Township dusts off development plans for Fernridge
People who own property in Langley’s southwest corner of Brookswood/Fernridge have convinced Township council to take another look at mothballed plans to redevelop the mostly rural region into something more urban.
Something like Walnut Grove with its mix of green space and different types of housing, said Cam Gair, spokesman for the owners of 138 properties that total 393 acres of land within the area bordered by 44 Avenue to the north, 210 Street to the east, 196 Street to the west, and 20 Avenue to the south.
Gair recently presented a petition from those property owners to council, noting they represent more than 80 per cent of the specific section of Brookswood/Fernridge between 196 and 206 Streets and 28 and 36 Avenues that was slated for substantial redevelopment under several yet-to-be-realized plans.
The proposals go all the way back to 1987, when a community development plan was approved for the whole area.
It called for more than doubling the population from 13,500 to 35,500.
But in a region where many existing houses were on large lots and used septic tanks, proper sewer lines would be needed to service the many new homes on smaller lots.
Sewage service was lacking, so only a small part of the plan ever came to fruition.
In 1999, several smaller-scale neighbourhood plans were approved for the area, but again a lack of sewer and water services got in the way.
Now, there is sewer service available because of the High Point development in South Langley, and the property owners believe the time is right to revive the previously-stalled plans.
Gair says building up Brookswood/Fernridge would give people more options than Langley’s Willoughby area which is currently bearing the brunt of new home construction.
“Not everyone wants to live in Willoughby,” Gair observed.
“There are a lot of people who want to live in Brookswood and Murrayville.”
But with the plans effectively on hold, they can’t.
Gair said some people are buying houses in those areas and tearing them down to build new homes because there are no building lots available.
Ramin Seifi, the Township’s chief development planner, told council that while the existing plans are out of date in many respects, they could be modernized without resorting to a full-scale planning review.
That would be easier to handle, said Seifi, who warned the Township doesn’t have enough planners to work on Brookswood/Fernridge without pulling people off other projects.
“We currently do not have the staff,” Seifi said in response to a question by councillor Charlie Fox.
Council voted to have planners do a more detailed assessment and report back.
Gair was pleased with the decision.
“I’m very positive about the comments that were made,” he told The Times.
“We think the door is partly ajar now.”
He thinks “tweaking” the old plans is sensible, because the proposed locations for parks, schools and business areas are unlikely to change.
What will change, Gair believes, are environmental protection requirements and housing densities will almost certainly be higher .
He says updating the plans, if approved, will probably take a year to two years.
“We certainly don’t expect a plan that’s been sitting or 25 years to evolve and blossom and get approved overnight,” Gair said.
“It’s a large project, it’s going to require a lot of staff time, and its going to be expensive.”