As one involved in organizing some of the arts events that helped raise awareness about the beauty and ecological value of the forest known as Gray Pit, or McLellan Forest East, I am heartened that the Township of Langley has taken three out of five forested lots off the market. Such a decision will be applauded not only by current residents, but by generations to come.
Now it is time for the politicians and the community to move toward ensuring the permanent protection of both McLellan Forests, West (which was taken off the market earlier) and East.
Until the areas are protected legally, the community will continue to be concerned that they could be sold at a later date or under a different council.
It is disappointing that council decided to put the eastern portion of McLellan Forest East up for sale, since it contains some of the most sensitive wildlife habitat for federally listed species at risk. The eastern portions of the land may not be as stately as the low-lying regions near the gravel pit, but the provincial biologists' reports suggest that those wetlands are the ones that could contain the at-risk and endangered species.
If council proceeds with the sale of two of the parcels, it should place restrictive covenants on the use of the land to require future owners to accommodate sensitive habitats when developing the lots. These covenants would have to be in place before the sale of the land, as it would be much more difficult, if not impossible, to impose restrictions after the land is in private hands.
But my preference is that we think ecologically and save the whole baby now. Had council been willing to take more time, work with the community and with other levels of government, and seek other ways to raise funds for a recreation centre in Aldergrove, this might have been possible.
Susan McCaslin, Langley