LETTER: Former councillor opposes four-storey Aldergrove parkade

Charlie Fox suggests parking issues in the downtown core can be solved in other ways

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the recent letter from Diane Kask regarding the inclusion of a four-storey parkade as part of the redevelopment application for the Aldergrove Mall site.

READ: Mall redevelopment about Aldergrove parking, too

While her statement: “Having a vibrant Aldergrove downtown will be asset to all of the Township of Langley” is very true, it is important that before we, as taxpayers, ‘implore’ anybody to support this, council members take a very close look at the practicality of the proposal, the functionality of it, and also the economics.

While the Aldergrove Community Plan (3.2.24) does call for consideration of a central parking structure where feasible and appropriate, is a 180+ stall, four-storey parkade, costing in excess of $8 million a smart move to revitalize the Aldergrove downtown core.

UPCOMING: Township council to deliberate Aldergrove Town Centre plans

On most days there is no problem parking in the downtown core area, especially now that the Township owns the abandoned Alder Inn, which sees no sign of reopening or being demolished.

Yes, there is the odd day, in the summer, when parking is a challenge at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre (ACUCC), or when folks park in the mini-mall adjacent to the ACUCC but truly this is not a parking crisis requiring an $8-million solution regardless of who is paying.

SEE RELATED STORY: Nearby businesses plagued by Aldergrove pool parking troubles

Has a professional parking demand study of the downtown core been done, one that is professionally completed not just based on opinion!

The answer is “no,” and nothing should be voted on or proceed until such a properly done study has been completed.

The building the parkade will be located in will require a height variance; yes it will be 10-storeys high, which exceeds the allowable limit.

Is a 10-storey building (with the bottom four storeys being a parkade) what people want to see in this location or in any location in the downtown? Maybe the community should be asked that question.

The expected cost will be $8 million-plus, is that the best way to spend that substantial sum of money to revitalize the downtown core?

Some have been convinced it is. But, I suggest again the public needs to be asked if they have ideas that might better serve revitalizing the core and making it more walkable (like a bridge across Bertrand Creek extending north from the lit crosswalk by the bowling alley for example), after all, two perquisites of good governance are transparency and inclusiveness.

The letter states: ‘The proposed community amendments contributions by developers will pay for the Townships portion of the shared parkade and will not add to the property tax bill.”

I question this logic and some serious number crunching needs to take place before that statement can be made.

Firstly, the ridiculous sum of $5.4 million paid for the Alder Inn has to come from that fund and then the $8 million comes after that.

In the meantime, the money to buy the Alder Inn was borrowed so we, the taxpayer, are paying the carrying charges on that and further, the amenity fund (which is fully contingent not home sales in Willoughby) will take anywhere up to 20 years to accrue – so to make a statement assuring that taxpayers will not be on the hook is simply inappropriate and the economics must be explained fully.

Even if this parkade is funded without taxpayer dollars how will it operate?

There is upkeep, cleaning ongoing maintenance etc. so, will it be pay parking?

I suggest that is the case, it will rarely be used, so this question needs clarification.

Lastly, yes, get on with the first four buildings of the mall redevelopment. But if this parkade gets consideration, what proof do we have that this is the “crucial feature” to a revitalized downtown core.

This may be one person’s opinion, but I hope council will take a long close look at this and hopefully base a decision on fact and need and not conjecture.

RELATED: Janda Group revises old Aldergrove mall redevelopment plans

I strongly suggest they get public input, as we cannot afford to have a four-storey white elephant in the downtown core.

There are choices available to council, approve the building without a variance and have no parkade at all, maybe a smaller (fewer spaces, fewer storeys) less expensive parkade or look to other parking options within the core area on properties owned by the Township and not requiring such a large and out of place building.

After all, a perquisite of good governance is doing full due diligence and ensuring this is a ‘feasible’ project to pursue.

In closing, if the parkade is built (I hope it is not), in the long term I am sure every new homeowner purchasing a dwelling in Willoughby will be pleased to know they paid for a four-storey parkade in Aldergrove – makes sense!

Charlie Fox, Aldergrove

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