Court finds Langley Township right on Coulter Berry


Langley Township has won a court battle over the controversial Coulter Berry building in Fort Langley’s downtown.

Three judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal have ruled that the Township was within its rights to approve the building with a Heritage Alteration Permit, rather than a full rezoning.

The plans for the three-storey building divided Fort Langley residents against one another. Those opposed felt the structure was too large and imposing and would damage the character of the historic downtown. Those in favour argued that it would bring jobs, below-ground parking, and new residents to the corner of Glover Road and Mavis Avenue.

After a rancorous public meeting, the Township council voted in favour of the project, but didn’t rezone the site. They passed a Heritage Alteration Permit to allow construction.

Opponents, including the Society of Fort Langley Residents for Sustainable Development, said that wasn’t a lawful way to change the use of the land.

The society launched a court challenge, and in October last year, Justice Joel Groves of the B.C. Supreme Court agreed that the Township had overstepped its bounds.

The Heritage Alteration Permit wasn’t the right tool, the judge ruled, because it could not change the density of the building, and the three-storey structure was an increase in density. A rezoning should have been done, according to the judge.

While the Township appealed the ruling, developer Statewood Properties applied for a rezoning, and in the spring council passed the required bylaws for an updated version of the Coulter Berry design. Work on the project has since begun again. 

Although the decision of the appeal court doesn’t mean much for the state of the project, it may set a precedent on matters of municipal rights.

“Development permits and development variance permits have been in place in British Columbia in local government legislation since 1985, as has the prohibition against varying use or density of use by their terms,” wrote Chief Justice Bauman in the appeal court’s decision. “Oddly, the question now before the court has never been decided." 

The lower court’s ruling was a “common sense approach,” wrote the appeal court justices. Groves ruled that a taller building was an increase in density.

However, the appeals court found that density (the number of houses or apartments on a plot of land) is a separate issue from the overall size of a building. The Township’s original permit didn’t change the density.

The Township had the right to regulate the size of the building, the appeals court ruled.

“This is excellent news,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese. “Throughout this process, the Township obtained legal opinions at each step to ensure its plans were lawful. As a result, we were confident that it was lawful to issue the Heritage Alteration Permit.”

Froese said this will clarify the rules for municipal governments.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Saturday was devoted to the arts in Langley City

The 25th annual Arts Alive festival took over a main thoroughfare.

Arena opens at Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre

Grand procession brings Aldergrove ice arena users to new facility

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

VIDEO: Tire recycling at Kal Tire

All tires will be recycled back into products to be used in British Columbia

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Most Read