The year in Langley City was bookended by two major residential fires, one in March and the other in December, in multi-family residential buildings next door to each other.
• A March 23 fire destroyed six apartment units at the Carroll Court apartment building at 5630 201A St.
Both Carroll Court, built in 1964, and the adjacent Merton Court, built in 1965, were known as some of the cheapest places to rent in Greater Vancouver, with average rates of $650 per month.
In December, residents received notices that the two buildings are scheduled for demolition, tentatively on April 1, 2017.
Owner Linda Wu said the extensive damage, age of the buildings and the presence of asbestos left her with no choice.
• On Dec. 11, fire ripped through the top floor of the four-storey wood-frame Paddington Station condominium complex built in 2009 on 201A Street near 56 Avenue, leaving more than 100 people homeless and provoking an outpouring of donations to help assist the residents.
Investigators said the fire started on a balcony as a result of poorly-disposed smoking materials and spread rapidly into the roof.
Fire chief Rory Thompson said the outcome would have been different if B.C. building regulations required sprinklers on balconies and attics in wooden structures four-stories and under.
Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman, who is the minister responsible for housing, said the requirements would be in place in the new year.
• On Feb. 24, the new Timms Community Centre opened.
The 35,000 square-foot facility attached to the existing City hall cost $14.3 million and took 16 months to build.
It was an immediate hit, with staff at the new facility recording over 2,500 visits during the first week, a figure that didn’t include the thousands who attended the open house on the first day.
The Timms facility includes a full gymnasium with an upper level 100-metre indoor walking/running track, a weight/cardio room, showers and changing rooms, a spin room and two fitness studios with sprung floors.
• Syrian refugees who settled in other Lower Mainland communities relocated to the Langleys in search of less expensive accommodation.
At least 13 families made the move in March, with several settling into the Kinsmen housing complex in the City.
The Langley School District hired two Arabic speaking settlement workers with federal funding assistance and was providing a reception class at Douglas Park with a teacher for students grades K to 5 and an additional teacher for a reception class at HD Stafford Middle School for students attending Grades 6 to 8.
Talk of the Township
The Township of Langley faced its share of controversy in 2016, with residents lining up on both sides of several issues.
• Early in the year, several development proposals in Brookswood were greeted with both cheers and jeers from the public. While some residents welcomed the opportunity to subdivide larger parcels of land, others expressed fears that the neighbourhood will become “another Willoughby.”
• Plans to install traffic lights at four intersections along 16 Avenue in Langley have also been met with mixed response. Those who live south of the major east-west connector have largely welcomed the initiative, which they say will allow them to enter, exit and cross the road safely.
Others, who commute along the corridor, say traffic lights will slow down an already-congested thoroughfare and roundabouts are the superior option.
• Farther north, residents of the Forest Hills subdivision have been vocal in their opposition to the province’s decision to build an interchange at 216 Street and Highway 1. Many insist the original plan called for the interchange to be built farther east and suggest the Glover Road crossing be developed into a full interchange instead of building a new one adjacent to their homes. The Township maintains the plan has always called for a 216 Street interchange.
• The federal government’s decision to approve the expansion of the TransMountain pipeline, which runs through north Langley, has been met with protests by local First Nations people and those who support them. A rally was held in Fort Langley on Dec. 11.
• What started out as a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQ community following a massacre at a Florida nightclub, quickly grew into a community debate as it was revealed that a proposal to install a rainbow crosswalk in Fort Langley could cost $50,000. That figure included painting four matching crosswalks, in keeping the federal transportation standards.
The artists who spearheaded the effort held an auction to fundraise for the project, which was scaled back to a more manageable level. Painting is expected to begin in the new year.