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Some perspective on Brookswood development
Editor: After reading letters to the editor, comments and Facebook posts from concerned Brookswood residents about the proposed Brookswood/Fernridge plan, I feel that some perspective is necessary.
The fact that this issue has people talking and voicing their wishes and concerns about their community is a good thing.
There are some exciting aspects of the plan which will create tremendous opportunity for Brookswood if they are done well and with input from the community.
Understandably, the term “high density” seems to strike fear into the heart of many Brookswood residents who moved to the area because of the large lot sizes available.
The highest density allowed in the plan area is land which is zoned MF2.
It should be noted that the MF2 designation does not allow for anything more than 4 storeys, and the small amount of land where 4 storey buildings are allowed is very restricted.
In fact, the total area of the plan which is designated for MF2 is only eight acres, which represents only 0.3 per cent of all residential land in Brookswood.
The plan actually states that large, medium and small lot single family homes represent over 85 per cent of the residential land in Brookswood, or 2,046 acres.
The plan is a proposal for the growth of Brookswood/Fernridge for the next 30 years. For the next 30 years Brookswood and Fernridge will have over 85 per cent of their homes as single family homes on their own lots.
The single family home on private lots is one of the main features of the plan. Residents of Brookswood have stated at other town hall meetings that they want a good mix of people in the neighbourhood and for it to be desirable to younger families.
Many young people and young families struggle to afford a single detached home on a large lot and even if they could, would not want to live in one.
A lot of (young) people want to live in higher density, walkable, vibrant areas. To attract a diverse group of people, a diverse group of housing options is required. In order to be a vibrant community, Brookswood needs a vibrant mix of people and businesses.
More diversity in housing options also provides older residents with the opportunity to age in place. It is difficult for an older family to care for and maintain a larger home on a big lot.
Providing low maintenance housing options for such people would ensure that those who are passionate about living in Brookswood would have the opportunity to do so for the rest of their life with minimal transition.
Another main point from the community open houses was that residents wanted more transit and more bike lines. In order for these amenities, and others, to be viable, more people are needed to use these amenities.
I take the bus and ride my bike through Brookswood/Langley all the time and regularly find myself alone or with only two or three others on the bus.
There is a disconnect between wanting the ability to age in place as well as attract younger families, and not wanting to add different housing options.
Unfortunately, it appears that many people are misinformed when it comes to the plan as blogs and Facebook posts claim they want to save Brookswood from becoming a “crowded urban wasteland of row housing and condos” (http://leavebrookswoodalone.blogspot.ca).
With such a small percentage of the plan proposing row housing and condos this is impossible. The way we have been building neighbourhoods is not sustainable. Single family homes on large lots is the most expensive, environmentally intensive and resource-heavy way to construct a neighbourhood.
There is tremendous opportunity to improve Brookswood while preserving and actually building upon the character and natural beauty of the area.
I am very excited about the prospect of living in a place that’s affordable, sustainable, walkable and beautiful.
I am also glad we live in a community that cares so deeply about its future. Brookswood can have something for everyone if it is designed for and by everyone.