An open house on the proposed Nicomekl plan on Wednesday, March 4th, featured a giant map of the area, with visitors invited to attach notes with feedback. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO Controversy over playground idea at open house for Langley City’s Nicomekl River District plan

Proposal that drew flak came from ‘blue sky’ session, CAO explained

A sketch that seemed to suggest Langley City was thinking about building a playground next to Brydon Lagoon drew a lot of comment at an open house on the proposed Nicomekl River District plan on Wednesday, March 4th at the Nicomekl School, most of it negative.

It was listed on a sketch of the “proposed Garden Wild” zone near the lagoon released by the City.

Bob Puls, from the Langley Field Naturalists, called the idea “ludicrous.”

“Why do you want to build one in the flood plain?” Puls questioned.

Langley City Chief Administrative Officer Francis Cheung explained the reference to a playground came from a “blue-sky” planning session last year and isn’t part of the Nicomekl plan.

“Ideas were thrown on the board from different perspectives,” Cheungrelated.

“It [the reference to a playground] was just a sticker on the board. Obviously that didn’t go through the filters, and we’re not going to be building some of the elements that were shown.”

A reference to removal of shoreline vegetation also raised concerns, but Cheung said that was aimed at replacing invasive species with native plants.

Anthea Farr, who viewed the sketch as a “nightmare” scenario that also seemed to suggest filling in part of the lagoon and adding an observation dock, was satisfied with the explanation.

“Everyone from the Field Naturalists is relieved,” said Farr, who is a past president of the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN) Society and the person who wrote the original proposal to the City of Langley to turn the decommissioned sewer lagoon into a nature park.

Over the years since, LFN members have built nature trails, installed nesting boxes, educational signage, and planted berry-producing shrubs to attract songbirds and create a viewing area, among other improvements.

More than 100 people turned out for the open house to get a closer look at the proposed plan that will guide the future development of the Nicomekl River area.

It was a higher-than-average turnout, Cheung noted, and many of the people who came to register an objection to the blue-sky sketch stayed to give input, with many attaching notes with suggestions and comments to a giant map on the floor.

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As outlined by the City, the plan would create a four-zone district along both sides of the Nicomekl River corridor between 196th Street and 208th Street; the “Garden Wild” on the western end, which would see the area around Brydon Lagoon kept as natural as possible, then, the “Living Room” for residential development, and the “Library,” where educational and interpretive programs would operate, and finally, the “Front Porch,” on the eastern end, which would aim to encourage use of the corridor trails and other amenities.

Langley City Councillor Gayle Martin liked what she saw.

“I’d like to see it happen right away,” Martin commented.

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A City of Langley image to illustrated the “Garden Wild” zone proposed for the Nicomekl River District raised a few hackles at an open house on the project on Wednesday, March 4th.

Langley City CAO Francis Cheung (second from right) explained the proposed Nicomekl plan to visitors at a Wednesday, March 4th open house that featured a giant map of the area. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Anthea Farr holds a City of Langley image meant to illustrate the “Garden Wild” zone proposed for the Nicomekl River District. A reference to a playground in the sketch raised some hackles at an open house on the project on Wednesday, March 4th. Farr was relieved to hear the proposal was from a ‘blue sky’ planning session and not likely to be included in the actual plan (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

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