- 2015 Federal Election
Yes to Coulter Berry building
A revised Coulter Berry building has been approved for Fort Langley.
Only Councillors David Davis and Bob Long opposed the proposal, which is bigger than the existing development guidelines for the neighbourhood.
Immediately after the Coulter Berry vote, one of the people who obtained a court order halting construction of the first version of the building said another application for a legal injunction would be filed.
"They [council] got bad legal advice again," Harold Whittell (pictured below) said.
Work on the heritage-style three-storey building was halted after the Whittell and other members of a citizen's group obtained a court ruling that the structure exceeded the size limit guidelines for downtown Fort Langley.
In ruling against the Township, the judge said the project should have been approved through rezoning, which resulted in an application to do just that by developer Eric Woodward.
Councillor Michelle Sparrow opened the debate by saying opponents of the project have defined heritage as a "two-storey building," a view she doesn't hold.
Councillor Bev Dornan said the building "will be an asset to the community."
Councillor Bob Long, who opposed the project, said the battle over the building was the result of "exuberancy" by council in rushing to approve Coulter Berry.
"I've never seen a project of this size or any size put through this hastily," Long said.
Long wanted the proposal sent back to staff and the developer for more revisions.
"Let's give this thing another go," Long said.
When Councillor Kim Richter asked Long if he really thought "you can get a win-win out of this," Long replied that he believed the size could be trimmed even more, based on the last-minute reduction proposed on the final night of public hearings.
"At 11 o'clock on that Wednesday night, it [the building height] dropped three feet," Long said.
Long's proposed referral for more revisions was rejected by the majority of council.
Richter expressed regret about the division within the community over the project, saying Fort Langley was "split down the middle" about Coulter Berry.
Richter went on to say that her tally of speakers at the public hearings showed more Fort Langley residents supported the building than disliked it.
Richter said she would be calling for a moratorium on building any more three-storey buildings in Fort Langley until after the official community plan for the area has been updated.
Davis said council was "solely responsible" for the turmoil in the community because it was breaking heritage guidelines that were strengthened only a few years earlier.
The building "clearly violates the fundamental principles of the guidelines" said Davis (pictured below).
"Why strengthen something and then weaken it?" Davis said.
The rest of council said it was time to get on with the project, with Councillor Grant Ward saying it was "decision time," and Councillor Charlie Fox saying "it's time for this saga to come to an end."
When Councillor Steve Ferguson said the developer was not given "special consideration" by council, there were groans and jeers.
Whittell watched the vote being taken from a front-row seat.
Afterwards, Whittell told The Times another legal challenge had been prepared in anticipation of the council decision and would be filed within the next 30 days.