Francis Cheung, Langley City’s administrator, with a map of the City. The City is expecting significant changes with the arrival of light rail. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Langley City plans to use light rail to upgrade community

The Nexus plan is a blueprint for changes in the City when light rail arrives.

Langley City is contemplating major changes to its future development, as elected officials and staff grapple with the changes that will come with light rail.

“We can’t stay at status quo,” said Langley City administrator Francis Cheung. “We’d better be ahead of the train, instead of being run over by the train.”

Langley City council has recently adopted the new Nexus of Community plan in an attempt to get in front of the expected changes and bend them towards upgrading the community.

Sometime in the next decade, a light rail line from Surrey will come down Fraser Highway, with two stops planned. One will be near the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, and one will be near the City’s downtown transit hub.

Over the past few months, the City has gathered experts and local stakeholders, from business groups to civic planners, social service providers to former politicians like Mike Harcourt, to draft a plan.

The idea is to not make the City the terminus of a rail line, Cheung said, but to keep it as the hub of the Fraser Valley.

The document dubbed Nexus won’t be achieved all at once, but includes some items for the near future, others that may not take place for years, and some that will be ongoing efforts.

The key idea is to make sure Langley City grows in ways that support its existing residents, along with the new ones expected to arrive. With fewer than 26,000 residents in the last census, the City is expected to grow past 30,000, and perhaps beyond, in the coming decades.

Cheung said one of the key goals of Nexus is to ensure that people can spend their whole lives in the City. Right now, there’s high-density small apartments, and low density single family, but the City needs to work on creating a “middle” between the two, such as duplexes, townhouses, or higher-density single family lots.

“We want to reinvent the idea of suburbia,” Cheung said.

Creating connectivity for existing neighbourhoods and making new public spaces are also priorities. Planners want to give people a reason to visit and move to the City, Cheung noted.

“We’re looking at a performing arts centre,” Cheung noted.

Public spaces would include everything from restaurant patios to plazas like McBurney Lane to new facilities.

“The consequences of not doing this is the Langley City will be the place that could have been,” Cheung said.

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