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Fort Langley's heritage is under threat
Editor: In the history of B.C., Fort Langley, the “first capital,” is recognized as a much-treasured historic site.
Fort Langley in common parlance is understood to refer to the stockade itself and the village that surrounds it.
Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia) presents Fort Langley well and concisely and a quick read would bring you in full touch with this historic jewel within our Township. A quick read of the local papers, however, would bring you in touch with the fact that our history is imminently threatened with destruction. It is time for every person in the Township to take notice, sit up, stand up and speak up.
What is not covered in the previously-mentioned article is the fact that, for decades, the tireless volunteers of the Heritage Society and their supporters have worked to preserve the integrity of the Fort Langley experience. It is a fact that, in 2004, the then-mayor Kurt Alberts and councillors Howie Vickberg, Steve Ferguson, Kim Richter and Bob Long moved to further strengthen the bylaws, strengthening the wording so that the wording was clear and unequivocal.
That these efforts were successful is recorded in the Wikipedia article: “Many new buildings in the area have been constructed in Fort Langley in the past few decades. All new buildings must follow strict style guidelines to match the heritage appearance. Additionally, there are no franchises permitted in the village and this has raised its profile as a tourist and independent retail destination, with hundreds of thousands of annual visitors.”
Here is the first why? A development proposal was put forward by a developer to place a large, three-storey building on the corner of Glover and Mavis. Given that every other developer before him has read over the existing guidelines and either decided to conform and proceed or move on, this one did not. Why?
The second why has to leave every thinking person perplexed. The previously mentioned mayor and council members who so vigorously moved to protect and preserve the village are now demonstrating complete support for the developer (except for Long), and have been joined by Councillors Grant Ward, Bev Dornan and Michelle Sparrow. Councillor David Davis has been against the proposal from the beginning. Long’s position is not clear.
The photographs said it all, as white-helmeted council members and the current mayor, shovels in hand, promoted the developer and the development — before it was ever issued a building permit.
The Township was taken to court and was subsequently presented with a ruling that the project could not legally continue. Our elected officials were, knowingly, breaking their own laws.
The third why. Given this ruling, the Township’s elected representatives have now decided to change the laws and guidelines hat have applied to everyone else, except this one developer.
At the marathon, three-night public hearing, one woman, taking the pro-development position, asked why we were complaining about the three storeys.
“Given a few years, they will all be that high, so you won’t even notice,” she said. I think that says it all.