Business

Township poised to become 'powerhouse' says mayor

Shawn Bouchard of Quadra Homes praised the Township for the speed with which it processes development permit applications. - Natasha JONES/Langley Times
Shawn Bouchard of Quadra Homes praised the Township for the speed with which it processes development permit applications.
— image credit: Natasha JONES/Langley Times

Langley Township is a community of opportunity and growth, Mayor Rick Green told 150 Urban Development Institute members and guests on Thursday (April 28).

With a current population of approximately 106,000 people, the Township is expected to swell by another 100,000 in the next 30 years. With more than 6,900 businesses operating in the community, “we have just started to scratch the surface of the massive growth and unprecedented potential that we will see happening here in the years ahead,” Green said.

He was one of the speakers at Langley in Progress, a joint presentation of the UDI and the Township.

According to Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy, one million people are expected to come to the Lower Mainland over the next 30 years.

“We are poised to become a powerhouse of a destination, and I think the reasons are obvious: we have an ideal location in the centre of the Lower Mainland,” Green said.

“We have access to transportation routes and skilled labour. And most importantly, we have an abundance of competitively-priced land and floor space available.”

He noted that last year, the Township recorded a 37.5  per cent increase in development permit applications, and an 18 per cent increase in new subdivision applications over 2009.

“Last year, we issued 969 single and multi-family building permits during a time where most other jurisdictions were experiencing a decline in development and construction activity,” Green said. Between 2001 and 2010, the Township recorded 8,589 housing starts,  fourth highest out of all of Metro Vancouver’s 21 municipalities.

During the same period, the Township added 5.8 million square feet of industrial floor space, the third highest amount of all municipalities in the Lower Mainland.

Shawn Bouchard of Quadra Homes praised the municipality for the speed with which it processes development permit applications, and John Conicella of Wesgroup Properties spoke of the important role which the Township played when the company first became established in Langley in 2001. At that time, he said, “real estate was not in a buoyant mood.”

One of Wesgroup’s major acquisitions was the 35-acre parcel of land formerly owned by the Salvation Army on 200 Street. Among those established in what is now known as the Gateway commercial corridor are Pharmasave, Fraser Health Authority, the B.C. Government Employees’ Union and RBC Financial. Together, they have brought hundreds of jobs to Langley, and when Corix  relocates its headquarters it will bring another 150 jobs to Langley.

Dave Gormley of the Beedie Group has been overseeing the development of Gloucester Industrial Estates since 1994. Many major national and international companies, such as GM and Mazda, locate at Gloucester, drawn by its strategic geographic location. It has good access to the Canada/US border and Highway 1.

There are other elements which influence companies wanting to settling in Gloucester. Land prices are competitive, housing is affordable, and there is still plenty of vacant or undeveloped industrial land, Gormley said.

Willoughby Town Centre, which will wrap around the current site of Willoughby Elementary School, is Qualico Construction’s next major project in Langley.

One of the key anchors of the commercial/retail segment will be a Loblaws store, groundbreaking for which is expected in 2012. Loblaws stores include Superstore, Extra Foods and T & T Supermarket.

Hugh Carter of Qualico Construction said that a major chain is planning a 6,000 square foot restaurant.

The community already has major amenities, including the Langley Events Centre where the Langley in Progress speeches were made, and a park-and-ride facility under construction in the 20300 block of 86 Avenue.

Another piece to the puzzle is an interchange at Highway 1 and 216 Street which will provide another access to Willoughby.

“There is a strong sense of community, both rural and urban, which I think is one of the attributes of Langley,” Carter said.

Ramin Seifi, who heads the planning and engineering departments at Township Hall, said that the municipality is moving closer to its goal of one job for every resident.

These residents, he noted, have a broad choice of living accommodation, from floating homes to those with equestrian themes.

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