Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cities in a Sea of Green: Langley City’s role in the Lower Mainland’s half-century vision

A few weeks ago, I posted about our community’s new vision, Langley City: Nexus of Community. This vision will help guide growth and development in the City over the next several decades. One of the key tenets of the vision is to cement Langley City’s role as a centre for the Fraser Valley. While our new community vision is bold, it is also the continuation of a half-century vision for the Lower Mainland.

Over the long weekend, I found myself reading Plan for the Lower Mainland of British Columbia which was adopted in 1980. This plan encompassed all communities from Bowen Island to Hope. At the time, Langley City was in the former Central Fraser Valley Regional District.

Regional Districts in the Lower Mainland in 1980. Select map to enlarge.

This plan had nine key strategies:

  • Protect farmland, floodplain, and natural assets from urban and industrial development.
  • Develop and enhance the use of farmland and other natural resources for the long-term benefit of the Lower Mainland.
  • Locate more of the total population growth within the metropolitan area.
  • Locate more of the population growth occurring outside the metropolitan area to the North of the Fraser River.
  • Focus four-fifths of Fraser Valley growth in five Valley Towns.
  • Promote higher residential densities in the metropolitan area and the Valley Towns.
  • Focus new commercial employment and high and medium density housing in and around the metropolitan core and existing regional centres.
  • Improve the balance in the distribution of jobs and labour force in all parts of the Lower Mainland.
  • Provide transportation and physical services in a way which will reinforce the development concept.

While our current regional growth strategy has certainly been refined since this 1980s plan, these nine key strategies are still very much a part of the ethos of our region.

For the South of Fraser, growth was planned to occur both in North Surrey, and in Valley Towns. Langley City, and surrounding parts of the Township, was one of the designated Valley Towns.

Lower Mainland Development Concept Map. Select map to enlarge.

Langley City was specifically called out in the plan as a Valley Town. The plan for these towns was for them to “evolve as key links in the transportation network, including the introduction or further development of public transit systems, and as important focal points for local shopping, services and community life.” They were to be the “centres of growth in office employment, shopping and cultural facilities.”

Langley City: Nexus of Community is a bold vision for our community. It is also deeply rooted in our region’s half-century objective to create sustainable cities in a sea of green.

Fun fact: W.C. Blair, who the pool in Murrayville is named after, was chair of the Central Fraser Valley Regional District when the 1980s Plan for the Lower Mainland of British Columbia was adopted.

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