Routley townhouse development approved
Hoping to appease residents who want an elementary school in their neighbourhood, Langley Township council gave final reading on Monday to a bylaw that rezones approximately 14 acres in the 19800 block of 70 Avenue that includes a portion for a school.
Part of the property had been zoned institutional for a school, but in a land swap that involved the Langley School District, the Township and a developer, the school site would have vanished.
Adoption of the bylaw paves the way for the construction of 103 townhouses.
The bylaw adoption frees the school district to build a school in the Yorkson neighbourhood, and retains a site for a small school in the Routley neighbourhood of Willoughby.
A plan presented at Monday’s council meeting shows the townhouse site on the northwest corner of 200 Street and 70 Avenue. Between the new housing development and 198 Street is space for a soccer pitch, baseball diamond, and a small elementary school.
Over the past year, the proposal met with furious opposition from residents, many of whom said that they bought their homes in the Routley neighbourhood of Willoughby believing that an elementary school would be built there.
However, the school district said that there is no need for a school because their data shows that 295 students from Routley attend elementary schools in the district.
Furthermore, the school district argued, Routley is substantially built out and therefore not likely to generate more children to justify a new school.
Adoption of the bylaw brings to a close one of the most controversial applications for any Willoughby neighbourhood.
The pivotal issue surrounding the controversy was that many residents who moved to Routley did so on the assumption that they could walk their children to a new elementary school there.
Petition organizers collected hundreds of signatures which they believed was enough to show that they had an ironclad case for an elementary school in the Routley subdivision.
But while residents say the petition demonstrated their case for a school, the Langley School District said that the Ministry of Education, which has the final word on all new schools, would have to see evidence of that watertight case in order to approve a school at the 70 Avenue site.
That was unlikely, as the ministry had already approved the land swap in 2010 and, as part of that arrangement, the ministry had approved a school site at 20626 84 Ave. in the Yorkson neighbourhood of Willoughby.