Editorial — Midst of ALR is no place for a subdivision

Langley Township council heard from several delegations and received a fair amount of correspondence about inclusion of the Wall farm property in the university district it is proposing to set up around Trinity Western University.

Then, at the conclusion of the public hearing on Monday, Mayor Jack Froese announced that it was being postponed for further consultations with the Agricultural Land Commission.

The university district idea is a reasonable one. It makes sense to have more university-related services in the area near TWU. However, as the Land Commission has already told council, it needs to be restricted to areas outside the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Whether or not properties within the ALR are “good farmland” is beside the point. Right now, those lands are within the ALR. Many farms in Langley are not soil-based, such as several large greenhouse operations located in Milner, very close to the Wall property.

The ALC has given its blessing to adding several properties on the west side of Glover Road into a university district, and this is where council’s efforts need to be concentrated. If there is a need in the future to expand the district, and the land in question is not within the ALR,  there should be no problem in doing so.

The Wall property itself is physically separated from the TWU campus by the Salmon River (including a large swamp), and by the Canadian Pacific Railway line. It has always been a working farm, going back more than 100 years. Even though the Land Commission has said it will allow 67 homes to be built on a portion of the farm, this change of land use makes no sense. Services are a challenge, and an urban subdivision has no place in the midst of a farm area.

As one correspondent pointed out to council, the fact that the Land Commission has permitted this has caused other applicants to propose similar developments in other rural areas. If this trend continues, Langley will be a hodgepodge of farms, rural land uses, subdivisions and urban services. This is a throwback to the 1950s, when there were no zoning bylaws, and makes no sense from a planning perspective.

The Wall property does not belong in a university district, and it is not an appropriate location for urban development.

Langley Township council needs to make that abundantly clear.

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