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University district debate resumes, briefly
It will be at least two more months before a public hearing into a proposed university district for Trinity Western University’s (TWU) Langley campus wraps up.
Mayor Jack Froese reopened the hearing in Langley Township council chambers on Monday (Feb. 4) by saying the Township is still discussing the plan to build housing on farmland near the university with the provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) which approved it.
The public hearing was adjourned on Dec. 21 until Jan. 21 so the Township could ask representatives of the ALC to participate.
Then, the January hearing was delayed until this month, because the ALC had yet to meet to consider the matter.
Froese said the Township has now received comments from the commission “but those comments require further clarification” and because of that, the hearing would be adjourned one more time. It will resume April 15 at 7 p.m. in the Township council chambers.
Opponents dominated the discussion Monday night, with most of the criticism directed at the portion known as the Wall property, a separate application connected to the university district plan that is intended to increase student and staff housing.
The Wall property development calls for 67 compact residential lots on the 153-acre farm, located at Highway 10 and 72 Avenue.
Speakers against the Wall project included two TWU professors, Geraldine Jordan and David Jordan.
“I’m opposed to spot zoning,” said Geraldine Jordan, who is an assistant professor of geography at Trinity Western.
David Jordan, a sessional assistant professor of geography at TWU, said the Wall proposal was “gerrymandering the boundaries of the university” and would only serve to “antagonize relations” with Metro Vancouver.
Jordan said he had no opinion about the main university district proposal, which would build housing on 376 acres across Glover Road from the university.
Another critic of the Wall portion of the project was Earl Mufford, who said he is against putting houses in the centre of a farm.
“It’s just not right,” Mufford said.
“It doesn’t make sense.”
Area resident Nadine Reid had concerns about the impact of the entire university district plan.
“With the increased housing comes increased traffic,” Reid warned.
The project was defended by Sheldon Loeppky, TWU’s Associate Provost who said the university district was “key” to the future of the institution.
Responding to suggestions by some speakers that TWU has plenty of room to grow on its existing site, Loeppky said the university already has plans to build on the available space, and needs more room if it’s to keep growing in Langley.
“[The district is] our best option for expansion over the next 50 years,” Loeppky said.
“Further options are limited.”
The Metro Vancouver regional authority has objected to the university district proposal, saying it doesn’t fit the regional body’s goal of concentrating development in selected urban areas.
The Township’s position is that it is not yet subject to the new growth strategy because of a two-year transition period and can develop the lands without Metro approval.