Council okays last Willoughby neighbourhood plan

Township councillors debated green roofs and grocery stores Monday night.

A bigger grocery store, green roofs, and electrical car plug ins will be features of the Williams neighbourhood, Langley Township council decided Monday night.

Council voted on the third reading of the neighbourhood plan for the last sector of the Willoughby area, passing an amended plan eight to one, with Councillor Kim Richter opposed.

Williams is the northeast corner of Willoughby, from 212th to 216th Street, and from 76th Avenue in the south to the Trans Canada Highway in the North.

Its northern section is expected to include some office part and light industrial area, as well as a commercial node on 216th Street. The southern portion and western edge of the area will be single family homes and townhouses. In total, about 4,600 people are expected to live in the area.

A significant portion of the debate centered around the size of a grocery store planned for the commercial area of Williams.

Representatives of the Willoughby Town Centre, which has a 29,000 square foot grocery store, said the possibility of a 40,000 square foot grocery store in Williams could kill their business.

Coun. Bob Long suggested cutting the maximum size of the grocery store to 30,000 square feet.

His motion saw some support, with Coun. Petrina Arnason saying that large commercial development wasn’t fair to what has already been planned elsewhere.

Some councillors were uncertain when it came to second guessing planning staff on grocery store size.

“I can tell you how many square feet a milk cow should have in a barn, but I can’t tell you how many square feet a store should have,” said Coun. David Davis, a lifelong farmer.

But other councillors agreed with staff that the region is already underserved, or will be.

“I think we need to consider the future,” said Coun. Blair Whitmarsh.

“There’s a significant amount of growth yet to happen,” added Whitmarsh, who noted that the Williams area will be the shopping destination for students and residents in the planned Trinity Western University district.

The fact that Walnut Grove residents will be able to cross the 216th Street interchange to shop there was brought up by Coun. Michelle Sparrow.

“The Walnut Grove Save-On is way too small for the community,” she said.

Council debated a number of amendments to the plan, though most were defeated.

The council did approve planning for more electrical vehicle charging infrastructure as the area is developed, along with encouraging green roofs to absorb rainwater in the commercial and industrial areas.

The fourth and final reading of the bylaws to approve the neighbourhood plan will be voted on at a future meeting.

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