Monday’s Douglas Day event, held to thank Langley’s pioneers for all they have done for the community, was also the setting for former Langley Township mayor Kurt Alberts to receive a special honour.
More than 200 Langley Township and City pioneers and dozens of guests attended the Douglas Day celebration at the Langley Events Centre on Monday afternoon. They enjoyed lunch, entertainment, and a unique presentation.
A Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was awarded to Alberts at the event. He was the longtime Township planner, and served as mayor from 1999 to 2008. As mayor, he served as the emcee at many Douglas Day events. He also has a keen interest in Township’s history.
The medal was created to mark the 60th annversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne, and is being presented to those who have demonstrated dedicated service to their peers, community, and to Canada.
As a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Township was given a medal to present to a community builder. Township council chose Alberts as the recipient.
“Whether guiding the evolution of our community as the Township’s director of community development or demonstrating leadership and vision as our mayor, Kurt Alberts has helped create an exceptional quality of life for residents by advocating for improvements throughout the community,” said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese, who presented the medal to Alberts.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo, Alberts started his career as a planner in Ontario before coming to B.C. In 1981, he and his wife Brenda moved to Fort Langley, where they operate the Birthplace of BC art gallery.
Alberts served as Langley Township’s director of community development from 1981 to 1997, then took on a role as an elected official when he became mayor from 1999 to 2008.
During that time, he was instrumental in developing the community of Walnut Grove and the Township’s Rural Plan and worked to get the Greater Vancouver Regional District to recognize Langley as a Regional Town Centre in the Livable Region Strategy adopted in 1996.
With a passion for preserving green space, Alberts took on initiatives such as the Township’s Arbour Ribbon, the Fort-to-Fort Trail, and the expansion of Derby Reach. He helped develop the Hope Redwoods natural area and worked to secure significant areas of wildlife habitat in the West Creek Wetlands.
Alberts contributed to the Adopt-a-Street Program, helped create additional playing fields in Aldergrove, and worked to develop partnerships for the Langley Events Centre. He was also committed to the dredging of the Bedford Channel and waterfront development in Fort Langley, and to the creation of Langley’s Gateway of Hope.
Alberts has been recognized for his dedication to heritage conservation and for his volunteer service as a Rotarian.
During the Douglas Day celebration, Langley residents who are at least 70 years of age and have lived in the Township or the City for more than 60 years also enjoyed musical entertainment by Mixed Company, shared stories and memories, and socialized.
The event is held each year to pay tribute to pioneering families whose hard work, values, and traditions helped shape our community. It commemorates the founding of the Crown Colony of British Columbia in Fort Langley on November 19, 1858, and recognizes the appointment of Sir James Douglas as the first Governor of B.C.
Douglas Day has been recognized in the Township of Langley since the 1920s and the banquet has been held annually for more than 60 years. In 1946, the celebration of Douglas Day was established by municipal bylaw. While many municipalities in the Lower Mainland celebrated Douglas Day in the past, Langley is one of the few to continue the tradition.
A list of pioneers recognized during the 2012 Douglas Day celebration can be found here.