Metro Vancouver is considered one of the most livable and sustainable regions (EUI), how we’ve achieved this is through the smart use of densification. The creation of neighbourhoods and communities relies on residential density which allows for developers and municipalities to provide amenities like schools, parks, transportation hubs and local commercial areas including shopping and offices. With steep population growth and a rise in the cost of living there is a continued need for smart developments that will help provide a sustainable future for the Fraser Valley.
Recently the community in Langley has voiced an anti-development and anti-high density sentiment, as recently evidenced by the rejection of the proposed Brookswood/Fernridge plan. One of the opponent arguments is the residents don’t want to see another area plan similar to Willoughby, a growing community in north Langley. A problematic stance as a reoccurring issue in the region is a lack of community amentities and public transport, two things which can only be supported by high density populations.
High density residential developments (including everything from townhomes to condos to apartment high-rises) provides a community with high quality, affordable housing. They provide proximity to transport and jobs as well as amenities like schools, parks and commercial centres. The only way municipalities and private developers can justify spending the vast quantity of funds it takes to create such amenities is to redevelop existing properties from low to high density, assuring a sustainable community.
An issue encountered by developers in Langley is that 75% of Langley is ALR land, there is limited land where development can take place. Only 25% of the municipality can be developed into higher density, affordable housing. As a community we are obligated to support municipalities in providing quality housing and amenities to sustain our local businesses and existing community amenities such as parks, recreation centres, community centres and schools. Affordability and amenities go hand in hand with development. The vibrant, modern communities that are in demand by local buyers and the global community radiate our from around town centres. It is not sprawled out, suburban settings. When you look at the proposed Brookswood plan there was a town centre proposed at 32nd and 200th Street. This town centre would have had close proximity to Campbell Heights, where jobs and infrastructure are already growing, as well as a sense of place for the entire South Langley Community.
The ironic part about the recent controversy in Brookswood is that initially 75% of the land owners supported a new land use plan which is evidence that a change is desired, though it may not be the change that was consequently proposed. At Frontline we believe there is a huge opportunity for residence and developers to come together to achieve the common goals of: sense of place, sustainability and affordable housing.
The community and the developers have an opportunity to work together to lobby the local municipalities to take charge of the regions community plans. The municipalities need to take responsibility for funding and for soliciting the opinions of the key stakeholders – residence and developers alike. There is a perceived conflict of interest between these two parties but their goals align. The process we saw take place for the proposed Brookswood/Fernridge plan saw a huge amount of time and effort being ultimately wasted by key community stakeholders, council, and developers. There needs to be a better process to achieve the common goal of making our communities great.