The site of the soon-to-close Willowbrook White Spot in is slated for redevelopment as one of the stops on the planned Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension.
Just a stone’s throw away, on Willowbrook Drive, two applications have been submitted to the municipality for a cluster of seven towers ranging from 28 to 44 storeys in height.
The idea has community advocate Brad Richert concerned.
“I want to see exciting change, I just don’t know whether skyscrapers in the suburbs are the right fit,” he told Global News.
“It’s great to have this much housing near SkyTrain, we do need that, but we’re assuming these people are going to be working and living here in Langley and using the infrastructure here, and I don’t know if we are totally prepared for that yet, whether that’s firefighting or the school system.”
Richart said he’s particularly concerned about the traffic the towers could generate.
While many people might use the SkyTrain to commute to work, he believes the estimated 2,500 new residents the towers would bring could overwhelm the road network in the area.
“We have a habit in the Township of Langley of putting urban type density on a suburban network, on suburban streets. So we have a lot of arterial roads that get congested,” he said.
Township Mayor Eric Woodward said the applications could come before council next year, but said any proposals would likely be years away from execution.
Woodward said the city is gearing up to develop a new Willowbrook Community Plan, which will take into account the SkyTrain, and that council would need to assess the proposals in the light of that process.
“I believe there’s lots of issues with it that need to be addressed, from maybe the scale, the form and character, some of the traffic issues in the short term,” he said.
“I think its appropriate to really start that Willowbrook community plan update along with considering this application and let council have a chance to make that decision about how we are going to look at the Willowbrook area.”
With the municipality projected to grow to as many as 225,000 residents by 2040, Woodward said the proposal raises questions about how fast the community is changing.
He pointed to the province’s new package of housing legislation, which dramatically change the rules around density near transit and, to a lesser extent, in residential areas, as a key concern.
“Council really needs to start to consider are we growing too quickly, along with some of these highrise applications, to have the province step up and build the schools we need, build expansions on Highway 10, finish the Highway 1 corridor along with transit, so that we have a range of transportation and goods movement options,” he said.
“We have to really consider the growth, making sure the province is a true partner with us.”
The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension from King George Station to Langley City Centre is slated to be completed by 2028.