Thursday, March 21, 2013

Downtown Langley's Civic Centre aka Parking Lot

If you’ve been in Downtown Langley recently, you may have noticed that many of the buildings in what the Downtown Master Plan calls the Civic Centre have been razed over the last little while. The first building to go was the former Timms Community Centre, and over the last month some of the commercial buildings that used to front Fraser Highway have come down. I posted about these buildings in August of last year. Since the Civic Centre is starting to look like an urban wasteland, I did some checking to see what was going on.

The Downtown Langley concept plan illustrates special design districts in the Downtown Area

For some time, the City of Langley has been working on replacing the Timms Community Centre. From what I understand, the new building will have underground parking, include the functions of the current Timms Centre, and will have a new larger gym-type space. I’ve been told that the City may be looking at partnering with other community organizations to add more space and/or an additional floor to the building that could host additional community services. I certainly think this would be a good idea if it worked out. There still appears to be no firm timeline on when construction will start.

I also found out that the City of Langley is buying up land in the Civic Centre, and is responsible for the latest round of demolitions. It appears that the City is trying to assemble the land in this area, but right now doesn’t have any plans in place for development. Apparently, the interim use will be a parking lot which is unfortunate because the last thing Downtown Langley needs is more surface parking. It really destroys the quality of the public realm. By my work in Vancouver, they turned this type of vacant land into a temporary green space/pocket park. I wonder if this is something the City of Langley should consider.

While the Civic Centre will likely be very vibrant space in next few years, right now it is looking like nothing more than a big parking lot which is too bad.

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