Looking back at 2011, it was quite a year in Langley.
While much of what The Times covered was necessarily related to the local, provincial and federal governments, due to the fact that there were federal and municipal elections, along with a referendum on the fate of the HST, many other news stories went far beyond the realm of government.
Several longstanding cases that had been left unresolved finally made their way to the courts, and a major fire at the very beginning of the year caused a shift (hopefully a temporary one) in how Fort Langley’s community life takes place.
The fire was at the IGA store operated by the Lee family, at the corner of Glover Road and Mavis Avenue. Early one morning, a break-in attempt led to sparks flying, and fire quickly consumed the old wooden building.
In many communities, loss of one store would mean business for others. But Fort Langley only had one full-service grocery store, so residents were forced to shop further away — many in Walnut Grove or Langley City. This had an impact on village life, as other stores that service local residents felt the pinch.
The loss of the grocery was amplified when Jim Dyck, longtime operator of Frontier Building Supplies, announced he was closing his store. His store closed later in the year, and that left a hole in the community.
Thankfully, a new IGA store is now under construction and it will fill the gap. While it is unlikely there will be another store like Dyck’s, new retail buildings are planned in Fort Langley.
Together with the added residents in the village who live at Bedford Landing, this should ensure a secure future for the commercial area of Fort Langley, which remains a popular tourist attraction for many people from all over the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver area.
One of the most tragic cases that I’ve ever dealt with in more than 30 years in this business was the mushroom farm tragedy which occurred in September, 2008. Three farm workers lost their lives and two others were permanently injured. At long last, the case was resolved in criminal court in November, with the owners paying heavy fines. While that does not bring back anyone who died, it sends a message that workplaces must live up to the standards that are set by provincial authorities.
An announcement last week that the entire tragedy will be the subject of a coroner’s inquest is good news, because these inquests can often provide some useful ideas as to how to prevent future tragedies.
Another coroner’s inquest which is planned for February will shed more light on the tragic shooting death of Alvin Wright at the hands of Langley RCMP in 2010. The long investigation into this shooting by Vancouver Police, which resulted in no charges being laid, was widely panned by those who knew Wright, and by organizations like the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. The inquest should provide some answers.
On a positive note, 2011 saw the return of the Langley Good Times Cruise-In. The event took place on a perfect day and was as good as expected. Congratulations to the organizers.