Planning ahead for new Langley Township council

Newly re-elected Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese is getting ready to sit down with a council – including three new members – to map out the next four years.

He expects all councillors, returning and new, to set out their priorities and issues during a strategic planning session to be held this December, Froese said.

One of the obvious themes will be one that came up from all sides during the election campaign: more and better public engagement.

Froese has already promised to push for a task force on public engagement. “I’m looking forward to something happening there,” Froese said.

Then there will be the still-simmering issues of development and growth in several neighbourhoods.

The council will have to decide what it wants to do about the Brookswood OCP. The last official community plan was voted down in the face of widespread community discontent over a plan that would have increased the population from about 13,200 people to 42,000 over 30 years.

“We’ll see if this council wants to move ahead with it this term,” Froese said.

A new plan would require money and resources. The failed plan was controversially funded by $500,000 from local landowners.

One option is to finish all the neighbourhood plans in Willoughby before moving on, Froese noted.

There are two plans left to finish up: Latimer, which is almost ready to come before the council, and the Smith area, still in development.

Froese also pledged to try and improve 208th Street, one of residential Willoughby’s main roads, by rebuilding the 208th Street overpass to four lanes.

“It’s a real choke point,” he said. The project would be largely funded by development cost charges (DCCs) from the growth in the community.

“If we don’t get it finished in four years, it’ll be a lot of gridlock,” Froese said.

He has also talked about looking at pre-emptively widening parts of 208th to the planned four lanes. Right now, widening only takes place in areas after they have been developed.

Another major road project, but one the Township does not have complete control over, is the long-planned new highway interchange at 216th Street. 

“It looks like the province is starting to move forward on that,” Froese said.

The plan would change driving options, and would require a new Township connector south to Glover Road in the Milner area. It would help ease congestion, particularly as 200th Street is near capacity, Froese said.

With a new water pipeline about to reach Aldergrove within weeks, almost all the pieces are finally in place for that community to start to grow and develop.

“Aldergrove is an area where we’d like to see some more development activity,” he said. The downtown there needs revitalization. One piece of that is the Aldergrove Recreation Centre and pool. Another could be the piece of Township land on the south-east corner of the community recently rezoned for housing. That potential land sale attracted some local opposition.

There is now some interest in the site from a developer, Froese said.

Kickstarting a revitalization in Aldergrove has been long in the works. A sewer line was finished six years ago, and the new Core Plan for the downtown more than four years ago. With water almost complete, the civic infrastructure is largely in place.

Regional issues, including the upcoming TransLink referendum, may take centre stage.

“My focus will have to switch to the referendum,” Froese said of the coming months.

South-of-the-Fraser mayors worked together to come up with collective demands for service improvements here, and those were incorporated in the plan that TransLink will be putting forward, Froese said.

“We need to get some light rail to Langley,” he said. The plan calls for rail down Fraser Highway from the King George Skytrain station, plus rapid buses up and down 200th Street.

Homelessness remains an issue in Langley City, and health services need an upgrade.

“Our hospital is bursting at the seams,” said Froese.

There are a few issues that didn’t come up much during the campaign, but which will be bigger in the near future, Froese said.

“You didn’t see a lot on taxes, in this campaign,” he said. 

Yet, keeping a lid on spending will be debated, and the many needs of the community will have to be prioritized.

The first meeting of the new council and the start of the first four-year term begins with a meeting on Monday, Dec. 1.

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