Facing an uncertain future at their current location in Langley Mall, members of Southgate Christian Fellowship are eyeing a new home in south Langley.
The church, which currently has 750 members, is applying to the Agricultural Land Commission for non-farm use on a 15.47 acre property at the northwest corner of 16 Avenue and 200 Street currently occupied by an aging home, barn and outbuildings.
Southgate plans to build a new 60,000 square foot building on the property that will include a sanctuary, gymnasium, kitchen, office spaces and meeting rooms.
The property was purchased by the church in 2001 and, to their knowledge, has not been farmed for 60 years, noted John Moonen and Pastor Dave McTaggart, who recently spoke to Township council about the application.
In exchange for building their new church, Moonen and McTaggart said the remaining 10 acres will be farmed. They are hoping to find a farming family to look after these operations through Young Agrarians, an organization that pairs young farmers with land owners.
The pair also said they would like to offer the church’s facilities to the community as the Brookswood-Fernridge area develops in the coming years.
“Where we are, there’s no room for growth, per se,” McTaggart told council. “We’re in the old Langley Mall (at 5501 204 St.), and it’s in limbo a little bit as to what First Capital is going to be doing with the mall space. We’re just trying to look for the future.
“We had a discussion with the lease agent, and one of the questions was, how quick could you move out if things change here?”
Township staff recommended council not forward the application to the ALC, as it does not meet the Township’s zoning bylaw, Rural Plan, Official Community Plan or the Regional Growth Strategy.
However, after listening to Moonen and McTaggart speak, council instead voted 8-1 in favour of moving ahead with the application. A condition was added that requires the owner to register a covenant to ensure that approximately 10 acres of the property is farmed in perpetuity.
Coun. David Davis was opposed.