Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bold ideas from yesterday’s Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood planning session will be presented tonight.

The Nicomekl River and its tributaries are important assets in our community. One of the most obvious functions of these protected areas around the river is to provide water management during periods of rain and seasonal flooding. The river system is also important salmon habitat, and provides habitat for other animals including a variety of birds. Finally, the Nicomekl River trail network connects people with nature and neighbourhoods throughout Langley City. Most people in our community are no more than a 5-minute walk to the river system’s extensive trail network.

While I do not speak on behalf of council, I am confident in saying that every member of Langley City council and staff understands the value of the Nicomekl River system. This is why the city is working on a “Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood Plan.”

The planning process is expected to take a year, and the first phase of this process is currently underway. As you might have seen online or in the local newspaper, a public workshop was held yesterday where all members of the community were invited to attend.

People at the Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood workshop yesterday. Select image to enlarge.

At the start of the workshop each participant was asked about their one major hope for the Nicomekl River District and their one fear. Some of the hopes that I saw were that people wanted to see the area enhanced both from an environmental standpoint and from a neighbourhood standpoint. People were fearful that the plan could be watered-down, that Langley City’s small-town feel could be disrupted, and that the environment would degrade.

There was a facilitator to help capture ideas from people at each table. They helped guide the process to ensure that the questions posed to the groups were answered. Tables were either given a section of the map of the Nicomekl River District to capture ideas about, or were given an overall map for the whole district. The following pictures show the ideas captured from the tables who were given specific sections to generate ideas about.

Ideas captured for areas west of 203rd Street. Select image to enlarge.

Ideas captured for areas east of 203rd Street. Select image to enlarge.

There were some broad themes that emerged during the workshop. The first was to enhance the natural areas of the river system. There are many non-native plants and changes done within the river system and floodplain over the years. These areas could be restored to their natural forms including with native plant species. The second theme was to enhance the connectivity within the river system: both in connecting people to nature and the river, and in connecting people between neighbourhoods. There was discussion about a nature centre, boardwalks, and lookouts. There was also the idea of creating a better interface between the river system and the built-out areas. As an example, most buildings turn their back to the floodplain.

The other broad themes were to increase housing diversity to support affordability, and to provide corner stores and coffee shops that people could walk to, especially in the areas directly south of the Nicomekl River. There were ideas to create some pockets of mixed-use areas and higher-density areas to support coffee shops and small-space retail that could be combined with low-rise apartments and townhouses. There was discussion that this development could help pay for enhancing the river system.

The workshop held yesterday was part of a “charrette” which is an intense, two-day process to develop several concepts for the Nicomekl River District. The end result will be two concepts that will be able to move forward for further feedback from members of our community and council. One concept will then be chosen and refined.

The results of the “charrette” will be presented tonight at Langley City Hall. You can you drop by between 6pm and 8pm.

Don’t worry if you were not able to attend the workshop or the open house tonight, there will continue to be other ways to contribute to this plan as most people have very busy schedules that limit the ability to attend in-person events solely dedicated to this plan.

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