So is the Township of Langley a big fat liar, too?
In the September 17, 2008, edition of The Province, the lead story is about the reprehensible mutilation of 100 turkeys at a farm on 24th and 196th. From what I understand, the owners practice ethical animal husbandry, and the violation exceeds any act that would be socially acceptable. Their land sits right on the border of what used to be Stokes Pit, which is slowly transforming into Campbell Heights.
I happened to be at "The Pit" walking Wally the dog on Tuesday, and emerged to find CTV, City TV and the Province retreating from the desecrated property. We got into a conversation, and I'd thought about who could do such a thing. You think teens, then satanic cults, and then stories I've heard about Fernridge came to mind: Fernridge is being bought up on spec with hopes for fruition increased since Township endorsed sewer to run down 200th Street, thus opening the door for development. Intimidation tactics are nothing new. In the Willoughby area, a landowner who would not sell (for parcel assembly) received an anonymous note in his mail box saying, "He who sells last gets the least." The water wars of Southern California depicted in the film Chinatown realistically recall the dirty fights that go on in the monied world.
Our Director of Community Development is quoted in The Province as saying that there are no development plans for the area. Why, then, are ads like the following being run in the Langley Advance's real estate section (9/10/08)?
20552 24TH AVENUE
… Located in Brookswood/Fernridge NP and designated 4 UPA
Excellent holding property … live here until time to develop and then enjoy the benefits of principle residence tax treatment.
Because I live in the area, I go through Fernridge a lot, and every week, there are more signs posted in front of forests. Development potential! The most joyous moment of the speculators was the approved sewer. Prices have skyrocketed and I'm sure that buyers will be more fortunate than those of us who bought Nortel.
Frank Bucholtz, editor of the Langley Times, wrote an editorial in March 2005, "Brookswood area could become a hotspot." He rightly says that "A sewer line down 200 Street will shape the future of South Langley, and it is hard to see how it won't involve massive urbanization...South Brookswood area (south of 36th) is...even more ready. Properties there are much larger and many have been held by investors for years. They were anxious for Vicwood (the old name for High Point) to go ahead in 1997, and I'm sure they are just as interested in development now."
In 2000, a Langley Times article entitled "South's development dreams return/Residents say perfect opportunity exists to tie services into Surrey's plan. To be fair, I must say that Mayor Alberts stated at the time that there was no time frame for development, and asked, "Why do detailed planning where development isn't going to happen for 10 to 15 years?" Despite has stand (and his stand has been to develop one area at a time), why is there a Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan on the township website at all? Some of the information includes:
In addition, the width of 24th is proposed to increase from 20 to 24 meters, and 196 is proposed to increase from 20 to 22 meters.
The Community Plan begins with the statement:
This Plan details the Township's policies for the development of Brookswood/Fernridge. The Brookswood/Fernridge Community
Plan conforms to the goals and objectives of the Langley Official Community Plan and provides more detailed land use policies.
Brookswood/Fernridge is seen, in the long term, as a community of 35,000 people functioning
as a southern satellite of the Langley Regional Town (Langley City and adjacent Township
commercial and industrial areas). The Langley Regional Town because of its substantial
head-start in overall development and with its ultimate hinterland population will be the major
commercial and service area.
According to the file, this particular segment of Fernridge on 196th north of 24th has a proposed zoning of Service Commercial. The complete specifications for the area can be found on the Township of Langley website http://www.tol.bc.ca/files/web_files/planning/CommunityPlans/Bylaw_2475_Brookswood.pdf
Another reason I know the area fairly well (because talking to locals) is the carnage called Campbell Heights. Earlier this year, by default, I ended up leading a tour through what used to be Stokes Pit, with Ramin Seifi (Director, Community Services), Brad Badelt (Engineering), Mark Bakken (Township Administrator), and Councilor Kim Richter. Richter had already seen the poor quality of excavation--lowering the water table, building new canals (the old ones were fish bearing) without a tree in site because they were all dead due to the water table change, a move that has increased the water temperature and becomes useless as salmon habitat--and was concerned about its impact on Langley and the buffer between the two municipalities(according to staff, it is 60 meters). 24th Avenue sits amid the desert-like setting of Campbell Heights, just waiting to be pushed through to Langley. I also noted on the Community Plan that Item 2.6.4 Conservation Areas was deleted by #4485 27.03.06
Land assembly is a precarious venture in which only the big players can participate. Although I merely speculate that land may be the catalyst behind arson (further up the street) and animal desecration, suspecting players getting punks to do their dirty work holds an element of feasibility. Nothing surprises me.
Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for many years. She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities. Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network. Editor-LFP...