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Jul 25 2012

Council Acts on Public Desire for Formal Parkland

Posted 4 years 278 days ago

MAYOR'S STATEMENT RE: GLEN VALLEY LANDS

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to address you this evening to announce the decision of Council regarding the pending sale of the Glen Valley Lands. As you know, council had put eight lots of land located in Glen Valley on the market to raise money to fund the acquisition of the Aldergrove Elementary School site for the construction a recreation centre. Council has identified the construction of a new recreation centre to be located in Aldergrove as a priority. This recreation centre will replace the forty year old Aldergrove Ice Arena, the fifty year old outdoor pool and provide amenities to serve all Langley Township residents. I might add that we recently lost the outdoor pool located in Metro Vancouver's Aldergrove Park, which this new recreation centre will help to replace.

Council has heard from a number of Langley residents who feel that the Glen Valley property, which has been left untouched since the 1930’s, should be designated a formal park and not be sold to private parties. We have listened and respect the concerns of residents.

I think some background regarding the lands would be helpful to clear up some of the concerns that have been brought to my attention by the many people who have contacted me and members of Council.

The lands were purchased sometime around the 1930's through a tax sale and remained in Langley Township's inventory of lands.

The lands that have been put up for sale have never been designated as "park" by the Township. It is true that many people consider the lands as park and may have seen information provided by third parties describing the lands as park, but without the designation on title it is not park. The Township of Langley has 1,824 acres of parks consisting of play fields, trails, passive parks and natural areas. In addition to our inventory of parks are the four Metro Vancouver parks; Derby Reach, Brae Island, Aldergrove Park and Campbell Valley Park. Langley Township is a member of Metro Vancouver Parks and contributes financially to the Metro Park system. All parks are open and for the enjoyment of all.

It is true that these lands have significant environmental value and may be unique in the Township's inventory of lands and parks, but I might add that all lands have environmental value. These lands have been logged at some time in the late 1800's or early 1900's and have been left relatively untouched since at least the 1930's. Although, not first growth, the lands, especially the western three lots, have a fantastic stand of conifers that are not common in our municipality.

The process that the Township employs in marketing public lands is managed through our Property Management Department, managed by Scott Thompson. Mr. Thompson and his staff are professionals in land appraisal and real estate sales. A very public process was used to advertise to the public of the land offerings by ten notices over a period of two weeks in our three local newspapers, twenty-eight letters were sent out to local area realtors to advertise the lands and the lands were advertised on the Bid BC website. I have no doubt that by now the lands have been well advertised. I have confidence in staff to market the properties in such a way as to get the maximum value as close to appraised or above.

Council is collaborative and works together with the public for the best interests of the community. I want to thank the hundreds of residents who have written to us, face-booked, emailed, called and signed petitions to bring their concerns to our attention.

During our closed meeting held earlier today, Council voted to direct staff to withdraw the three western lots consisting of twenty-one acres along 84 Avenue, between 252 and 254 Streets, from the sale process.

The Township will continue with the sale of the eastern block of five lots totaling twenty-five acres, located near 84 Avenue and 260 Street. However, the bidding process on those properties, which closed on June 29, resulted in bids which were not acceptable.

Those bids have been rejected and staff has been directed by Council to market the eastern properties and obtain the maximum value in accordance with Council Policy and appraised values. Township staff will also evaluate and prepare other appropriate Township properties for disposition and look at alternative funding arrangements to purchase the Aldergrove School site and construct the recreation centre.

This is good planning and good development for both Glen Valley and Aldergrove, it meets all of the Township’s social, cultural, economic and environmental goals in our Sustainability Charter.

I want to stress that Council responded to the outpouring of support, that was professional and respectful from the community, that these lands not to be sold. The positive support for the retention of the lands played a significant role in our decision.

I want to thank everyone who lent their voice to this issue. Council appreciates the input from the community. Council's mandate is to work together with the community to reach decisions that benefit all the residents of Langley Township.

I want to point out that by taking these lots off of the market we will have a shortfall of two million plus dollars. I believe that two million is a significant amount of money. I appreciate the work that the organizers of this campaign went to and I now challenge them to channel that energy into a fund raising campaign to find the funds to help with the Aldergrove Recreation Centre and allow Langley Township to retain these lands for future generations. I prefer to look at problems as an opportunity to work together to find solutions. My door is open and I encourage the organizers to contact me to set up a meeting where we can explore all options.

It is Council’s goal to achieve a balance between urban growth and the protection of farmland, open spaces, and environmentally sensitive areas. This council will continue to look for solutions to building a sustainable and livable community. We are committed to working with the community to achieve these goals.

Sincerely,

Jack Froese
MAYOR


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