Fort Langley property owner Eric Woodward won’t be meeting with the Township council – at least, not at their request.
The council debated inviting Woodward earlier this month to talk about his decision to board up a few businesses at some of the properties he owns in downtown Fort Langley.
Woodward has said the Township’s planning department was being intransigent in dealing with development proposals he had for three Fort Langley properties. Earlier this year, he withdrew all three development applications and boarded up some vacant houses and a couple of storefronts.
Council considered inviting Woodward to speak to them about the issues, but ultimately voted against issuing any special invitation. Councillors Kim Richter and Blair Whitmarsh were in favour of speaking to Woodward directly.
Woodward told the Langley Advance he doesn’t plan to go to the council himself.
“All I can do is make applications, and if the Township doesn’t process them fairly, what more can I do?” Woodward said.
Mayor Jack Froese noted that Woodward is within his rights to leave his properties vacant if he chooses.
“We’re certainly willing to work with him,” Froese said.
He said there is concern from the business community about boarded up buildings in the downtown, a concern echoed by Fort Langley Business Improvement Association president Gareth Abreo.
“Clearly, boarded up buildings do not contribute to building a vibrant streetscape,” Abreo said via email. “We are all concerned about the impact these boarded up buildings may have moving into our tourist seasons, but as this situation is relatively recent, we cannot measure impact as of yet.”
The BIA is encouraging temporary beautification of the plywood as a stopgap measure, but would ultimately like to see the stores open or redeveloped.
Members have also expressed confusion over why the situation “has escalated to its current state,” Abreo said.
“The Fort Langley BIA does not involve itself in private property disputes, and is not fully aware of the details surrounding the dispute,” Abreo said. “However, we encourage both parties to reopen communication, and work towards a resolution as quickly as possible.”