Editorial — Community in mourning
Jim Dyck of Frontier Building Supplies in Fort Langley made an evocative comment to The Times earlier this week.
He said that Fort Langley is “almost in a state of mourning” about the loss of the IGA store in a devastating fire on Jan 4.
To anyone who does not live in or regularly visit Fort Langley, that may seem like a real stretch. But it’s likely very accurate.
Fort Langley has a very strong sense of community. It is a village like no other in Langley, and very few villages in the Lower Mainland have the sense of community it enjoys. One that does have some similarities is Steveston in Richmond.
Fort Langley is steeped in history as an ancestral home of the Kwantlen First Nation, the first Hudson’s Bay Company fort in the Lower Mainland and the location of B.C. being proclaimed a new Crown colony in 1858.
It has many historic buildings. It has a strong cadre of residents who are committed to keeping it a viable village that, while part of the broader community of Langley, has its own unique identity.
That’s one reason that the redevelopment of the McDonald Cedar property has brought forth such strong feelings, back in the late 1990s when it was proposed for other industrial uses, and as various phases of the Bedford Landing development have moved forward.
The IGA was the only grocery store of any size in Fort Langley. While there are other stores nearby in Walnut Grove, including another IGA run by members of the same family, its loss has been a big blow to many residents, particularly those who don’t drive.
The Lee family are planning to rebuild, and it’s almost certain that a new store will start to rise on the site as soon as insurance matters are settled and the Township gives the go-ahead.
However, in the meantime there’s a real gap in services available to Fort Langley residents. The fact that the store occupied a very prominent location in the village, and that the rubble has yet to be cleared away, likely adds to the sad feelings that many residents have.
Hopefully, a new store will be built in record time.