Three Langley Township councillors took a tour of a controversial proposed truck park in Surrey near the Langley border on Wednesday afternoon. From left: Brian Coote from Friends of Hazelmere Valley

‘More than a former gravel pit’

Langley Township councillors tour site proposed for controversial commercial truck park

Critics of a proposed 77-acre commercial truck park on the Surrey-Langley border say the site is more than just a former gravel pit.

They made their case Wednesday afternoon to a group of Langley Township councillors who took a tour of the location at 16 Avenue and 194 Street near the Little Campbell River.

The visit by Langley Couns. Kim Richter, Petrina Arnason and David Davis was arranged by Brian Coote of the Friends of Hazelmere/Campbell Valley group, along with David Riley from the Little Campbell Watershed Society and Kirk Stevenson, who lives beside the proposed facility on 16 Avenue, near the Langley-Surrey border.

Langley senior long-range planner Russell Nelson also attended.

Coote said the organizers did not invite Surrey councillors to the tour, because they doubted they would attend.

They might issue an invitation another time, he added.

Coote told the Township council members that it was wrong to describe the site as a “discarded gravel-extraction pit.”

Roughly half of the site is actually farm land, the result of landscape restoration work on the gravel pit once the digging was finished.

“It’s agricultural land, productive land,” Coote said.

The land has been used as a working farm to raise llamas, Stevenson said.

The other half of the site is still an active excavation, but it is supposed to be filled in once it’s been completely emptied, the critics said.

Stevenson, who lives in one of several houses that overlook the filled-in site, said the parking project poses a safety threat.

“No one wants to live next to that (traffic generated by the big rig parking lot),” Stevenson told Peace Arch News’ sister-paper, The Langley Times. “I’ve got four kids under nine, riding their bikes around.”

The councillors also heard from Riley, who said contamination from the trucks could damage the Little Campbell River and contaminate groundwater in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood.

Riley said the “shallow, unconfined aquifer” under the site could be at risk.

Langley councillors who attended appeared to share the critics’ concerns.

“I get that parking them by a river is not a good place to put trucks,” Richter said.

The facility has been proposed by GG Metro Holdings Ltd.

It is supported by the BC Trucking Association, Surrey Board of Trade and  Surrey Coun. Tom Gill, who says with an estimated 1,300 big rigs parking illegally throughout the city, something needs to be done to find parking spaces.

The truck park would allow truckers to wash their rigs, change oil and tires, and would include washroom facilities.

Gill said he would insist on the highest environmental standards, and Parm Garcha, one of the project’s proponents, told PAN earlier this month that he will not proceed unless all concerns are addressed.

The development plan would have to undergo a public hearing before it could come to council for approval.

Coote told The Times the opponents of the project were “not at all” reassured to hear that Surrey councillors have told their Langley counterparts that the project probably won’t proceed.

The comments were made during an informal dinner in a late-October meeting of the two councils.

– with files from Tracy Holmes & Kevin Diakiw