1- What is the most important issue facing the Township, and how would you propose to deal with it?
At this time, I think it is the fast rate of development without supportive infrastructure. This is especially noted in Willoughby. In order to grow, there must be schools, sufficient police, fire and rescue, ambulance services, hospital space as well as parking, roads, lights and crosswalks to ensure the well-being of residents. This isn’t happening there at this time.
It’s time to step back, re-examine the OCP, and ensure that it is on track. If not, it needs to be corrected. If it is still valid, then neighbourhood plans must be reflective of the OCP. The number of changes that have occurred (i.e. variances for higher density) needs to be reduced in order to conform to the plan that had been set out. Areas need to be built out with care. Each development should be connected in some way to the next to ensure the maximum park space, road allowances, etc. Phasing in the development in this way helps to alleviate some of the issues. And while most infrastructure upgrades appear to be back-loaded with developments, the idea of roads, sidewalks etc. coming at the beginning of builds must be explored. Community amenity costs need to be considered to assist with the costs of schools, completed parks and recreation centres in order to keep pace with the costs.
2 – Should there be restrictions on development in Willoughby until the situation regarding funding for new schools has been resolved?
Yes. Continuously adding to the issue is not helping with a resolution. The answer is not to bus children out of their neighbourhoods, put them through multiple schools in a few short years and disrupt families. If the Latimer Neighbourhood is developed as planned, that will add 20,000 (the conservative number) residents to the area. This cannot be done without resolving the school issue through a combination of fees and collaboration between the school board, the Township and the provincial government. We can’t take no for an answer. We have to push harder for sufficient school space in high density areas.
3 – Do you support a pool and recreation centre complex in Aldergrove, and if so, when should construction begin? If not, why not?
Yes. The construction should commence during the coming term. Completion during this term would be a better idea. The funding of this will have to be explored. After more than 20 years of waiting, it is time to move on this project. If in the past 20 years we have not been able to come up with, and commit to, the funding, waiting isn’t going to change that fact. The new council will have to work hard to find ways to fund this project — and it may mean a delay on other things. It may also come from partnerships, grants, or if the residents of the TOL agree, a tax increase. Until I see the books, I can’t definitively say how the money will come. The revitalization of the Aldergrove community is depending on this recreation centre and until it gets done, this area will continue to be left behind the other communities.
4- What type of development, if any, should be encouraged in a new community plan for Brookswood and Fernridge?
I have stated many times that I believe each area in the Township is unique and that the way it grows should reflect that. The Township is in a position to be the most desirable community in the Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, but not if we build out the same way in all areas. Growth is possible in Brookswood and Fernridge, but due to sensitive environmental issues (two of the nine most endangered aquifers in the province, the fact that most of the three per cent of coniferous forest remaining in the Township is there, salmon bearing creeks, etc.) the kind of growth that Brookswood can accommodate without damage is limited.
Residents in Brookswood move there for a reason (as residents in each Township community have always done). The suburban and semi-rural nature of the area is what attracts people to it. High density build-out will remove that attraction. Plans for lower density housing, seniors’ housing and the protection of the current manufactured home parks all need to be considered. The argument that newer housing is not profitable on the larger lot size, thus making homes out of reach for young families, doesn’t sit well with me. Most of the current Brookswood homes come at a price point comparable with the new high-density builds, creating homes for young families in the same way. At the end of the day, it is imperative that resident committees that are reflective of the Brookswood/Fernridge population be embedded in the process from start to finish. This way the community can grow in a respectful positive way that does not impact negatively on the area.