Editor: As a resident of Walnut Grove who will be directly affected by the proposed 216th interchange, I am shocked by the dismissive and contemptuous manner in which my neighbours and I have been treated by the Township of Langley.
Clearly, the mayor and Township are set on sacrificing a thriving residential neighbourhood in order to turn 216 Street into another 200 Street for trucks and commuters.
The concerns of the community who will be affected by these changes have been disregarded and belittled. Whenever concerned residents of Walnut Grove have attempted to raise their concerns they have been summarily dismissed.
Much has been written of the 1979 Walnut Grove Community Plan.
Well, of course, much has changed since 1979. Indeed, many of the young parents in the area, whose children’s school playgrounds will be reduced to freeway on-ramps were not even born at the time. But one element of that plan is simply ignored by the mayor and like-minded letter writers.
In that plan, 216 Street was not envisioned as a residential area.
In the 1990s that plan was set aside to turn all of 216th into a residential community of cul-de-sacs and quiet strata complexes. It is a thriving neighbourhood, served by two elementary schools and comprised of several hundred households. None of this was apparently envisioned in 1979, but the new interchange threatens to undermine the entire area.
Schools will be disrupted and students’ safety compromised by increased traffic. Parking will eliminated, despite the fact that it is essential for neighbourhoods built directly against a protected stream and therefore without the space to permit adequate parking within the existing cul-de-sacs.
Traffic, noise, and exhaust pollution will erode the quality of life for residents of a substantial portion of Walnut Grove, as it exists.
Langley certainly has changed since then, and continues to do so. Walnut Grove residents understand this. Many of us have tried to discuss alternatives, like Glover Road, or a south-only freeway access to serve the Williams neighbourhood. Instead, the mayor, politically wedded to an outdated plan overtaken by history, and apparently in the thrall of federal money that fell out of the sky before the last election, is unwilling to listen.
In a community that is simultaneously growing and thriving, plans need to adjust to reflect the realities of the community.
Unfortunately, that requires leadership that is not deaf to those realities.