News

Coulter Berry hearing to continue a third night

Supporters and opponents of the Coulter Berry project sat on opposite sides of the council chambers Tuesday during the second night of public hearings. A third night is set for Wednesday, 7 p.m. in council chambers. - Dan FERGUSON / Langley Times
Supporters and opponents of the Coulter Berry project sat on opposite sides of the council chambers Tuesday during the second night of public hearings. A third night is set for Wednesday, 7 p.m. in council chambers.
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON / Langley Times

The second night of the public hearing on the proposed revival of the Coulter Berry building project in Fort Langley wrapped up with more than 60 people still waiting to speak.

A third night of hearings has been set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Township council chambers.

More than 130 people spoke the first night, about 100 the second.

So far, supporters have been in the majority, but the gap has been narrowing as the hearings drag on and more people speak.

Whereas the first night was dominated by defenders of the building, the second evening was a roughly 50-50 split between the two sides.

During the Tuesday hearing, opponents called on council to reject the amended Coulter Berry design because it still exceeds design limits for the area.

"I encourage you not to double down on a bad decision," said Graham Fraser.

Supporters said it was time to get on with the project, which was halted during excavation of its underground parkade by a court order.

"A building is better than a hole any day, three stories or not," said supporter Andrew Cleary.

Several opponents suggested a trimmed-down building would win their approval, more than one suggesting the ceiling heights on each floor could be cut by a few feet.

"Take eight feet off this thing [overall], and a lot of your opposition will disappear," said Jeremy Smith.

Supporters said the height will not hurt the community, with Scott Cave observing that "when people come to Fort Langley, it's not because they love the one- and two-storey buildings."

Speakers on both sides of the issue expressed concern about the divisions within the Fort Langley community over Coulter Berry.

Matt Choquette, owner of Beatnix described it as a "civil war."

The division was evident in council chambers during the Tuesday night hearing, with supporters sitting on one side and opponents on the other.

While the tone was generally civil,there were moments that drew reprimands from mayor Jack Froese, who more than once had to warn speakers against making personal remarks.

And heckling could be heard at times, such as the moment one opponent could be heard calling a pro-Coulter Berry speaker a "twit" for praising the project.

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