Langley City examining how to better utilize its properties
The City of Langley is taking a long look at some of the underutilized properties within its boundaries in an effort to see which ones can be put to better purpose — sprucing up the municipality and potentially raising its tax base in the process.
Last month, the City unveiled its Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy, which was created in partnership with Colliers International and will be presented to the business community at an upcoming meeting of the Urban Development Institute (UDI).
“This report — the first of its kind at the local government level in B.C. — builds on the Downtown Master Plan as well as the economic development strategy to explore the economic realities of brownfield redevelopment in the City of Langley,” Gordon Easton, director of planning and development management at Colliers International, told council at its Dec. 17 meeting.
Brownfields are defined as “abandoned, vacant, derelict or underutilized commercial or industrial properties, where past actions have resulted in actual or perceived contamination and where there is an active potential for redevelopment.”
Property in the City which is deemed most appropriate for brownfield development lies north of Fraser Highway, between Glover Road and 200 Street — particularly in the light industrial area along Logan Avenue.
In the report, the City’s pedestrian friendly downtown core is counted as a mark strongly in its favour, along with the municipality’s speedy development approvals process and pro-development council.
However, a small inventory of developable sites, potential time delays due to absentee landlords living overseas, aging municipal infrastructure and a potentially marginal increase in land value could work against the City, the report continued.
City staff are excited about the plan, said Gerald Minchuk, director of development services and economic development, adding they will be promoting brownfield development to the business community at upcoming events, including the Feb. 5 UDI breakfast, which will be held at Cascades Casino.
Councillor Gayle Martin said she is amazed by the potential that exists for land parcels, where the average person could look at and see no possibilities at all.
“I look forward to seeing proposals (for brownfield development) in the community,” she said.
Councillor Dave Hall asked what the recommended time frame is on the development process.
“As transit extends out here, people are sitting on their land waiting to see what will happen. Are there great expectations that the property we see as marginal is going to boom in terms of development in 10 years? Twenty?”
“The study articulates opportunities we can start on immediately,” Minchuk told council.
Mayor Peter Fassbender said the City will have to take a look at what incentives it can offer developers, as well as what will give residents higher and better use of the land, while creating more tax revenue.
“It’s going to be a work in progress, but we’re ahead of the curve as one of the first local governments to take the initiative.”