UPDATED: Residents take issue with development plans

 

Brookswood residents packed an open house meeting on the plan to redevelop their area, many of them expressing anger about increased density.

The Wednesday night meeting at the Fernridge Hall was described as presenting “preliminary and conceptual information,” for the Griffith Neighbourhood Plan, an uneven area that runs 196th Street in the west to just east of 205th Street, and from 36th Avenue in the north to 27th Avenue in the south.

Griffith as a neighbourhood is a recent creation, carved out of the Brookswood and Fernridge areas just in the last few years at the request of some of the local landowners.

The Township set up several boards where people could put post-it notes with comments. The majority of the comments were highly critical, attacking increased density, calling for no condos or apartments, saying the reasons for development were purely financial, or asking that the area stay as it is.

Those in attendance had views that ranged from hostile to positive.

“I don’t have a problem with developing the area, as long as it’s done with taste,” said Sally Frost, a 43-year resident of the area.

She’s known for years there would eventually be development, she said.

“Our retirement is based on that,” said Frost.

But she wants to see schools built before the area gets denser, and says she and her husband would like to stay in the area themselves.

Alan Ellison is worried the development will ruin the neighbourhood.

“We liked it the way it was,” he said. Ellison moved to the area from Murrayville as it developed some years ago. He said he and his neighbours are angry, and that if the development goes ahead, he plans to move out of Langley.

Roads can’t handle the traffic they have now, Ellison said, and he worried that new developments will put density right up against farmland.

“There’s no harmony,” he said.

Paul Clymo was worried about traffic, ease of access, and parking. He works in Willoughby and has since 2004, when development there was just revving up.

“If you want to see how not to do it, go north,” he said.

Resident Dan Mooney was pleased there might be more options for diversity in housing and aging in place.

“I think it would be good to have a diverse spectrum of housing choices,” he said.

Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese was not at the event, but spoke about it later.

When asked if opposition from residents could stop the redevelopment of the area, Froese said no.

Brookswood has been designated for future growth for some time, and it would be a large undertaking to reverse the Township’s path now, he said.

“I think we have to look with a vision to the future,” Froese said.

No one has to sell or move, Froese said.

“People who live in their homes aren’t going to be pushed out,” he said.

A year ago, the Township held a similar open house laying out the rough overall plan for redeveloping Brookswood-Fernridge.

There are about 13,500 people in the area now. The Township plans to increase that to between 32,000 and 36,000, raising density in one of several possible ways.

Designs and sketches that were shown to the residents at the Griffith open house aren’t expected to be available yet through the Township until later this week.

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