Updated: Langley Township wins court battle over university district
The Township of Langley has won a court fight with the Metro Vancouver regional authority over who has final say over development planning.
In a written decision issued on Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neena Sharma dismissed a Metro application to have the court overturn a Township decision approving a "University District" on 376 acres at 7645 and 7679 Glover Rd., and 22423 Labonte Cres.
In these three properties, which lie on the west side of Glover Road opposite the university, 23.4 acres was to be used by Trinity to develop a university district, while another 48 acres was to remain protected farmland within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Metro argued the municipality must abide by the new regional growth strategy while the Township contended a two-year transition period meant it was operating under the old regional plan – not the new one – and could legally make the land-use change.
"I agree with Langley," Justice Sharma wrote in her March 12 decision.
The Sharma decision said the Metro regional growth strategy, which aims to control urban growth, is only "guidelines expressing policy" not enforceable laws.
Metro, the judge said, "does not have superiority over land use management within the boundaries of a municipality."
The decision is a victory for both the Township and the university, which wants to expand its campus by adding housing, a food store and coffee shop geared to the university community.
The judge also upheld the related Township decision to create a residential subdivision on the Wall farm, which is south of the campus and across the Salmon River and railway tracks.
Plans call for 67 homes to be built in the midst of fields there, with a working farm surrounding them.
In a written statement released Thursday, mayor Jack Froese welcomed the decision.
"We are pleased with the outcome of the case, and that the court has clarified the issue of jurisdiction over land use planning in Langley," Froese said.
"The decision by the court will allow Trinity to grow and serve the needs of future students and the community as a whole," Froese added, going on to say "development of a surrounding university district will put the Township on the map as a centre for education and training."
- with files from Black Press