Aldergrove residents rally to save forest land

Aldergrove residents are asking Langley Township to modify plans for developing its own land to spare a chunk of forest.

Angela Wonitowy and Jessica Horst have been gathering signatures for a petition they planned to present to the council Monday night.

Wonitowy has lived in the area almost 20 years, close to the site in the 27500 block of 28th Avenue, at the southeastern edge of Aldergrove’s suburban area where it meets farmland.

The land in question belongs to the Township, and includes the Langley Water Treatment Plant. The plant takes up just a small portion of the land, and a Township reports says the rest is no longer used.

With Sanderson Planning, the Township wants to develop 61 homes on the site.

Wonitowy and Horst don’t object to the entire development. Bertrand Creek and one of its small streams flow nearby, dividing the lot roughly into two chunks.

Horst and Wonitowy are fine with allowing the northern segment of the project to go forward. But they and their neighbours want to see the southern section, which has a small forest, left alone. The southern portion has about one third of the homes.

The land has long been used as an informal park by neighbours, with paths leading into it from several directions.

Horst said that by last Friday they had 250 signatures physically and more than 300 online.

The group has also been in touch with the Watchers of Langley Forests, WOLF, which lobbied to preserve similar Township-owned forested lands from being sold in Glen Valley.

“I really do believe in densifying towns,” said Horst, a teacher in Langley and Abbotsford.

She said she likes the idea of putting “eyes on the forest” in much the same way that adding residents to a downtown area puts “eyes on the streets.”

People living near a forest take ownership of the land, she said, and feel responsible for it.

The public hearing was scheduled for Monday night.

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