Sometimes We Need Boldness
Grounded, realistic, and reasonable thinking is a must in almost every aspect of life. There’s no arguing with that. However, when it comes to issues like the communities we live in, it helps to every so often have a shot of adrenaline injected into our communal way of thinking. Our Township is (in this writer’s opinion) the most unique community in the Lower Mainland. We’re 78% ALR, we’re the fastest growing, and we have some of the most beautiful landscapes and views one could imagine. We’re centrally located, have a growing business community, a mix of young and old residents of every demographic, and have several First Nations communities which serve as our link to the area’s past and importantly to the future we’ll enjoy together. Because of all these unique qualities, we perhaps have the rarest and most exciting opportunities in the entire region. Whether these are opportunities that are easily achievable is not the point, because nothing meaningful comes easy. But with a little (or a lot) imagination, we can envision what this place we call home could look like in 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. Many of these opportunities entail decisions being made that are out of municipal jurisdiction, but nonetheless need to be initiated at the local level.
Working with other municipalities, the Province, the Feds, private sector, community organizations, and first-and-foremost residents wouldn’t be an option, it would be a requirement. But if we can imagine that being done, then we can imagine what a future Langley Township could look like.
Imagine for a moment that you’re standing near the corner of 200th Street and 80th Avenue on the sidewalk on the LEC side. You’re in fact waiting at the stop for the sleek, modern streetcar that runs along 200th from Fernridge in the south and connects with the SkyTrain (or LRT) stop at Willowbrook Mall - which has been redeveloped into the new model for old suburban malls of a mix of commercial and affordable rental as well as market housing - and travels all the way up to the waterfront in Port Kells. Speaking of Port Kells, the area has become almost unrecognizable from what it is today. Because of creative urban planning as well as close work with the Province and industry partners, the area has become a vibrant neighbourhood that attracts locals and tourists alike. Due to the shortage of available land, we haven’t abandoned the area’s industrial use, but instead combined light industrial, commercial, and high density residential along the major roads on the Langley side to make it a unique community that gives residents access to the waterfront, similar to what we see now in New Westminster, or Steveston in Richmond. Maybe we’ve managed to work with Surrey to create a comprehensive plan that makes the entire area the envy of city-planners around the world. As you take the streetcar down 200th, towards Willowbrook, and into the downtown of the Langleys, you notice perhaps the most impressive change that was the most challenging to accomplish: no more freight trains.
By working with various levels of government and with a lot of hard work, we’ve managed to find an alternate route for the trains that until now have been a common sight (and nuisance for drivers). Perhaps they’ve been completely re-routed, or perhaps they travel on a mounted track. Either way, they no longer cause delays in traffic, and the space that was onced used by these trains has been transformed into a unique greenway that allows pedestrians and cyclists to travel from the edge of Langley City to the outskirts of our Township and back.
Imagine a Langley where if you’re facing a medical emergency, there’s been an expansion to the hospital’s ER and long-term care facilities to accommodate the aging population in Langley, as well as other upgrades that a community like Langley will need. But if it’s a routine concern, you’re in luck because of the availability of more and more primary care services that are available all across the Township. This is thanks to the cooperation between the municipality in planning the locations where the care is most needed, the Province in providing the funding for the doctors and nurses in these locations, and developers for helping to cover the costs of constructing these medical centres in their developments.
In this future, the agricultural community and industry in the Township has never been stronger. Because of responsible development in the 22 percent of land that’s not in the ALR, our population has grown without having to endanger our farmland. The growth in population and of innovation in agricultural technology has meant that more of our ALR has become productive, creating a new generation of farmers and continuing the tradition for many families. The agri-tourism industry has also never been stronger as a result of a sustained marketing campaign by the Township and better transit out into the Valley, meaning more people can get to Langley wineries, berry farms, distilleries and other destinations.
It’s been quite an exercise imagining what our Township could look like one day, but reality intrudes as it always does. There are pressing concerns that need addressing now, and those need our time and attention. However, it’s important to have a vision and something to aspire to. It’s a cliche, but you’ll never land on the moon if you don’t shoot for the stars, and we’ll never be the community we can be if we don’t keep an eye on the future that is going to be upon us in no time. Just because something seems fanciful doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered, and it’s my sincere hope that we never lose sight of just how incredible this Township is, and how great it can one day be.