Opinion

Langley Township's modern-day alchemy

Do we still have an Agricultural Land Reserve in this province?

Perhaps it exists in other communities, but Langley Township seems to think it does not apply to land use decisions here.

It’s hard not to see things that way when so many Langley Township council meetings feature discussions about which areas of the ALR need to be rezoned to allow for housing.

There was the Tuscan Farms development, which council has approved. This will see a former farm become the location of 85 homes, with some farmland remaining.

This is not taking place in an area adjacent to an urban area. It is in the midst of rural Langley, admittedly in an area which features many homes on smaller acreages — developments that predate the ALR.

The Tuscan Farms development is also above the Hopington aquifer, where there has theoretically been a freeze on development. This freeze is meaningless, as many new homes have been built above it. I was very surprised to see, on a drive into an area I rarely get to, a number of huge new homes on what was once a small farm at 240 Street and 62A Crescent.

The Wall farm subdivision is perhaps the most naked assault on the ALR. Touted as part of a “university district,” it is no such thing. It has no physical access and only indirect proximity to the Trinity Western University campus, and in fact is simply the latest in a long series of attempts by the owners of a large farm (located on part of the historic Hudson’s Bay farm) to turn dirt into real estate gold. It’s modern-day alchemy.

The land use they propose is completely at odds with the ALR, official community plans and all planning principles.

Six members of Township council may be aspiring alchemists. They have supported this development through thick and thin. The only reason I can see for such unwavering support, including the surprising support from two council members with strong farm backgrounds, is that the Walls and various companies they are involved in were donors to numerous municipal election campaigns.

I give full credit to Councillors David Davis, Kim Richter and Michelle Sparrow for continuing to point out that this particular emperor has no clothes on. I hope their stance on this is remembered favourably by voters next November.

The latest attempt to pretend that the ALR does not exist is in the proposed redevelopment of 44 acres of farmland on the northwest outskirts of Aldergrove. The land has been fallow for years, likely because it is controlled by Genstar.

The case made by many members of Township council is one that has been made before — Aldergrove needs mure urban land so that it can more fully develop and more services can be provided to residents.

However, that lack of an urban base isn’t stopping council from building a pool, new ice rink and community centre. Nor did it stop the plan to build a new water line to service Aldergrove.

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