The Future in Langley City

August 2, 2007 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

Michael von Hausen, the Curriculum Coordinator for our Urban Design Certificate, is a busy guy. Evidence: replanning the downtown of Langley City. Here’s an article from the local paper.

Langley city

Future looks bright for Langley City

By Kristyl Clark
Times Reporter
Jul 01 2007

Imagine catching a free trolley ride through the heart of downtown Langley under the starlit sky to your favourite restaurant, cafe or trendy boutique. The bustling streets are alive with activity, making for a safe and desirable destination to take an evening stroll. During your ride a spirited attendant tells passengers about the rich history of the community. Afterwards you see a spectacular live show inside the Civic Centre, a popular hotspot for both locals and tourists alike.

Sound too good to be true?

Michael von Hausen, a consultant for Urban Planning and Design Inc. doesnt think so. On Wednesday evening, he hosted a public information session at the Cascades Convention Centre, inviting participants to take a look into the future of the downtown core.
Back in November, council approved a budget for planners to create a Downtown Master Plan. A few months later a cross section of the community was invited to attend a brain storming session on what theyd like to see take place in the city down the road.
Wednesday’s meeting provided a conceptual plan, followed by a question and answer period.

“We’ve discovered you have some jewels here, but there is the need for improvement in other areas,” said von Hausen. “We’re here to find out how can we polish the diamond we already have.”

After attending various workshops, spending a great deal of time in downtown Langley and mapping out the community, von Hausen, along with a team of architects and planners came up with eight special design districts. Through a slide show presentation, design consultant Calum Srigley and landscape architect Don Wuori outlined plans for downtown Langley, which included the allocation of specific characteristics to specific districts in the neighbourhood.

Some examples of the conceptual districts include: a green space between the convention centre and 203 Street called Festival Park, which would be home to a beautiful ponduseful for collecting storm water. This designation would be an ideal place for big events and festivals, and would be home to a childrens’ museum.

There is also plans for a Civic Centre. It would be a distinctive building with a theatre function. There would also be a large multi level parkade, disguised by the design of the structure.

Park Avenue would be an upscale district in the downtown core with condos and townhouses.

Streets will be enlivened with porches and front doors, said Srigley.

Downtown Langley would also be a mix of residential/commercial buildings, utilizing space and making a wonderful place for Langley residents to live, work and play.

The most popular designation was Prairie Station, a transportation centre, which would include a bus and shuttle depot.
Similar to European train stations, it will be a pleasurable facility to stop at with washrooms inside, as well as shops to grab a quick snack or paper.

City Mayor Peter Fassbender attended the event, along with a few city council members. On behalf of council he told the audience that they strongly believe that the plans will come into play. It may not happen in the near future, but will be a great possibility 30 to 50 years from now.

“I can tell you each member from council is committed to seeing this move forward,” he said. “We want to see it happen. Can we? When will we? That’s up to us to move forward. Wer’e guaranteed to marketing this and to see it start to happen.”

A concern from one audience member was whether or not Langley’s rich history would be taken into consideration in selecting a name for the downtown core. Von Hausen replied that the planning team will be taking the role of branding the area very seriously and that a great deal of research will go into selecting the perfect name, one that will generate excitement.

Another participant expressed concern that affordable housing would be replaced around Douglas Park with high end buildings, which would force the single and low income families out of the City.

There is no attempt here to push lower income families out, said Fassbender, who acknowledged that there are some undesirable buildings in downtown Langley. “We want them to have safe buildings to live in that they can be proud of and that the owners will take care of. There are some buildings I’m ashamed of. All they are right now is revenue sources with no investment into the community.”

Councillor Gayle Martin told the Times that she is thrilled to have a role in helping the plans fall into place. “All of us are just so excited about this,” she said. “It brings me back to when we first started the revitalization.”

The next step is to get the property owners and building owners to embrace the plan, according to Martin. “We hope they’ll come to us for help and well see where we go from there.”

Councillor Teri James sees the plans as having a wonderful impact on the community and the economy of Langley City, both as a city councillor and as Co-ordinator of the Downtown Langley Merchants Association (DLMA). “Because I wear two hats, I see it from two angles. As a member of city council it is very, very exciting and viable. As a co-ordinator for the DLMA, I see it as a tremendous opportunity.”


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