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Density concerns aired at Brookswood/Fernridge open house

The fourth open house on the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan drew a crowd at the Brookswood Secondary School gymnasium Wednesday night. - Dan FERGUSON / Langley Times
The fourth open house on the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan drew a crowd at the Brookswood Secondary School gymnasium Wednesday night.
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON / Langley Times

The fourth open house about the Brookswood/Fernridge community plan drew a record crowd to Brookswood Secondary School in Langley Wednesday night (Feb. 19).

Township staff said 530 people signed in during the open house, an all-time high turnout for a single-evening event.

The actual number is likely higher because some people may not have signed in, including the five members of council who attended.

“It’s the most I’ve ever seen,” Councillor Bev Dornan told The Times.

The open house was the reult of a last-minute decision by Township council, which added one more airing of the plan out of concern there might be confusion with a different community plan.

“We thought we’d allow them one more chance before the public hearing,” Dornan explained.

Councillor Kim Richter, who also attended the event, called the turnout “excellent” in an online posting.

Mayor Jack Froese and Councillors Grant Ward and Charlie Fox attended as well.

Staff were on hand to field questions about the plan and collect written responses from residents reacting to displays set up in the school gymnasium.

Like previous open houses, the big issue for most visitors appeared to be density and concerns that the plan to allow more housing will affect the quality of life in the area.

Local resident Lionel Adams was concerned that permitting bigger residences closer together will mean the loss of large trees.

“I just don’t see how they’re going to do it [without cutting down the trees],” Adams told The Times.

Another resident, Bernard Froebel, said roads in the area should be widened before more housing goes in.

“How can you plan anything without roads [already in place]?” Froebel said.

“You have to have infrastructure.”

The plan would concentrate low-rise apartment buildings and commercial developments at three intersections along 200 Street at 24, 32 and 40 Avenues, with a fourth concentration proposed for 40 Avenue and 208 Street.

To handle the increased traffic generated by the higher housing density, the plan calls for widening 200 Street south of 32 Avenue from two lanes to four, and, eventually, doing the same to 40 Avenue, which would function as “an eastward connector into Aldergrove and onto Fraser Highway” in the words of a planning department presentation.

Brookswood/Fernridge currently has a population of 13,000, most living in single-family homes.

A 1987 community plan adopted by council envisioned a community of 35,500 at build-out, most of them living in houses on 7,000 square foot lots.

The 26-year-old plan also called for a commercial centre at 200 Street and 32 Avenue, surrounded by multi-family housing with up to 30 units an acre.

A planning department assessment describes the 1987 plan as “outdated, [one that] does not reflect current planning principles, including lessons and insights gained over the past two decades.”

Wednesday was the last day residents could make comments on the plan.

The deadline for submissions was midnight, Feb. 19, in order to allow staff time to prepare a report summarizing the written responses, both at the open house and online, for council before the public hearing on the plan.

That hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m. in Township council chambers.

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