Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New water supply fuels development pressure in Salmon River Uplands

When people think of what enables sprawl, normally large roads come to mind. While roads are certainly required, the availability of water and sewer services are key to enabling urban development.

For years, I have been posting about the potential for massive development in the Salmon River Uplands area. This area is in the geographic centre of the Township of Langley, and is surrounded by the Agricultural Land Reserve. The Township of Langley hasn’t developed a long-term plan for the area, and the area has been allowed to develop in a piecemeal fashion.

Because of concerns with the protection of the Hopington Aquifer, development in the area has been limited. With the recent introduction of Metro Vancouver water service to the are, the floodgates are now open for the development. With no clear plan in place for the area, piecemeal suburban development project approvals may be the order of the day.

Back in the 1980’s, a 81 unit single-family housing development was built around 56th Avenue and 240th Street. The original plan would have seen around 200 units built, but due to opposition, the rest of the project was never completed.

Original 1980's Tall Timbers Development Plan. Select image to enlarge.

With the new East Langley Water System through Salmon River Upland, the completion of this 1980’s plan is now possible. Infinity Properties is now proposing to finish the Tall Timbers project which started in the 1980's.

The Tall Timber lots and the lot size proposed for the completion of Tall Timbers is about 1/3 of an acre. This will create suburban sprawl.

In 1995, Council place a moratorium to prohibit new rezoning and subdivision applications in Salmon River Uplands due to environmental concerns. In 2011, Councillor Kim Richter proposed making this moratorium permanent. Council at the time referred the matter to staff, I haven’t seen the result of this referral.

The only land-use guidance for the Salmon River Uplands area is the Township of Langley’s Rural Plan which states that “The Salmon River Uplands shall be maintained for rural residential and agricultural uses.”

Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy also zones the area as Rural meaning “Rural areas are intended to protect the existing character of rural communities, landscapes and environmental qualities. Land-uses include low density residential development, small scale commercial, industrial, and institutional uses, and agricultural uses that do not require the provision of urban services such as sewer or transit.”

The Township of Langley has not yet fully signed onto the Regional Growth Strategy, so I’m not sure if there is much protection for Salmon River Uplands via the strategy.

If this project comes before Township Council, and if Council approve this project, Salmon River Uplands has the potential to become the most unsustainable area in Langley and Metro Vancouver. Council needs to put a moratorium on major development project in the area until a detailed community plan has been adopted for the area.

The current piecemeal approach that the Township is taking with Salmon River Upland is not good for the environment, rural nature of the community, or land-owners in the area.

For further reading, check out the “Leave Salmon River Uplands Alone” Facebook page and “Threats To The Ecological Health Of The Salmon River Watershed In Langley, B.C. And Suggestions For Improved Local And Provincial Management.

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