Workers wearing protective gear have completed demolition of the Gateway Plaza site in Aldergrove.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, work at the Fraser Highway and 270th Street site was into the final cleanup stages, as a crew wearing breathing masks and hazmat suits could be seen bagging up potentially contaminated debris from the rubble where a strip mall and a restaurant once stood.
Before the walls came down, an industrial vacuum machine had been deployed to extract insulation containing asbestos before the teardown began.
READ ALSO: Demolition gets underway at Aldergrove Plaza site
For now, the site will serve as additional parking for the nearby Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre (ACUCC).
“The interim use will be for parking, with the ultimate long-term use being subject to council direction and further public consultation,” an unsigned Township statement said, in response to a Langley Advance Times query.
In 2017, the Township bought the three-quarter-acre commercial lot directly next door to the ACUCC for $3.7 million.
A third building on the site that houses a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet was left untouched because the owner has a lease until 2025.
READ ALSO: Gateway project decisions being left to new council
A Township survey of 346 residents in May and June, along with a series of consultation workshops, found most wanted the site to be used as “a public space that offers all members of the community the opportunity to meet, socialize, develop bonds of friendship, and strengthen community character” Niall McGarvey, assistant manager of parks design and development for the Township’s engineering department, said in a report to council.
In January, Township council turned down a proposal that would have created a plaza, at least temporarily, at the site, using a $750,000 federal grant.
The Township had successfully applied for a Canada Community Revitalization Fund grant, that had a tight deadline.
With a $1-million budget, the Township would have to spend half of that by March, but Ottawa would cover $750,000 of the total project cost.
Ramin Seifi, general manager of engineering and community development, proposed using the money to demolish the empty buildings on the site, then revamp it with open public space and “street furniture” such as benches and landscaping.
However, a majority of council rejected the proposal by a 5-4 vote with the “no” votes wondering whether an interim project was worth pursuing, grant or no grant.
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