There is one major advantage when land is owned by the people of the Township: what gets built on it can be shaped by us, and it would be a shame to sell off properties that could be linchpins of a community.
In this case, the former Alder Inn site is that type of property. There are countless organizations that could be well served by the Township retaining ownership of the site: Aldergrove deserves a bigger and better library, the Aldergrove Heritage Society is in serious need of more space for their wonderful archives, and as we saw with the process to find a new occupant for the former Milsean Shoppe, there are many local groups who could definitely use more space.
Now that there are conversations about proactively rezoning the site (something the Township should do more of in general), it is worth discussing if selling off the site to a private developer is worth it.
If it remains under the ownership of the residents of Langley, it would be a good starting point for the Township to actively solicit a public institution to serve as the major tenant of any future redevelopment.
There have been rumours circulating for as long as I can remember of BCIT looking for more space close to the ACSS to build on their programs, and the former Alder Inn site would be perfect for a satellite campus.
If the Township does sell the entire site after rezoning is complete, it will, of course, make some money off of the sale. However, it will lose out on the opportunity to retain ongoing revenue. T
his potential revenue stream from public or private commercial tenants (as well as residential tenants if that is included in a redevelopment) could pay for various programs such as the Active After the Bell program that has been much discussed recently.
Not only that, but if the Township is able to diversify its revenue streams, it would depend less on taxpayers, helping to minimize tax increases as our community grows.
A final reason why we should keep the site is that private developers work on their own schedules. The last thing anyone wants is an empty parking lot in the middle of Downtown Aldergrove for the foreseeable future.
With the market realities of a privately-led, mixed-use development, it could be quite some time before we see any discernible progress on the Alder Inn site. Any developer will tell you that the risk analysis on Townhomes is much simpler, and therefore townhouse sites generally sell for a premium.
Given that, a good compromise might be for the Township to sell the portion of the property that’s designated for Townhomes for a profit now, and to retain the mixed-use portion to build a facility with the community of Aldergrove at its heart.
This way, we can have the best of both worlds, and the Township can take a truly meaningful and visionary step toward the continued growth of Downtown Aldergrove.
Michael Pratt – Langley – Former Secretary of the Alder Grove Heritage Society
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