Bill MacDonald

Park residents less anxious after meeting with council

Less worry about evictions, but concern about possible rezoning remains

Residents of a Langley motor home park are less anxious about their future following a meeting with Township council representatives Wednesday night (July 17).

However, they remain wary about the possible impact of a new official community plan (OCP) that will change the designation of the site, a spokesman said.

More than 100 residents of the 160-home Forest Green Estates park at 9080 198 St. attended the meeting with Mayor Jack Froese and councillors David Davis, Kim Richter, Grant Ward, Charlie Fox and Bev Dornan, along with Ramin Seifi, Township general manager of engineering and community development, and strategic planner Jason Chu.

The meeting was arranged after Forest Green residents picketed the Township hall and packed a public hearing in council chambers on July 8 to express their concerns about the proposed new OCP that would switch the park from an “industrial” designation to “urban.”

That, they said, would make it easier for the owner of the property to have the land rezoned for high-rise condominiums and evict them.

No such application has been made, but that did not reassure the protesters, who carried placards reading “save our little piece of paradise,” “seniors before progress” and “where will we go?”

At the Wednesday night meeting, Seifi told residents the change to an urban designation will mean any rezoning application would have to have input from the residents, something that would not be required for an industrial property.

The council delegation also pointed out the Township passed regulations in 2008 that protect mobile home park residents in the event of a rezoning.

Under the Mobile Home Park Development Policy, a developer must arrange and pay for disposal of existing homes at or above the assessed value of the homes; must offer opportunities for right-of-first-refusal to purchase the new housing units at discounts and must provide low-cost housing options.

A developer applying to rezone a mobile home park is also required to provide tenants with advice on options for relocating to market housing, non-market housing and other mobile home parks in the area.

Following the meeting, which ran just over an hour, mayor Froese said he thought the Forest Green residents gained a better understanding of the practical effects of the new OCP.

“It’s a complicated process [overhauling the OCP],” Froese told The Times.

Froese said he thought the feedback from the meeting was valuable for the Township delegation, too.

“It really helps council to make decisions,” Froese said.

Bill MacDonald, a spokesman for the residents, said they are somewhat reassured by the meeting with council, but concerns remain about the change to urban.

“You can’t build a high-rise on industrial,” MacDonald noted.

But there is less fear that residents will be forced out, he added.

“We feel now that we do have a chance, if it goes to rezoning, to A; defeat it or B; be fairly compensated,” MacDonald said.

 

 

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