Fate of Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood up to council

Hundreds of people marched for the preservation of Brookswood Sunday, on the eve of a vote that could add almost 30,000 people to the area.

An estimated 300 people marched from Noel Booth Park to Brookswood Park as part of the rally, many carrying signs. They oppose a proposed Brookswood/Fernridge Official Community Plan. 

Langley Township council was scheduled to vote on the plan on Monday night, after Langley Advance press deadlines. Check www.langleyadvance.com for results of the vote.

Hundreds of residents packed recent public hearings on the plan, saying they want lower density.

“It should be developed with larger lots of single family homes to keep the feel of the neighbourhood,” said Laura and Keely Warren, two of the marchers.

The quiet of Brookswood was one of the main reasons the Warrens moved there, they said. They worry they will find themselves sandwiched between a four-lane highway and condos if the plan goes ahead. Their two boys are five and three years old, and the Warrens want them to be able to walk to school safely in the future.

Ken Grainger, one of the rally organizers, called on Township to “scrap the plan.”

He said a new process should give all of Brookswood the opportunity to have its say.

Traffic is a concern for many. Les and Sona Fuller live on 40th Avenue, and worried they’ll be in the middle of a lot more traffic if the street is widened to four lanes.

A loss of trees in the area is also a major concern for the Fullers.

Traffic, a loss of greenspace, future school overcrowding, and density have been the primary concerns since the community became engaged starting earlier this year.

Under the plan, the population of the area would rise from about 13,500 to 42,000 people. Much of the new density would be found in the areas south of 36th Avenue.

Residents opposed to the plan were waiting for the vote Monday, as were those in favour and hoping to see the area developed.

Cameron Gair, a realtor who heads up the Griffith Neighbourhood Advisory Corporation (GNAC), said he would like to see the council take into consideration that Brookswood has been dormant for 30 years.

“It’s been promised for so long,” Gair said.

Many residents and landowners bought property in the southern portions of Brookswood intending to either develop, or to sell when they retired and downsized. Many of those speaking in favour of the project at the hearings had bought land with the expectation that the area would eventually be developed.

The GNAC loaned the Township $500,000 to hire planning staff to draft a neighbourhood plan, as the Township’s staff had enough work finishing plans for Willoughby and Aldergrove.

Gair said that’s actually a fairly common practice in the Lower Mainland.

If the Township votes against the OCP and starts from scratch, there’s no mechanism to get the money back.

“We lose half a million bucks,” Gair said. The money was to have been paid back from the Township to the GNAC through development fees paid as Brookswood grew and subdivided.

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