Langley City and Township both saw an increase in the rate of population growth last year. Increasingly, growth has come to define Langley as much as anything else does.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Langley was a relatively quiet rural community, slow-growing, defined by farming and lumber mills.
But even then, suburbia was expanding as highways connected the Lower Mainland more tightly together, providing opportunities for commuters to relocate to communities South of the Fraser. Growth took off in the 1970s in Brookswood, and accelerated even faster in the 1980s with Walnut Grove. Since then, it’s been on a steady upward trajectory.
To a large extent, Langley’s political culture and its business climate are built on decades of steady growth. There have been many bumps in the road, but past councils and provincial governments have also made some wise decisions that have helped channel that growth. Putting aside industrial land in Gloucester and protecting the ALR have ensured Langley did not simply become a monoculture of suburban housing, but a place that also creates job opportunities.
But every stage of growth has also come with challenges. Infrastructure, from roads to schools to community centres to transit, always lags behind. More than that, there isn’t really a plan for what to do when, or if, Langley’s growth ever slows down for more than a year or two.
Amidst a frenzy of homebuilding – you can’t turn around in Willoughby without bumping into a construction crane – it might be odd to be warning about what to do when growth slows.
But everything ends. Even if Langley keeps growing, a significant reduction in the speed of that growth would be a major change. And Langley would need to decide what kind of a community it will be, if not one defined by rapid expansion.