Brookswood hearing wraps up

Brookswood residents wrapped up a three-day public hearing with five hours of speeches to Langley Township council Wednesday night.

The third night of the hearing on the proposed new Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan ran from 7 p.m. until just before midnight at the George Preston Recreation Center.

As on Tuesday, a majority of those speaking were opposed to the new plan, which would increase densities and boost the population of Brookswood from 13,500 today to about 42,000 over the next 30 years.

“We are country people, not city people,” said Tracie Donnelly.

Some residents, like Ken Turner, were in favour, but even some of those calling for a version of the plan had reservations.

“We are for the development, but we would also like to see some changes,” Turner said.

He said he hopes to develop and keep lots for himself and his children.

Councillor Kim Richter said 120 people spoke at the meetings. By her count, 85 were opposed, 21 in favour, and 14 had mixed views or didn’t say one way or another.

There were a number of themes that came up repeatedly from both those opposed and those in favour.

Those who rejected the plan:

• Fears came up repeatedly that it would destroy Brookswood’s character, although preserving existing character is one of the seven guiding principles in the plan.

• Concerns about the loss of trees, along with the birds and wildlife that live in the ravines, parks, and acreages of the area.

• Infrastructure issues came up frequently. Residents worried about crowded roads, a lack of transit, lack of parking, overcrowded schools, strain on the hospitals, and effects on nearby major roads like 16th Avenue. Residents frequently made reference to how many of these problems, especially crowded schools, lack of buses, and half-built roads, have cropped up in Willoughby over the last few years.

• Some feared crime would increase with density.

• Many simply said they had moved to Brookswood because of its current character, the size of its lots, and the presence of abundant trees and natural features. They did not want to see it change.

Those in favour of the project also hit a few themes repeatedly:

• Brookswood has been planned for urban growth for decades, they noted.

• Several speakers said the price for land in Brookswood will rise out of reach of most people unless the area is densified.

• Some in favour said the changes will allow Brookswood to update its infrastructure.

Many of those opposed said they don’t oppose all development, but that it should be concentrated in certain areas around major routes like 200th Street, and that the minimum lot size should be increased.

The Township council is now scheduled to debate and vote on the third reading of the OCP bylaws on Monday, March 31st. They could approve the plan and move onto the fourth and final reading, they could defeat the plan, or they could send it back to Township staff for revisions.

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