building walkable nodes, or walkable nodes connected with higher-density corridors that could support transit and provide more housing options in the community.

The open house material is available online and feedback will be accepted until Thursday, January 31st. The whole community planning process is scheduled to wrap up earlier in the fall of this year.

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