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Township Councillor calls for hands-on approach to land sales

A For Sale sign advertises land on 84 Avenue between 257A Street and 264 Street. - Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times
A For Sale sign advertises land on 84 Avenue between 257A Street and 264 Street.
— image credit: Miranda GATHERCOLE/Langley Times

An increase in the population brings development stress, and that triggers a deepening desire for people to connect with nature, Stuart Bucholtz told Township council on July 9.

That opportunity may very well have been lost had Glen Valley residents not got wind of the sale of 21 acres of forest on 84 Avenue between 252 and 254 Streets.

When they made the discovery, they applied a great deal of pressure on council which voted in camera to withdraw three lots from a bidding process. The Township is proceeding with the sale of 25 acres located closer to 260 Street.

There were no signs posted on the property to advise neighbours of the Township’s intent. The municipality said that it sent letters to 20 real estate companies, but according to residents, not all of them received the information. Word got out after one resident read about the pending sale in the Township Pages in the local papers.

“We were not invited for input,” Bucholtz said.

After Mayor Jack Froese announced that the sale of the 21 acres had been withdrawn, Bucholtz thanked council and pledged support for efforts to raise $2 million which the Township had anticipated the sale would generate.

That money was to be put towards the purchase of Aldergrove Elementary School and the construction of a community centre, ice rink and pool.

However, Bucholtz stressed, residents are determined to see the 21 acres designated a park.

“We will be happy to help fundraise for the community centre after this is achieved,” he said.

Dr. Albert Anderson, whose family runs Aldor Acres in the 24900 block of 84 Avenue, thanked council for saving the forest which locals refer to as McLellan Park.

“Common sense ruled, once you people came down and saw there is a world outside of this building,” Anderson said.

Councillor Kim Richter took up this thread when she proposed a motion that before Township-owned lands are put on the market, council members and senior staff tour the properties.

“As part of what has come out of McLellan Park, council really does have to have a more hands-on role in land disposition,” she said.

She proposed another motion  for a land disposition policy that would ensure maximum public notification of properties put up for sale, and maximum financial return. Council would have the final say on all sale prices.

“The public has identified an area of concern and the Township should respond to it,” Richter said.

The majority of council appeared reluctant to support the proposals, but was willing to discuss it at a council priorities meeting.

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