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Plans to develop farmland, build condo tower preemptively rejected by Langley Township council

Council made it clear to developers that the projects won’t find a warm welcome
Vesta Properties has two residential towers approved for construction (models pictured) but the Township council made it clear that another proposed 45-storey tower will be a no-go. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township council recently decided to make its opposition to plans for two projects very clear – one a proposed condo tower, the other the development of a large swathe of farmland.

In two notices of motion approved at the Monday, Nov. 14 council meeting, developers were told that the projects were either “not in the best interests of the Township” or “contrary to the public interest.”

The first development was a controversial plan by Vesta Properties to switch from building mid-rise condos to a 45-storey high rise on a site on 200th Street in Willoughby.

The project was floated earlier this year, and drew so much public comment and criticism that Vesta appeared to have backed off from the proposed change by the summer.

READ ALSO: Plans for 45-storey tower in Langley now uncertain

However, a motion by Councillor Misty Van Popta was put forward to make certain Vesta knows the current council is not interested in approving such a project.

Van Popta said that during the recent election campaign, a number of people said they were upset at “what appears to be a bait and switch,” because the site had already been approved for the lower condos already common in the area.

The other issue was traffic.

“We’re just infrastructurally not ready for that,” said vanPopta.

“Fire services in Langley right now don’t have the capacity to deal with highrises,” noted Coun. Tim Baillie.

“There’s high rises, and then there’s 45 storey high rises,” said Mayor Eric Woodward.

He and Van Popta both said they were not opposed to greater density in development. But Woodward said it was fair to the builder, Vesta, to let them know not to spend more time or money on an application to build the tower.

“For me this is actually more about process and fairness, and has nothing to do with my support of densification along the corridor,” said Van Popta.

In a second, similar motion put forward by Coun. Rob Rindt, the council made it clear they will not entertain a development plan for a 93 acre site in the Agricultural Land Reserve near the Willowbrook area.

Rindt’s motion noted that the Township was being asked to redesignate the land for commercial and residential development, prior to the landowner seeking to exclude it from the ALR.

Rindt said the proposed project was contrary to the council’s desire to retain farmland in the Township.

Woodward added that the land is part of the historic Hudson’s Bay Company farm. The land, including much of the Milner area, was the first significant area of land farmed by early European settlers in the Lower Mainland.

Neither project has yet officially been presented to the council. Usually, plans for major developments are presented to council after passing through the Township’s development bureaucracy.

Votes on both issues were unanimous. Coun. Kim Richter was not present at the meeting.

In both cases, Township staff will send letters to the developers, communicating the council’s decision.

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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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