Editorial — John Jeffery, builder of a City

John Jeffery died on Saturday, at the age of 91.

He was the last living link to the incorporation of Langley City in 1955 and, throughout his life, proclaimed that the separation of Langley City from Langley Township was in everybody’s best interests.

Incorporation had been discussed on many occasions in the 1940s and early 1950s, as the growing importance of what was then called Langley Prairie as a business centre seemed to be rarely acknowledged by the Township councils of the day.

While council’s lack of willingness to fund streetlights in what is now the City is often cited as the straw that broke the camel’s back, in fact it was a whole host of issues which led Mr. Jeffery and others on an incorporation committee to look carefully into the merits of incorporating the City of Langley.

After the Second World War, the urban population of the area surrounding the Langley Prairie business district grew steadily. Some subdivisions were laid out on former farms, with lots sold and modest homes built.

These homes did not have much in the way of urban services. There were no zoning bylaws, no sewers, few paved roads and the water supply was limited.

Homeowners used septic systems for sewage disposal, and this didn’t always work well in the wet months. Water came from a variety of sources. In one subdivision, the water came from a farmer’s well, and the supply was limited, to say the least.

The election of the Social Credit government in 1952 was also a factor, as MLA Tom Irwin had been active in the movement to have White Rock leave Surrey (which occurred in 1957) and lent a sympathetic ear to similar concerns in Langley. He introduced a private member’s bill in the Legislature calling for incorporation.

John Jeffery was a member of the first provisional council and, although he did not serve on council again, has been an unstinting advocate for the City in many ways for the past 58 years. In recognition, he was named a freeman of the City.

Langley City and Langley Townshjip have gone their separate ways since 1955, but the two together make up one vibrant community. The City remains the urban heart of the community, although urban development has spread to many areas of the Township as well.

Builders like John Jeffery made this community a better place.

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