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Editorial— A happy ending for Glen Valley forest
The generosity of the Blaauw family, and the willingness of Trinity Western University to play an active role in environmental conservation in Langley, have brought an uncomfortable situation to a good conclusion.
Credit for that smooth ending belongs to both the Township of Langley and Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF), which fought relentlessly against the Township plan to sell environmentally-sensitive land in Glen Valley.
The Langley Township plan, hatched in secret at a September, 2011 council meeting and not widely-known until neighbours of the property brought it to public attention, was to sell eight parcels of land totalling almost 50 acres. The stated purpose was to help raise funds for building a pool in Aldergrove.
When news of the possible sale first broke in June, 2012, just days before the bidding deadline, neighbours were the first to react. The westernmost area was known informally as McLellan Park, and there had been past verbal assurances that the land, which contains large coniferous trees and many species of wildlife, was to remain in a natural state.
After some highly-publicized challenges to council by newly-formed WOLF, and a much wider response from within and outside Langley to the sale of the lands, council agreed to remove the westernmost portion from the real estate market. However, the eastern five parcels of land, near 257A Street and 84 Avenue, remained on the market.
WOLF was given several months to raise funds to buy the land — which seemed like an odd way to handle preservation of land that was already owned by the public. The organization was unable to come up with the funds by the December deadline.
The Blaauw family stepped in. They donated $2.5 million to TWU to purchase the land for conservation purposes, in memory of husband and father Thomas Blaauw.
All the land is now being preserved, and the Township has some money to put towards the Aldergrove project. WOLF and its allies raised consciousness, and together with all the other participants, have helped preserve an important part of the Township’s natural heritage.
It’s important that TWU and the Township now work to make this land accessible to the public, so they can learn more about lowland forests.