Langley tower block debate centres on footbridge

A pedestrian overpass became the centre of Monday’s discussion at Township council.

A planned 20-storey tower near the Langley-Surrey border sparked a lengthy debate at Langley Township council Monday about whether or not to build a multi-million dollar footbridge.

The Care Pacific project, dubbed Oasis, is a planned 20-storey tower in the 7700 block of 200th Street. The building is planned as a seniors community with a range of housing options, from rentals and condo suites for 55-plus residents to various levels of assisted living care.

The final vote was 6-3 in favour of third reading, with some councillors expressing concern over the reduced number of parking stalls planned, or over future impacts of the site, which could have up to seven buildings, four of them towers.

However, much of the debate was about the possibility of a pedestrian overpass connecting the site, west of 200th Street, to the Langley Events Centre on the east side of the road.

The possibility was mentined by one resident who spoke at a public hearing on the project in January, but it is not something the developers had included in their plans.

Councillor Kim Richter suggested adding the construction of a footbridge into the conditions for the development of the project.

This triggered a lengthy debate, as councillors questioned whether it would be used frequently by the seniors expected to live in the tower, the cost of the project, and its location.

A similar footbridge was built across 200th Street at 66th Avenue several years ago.

That project cost $3 million and was 50 per cent funded by the provincial government, said Ramin Seifi, the Township’s general manager of engineering and community development.

He said that a new, similar footbridge could cost between $4 million and $5 million today, and there was no planned funding.

Richter argued that with multiple towers planned in the long term, with future parts of the project to have families as well as seniors, there would be a need for a safe pedestrian crossing to the LEC and parks to the east.

But Coun. Angie Quaale raised concerns that adding the cost to the project would harm the affordability of the housing. Coun. Michelle Sparrow added that making a decision on the fly was not responsible government decision making.

“To start saddling them with this is just going to chase them away,” said Mayor Jack Froese.

Though council didn’t support building an overpass immediately, they did support an amendment that will reserve a right of way for a possible future overpass in the 7800 block of 200th Street.

The final reading for the project’s rezoning and development permit will be held at a future meeting.

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