Monday’s announcement that the Township of Langley will be selling a portion of the Glen Valley property may not be everything the Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF) wanted for the site, but it’s a reasonable compromise that represents a substantial retreat by the mayor and councillors.
A little history is in order:
When the idea of selling Township-owned land to help fund a new community centre, swimming pool and ice rink in Aldergrove was first floated, the proposal would have seen the sale of 21 acres of Township-owned forest in Glen Valley on 84 Avenue, between 252 and 254 Streets.
Residents won the battle over that site last July, when they convinced council to call it off.
At the time, Mayor Jack Froese said the Township would go ahead with plans to sell five other five-acre parcels near 84 Avenue and 260 Street.
If residents wanted the Township to keep that land, too, they would have to come up with the money the municipality was counting on for the community centre, some $3 million.
Residents formed WOLF and set about trying to raise the funds.
After a few months, they conceded defeat, telling council they had been unable to raise more than a “miniscule” amount of money.
And so, on Monday, council announced a decision to sell four parcels of land on the second site.
In his prepared statement, the mayor pointed out that, in all, 50 acres of Glen Valley land will be retained, and about 20 acres will be sold.
Some of it, the mayor said, may become parkland.
In response, WOLF issued an online statement insisting the entire forest should be preserved and promising they will keep the pressure on to prevent the sale. The online statement dismissed the deal that will preserve more than two-thirds of the two properties as “lip service.”
The Township then responded with a written release of its own, noting the land to be sold is something less than old-growth forest.
Most of that particular property, the Township stated, is a former gravel pit and the trees on the site “are no older than the majority of forested land found throughout the Township.”
Bottom line: the grass-roots campaign did succeed in preserving most of the forest, and the most preservation-worthy parts at that.
It may not be a perfect victory but it’s still a win.