All three proposals together:
As of January 2018, we have formally withdrawn all three of our applications , directly due to the Township of Langley:
We currently see no prospect of this situation changing. Without any prospect of our applications being reviewed fairly by Township staff, we are no longer able to pursue these developments, indefinitely.
For us, the starting point was a community planning session on October 8th, 2015, with 88 residents of Fort Langley. There was a wide range of opinions, suggestions, wants and desires, not only for this site, but also for Fort Langley's commercial core area as a whole.
We also met with representatives of Langley Players and Bard in the Valley on November 19th, 2015, for some help on the design of an outdoor performance area, one of the more significant requests from the October 8th planning session.
With public input from the community planning session we created two preliminary proposals, still with many details to be worked out, both issued for public consultation and consideration, not yet submitted to the Township of Langley at this stage. We wanted residents to outline specifics to included at the beginning of the process, not the end.
To unveil two concepts for public consultation, we held four presentations over three days at the Fort Langley Community Hall so everyone that wanted to come would have a chance to do so. Over 500 people attended, the vast majority Fort Langley residents.
We wanted to ensure everyone was aware of the two concepts and focus groups, and to have a chance to weigh in with their thoughts and feedback before we refined and applied for one of two options — the two story version or the boutique hotel concept.
To gather any and all feedback, suggestions, and criticism, to help us determine which version we should focus on improving, and to make some revisions based on public input before we applied for approval, we conducted focus groups for as long as necessary, for as long as people kept coming.
We held 19 focus groups with 122 people in total, and heard countless great suggestions and other feedback, positive and critical. We wanted to only apply for the concept the community indicated it generally preferred, and to gather feedback and suggestions before we did that.
Based on feedback and suggestions from the focus groups, and the overwhelming support for the boutique hotel version by 84% of those that participated, we decided to pursue this concept for approval. Almost no one wanted us to pursue an application for the 2 story concept, when the 3 story boutique hotel concept offers so much more.
We made a number of major and small revisions, with lots and lots of small refinements, and prepared the plans for a formal application to the Township of Langley.
Township of Langley staff completed their initial review of the boutique hotel proposal and demanded an unnecessary lane to nowhere for garbage trucks that ruins the proposal, is not needed (and is actually not even a requirement). We presented three solutions to address any concerns:
During the focus groups we held for the boutique hotel proposal many residents asked us to present an entire plan for our other primary development site with the specifics of our vision for Fort Langley. And, while it took some time, we wanted to do that for those that asked.
We incorporated much of the feedback we received during the focus group process into the Glover Road West proposal — more underground parking, heritage restoration, significant tree preserved, and additional setbacks.
We therefore prepared and released all three awesomeness concepts for public consultation:
There was a closed Council meeting with a staff presentation on their demand for a lane to nowhere held on June 26, 2017, at which Township of Langley Mayor and Council voted in secret to effectively require a lane by confirming conditions for a "lane alternative" that only a lane can satisfy, accepting the premise that a lane is needed and/or required, which it is not.
Shortly afterward, we were told by Township staff that the boutique hotel would not be considered further without a lane.
We were unaware of this closed meeting until months later. We were not given an opportunity to present or discuss our position prior to this vote taking place.
A lane was required without a chance for input from affect property owners (including us), or the public whose property values will be affected if we are unable to redevelop. A lane was required even though it is an outdated planning objective, not outlined within the Fort Langley Community Plan.
Therefore, we concluded that the boutique hotel was voted down, a resolution we have accepted, especially in light of the fact that the Township of Langley has now unveiled their own boutique hotel proposal in Fort Langley.
We initiated a required traffic impact study with terms of reference dictated to us by Township of Langley staff.
Township of Langley staff required in writing that we relocate the Simpson Bros Building (Est. 1928), one of only three commercial heritage buildings that remain in Fort Langley, one of the last "boomtown" style heritage buildings in all of Greater Vancouver.
We had presented to restore and setback from this heritage building in its original context.
We were required to relocate this building to make way for a new four way intersection at Mary Avenue and Glover Road, 18.0m wide, significantly altering the pedestrian quality of the area. This condition required us to remove the ground level play area and family destination which we had proposed, something sorely lacking with the commercial area. Also required was yet another lane out to McBride Street across from McBride Station.
The traffic impact study concluded an intersection upgrade was not required, and would actually degrade pedestrian safety. A series of intersection upgrades in the form of additional crossings and traffic calming effects were outlined as needed, which we confirmed we would proceed to complete. The intersection itself was not indicated to be significant technical concern. We presented these findings to the Township of Langley.
Township of Langley staff confirm again that will have to relocate the "Fort Grocery" heritage building, regardless of the Heritage Conversation Area, its heritage value, or the primary principle of heritage preservation that buildings remain in their original context where at all possible.
We confirmed in writing with the Township of Langley that we would no longer be contemplating the development of the Cool Small Building based on unreasonable, unfounded technical conditions that ruined the economic basis to proceed.
Merry Christmas! Township of Langley staff submit to us new terms of reference for an expanded, new traffic impact study.
Our traffic engineer confirms the new terms of reference will substantially change the underlying criteria based on unreasonable input assumptions on trip generation that seem designed to result in the intersection being "required," but only based on assumptions more akin to transportation theory from the 1960s and 1970s that also do not consider pedestrian safety or impacts on walkable urban design.
We confirmed in writing with the Township of Langley that we would no longer be contemplating the development of the Glover Road West proposal.
We confirmed in writing with the Township of Langley that we would no longer be contemplating the development of the boutique hotel concept.
The Township of Langley unveils its own proposal for a new museum and waterfront hotel in Fort Langley that includes density increases and 4th story condos within the Heritage Conservation Area.
The proposal includes 5 elements — angled parking, 90° lane parking, ramp entry to a street, ramp entry adjacent to a lane access, and 4th story condos — all of which we were told in no uncertain terms would ever be permitted within our proposals under any circumstances.
Township of Langley Mayor and Council voted down a motion to allow us to present our concerns to them with the necessary time to outline the complexity of the issues, to outline why all our applications have been withdrawn, and to review what solutions there may be to find a path forward, avoiding the now inevitable outcome that some sections of center of Fort Langley will be permanently boarded for an indefinite, unknown period of time.
Excerpts from the Township of Langley requirements memo for the Glover Road West proposal, outlining that we must relocate the Simpson Bros heritage building to somewhere else, a location to be determined, to accommodate a new intersection and dedication of 18.5m aligned with Mary Avenue, significantly altering the existing heritage and pedestrian character of the centre of the village for no tangible purpose whatsoever.
Included is the architect's outline of the impact on this requirement on the entire project as a whole, along with a new lane exit to McBride Street across the street from McBride Station.
This building predates the Fort Langley Community Hall. It was built by the Simpson Family to open a new butcher store, Simpson Meats, and operated as such for many years. The original cooler still remains to this day.
Directly from the restoration plan, "located at an intersection in the heart of the Fort Langley commercial area, the Simpson Brothers Store demonstrated the importance of local grocery stores in servicing the local community through the distribution of food products. The stores reflected a way of life that was less dependent on cars and refrigeration, when people walked to local stores, usually daily, to buy fresh food and supplies." In addition, it is "a rare surviving example of a 'Boomtown' or false-front commercial building. ... The Simpson Brothers Store is one of the only remaining boomtown era buildings still standing today in Greater Vancouver."
And clearly outlined: "Do not move a part of a historic place if its current location is a character-defining element," (Page 12) and that we must "Preserve the original location of the building" (page 19).