It is with great disappointment that I write this letter. Council has once again ignored a community plan and barreled ahead with their own agenda despite community opposition. What is the point of a community plan if we do not to follow it? What is the point of a Public Hearing if council does not listen?
Collectively, the residents of Langley Township own a piece of property in Aldergrove through which Bertrand Creek runs. This property is divided – its northern portion contains degraded land and its southern half is forested. A forest which is far superior than the development company would have us believe…but that’s of no consequence. What matters here, and what really needs to be made clear to everyone in the community of Aldergrove, is that one sixth of this land was designated as Educational/Recreational land. According to the Official Aldergrove Community Plan, it was not intended for development, yet it is now included in their development plans. The Township commissioned a developer, and has likely been working on plans for over a year (a conclusion derived from the fact that the arborist report is from a year ago), then posted development signs during the busiest time of year: Christmas and New Year’s. Residents had only three weeks’ notice of the Township’s intention to alter the OCP and re-zone the property before the public hearing. Many individuals signed a hastily organized petition, and many, many people did attend the Public Hearing to register their opposition to this amendment to the OCP. But alas, our voices fell on deaf ears.
This land is Aldergrove’s only opportunity to have easy access to a local environmental area within walking distance from our homes and schools. It was intended for everyone to enjoy but Council has now essentially taken a park from us. A development will sit in the middle of this land and although Township Planners advise that 7.7 acres will remain forested, as generous as it may sound, it is them merely following the minimum guidelines put in place to protect streams, tributaries and swamps. In the end, it may be even less as the owner of a 50 acre property adjacent to this is hoping to develop and connect a road into this development, thereby taking up even more of the forest and green space that was intended for our recreational use.
Of course Township does not want you to know all of this. They don’t tell you that the drainage of the property will be altered or that a substantial amount of fill will be required to ready this property for development. A pond, albeit a former slough, will be filled and built on. They neglect telling us that many of these ‘inferior’ trees they are cutting down are indeed Alder trees, the trees that gave “Aldergrove” its name.
I’m sure the animals in the forest are not aware that their habitat includes these inferior trees. What matters to them is that they have a habitat. Smaller, albeit superior trees, won’t cut it. And for the Aldergrove resident looking for a place to enjoy nature on land that was set aside for them to enjoy – it will be gone.
As for the comments from our council, I cringe. One councilor called the forest a “war zone”, possibly making reference to some of the social problems Aldergrove faces which is a separate issue that cannot be solved by developing a forest, an area meant and designated for recreation, a place for our students to explore and learn from. Let’s not punish the majority for the follies of a few.
And the biggest disappointment of all? Once again the controversial pool/ice arena has been brought into the conversation. They say this land is being sold to support the building of the pool. Have they not learned from the Glen Valley experience? Aldergrove residence do not want to be pitted against each other. I support the effort to try and afford a pool for Aldergrove but please do not do it by selling a precious urban forest that was intended for a different form of recreation.
My hope is that Aldergrove residents will speak up and not give up. This land was intended for our use in some sort of recreational or educational capacity. Petition council to not sell this forest.
Jessica Horst, Aldergrove