The Langley Times asked Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer to look at what’s in store for the community in the year ahead.
Schaffer has a positive outlook for what will be his last year as mayor of the City of Langley, as the longtime politician is not seeking re-election in October due to unspecified health reasons.
“For myself, it’s going to be a challenging last year, but I’ve really enjoyed my time. I want the City to be in a healthy state, continue to be debt free and be a place for families to have good quality of life.”
Schaffer said this year council is focusing on providing local families with amenities.
“That’s why we are dedicating so much effort to redoing or expanding local parks and putting in a new community garden,” he said.
A Performing Arts Centre For the City?
The City is also looking into the feasibility of building a small performing arts centre in the downtown.
“We would like input from the community. There has to be interest here,” he said. Schaffer said putting the theatre at the City-owned Innes Plaza seems logical.
“That would bring people to the downtown core at night, which is a good thing,” he said. Langley lost its only theatre last month when Cascades Casino closed Summit Theatre. They are replacing it with a bingo centre.
Schaffer said council is driven to improve the downtown core’s vibrancy.
Brew House Wanted
“We want to liven up the downtown core, especially in the evening, so we will continue with successful events like the dueling pianos,” he said.
Schaffer has been working on getting a brew pub facility to open up on the one-way. Brew houses are drawing large crowds in the evenings in other communities, including Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, so he thinks that would be another great addition. Bringing people into the downtown core in the evening will also help to reduce crime, he added.
The majority of housing in the City is comprised of condos and townhouses. With prices rising so quickly, many families are now calling multi-family housing home. That is why the city is making major improvements at so many parks, said Schaffer.
City Park is getting a major rebuild. The park will get a new playground and climbing structures.
“We want to give families something to do that isn’t going to cost them anything, where they can go and be outdoors, having a picnic and play,” said Schaffer. Brydon Park is also getting an upgrade as a result of all the development that has gone on there.
Popular Penzer Park, with Canada’s largest outdoor and free parkour course, BMX jumps and more is being expanded as well to address the massive demand on the facilities there.
The City is also looking at how it can improve its trail systems and will put in a new community garden behind the West Country Hotel. With so many people living in condos, residents have expressed interest in being able to garden, said the mayor.
Detours and Road Improvements
Last summer, it seemed you couldn’t drive anywhere in the City without being stopped by road work, whether it be crews putting in a roundabout on 53 Avenue or water and sewer line replacements, as well as a bike lane along 203 Street.
Road improvements will continue, said Schaffer.
“We either pay now or pay later. And if we pay later, it’s going to cost us more.”
Homelessness and Crime
Schaffer said crime and homelessness have been a huge challenge for him as both a mayor and a resident. “People should feel safe using our parks, our facilities, and in their homes,” he said.
He continues to talk to Langley RCMP about their presence while lobbying the provincial and federal governments to do more.
“The five mayors from surrounding communities met to discuss the increase for services for the homeless and we are awaiting a meeting with the premier,” he said.
The City continues to support the Gateway of Hope and the opening of the Quality Inn in the Township for 49 supportive housing beds for the homeless. That hotel has been bought by BC Housing and is subject to rezoning approval by the Township.
As for crime, Schaffer has asked the police to develop a relationship with stratas to develop crime prevention strategies. Theft from mailboxes and underground parking continues to be a problem in City complexes.