Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Vecchiato's Voice - Jan 2, 2007 - Urban Planning Cross Dressing?

Fellow Langleyites, I am a bit confused. Perhaps it is a personal condition, but it always seems to rear its whirling dervish head when I read the local papers and contact staff at Township Hall.

First, it was announced that there were insufficient funds for park land purchases in Willoughby. Then a department manager said they could not acquire land until the DCC's came in (in the interim, we agreed to a long-term golf course purchase, and Engineering has dug up 200th near 40th three times, twice at our expense, not to mention having to relandscape due to design oversights.)

Another department head told me that he knew nothing of parkland south of Mountain Secondary on 202A; however, I know the seller, know the land, and what he was told upon the sale of his property.

In the interim, Township has used the legal arm of eminent domain along 202B and 68th, so that a diagonal four-lane road can connect the soon-to-be-busy 202A with the yellow-brick road swooping down to Wal-mart. Now which DCC's did that purchase come from, and why is the land not being asphalted being sold back to the development community with more bonus density given for underground services instead of green space and wildlife corridors?

There are planners and there are developers and I am afraid that they become either deliberate or coerced co-conspirators, each wearing one another's clothes. Urban planning cross dressing, perhaps. It's nothing new; California's metropolitan areas were paved over in the '60s, and an exact replica is being formed in the Lower Mainland. Official Community Plans in Langley, Surrey, and other municipalities need to be re-examined; no OCP should be written in stone ever (this was the point of view of the Planning Director in North Vancouver); and eyes pointed at future developable areas such as Fernridge need to be scrutinized for their long term impact, not only on habitat and water protection, but a measurable appreciation in the quality of life.

The extraordinary recreation facilities Langley has cannot be underappreciated, for their benefits do exist. However, the ability to verbally skirt around an issue, to postpone, to avoid seem like prerequisites for municipal positions.

In the interim, I keep staring at the rendering of the future Willoughby arena, thinking, "God, it looks like Frank Lloyd Wright did some post-mortem design after just one too many cups of coffee."

Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for the past 6 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

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