Coulter Berry building won’t diminish history

Many historic communities have no problem with new development.

Editor: It seems to me that the rhetoric around the Coulter Berry building is getting pretty thick.

A recent letter in The Times suggested that the building would desecrate the village of Fort Langley. Webster’s dictionary defines desecrate as: “To damage a holy place or object, to treat a holy place with disrespect.”

The north end commercial zone of Glover Road is not a holy place or hallowed ground. It is, and has been for decades, just that, a commercial zone.

The same letter suggests the fort, one of many local heritage attractions, was built in the 1850s. Although there was a fort there in the 1850s, the one there now is a re-creation, built in the 1950s (with the exception of one building).

The fort site, the train station or the beloved community centre will not be adversely affected by the new building.The community centre is a charming and unique centerpiece and will, as it always has, stand out on its own merits as any great building does.

The writer further states that 80 per cent of the community spoke out against the building. Eight per cent — that would be 2,700 people.

I was at the council meeting and while it may be true that more spoke against th building than in favour, as is usually the case in these situations, their numbers were not in the thousands.

This letter and other letters suggest that the vocal minority in opposition to the project know what is in the hearts and minds of those who come to Fort Langley to visit during the tourist season.

I myself do not, but I can hazard a few guesses, based on my own travels to historical places in recent years. When I decided to travel to the American deep south to visit both the starting place of the American Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina and historic Fort Sumter, as well as Savannah, Georgia where Sherman’s march to the sea ended.

On another trip, I visited the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In all three cities, the zoning of local modern commercial buildings did not enter into my thinking as to whether or not I would pursue these trips. In all these locations, the true historical sites are perfectly preserved while any modern building that is in close proximity complements the history. The modern buildings are not built as 18th century re-creations, as the new building here will do.

I think those folks who come here to browse the shops and check out local eateries will only have the experience enhanced, as there will be more to choose from. As for those who may come here primarily to visit the fort, museums, the old CN station etc., the project in no way will detract from those, as one has nothing to do with the other.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is dwarfed on all sides by modern and art deco buildings that rise thousands of feet into the air, but no one who has been there would argue that its greatness has been diminished as a result.

I cannot imagine a couple of Harley enthusiasts looking to cruise out here for a burger and beer at the Fort Pub, or a family from one of the neighbouring communities who wants to take their kids to the national historic site, wringing their hands in despair crying “Woe are we. We can no longer visit charming Fort Langley, as there is now a three-storey building complete with underground parking, public washrooms, a terraced restaurant, pedestrian seating, handicap accessible living units, energy saving geothermal HVACc systems, HRV units and rainwater capture systems.

“It’s ruined. We want the empty lot back. Or at the very least something resembling a 29.5 foot high 1970s era tinderbox, bereft of sprinklers and loaded with asbestos.”

Jamie Clark,

Fort Langley

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