I just wanted to write a comment on a new development permit put forward on April 8 for the busy 264th and Fraser Highway intersection in Aldergrove.
The site, which was a burger outlet and gas station, has been sitting vacant and offers residents and visitors going south from Highway #1 to Aldergrove or the Border Crossing one of the ugliest eyesores in the entire Township. It really isn?t the greatest welcoming mat to the community. This point was emphasized on Monday’s hearing by Councillors Charlie Fox and Steve Ferguson.
Whereas those Councillors and the others that joined them simply wanted to see pretty much anything happen with that corner [other than what is there now], Councillor Bob Long, a longtime Aldergrove resident and business owner, came out against the proposal. Councillor Long noted that this development will take business away from the struggling downtown core. He also expressed concern regarding the traffic issues that it may present.
The motion was carried with only Long opposed (Councillor Bev Dornan was absent). My personal initial reaction was, “whoa, that’s a lot of parking.” Of course, I read in the report that what is actually there is the minimum required, yet there just seems like a lot of cement. The development proposes four buildings in each corner of the site, with parking surrounding each. The plan, in my opinion, lacks any originality for a feature corner in a community trying to rebuild itself, and is a seriously missed opportunity.
With an outdated Community Plan (Aldergrove is working off the 1979 plan), there aren’t much guidelines for the architect to work with. Even more unfortunate is that the Aldergrove Core Area Plan that was adopted in 2010 stopped at 270th. While it is understandable that the plan needed to be limited, it left this crucial corner susceptible to a permit such as this one. Nothing about it offers anything that sustainable city planners and designers would be excited about: an abundance of above ground parking, collection of single story single use buildings, traditional construction with limited trees, no green roofs, and promotes the typical suburban drive-to destination retail therapy.
Councillor Long is right in stating that the downtown core can barely sustain the businesses they currently have and this new development will simply shift the more pedestrian-friendly retail area of Aldergrove to the vehicle-centered interchange. This development is truly a lost opportunity for a mixed use and/or multi-storey development or even a chance for the Township to take the same proactive steps they did at 80th Avenue and 200th Street to acquire the land for a future amenity that both help give a boost to downtown Aldergrove as well as increase the livability of the area overall.
Unfortunately it is likely too late to do any substantial changes to the plan, but it is never too late for Township to consider ways to promote developments with a bit more vision, especially on crucial focal points.
Brad Richert, Langley