The Langley Times spoke with Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese about his hopes for the year ahead and what residents can look forward to.
Managing the explosive growth of the Township will be the theme of 2018, said Froese.
“We are set to grow 2.5 to three per cent, year after year. It’s going to be a challenge. It means we need more parks, more roads, more rec centres and more schools,” said Froese. “The Township turns 145 in 2018. You look back at it and what’s here and I think everyone can be quite proud to live in such a great community.”
While the Township has several major infrastructure projects set to be completed this year or in 2019, he doesn’t think this council will look to initiate any new projects to take on.
“We have an election coming in October, so rather than council initiating new projects, we will let the new council look at that,” he said.
So, is the Township Getting a Casino?
Gateway is expected to close PlayTime Gaming centre on 64 Avenue when the new bingo centre opens at Cascades Casino in February. That means the gaming licence can be transferred to a new facility.
But that is a decision to be made between the operator and BC Lottery Corporation, said Froese.
“I know they are interested in looking at other locations. If you look at a map, the logical spot for it would be around the freeway. But the Township only deals with rezoning,” he said. “Of course, you see the revenue a municipality can achieve from having a casino so it is something to look at.”
“The most exciting news, is the opening of the Aldergrove Rec Centre this summer. The water park and aquatic pool is set to open July 1 and the ice will be ready for fall. So far we are staying on budget. It’s the biggest project the Township has taken on in a while. The water park will be a big attraction not just for Langley residents, but (for people) from all around.”
The 208 Street overpass is scheduled to be complete this spring, but widening of the popular road will not happen in the immediate future, confirmed Froese.
“Expansion of 208 Street will go as development comes in. There is so much new construction digging up the road so it wouldn’t make sense to do a final paving when it would only be ripped up again,” Froese said.
216 Street Interchange
Work on the interchange is underway with an anticipated completion date in 2019. Council is reviewing the truck route for north of the freeway. But council is in no rush to make a decision on that, said Froese.
“It’s a big project with roads being added and some being taken away. But it’s an important project that will help (with the flow of ) goods and services.”
Now that the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan has been adopted, the Township will be working hard on neighbourhood plans, Froese said.
“The initial groundwork continues. This is our next area that will see large growth. There is a demand to live in Langley and we will be filling that need.” But public engagement will continue to be key, he said.
A new tower is being built right now, as well as additional office space and extra hangers. Vector opened a new facility at the airport last year, bringing with it lots of good jobs, Froese said.
The youth shelter is set to open on 203 Street next month. The Township supplied the land and services for the shelter, which will provide support and five beds for youth in crisis.
A 49-room supportive housing for the homeless is proposed for the Quality Inn on 200 Street across from Home Depot. BC Housing bought the former hotel.
“Homeless are here and the issue is only growing,” said Froese. “We need to get people transitioning from the streets into housing … with the support of the Integrated Care Management Team — this project is important.”
BC Housing has made a rezoning application but Froese didn’t think the application would go to council until spring. He anticipates more public engagement by BC Housing first.
Froese said he is looking to the province to get a better understanding about regulations around legalized marijuana. He anticipates a lineup of people wanting to open pot shops and wants to make sure the Township has matching regulations.