I have been watching the controversy over the Coulter Berry development over the past months with special interest, having been raised in Eastern Ontario, where fabulous heritage communities such as Perth, Merrickville, and Smiths Falls exist on the Rideau Canal, built in 1829-a designated UNESCO historical site.
On top of this, my brother, Dr. Glenn J. Lockwood, has been in the heritage and historical business for 40-plus years â€“ i.e. his entire career â€“ and has written extensive histories on many of those communities.
When I posed to him what was proposed for this development, he advised this could be the thin edge of the wedge which would irreparably damage the tone of Fort Langley for the future.
Eastern Ontario, an economically depressed area within a stones throw of Parliament, has the communities of Perth and Merrickville which have very rigid standards for refurbishment, restoration, and replacement of any building on the Main Street.
The net result of this rigid process is unparalleled economic activity, tourism, and real estate values substantially higher than the surrounding area.
Contrast this with Smiths Falls, which had an equal opportunity to participate in the Heritage renewal, but due to poor planning and zoning by a clueless council, it is now relegated to being the â€œwelfare capitalâ€ of Eastern Ontario!
Might I suggest council read a book, Reviving Main Street, published by Heritage Canada in association with University of Toronto Press, before anything of a heritage nature is done which would compromise Fort Langleyâ€™s future?
Spot zoning coupled with constant â€œrevisingâ€ of OCPs and Heritage Guidelines are the slippery slope to an irretrievable position down the road.
Kudos to Councilors Davis and Long for asking why the special dispensation for this project!
In closing, I understand the proponent of this project has major commercial tenancies in Fort Langley. As such, how many of these commercial tenants have been forcibly dragooned into either tacitly supporting this endeavour, or at worst, forced to keep their mouths shut and opinions to themselves with the unstated yet implicit threat of non-renewal of commercial leases, rent increases, etc.
Why doesnâ€™t council keep in mind concentration of commercial tenancies in the hands of one landlord is not good for competitive leaseholds â€“ think of the major anger at the concentration of cellular service to two major players in Canada.
It is imperative council is not seen as being at the beck and call of a major developer/landlord/election-war-chest contributor in the eyes of the community.
Lee Lockwood, Langley