Residents of the Fort checked out information and this mock-up of a possible future cultural centre. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

UPDATED: Fort Langley cultural centre plans put on display

Hundreds viewed plans for the proposed redevelopment.

The public got its first detailed look at plans for changes to Fort Langley that would include a new museum, riverfront projects, and housing.

Langley Township’s plans were shown off at St. George’s Anglican Church on Thursday afternoon and evening, with people lined up out the door waiting to get in.

The plans include:

• A new cultural centre that will include a new Langley Centennial Museum, relocated library, Indigenous Museum, arts programming space, and a 147-seat theatre

• Restoration and relocation of the Jacob Haldi House as part of a redevelopment of part of the waterfront

• Artist work-live spaces and an Indigenous-themed lodge on the waterfront

• Extended waterfront trail with access to the Fort village and museum via a pedestrian/cycling bridge

• Three rows of townhouses and a cluster of single family homes, on and around the site of the current Langley Centennial Museum, developed to pay for the project

“I thought it was really well done,” said Ayasha Bhimji, one of the residents who stopped by to see the designs and details of the proposal.

“It’s going to add a lot for Fort Langley, if it can go ahead,” said Diane Bhimji.

“It all looks really pretty, but I got a real concern when I saw there was an extension of Billy Brown Road,” said Susan McClain.

She worries that it will increase traffic downtown, and that the whole plan meant more for tourists than for existing residents.

“They’re not focused on local things,” she said.

Local artist and Kwantlen First Nation member Brandon Gabriel was on hand as part of the Township delegation, but was also seeing this version of the proposal for the first time.

“I think it’s long overdue,” Gabriel said.

As a member of the Township’s museum committee, Gabriel remembers that curators and other staff have been hoping for an upgrade for years.

The museum was built for the British Columbia centennial of 1957, and has long since run out of room to properly store and display all of its 16,500 art works, photos, and artifacts.

Gabriel said there’s a lot of support for the concept both from the Kwantlen First Nation members, and from other indigenous Canadians who live in Langley. There hasn’t been a dedicated space for First Nations people in the Langleys yet, and part of this project could provide that, he said.

One of the aims of the new museum would be to present local history from more perspectives. The museum was originally structured around presenting history from a colonial perspective, including through its permanent exhibits.

The new Indigenous Museum component would present First Nations history and culture as well.

The Township is currently collecting public input on the project, which has not yet been approved. If it goes forward, it would change significant parts of the waterfront and the area around the Centennial Museum.

Current plans call for a Cultural Centre built largely using local wood, with the aim of preserving some large local trees on the site as well. The exterior design includes elements reminiscent of Kwantlen woven hats.

Where would it be built?

There are multiple components of the project

• The proposed mixed-use project, with four ground-floor commercial units and six large condos above, would be built on the site of the current Centennial Museum, at the northwest corner of King Street and Mavis Avenue.

• The new Cultural Centre is proposed for the east side of King Street along Mavis Avenue, where there are currently three houses and a vacant lot.

• A housing development site, including three parallel rows of townhouses and six single-family homes, is proposed for the area south of the Cultural Centre, between King and Royal Avenues and north of Mary Avenue.

The other major development is to be on the river, where the Jacob Haldi House would be stripped of years of later additions, restored, and moved from its current location between the train tracks and the Fraser River near Glover Road. It is planned to move it several dozen meters to the east, on the riverfront but at a higher elevation.

Other riverfront amenities planned include a public plaza, upgrades to Marina Park trails, and boat storage.

Church Street would be closed where it crosses the rail line, with Billy Brown road extended east to allow access to the Marina Park.

Finally, a new pedestrian/cycling footbridge is planned to connect the riverfront projects to the rest of the town, over the rail tracks, near the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

Residents who didn’t have time to attend Thursday’s open house can find links all the information boards online HERE.

They can also go HERE to fill out the same survey that was handed out at the open house.