Southgate Christian Fellowship has been denied a development permit by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to construct a new facility at the corner of 16 Avenue and 200 Street in south Langley.
Southgate has owned the 15.47-acre parcel since 2000 and submitted the application last September, explained Pastor Dave McTaggart.
The proposal suggested they build on five acres of land, while the remaining ten would be farmed.
“We were hoping to build a facility for the whole community,” McTaggart explained. “A usable centre for performing arts, which would also be a space for the church.”
The congregation formed in 1996, operating out of several Langley elementary school gymnasiums before finding their current home.
And for the past 13 years, Southgate has rented a space at Langley Mall, at 5501 204th St. The land in question has sat vacant, and for the most part, empty, during the past two decades. Only a red barn and house, which Southgate rents to occasional occupants, stands on the site.
McTaggart said the red barn used to house the occasional youth meeting and harvest festival held by the church, until it was brought to their attention the structure was unsafe.
“I don’t know if its ever been farmed – at least not in 60 years. The soil quality is not that great,” McTaggart said. “We were hoping to rent it out to a farming family. I know organizations such as Wagner Hills were interested in leasing it at one point.”
The ALC found that the land, including the proposed facility acreage, contained prime agricultural capability.
The panel also explained that a traffic increase could be problematic for the area, explaining that Southgate’s operations could be carried out on lands outside the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The 60,000-square -foot building proposed would have included a sanctuary, gymnasium, kitchen, office spaces, meeting rooms, and a 250-car parking lot.
“I was surprised,” McTaggart said.
The application was officially denied on June 21, leaving Southgate with a multitude of new options – none of which the church congregation was expecting.
“We’re looking at costs to subdivide it. We also have 60 days to change our minds and up to a year to re-introduce the application. There are a few possibilities but now we are just meeting to see what should be done next. We’re not really sure at this point. Everything is up in the air,” McTaggart said.
The 750-member congregation will continue to meet at the Langley Mall location as new plans are put forth.
An occupant does currently reside in the home on the property, but the land surrounding it will continue to remain idle and empty until a decision is reached, the pastor explained.
“We had faith God would provide. But we just have to believe what has happened is meant to be,” McTaggart added.
Is there more to this story?