Letter: Coulter Berry compromise only on one side

Dear Editor,

On the one hand, the debate going on in Fort Langley is one raging throughout most of the developed world, regarding integration of new development into historical or heritage-designated communities.

It is a debate that is trying to find the balance between acknowledging and preserving the past, but at the same time accommodating the needs and the creativity of the present and the future.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to elevate what has happened in Fort Langley to the level of reasoned debate.

Misinformation about the Coulter Berry project has flowed freely, as has name-calling. Lawsuits that are theoretically about the academic question of how local government exercises its legislative authority have managed to affect the livelihoods of many people.

The opposition has become so entrenched that they actually think that, if the developer would only do what they want, that would amount to a compromise.

A compromise is realizing that rising land values since the beginning of the new millennium have dramatically affected the kinds of development that are economically possible.

A compromise is realizing that a three-storey building stepped down to roof-top balconies next to an outdoor eating establishment is itself a compromise.

A compromise is realizing that underground parking is the best way to make a pedestrian-friendly streetscape, because it avoids an above-ground, unsightly parking lot that provides no pedestrian interest or value.

A compromise is acknowledging that poorly built buildings do not have the same shelf-life that better-built buildings do, or that things like building codes and even guidelines have to be changed with improved knowledge and population pressures.

And a compromise is one where both sides give up something to achieve some sort of equilibrium.

Statewood Properties did not apply to build a four-storey building, which would have actually made more economic sense than three storeys, given the cost of underground parking.

It also did not apply for a three-storey commercial-only building.

It adhered to the spirit of the building facade design guidelines, and with the Fort Langley Community Plan, which foresaw the possibility of 39-foot (12-metre) buildings, and called for residential space above commercial in the commercial core of the town.

The LEED Gold design exceeds current design standards with respect to sustainability, and will help preserve our natural environment, by minimizing electricity use and by using more durable materials, among other things.

I see compromise on one side, but not the other.

Christine Burdeniuk, Langley

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