Fort Langley to benefit from new building
Editor: I’m a relative newcomer to Fort Langley, having been here for only about 15 years or so. My wife and I have our office in Fort Langley and we live in Walnut Grove.
In the past 12 years, we’ve had three big development pushes — the Starline Windows proposal, the Bedford development and Eric Woodward’s developments.
In the Starline Windows proposal, the Martini family (longtime Langley residents and employers in Port Kells) proposed to use the old mill site along the river in Fort Langley (a heavy industrial use that had provided many good-paying jobs for many years) for a light industrial use, building windows.
This proposal was almost universally condemned by the Fort Langley community on the basis that it would be one or more huge buildings on the waterfront. It would be noisy and lit up well into the night and it wouldn’t fit into the peaceful community we had since the mill closed.
Fair enough. Things change. I just wonder if, looking back, we will all be a little disappointed that we don’t have more local employment in Fort Langley, like we used to. But we made our decision, there’s no going back now — and the Township listened.
The Bedford development came next. Many people said many things, and ParkLane and the Township appeared to listen. The original plan was attractive to some with specific interests.
The promised seniors’ home — we didn’t get; the hotel — we didn’t get; the big community plaza on the water — we didn’t get; the Fort to Fort trail connection — we got, more or less.
Many in Fort Langley were disenchanted — claiming the Township allowed a bait-and-switch by a developer who,unlike local residents the Martinis and Woodward, wanted to make the most amount of money and then leave. There is still a lot of resentment among some in Fort Langley about having spent so much time trying to be heard by the Township, only to be ultimately ignored. Things change. Many fine people live in Bedford Landing now.
On the downtown side of the tracks in Fort Langley, we have a community plan which was put together about 25 years ago. It has a height restriction of two storeys. Yet we already have three-storey buildings in Fort Langley. Somehow, these got passed.
I understand that our community hall would not meet the current Fort Langley Community Plan guidelines. I also understand that the height restriction of two storeys was imposed by the Township, and no Fort Langley residents had actually proposed this.
Woodward has been buying commercial properties in Fort Langley. He started by fixing up the buildings between the community hall and Wendel’s — and now he’s radically improved Heritage Mall (the liquor store mall) with lots more parking, wider sidewalks and completely redone facades.
He has now proposed a building in front of IGA which is large, three storeys high and with little or no parking visible on the street, because it’s mostly underground.
I like the proposal because it puts the parking out of sight — underground. It uses the Wendel’s technique of breaking up the facades of the building into smaller chunks, making a large building appear smaller. Allowing a third storey in exchange for underground parking is a good trade.
I don’t like hearing or reading people’s snide remarks about Woodward because he’s got more money than me — or them. As far as I’m concerned, he’s doing an excellent job trying to balance the needs of Fort Langley (to maintain its heritage character and village feel), while ensuring that each building (like the proposed new one) is economically viable.
He has a strong connection to our community and I appreciate what he’s doing in Fort Langley. I know he’s willing to discuss any constructive suggestions, and I encourage everyone interested to contact him.