Q3 for a Better Langley: HIGH RISES

BETTER LANGLEY: The Township currently has several of its first high rises under construction in Willoughby. Recently, an application for a 45-storey tower was also submitted, but has not yet moved forward. Do you believe such high rises are appropriate in Willoughby?


A note about highlighted answers: Better Langley favourites are selected based on progressive principles of economic and environmental sustainability as researched through the works of Jeff Speck, Charles Marohn, Charles Montgomery, Donald Shoup, Melissa & Chris Bruntley, Charles Schwartz, Ken Greenberg and many others. Additionally, my academic background in political science, philosophy, religious studies, and real estate all provide both knowledge base, process of critical thought, and, yes, biases. In order to reduce personal bias, answers were read anonymously, separate from the candidate before selecting a “favourite” to highlight. Non-highlighted answers are not necessarily “bad” answers – sometimes more explanation was desired.


SPARROW (Independent): The application for the 45-story tower for me comes down to process, this was an example of a bait and switch in my opinion. And while I do agree that our density and any potential high-rise developments should be placed along 200th the location, this was a situation in which a developer sold a project and then turned around and changed it dramatically to their own clients’ detriment.

I have during my time on council spoken against many applications that change the official community plan in place, seeing most of the benefit going to the developer. There is a lot of work that goes into the planning of a community and allowing developers the ability to continually rewrite that plan over and over for their benefit changes our community. I believe it shouldn’t be developers who are designing our community one parcel of land at a time. This application for a 45-story tower is an example of just that in my opinion.

As we see an increase in density and higher story building coming to our community, we must also look to our fire protective services. Ensuring we have the required personnel under the NFPA 1710 standards for response to a high-rise structure. This requires that the initial full alarm assignment to a fire in a building with the highest floor greater than 75 ft above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access, must provide for a minimum of 42 members (43 if the building is equipped with a fire pump). This proposed 45 story building is approx. 480 feet tall. The ToL currently only has 18 full-time firefighters on duty at any one time covering 316 square kilometers, serving approximately 50,000 households and 145,000 people. We are putting lives at risk by allowing high-rise buildings to be constructed before we have the adequate fire personnel to provide the necessary response, as well as the required high angle rescue training for all members. The funding for the much-needed increase in our fire protective services should have been accounted for in the updates made to the Community Amenity Contribution policy, allowing for the growth we are experiencing to pay for the cost associated with that growth. This must be addressed along with the improvements needed to our fire services.

WHITMARSH (Independent): The Township of Langley has 75% of its land protected for Agriculture. The leaves 25% of the land available for residential, commercial, institutional, educational, and recreational purposes. I believe that we need to consider high rise buildings to provide homes for the current and new residents of the Township. I also believe that high rise buildings allows us to create more greenspace and build more parks for people to enjoy. Having said that, it is critical that we plan for and approve high rise buildings using a transparent process that includes full public input.

WOODWARD (Contract with Langley): 45 stories is completely out of scale for were Langley is today. We do not support it.

COLEMAN (Elevate Langley): Elevate Langley does not support the existing proposal for the additional 45-storey tower in Willoughby.

There is an old saying: “never say never.” If a proposal for a tower comes through that makes sense and has the support of the local community we will consider it.

Over Seventy-Five Percent of the land in the Township of Langley is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The average in Metro Vancouver is Nineteen percent.  Almost all of the municipalities in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford have multiple towers.


GARDNER (Independent): The 45-storey tower submitted for Latimer Village was widely seen as a bait-and-switch to residents who bought into a “euro-style” community-oriented development concept which had boasted two 6-storey buildings, not a 45-storey tower. It is not appropriate for council to entertain a radical departure from approved community/neighbourhood/development plans, which are all approved with much public consultation unless there is an egregious circumstance with extensive further public consultation. While there may be some areas where density is appropriate or desirable, we erode hard-earned public trust when we depart from carefully considered and approved plans, and undermine the importance of public consultation.

ELEVATE LANGLEY (Group Response): Elevate Langley does not support the existing proposal for the additional 45-storey tower in Willoughby.

There is an old saying: “never say never.” If a proposal for a tower comes through that makes sense and has the support of the local community we will consider it.

Over Seventy-Five Percent of the land in the Township of Langley is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The average in Metro Vancouver is Nineteen percent.  Almost all of the municipalities in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford have multiple towers.

WARD (Independent): Although I am hesitant to give an outright answer, yay or nay on any project without looking at it in full detail, my current position and thoughts on this project is that it it does not comport to the style and character of the surrounding developments. Furthermore, though I am not opposed to Sky Rises, per se, and their eventuality in Langley Township, I do not support them at this time.

ARNASON (Independent): No. I do not support the development of a 45 story high-rise within the context of Willoughby. This is particularly true as there has been no detailed planning to inform such a departure from the current standards and norms for the area. Any consideration of enhanced height must include public engagement, transit projections, density analyses, potential environmental offsets, and traffic congestion studies related to the introduction of such a tall residential structure into the community. Although the Gateway Corridor along 200th Street has been designed for higher buildings given its proximity to the Carvolth Transit Exchange, I do not believe that adequate consideration has been given as to how such a structure would fit into the over-all plan which has been adopted by Council and relied upon by the community. Going forward, endorsing such a departure would also transgress the principles of a “planned community” and would effectively create a negative example of spot zoning in the area and most likely lead to other development proposals based upon such a precedent being established. If re-elected, I would not support this application but would instead direct staff to update existing plans for the 200th Street Corridor to include new transit opportunities along with potential updates to the existing plan arising from the SkyTrain extension to the Langley’s and the redevelopment of the Willowbrook Neighbourhood Plan.

CHANG (Independent): I am not opposed to high rises in general. Growing “up” is often more efficient than growing “out”. However, the Township MUST ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place to manage the increased traffic

PRATT (Independent): Adjacent to high-frequency, reliable, and accessible public transit, high rises are appropriate. 200th Street is currently a car sewer, and until we are able to build rapid-transit of some kind (which is possible within 5 years), it will remain as such as long as we keep increasing the density above-and-beyond the community plan. That being said, the Latimer and Carvolth areas are appropriate in the long-term for high rises, as well as Willowbrook. However, applications need to be treated equally, and this goes for all types of projects, whether they are single-family, townhouses, or towers. This is especially true when there is a plan already approved and in place. We cannot have some applications be treated as special and move through the planning process in 3 months while others take years. We should aspire for all applications to be processed efficiently, but without special favours being made.

MORAES (Independent): If building that high is approved, we need to train our firefighters for those heights as well as outfit trucks with ladders to reach those heights. I personally opposed but if we must go higher, 200th is the best place to do that with 4 lane traffic already in place.I

CONTRACT WITH LANGLEY (Group Response): 45 stories is completely out of scale for were Langley is today. We do not support it.

RESPONDEK (Independent): Any high-rises placed must match the environment they are in as well as proposed plans for the surrounding area. The last thing we want is an eye-sore high-rise sticking out of an area where no other high-rises are. (I won’t mention the city that has this already). High Rises should all be planned for in one dense area, away from the low-rises, townhomes and rowhomes. A cluster in a designated area specifically designed for high rise living would be more appropriate.

RICHTER (Independent): NO. 45-storey towers consisting of 500 square foot boxes are NOT livable in any sense of the word. New development in Langley Township needs to be human-scaled first and foremost.

And then there is the whole question of infrastructure to properly support it which clearly should include adequate fire protection.

TOWNSLEY (Independent): I think that before we consider more high rises, that we need to ensure that we have fire service equipped, trained and ready to respond to high rise fires. I would not necessarily have an issue with high rises as they can provide housing for seniors downsizing and wishing to stay in the community they live in.

I would like to see a combination of mixed use space on the ground level and affordable units for rentors or those entering the housing market. I also believe that the space needs to “fit” into a neighbourhood. Highrises bordering single family housing does not make sense for aesthetics within a neighbourhood. I also believe in making certain that there is appropriate and accessible greenspace with any development.

SUARÉZ RUBIO (Independent): Progress is an important part of who we want to be, or who we don’t want to be. I am not imposing my will on it. The ear of the leader resounds with the voice of the people said Woodrow Wilson. And I stick to it. I personally care more about history and heritage when it comes to rural canada, rather than becoming greedy, selfish and ambitious. Specially because I love Fort Langley and Willougby the way it is; but my past experience living in Toronto and Victoria, also incite me to love high rises buildings.

POITRAS (Independent): I would like to be clear that I would not support the current application for the 45 story tower. I think before we move forward with more towers that we have to have the fire support in place. Currently we have 18 firefighters on a shift. NFPA 1710 guideline states that for fires in high-rise buildings at least 7 stories tall that the initial response should be 43 firefighters. This gap concerns me. However I am not against towers that are approved through proper channels so all stake holders are aware and we can confirm with our public safety it can feasibly be supported should there be an emergency.

DARNELL (Independent): I have heard that this 45-storey Tower may well be off the table as this developer does no wish to move forward at this time. The controversy that surrounds this type of development in this area and could also arise in the future in other areas, has to be carefully considered to ensure that if and when such a tower comes to Langley it will be in the right place and at aht right time or not at all.

JOEHL (Independent): I do believe that the 45-store tower is appropriate.

VAN POPTA (Contract with Langley): I believe in densification along our corridors where transit is accessible and infrastructure “should” be in place. I also believe in all developers following the same process and not be jumping the queue, unlike the 45 story tower in question.

KUNST (Independent): Towers of have been approved in Willoughby as this area is zoned for higher density and close to transit corridors, it also allows for more housing options for people living in the TOL. But we are not ready to contemplate 45 story towers and as we go forward should revisit the corridor plan with public consultation, taking into account resident’s concerns. We need to focusing on building badly needed infrastructure to accommodate the residents who already live there.

Do you believe in a more economically and environmentally sustainable Langley? Do you believe in the work being done here? Do you want to support the work of Better Langley?

If so, please considering donating!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s