A small girl stands besidethe Wicken (Hawkins) house built by Russ Brown. The Fort Langley Grocery can be seen on the right side and the community hall is visible in the background. The photo dates from the 1940s. (Langley Centennial Museum collection)

LETTER: Langley Township deciding fate of Fort heritage buildings

A Fort Langley resident argues for preservation of some homes slated for demolition.

Dear Editor,

On Sept. 9, Langley Township council will likely vote on the Heritage Alteration Permit Request by Statewood Properties to demolish the 11 boarded up older buildings in the core of downtown Fort Langley, in the middle of a Heritage Conservation Area. Statewood properties is owned by Councillor Eric Woodward who will have to recuse himself from that vote.

Various groups including Township staff have wrestled with the heritage value of these buildings, and arguments continue back and forth on the validity of that value. I, for one, do not agree with any report that attempts to suggest that none of these buildings have any heritage value worth considering.

Two houses in particular along Church and Mary Streets were built by the Billy Brown family (yes, the Billy Brown that the main street through Bedford Landing in Fort Langley is named after). One is reported to have been built by Billy Brown to likely provide income in 1918 over 100 years ago before his son, Russell Brown, took it over in the later 1920s.

The other house (painted pink by the same Mr. Woodward in a battle with Township staff on the redevelopment plans he had for that site and later boarded up along with the other 10 buildings) was built by Russell Brown for his father in-law and sister in-law (Edith Wicken) during the Great Depression. His sister in-law married Rod Hawkins in later years and lived there a long time. It was Rod Hawkins and his wife Edith who started the first Simpson Hospital on Glover Road.

There is so much more rich history than even this in these 11 buildings and that history helps make up the fabric of Fort Langley.

I hope the mayor and council think carefully on what their decision is and I stand hopeful that they will do the right thing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and that is not why Heritage Conservation Areas are created.

George Otty, Fort Langley

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