Pressure to preserve more forest in Aldergrove project

Angela Wonitowy is one of Aldergrove residents concerned about proposed residential development of a forested area alongside Bertrand Creek. - KURT LANGMANN PHOTO
Angela Wonitowy is one of Aldergrove residents concerned about proposed residential development of a forested area alongside Bertrand Creek.
— image credit: KURT LANGMANN PHOTO

People concerned about a a proposal to develop 19 acres of land into 61 residential lots in Aldergrove packed a public hearing at Langley Township council Monday night.

About 100 people attended the hearing on the plan to build on the site near 28 Avenue and 276 Street.

The property used to be a sewage treatment plant that was decommissioned in the late 1990s.

Based on the comments of those who spoke, residents appear willing to consider development of the northern side of the land, but want the forested southern portion on the other side of Bertrand Creek preserved.

Two Aldergrove residents, Angela Wonitowy and Jessica Horst, have collected 300 names on a petition that calls for a down-sizing of the development.

Opponents who spoke at the hearing included Kirk Robertson from the Watchers Of Langley Forests (WOLF), the group that successfully campaigned to preserve another forested Langley property last year.

"It's not like we have a surplus of this kind of green space," Robertson said.

"It's really important that urban forest be preserved for the future."

Robertson noted another property owner is trying to build housing on undeveloped land next to the former sewer plant.

"We're not just looking at one development," Robertson said.

A representative of that developer also spoke against the design of the housing project, saying the road layout would hamper access to their houses.

Michael O'Neill of Master Plan Developments said the design would place an "extreme burden on potential development of the properties to the south."

Other speakers expressed concern about the fate of the remaining, unused, sewage lagoon, as well as with worries that the the project will jeopardize habitat, increase the risk of flooding due to run-off and bring more traffic congestion and pollution.

Then it was the turn of builder Michael Sanderson, who brought three professionals with him to argue for the project.

Sanderson said the design will preserve forested areas and will only have a "quite modest" impact on traffic.

As for the rival developer's concerns, Sanderson said the property next door to his is already served with road access.

One Sanderson staffer described the trees that are being cut down as an "inferior kind of species" that will be replaced by "more of a superior calibre."

The sole surviving sewage lagoon is to be removed.

The design would keep 40 per cent of the total property, 7.7 acres, as "environmental-natural open space" to provide setbacks from the creeks and wetland areas, and a trail network would be built along Bertrand Creek and the perimeter of the property.

The proposal will be debated by council at a future meeting before a decision is made.

-by Dan Ferguson and Kurt Langmann

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