Eric Woodward speaking to Langley Township council earlier this year. (Langley Advance files)

Fort Langley lots to be part of $100 million charitable foundation

Landowner Eric Woodward announced he is transferring his land to a new non-profit.

Fort Langley landowner Eric Woodward said he will transfer the bulk of his properties into a charitable foundation starting next year.

The first properties to be handed over from Woodward’s Statewood Properties to the new Eric Woodward Foundation will be the three sites over which Woodward butted heads with Langley Township regarding his development plans last year.

“I started thinking about it about five years ago,” Woodward said of the foundation plan.

Plans are still being fleshed out for the new foundation, Woodward said.

“Late last year, when I announced to Fort Langley residents that development advocacy by me personally would cease, I immediately began the process of planning a new foundation and charitable direction to be overseen by local Fort Langley residents,” Woodward said in a press release.

“The development profit and rental income from any future development will go to registered charities and qualified causes within Greater Langley,” Woodward said.

He said that his projects have always been about “making Fort Langley truly special” and not “development for development’s sake.”

Woodward will be one of the directors of the foundation’s board. The new board’s chair, Tom Kirstein, suggested Woodward would be executive director, but Woodward said he will be just one of nine directors.

Kirstein, the board chair, is an accountant and former mayor of White Rock.

“Obviously, Eric’s been talking about it or thinking about it for months or years,” Kirstein said.

A nine-member board of locals has been formed, and that the board’s job will be to hold Woodward’s feet to the fire as executive director to meet the new organization’s charitable goals.

Initially, three acres of property worth $18 million are to be transferred from Statewood to the new foundation.

Over a 10 to 15 year period, all of Statewood’s holdings are to be transferred, including the Coulter Berry building.

The foundation’s assets are expected to grow to more than $100 million over that time.

Kirstein said it could take up to six months to finalize the creation of the Eric Woodward Foundation.

He expects that development will take place on the Statewood sites, though likely not the boutique hotel that had been the original plan for a major corner in downtown Fort Langley. Kirstein suggested that site would more likely become a residential/commercial mixed use building.

Woodward’s battle with Langley Township since last year has taken a number of twists and turns.

Woodward owns more than 30 per cent of the downtown commercial core of Fort Langley.

His actions since last year have included:

• A Facebook post in which he announced he was surrendering in the face of Township of Langley requirements for his development proposals

• Boarding up several vacant buildings, including storefronts in the downtown core

• Posting blown-up versions of letters from a Fraser Health health inspector saying two of the boarded-up buildings were vermin-infested and should be demolished

• Announcing the creation of a pop-up park at his largely-vacant lot at Glover Road and Mary Avenue, to include hammocks, picnic spots, and outdoor hammocks. The park is currently under construction

• Removing the “vermin” signs and covering the boarded up fronts of his properties with large-scale historic black and white photos.

Woodward announced in June that he is considering running for mayor in Langley Township. He said he believes transferring his holdings to a foundation could help eliminate one of the possible conflicts of interest that might have arisen if he were to win the mayor’s chair.

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