Downtown Aldergrove has become a destination this summer.
On balmy days, Lower Mainland families have flocked in swimsuits and flip-flops from their parked cars, to the local pool and water park, a part of the newly built Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre (ACUCC).
Langley Township expected summer to be high-season at the centre, due in part to the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience’s seasonal nature.
Only open for summer weather since the May long weekend, the aquatic playground has even ramped up staff numbers on site to reflect the growing occupancy and ensure patron safety, said Langley Township Councillor, and Aldergrove resident, Bob Long.
But locals have questioned whether the Township anticipated the frustration that visitor parking on house-lined streets would cause for everyday Aldergrove homeowners and tenants.
As it stands, on most days, more vehicles can be seen parked on streets adjacent to the centre – including parts of 32nd, 28B and 29th Avenues – instead of the main Township-designated overflow parking area at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS).
“There are plenty of signs directing cars to the overflow parking at ACSS, where there is lots of room,” Long assured.
The lot is just around the corner from the centre at 26850 29th Ave., a 10-minute walk, Long said.
“I think folks are just used to wanting what’s most convenient,” Long told the Aldergrove Star. Instead, visitors are deciding to park on residential streets closer to the ACUCC and walk from there.
Since the Aldergrove Star first posted publicly, asking for local’s experiences regarding parking at the centre, it has sparked considerable mixed reactions. (See the varied reaction on the Star’s Facebook page).
Alexa Seymour, who lives on 29th Avenue, is one of several residents who have mentioned cars blocking their driveways, and others she’s witnessed “try to park in the smallest openings.”
Seymour also seen cars that have parked their vehicles in the “no-stopping zone” on 270A Street.
“The Township should have never built something like this without the proper parking to go with it,” Seymour said.
One 29th Avenue homeowner has gone as far as posting a sign of their own, which reads “no parking,” in front of their house.
Another, Vickee Rae said 29th Avenue is busier “but not ridiculously so.”
“I only notice wall-to-wall (parked) cars on weekends,” she said.
Township senior advisor to council Bill Storie said that parking on 29th Avenue is working well, and ultimately, makes sense as it is “a public street.”
“As long as they’re parking legally, everything should be fine,” Storie emphasized.
The Township advertises an overflow parking map on its website, outlining street parking on 29th Avenue as well as 270th and 270A Streets – roads which mark out a path to the main ACSS overflow lot.
Storie said his initial worry was about motorists parking on the main drag of Fraser Highway, adjacent to the ACUCC, as those spots have a strict two-hour limit.
One resident who lives on 32nd Avenue, Kerry Day, said vehicles have even parked in front of her home and walked to the centre.
Other Aldergrove residents have cited concerns about pedestrian safety, especially for their children who when walking down 28B Avenue are encountering changes to the “paved shoulder” they are used to using as a sidewalk of sorts.
It is now being taken up by parked cars, one local mother mentioned.
“It’s just a matter of time before something gets hit,” another resident Cindy Strickler chimed in.
As for ACUCC parking in future summers – when the centre’s main lot gets busy – the Township has no plans in the works, explained engineering manager Ramin Seifi.
A deal has already been made with ACSS to allow patrons to park in the high school’s lot during summer months when school is out, Seifi added.
Though, as part of the Janda Group’s Aldergrove Town Centre proposal – which was unveiled in March – Councillor Eric Woodward has advocated strongly for the Township to purchase of a shared parking structure in the heart of downtown.
This has been submitted as part of phase one of redevelopment of the old mall site on 272nd Street.
Woodward hopes a 43-per-cent reduction in parking requirements will be made on behalf of the Township for the property, in order for it to be built.
This reduction would be on par with parking space requirements for commercial developers in Fort Langley, Woodward told the Aldergrove Star.
Coun. Long wants to see a footbridge over Bertrand Creek to connect 32nd Avenue, and encourage increased physical activity and pedestrian access to the ACUCC, and future amenities that pop up downtown.
The footbridge is also part of the Janda Group’s March proposal, cited as part of phase two construction for the town centre.