Letter: Brookswood-Fernridge OCP changes don’t factor in First Nations and equestrian issues

Township council has third reading on the new Brookswood-Fernridge Official Community Plan tonight.

Dear Editor,

I have been a resident and property owner in the Brookswood-Fernridge area since 2009. I purchased in this area due to the large parcels of land, the trees and the wonderful sense of community. I chose to live here because it was the full example of what the Township of Langley stood for…”where country and city meet.”

I attended the meetings at George Preston Arena when the original Brookswood-Fernridge OCP was put forth to the community in 2014.

I also spoke and brought forth to the mayor and Township councillors matters that concerned horse owners in the area. I pointed out that the original plan made no accommodations for local equestrians, it did not fix the newly developed problem of not being able to cross 16th Avenue with our horses due to dangerous conditions cause by the truck traffic and speeding vehicles, and it did not accommodate larger parcels of land to allow the keeping horses in the area. Even though I was quoted by two councillors during the discussions before the original plan was set aside, there is still nothing in the newly proposed plan to correct these issues.

I would like to remind you that Langley is considered the equestrian capital of British Columbia and of Canada. Going through with the previously proposed plan or the currently proposed plan would abolish that tradition which has been a part of the Township of Langley since its creation. Furthermore, I would like to remind you that the local equestrians are the people who have been paying larger amounts of taxes to live in this area on larger parcels of land and have supported our Township for many years.

In order to keep our community’s traditions and to accommodate all Langley residents, there needs to be terms and conditions in the plan that allow for the ownership and/or the riding of horses. If this is not done, we, the community’s horse owners, are going to be pushed out of the area with the rezoning of these lands. That is not what community is about. Community is about respecting all residents and their needs. The ability to use Campbell Valley Regional Park has become even more difficult as it is now dangerous to cross 8th Avenue into the park. Something needs to be done before someone, their horse, or both is/are hurt or killed.

If the proposed OCP goes through with its current agenda, there will be no riding trails and no more horses in the area. There is nothing in the plan that makes it safe or possible to ride across roads into Campbell Valley Regional Park from anywhere around the park. This is a huge concern that was previously brought forward. There is nothing in the plan to accommodate our Community’s long-standing tradition of riding to Campbell Valley Regional Park, to a neighbours home, or to the Artful Dodger Pub for dinner and social time.

Also, as a local Aboriginal woman who works in the Aboriginal community, I feel I must ask you another question. Has there been any consultation with the local Aboriginal peoples regarding the OCP? With the newly developed understanding that the lands on which the Township of Langley exist are unceded territories, it may be politically prudent to have input from the local Aboriginal communities on which we reside; being, Kwanten First Nation, Katzie First Nation, Matsqui First Nation, and the Metis Nation of British Columbia. This may assist in avoiding any future legal conflicts that may arise.

In closing, I would like to remind you that promises were made by mayor and council at the time the original OCP was set aside. You promised that as long as you were in office, you would take everyone’s concerns into consideration before a new OCP was approved. I hope that has not changed and that the residents of the Brookswood-Fernridge area will not regret how they voted.

I look forward to your consideration and hopefully your support to make changes necessary to the proposed OCP that will take into consideration the requests and concerns of the majority of the residents in this area.

Warmest Regards and All My Relations,

Sheila Jack, Brookswood