LETTER: Fort Langley needs to strike a balance between past, present, and future

One couple in the village want more efforts made to preserve Fort Langley’s heritage.

Dear Editor,

Who is ‘winning’ in Fort Langley?

The village of Fort Langley is still trapped in controversy about the future.

On one side, we have a developer with deep pockets and the support of some residents, and in this group, some who see the Fort as a neglected artifact of the past. “Change is coming”, they say – better this change than some unknown other.

Opposed to them, we have those who see the same village in a very different way – as an important example of a way of life that points both to the past and to the future, hoping that the rare sense of community that is still here can serve to teach us that bigger is not necessarily better and uniformity is not progress.

I don’t suppose that these short characterizations of the two sides are more than a wave in two directions, offering neither full fairness. Space is limited, though, and so waving is all that can be done here.

Both my wife and I participated in “focus groups,” held by the developer, in an attempt to meet the hopes of council that controversy could be avoided.

We were heard by many in our group, and feel better understandings developed. Some who saw us as enemies before the group meeting, may have realized that we are all in this together. But no sign of modifications and changes to the proposed development were ever made evident.

The developer characterizes his problem at this point as an impasse with the council.

The councillors and their rigid adherence to bylaws and community plans are the cause of the developer shutting down of businesses, boarding up shops, and the cutting down many big trees.

To state the obvious: councillors are elected local politicians. They represent the people who elected them. Thank goodness for that!

This is an essential understanding of how the integrity of our democratic system works.

We voted for councillors we hoped would stand up for maintenance rather than development, for those we thought were sympathetic to both the historical and living significance of the place where we live.

They seem to be doing what we hoped.

The developer has a vision and determination to have it accomplished as he sees it.

My wife and I do not share that vision.

Many of the Fort Langley residents feel as we do.

He owns the land in question and believes he should be able to do with it as he pleases.

We own a house in the village approaching 100 years old and hope to pass it on – intact and in a state of representing its history, including our residency. We feel that our obligation to the past is our obligation to the future.

We think many others feel the same.

There is great value in the unique character of places that focus on history and culture.

We hope that people, driving by on the freeway, look down towards the river and think, “Let’s pop into the lovely little village down there. It’s full of character! Is it still there?”

Our wish is to just keep doing what we have been doing – our shopping, visiting, walking – living in a place where we recognize most faces, pick up our mail and nod towards others doing the same, all the while knowing that we live as people are supposed to live – in a community passionate to preserve the best of what it’s been, and grow thoughtfully into its future.

Who is winning in Fort Langley?

As many favourite shops and restaurants are replaced by sheets of plywood, we would say no one is winning.

Our village should not be diminished in this way, nor our community suffer from it.

Thank you, councillors, for holding firm to the bylaws that work to protect treasures like Fort Langley.

Don Nelson and Linda Muttitt

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