A meeting about a proposed new 7-Eleven gas station in the City of Langley — intended to focus on the form and character of the building — ended up sparking a discussion about the issues surrounding the City’s existing store instead.
During a Sept. 14 committee of the whole meeting about the proposed new development at 200 Street and 56 Avenue, the conversation was quickly sidetracked by residents and councillors concerned about the state of 7-Eleven’s existing Langley City store, located at Douglas Crescent and 203 Street.
Locals called it a “hub” for crime, drugs and prostitution, and the idea of another store opening less than a kilometre away was not well received.
“I am dead against this development,” said resident Robert King.
“We have spent years, and so have the RCMP, in cleaning up our area of all the drug dealers and everything else. We don’t need more trouble coming in and our vehicles being broken into, and our homes.”
A new 7-Eleven is proposed for the empty lot where a Husky gas station operated for 28 years.
Its design features a 24-hour convenience store and gas station with three pump islands.
The company had a CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) study completed and worked with consultants to create a design layout that maximizes visibility and safety for future employees who will work night shifts in the store.
Although council approves of the physical design — they passed the development permit later in the evening — the issue of safety was brought up a number of times during the discussion.
For resident Ryan Doherty, whose backyard is directly adjacent to the lot, it’s the 24 hours of operation that makes him uneasy.
He said he is worried for the safety of his children and the other 22 kids who live in his complex.
“You know what happens at the 7-Eleven on the corner here,” he said. “It’s an episode of Cops.”
Representatives from 7-Eleven said they have been working closely with RCMP to mitigate the crime problems at their current location.
They also described the company’s “three-pronged approach” to crime deterrence, which includes employees wearing personal safety devices, and brought along a sample safety manual from their American stores.
“We have had some good success this year,” said Mark Broda, asset protection manager for 7-Eleven Canada, who is also a Langley resident and sits on the board of directors for Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.
“We’ve had a decrease in the number of violent incidents. We’ve had no robberies this year. The Langley RCMP and our teams have been working together to deter the element that some of our speakers have pointed out.
“Some of the prostitution and drug dealing has moved away from our area. We have seen much less of that.
“We’re working with the RCMP, they’re in our parking lot more often. We have deterred that activity.”
The development permit was passed with councillors Val van den Broek and Jack Arnold opposed.