Monday, July 14, 2014

Mixed-use projects border Langley's auto-orriented regional city centre

Metro Vancouver has defined many town centres throughout the region as part of the regional growth strategy. Regional town centres are “intended as priority locations for employment and services, higher density housing, commercial, cultural, entertainment, institutional and mixed uses.” The idea is to build accessible, mixed-use town centres that promotes health communities, are multimodal, preserves farmland, and protests green space by limiting sprawl.

Langley’s regional town centre core is the Willowbrook area which is auto-oriented and single-use.

The Township does have some plans to make the area more mixed-use. For example, there is a plan to redevelop Willowbrook Mall. What I find interesting is that while the core of the Langley region town centre is very much auto-oriented, it is surrounded row houses and apartments, and now mixed-use buildings.

A clear example of this is where the Township of Langley Municipal Hall is located. A Wal-Mart is directly west of the municipal hall, while a Costco is a stone’s throw to the east. This area, bounded by 200th Street, 66th Avenue, the Willowbrook Connector, and 64th Avenue, is home to big-box retail power centres.

A new mixed-use project is being proposed which will be sited on the north side of 65th Avenue. This project will see the construction of two mixed-use building with ground-level commercial and upper-floor apartments. There will be townhouses north of the mixed-use buildings.

Artist rendering of proposed mixed-use development on 65th Avenue near 203rd Street. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of proposed mixed-use development on 65th Avenue near 203rd Street. Select image to enlarge.

There is a public hearing tonight about this project with more information that can be downloaded from the Township’s website. This is a great project and it will support the creation of a walkable and accessible community. What is interesting is that the north side of 65th Avenue is slowly become a mixed-use “high street” while the south side of the street is fronted by the rear of the Costco building.

While the area around the Langley regional centre is becoming more mixed-use, it seems that the core of the regional town centre is still very much auto-oriented. Single-use, auto-oriented projects are still being approved in the regional centre.

The Township needs to review its plan for the regional town centre and look at how it can support building an accessible community. The core of the regional town centre needs more mixed-use projects like the proposed 65th Avenue project.

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