Monday, May 8, 2023

Proposal to Convert Rural Land to Industrial Land on Fraser Highway in Langley Township

If you go along Fraser Highway between Langley City and Aldergrove, you’ll see a variety of uses, including churches, restaurants, shops, housing and industrial properties though in a rural context.

These uses predate successive regional growth strategies whose goal is to build a compact region to prevent sprawl.

In the Township of Langley, many properties along Fraser Highway and Salmon River Uplands area are not in the agricultural land reserve but are designated rural under our regional growth strategy.

Site of proposed regional land use change from rural to industrial. Select the map to enlarge.

Rural lands are “intended to protect the existing character of rural communities, landscapes, and environmental qualities. Rural areas are not intended as future urban development areas.”

Rural land not adjacent to the urban growth boundary can be converted to industrial land with a 2/3rd weighted vote of the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board. This vote is now pending.

In October 2019, the Township approved a temporary use permit for 4.12 hectares of land at 23699 and 23737 Fraser Highway to store equipment and building materials on rural land. Previously to this temporary use, they were empty lots save for one detached house.

In the summer of 2022, Township Council gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw for the properties that would allow industrial and commercial uses. Adopting the rezoning would be subject to approval by the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board, among other requirements. The Metro Vancouver Regional District Board is now considering changing the regional land use from rural to industrial.

The Township’s own Rural Plan discourages the conversion of rural land to industrial uses. However, there is a desire to convert the area between 232 and 204th Street to industrial uses along Fraser Highway.

According to Metro Vancouver staff, this proposed redesignation of regionally zone rural land to industrial land will “incentivize adjacent Rural designated properties also to seek re-designation.”

For our region, the question is whether we want to allow more industrial land along Fraser Highway. If so, the region should extend the urban growth boundary like the region recently did in Gloucester. That way, we can be transparent about expanding urban lands and plan for the regional investment required to service these areas.

If we want to preserve our rural areas and continue to build a compact region, the Regional District Board must be careful not to piecemeal approve the conversation of rural lands to industrial lands.

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