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Former lelem’ café to be sold by Langley Township

New public bidding process will allow for transparent sale
People walk past the former site of the lelem’ Cafe in Fort Langley. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Langley Township will sell of the location of the former lelem’ Arts and Cultural Café, through a new public bidding process that may become the norm for municipal land sales.

The lelem’ Café in Bedford Landing shut down for good in the spring of 2021, a victim of COVID-19-related restrictions. At the time, B.C. was going through another round of restrictions on restaurants as cases spiked.

The café had been operated by the Kwantlen First Nation.

Since then, the space just a few steps from the Fraser River waterfront in Fort Langley has been vacant and without a tenant.

On Dec. 12, Township council voted to sell off the strata unit that housed lelem’.

Councillors Kim Richter and Margaret Kunst voted against the sale, with Richter saying the council should consider trying to find another tenant, instead.

“I don’t actually think this should be surplus land that we dispose of,” Richter said.

The café space originally became the property of the Township as part of the deal to redevelop the former Interfor mill site into the Bedford Landing project. It was an amenity the developer turned over to the municipality.

READ MORE: Popular Fort Langley café shuts doors forever due to COVID-19

The way this sale will be handled will be notably different from most sales of Township property, as the motion by Mayor Eric Woodward makes clear.

A new process is being developed for major land sales and purchases, and the lelem’ site will be an early test.

“In the past, when we’ve had surplus property matters… we’ve usually gone through the Multiple Listing Service,” said Township administrator Mark Bakken.

The new system will be more like an auction. The sale of the café will be widely publicized, and bids will be accepted and held, sealed, until they are all opened at once on a set date.

The highest bid will win, as long as it is above a reserve price the Township will set with the help of an appraiser.

“I hope council endorses the process where the public is made aware of dispositions and everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue it,” Woodward said.

Money from the sale will go towards the Township’s land reserve fund, which Woodward noted was millions of dollars in deficit at present.

The site is zoned for commercial use, so it will likely become another café or restaurant, or possibly an office.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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