Letter: Diversity better than uniform development in Brookswood

Dear Editor,

I am pleased that the Township of Langley is interested in consulting the community regarding the new Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan. I sincerely hope that this interest is genuine, and that input from residents will be given a higher priority than that of developers.

I have a number of comments and concerns, and as I was not able to attend the open house nor the meetings prior, I would like to state them here.

I moved to Langley over 28 years ago, and chose to live in Fernridge because of its great stands of coniferous trees, the Little Campbell River which runs through it, the abundant nature, and the relaxed and peaceful style of life. There was no confusion in my mind between Brookswood and South Brookswood-Fernridge. Brookswood itself had distinctly smaller lots, a commercial centre, sidewalks, buses, and street lights; we did not. Now South Brookswood-Fernridge also has a bus or two, a few more street lights, and sadly much more traffic on its main streets. To me, however, it remains a unique area, and I am concerned that the Township, for the purposes of the new OCP, considers Brookswood and South Brookwood-Fernridge one entity. A uniform expanse of small lots interspersed with commercial centres stretching roughly from 36th to 20th Avenues, it seems, is the goal.

I don’t see the benefits of uniformity; it is diversity that brings vibrance to a community. Fort Langley and Aldergrove, for example, rich in historical and cultural interest, are generally considered to be separate towns within the Township. Why could South Brookswood-Fernridge (or simply Fernridge) not be preserved as a community within the Township, where residents can continue to live on treed acreage, pasturing their horses and chickens, or selling home-grown plants and berries? Even if only pockets developments occur within unique areas such as these, their character and integrity will be lost.

It would be a different matter if the majority of residents in South Brookswood-Fernridge wanted to be uniform with Brookswood. But the opposite has been the case as long as I have lived here. If we are opposed to being considered the ‘Undeveloped Area’, soon to be developed, can we perhaps have a referendum like the UK did, and exit from the Brookswood-Fernridge Union?

Despite the shocking amount of unwarranted clear cutting that has gone on in the past several years, South Brookswood is still unique. If it is to be developed into small lots with commercial centres at major intersections, there will be tremendous losses: of habitat for wildlife, of lifestyle for current residents, and a of precious part of the fabric of Langley.

I understand that Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy has allotted growth targets to municipalities, and that this is part of the motivation for increasing dwelling units in the ‘Undeveloped Area’ of Brookswood-Fernridge. These numbers are not mandated, but I can appreciate Langley Township’s willingness to do its part. I expect, however, that pressure from developers is equally, if not more, driving the need for increased population density.

If the Township is intent on increasing its population, then my inexpert opinion would be to increase density along major streets in existing urban areas, such as 200th and 208th Street north of Brookswood or the Bypass. I expect that there are other options, but obviously South Brookswood-Fernridge is a goldmine for those wanting to profit from development.

For the majority of us who live in the area, it is golden just as it is, and I hope that the Township will adjust its plan to prevent its destruction.

Kathy Marsden, Fernridge

 

 

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