Column: Make sure your voice is heard

As Township explores options for neighbourhood development residents have a responsibility to make their priorities known

It doesn’t take more than a short drive around Murrayville to get a sense of the change that is taking place throughout the neighbourhood.

I got a call from an area resident late last week on an unrelated matter, but toward the end of our conversation she asked whether I’d taken a look at 49 Avenue west of 221 Street lately.

Construction of a townhouse complex between 49th and Fraser Highway was encroaching on the road, she said, taking away street parking and leaving only a narrow strip of pavement, which will have to carry more traffic once the new development is occupied.

With a four-storey apartment block also under construction at the end of the street, it’s a bit of a cluttered mess these days and so I acknowledged, I hadn’t noticed the difference.

I made a point of driving along the road later that day. To me, it seemed wide enough for two vehicles to pass with little diffiulty, though curb bulges had definitely cut into the number of available street parking spaces.

Her concerns about the impact of development on a community are valid, nonetheless. Generally speaking, people who live in neighbourhoods with single family dwellings on large lots, near forests or parks, have either been there for a very long time or have paid a premium to be surrounded by green space.

Brookswood/Fernridge residents have that in spades, and they don’t want their neighbourhood to become the next Willoughby. It’s a point they’ve made online, at community meetings and in letters to the editor.

The result:  community consulation. What the end result  will be remains to be seen, but it’s fair to say it will be more than would have happened without pushback from residents.

Murrayville residents should be paying close attention. Together, the two ongoing construction projects have cost the community a very pretty demonstration garden on 221 Street, and led to an number of trees being felled along Fraser Highway for the construction of new townhomes.

More recently, there has been clearing on the south side of 44 Avenue to make way for more development.

So it seems a bit strange that a giant vacant lot has been left sitting empty on 48 Avenue, next to the former Township civic facility since it relocated to Willoughby several years ago.

Perhaps there is something in the works for that space. It seems like an obvious site for a condominium project.

Willoughby and (to an even greater degree) Clayton just across the Surrey border are examples of what can happen when development goes into overdrive, leading to narrow, busy roads, with nowhere to park and few places for  kids to play. Forget street hockey or a game of kick-the-can.

More people are coming to Langley every day and they will, of course, need someplace to live. The less physical space they take up, the better for the environment. Eventually, we’re told, transit will catch up, leading to fewer vehicles on the roads.

But there is still a balance to be struck, and a neighbourhood’s liveability must be given due consideration. That word means something different to everyone. So while developers  ensure council hears their position each time they come forward with a new project, residents must follow Brookswood’s example and make sure their voices are heard as well.

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