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Total population of Langley neighbourhood could double under new plan

Plans for Williams could see major changes if new direction approved

Langley Township may revise one of its neighbourhood plans, increasing its future density and population to create a walkable mixed-use “high street” area.

At the July 24 council meeting, council considered a report on an update to the Williams Neighbourhood Plan.

Williams is a neighbourhood in north-eastern Willoughby, between Trans Canada Highway to the north and 76th Avenue to the south, and from 212th Street to 216th Street west to east.

The original neighbourhood plan was adopted in October 2018, but earlier this year, the Township council called for staff to look at revising it.

Both plans involve a non-residential area on the north half of the neighbourhood, close to the highway interchange. Originally, this was to include commercial as well as industrial and office areas, but the retail component has now been removed. It will now focus largely on light industrial and warehousing-type uses.

However, the original plan suggested that the southern part of Williams would consist of “a range of lower-density, ground-oriented housing forms that are in close proximity to shopping, employment and amenities.”

It was mostly planned to be single-family housing and townhouses, similar to the older Yorkson neighbourhoods to the west, which began developing in the early 2000s.

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“Rather than predominantly low-density single family uses and some modest ground-oriented rowhouse and townhouse development, the update proposes a mix of lower-density, medium-density and high-density forms of residential development, as well as mixed-use commercial/residential development forms,” the report to Township council says.

The new plan would be centered around a pedestrian-oriented “high street” with apartments above restaurants, pubs, retail shops, and other local services on the ground level.

The high street is proposed for the northern portion of 214th Street and part of 79th Avenue.

Senior long range planner Russell Nelson explained that the highest housing density, of up to six-storeys, will be around that central area, stepping down street by street from there.

Next, there would be four-storey condos, then three- and four-storey courtyard stacked townhouses, to duplexes and compact single-family homes on 76th Avenue.

A system of parks, trails and greenways are also planned, along with a new site hosting a middle school, elementary school, and park.

Nelson said the 2018 plan would have resulted in about 1,470 homes and about 4,600 people living in the Williams area.

“This new plan has just shy of 5,800 dwelling units,” he said.

That would raise the total population, once the area is fully developed, to “just shy” of 11,000 people, more than double the previous plan’s total.

Mayor Eric Woodward noted that the directive given to staff was to create a mixed-use walkable node in the centre of the plan.

He also mentioned the significant shortage of both housing in general, and rental stock in particular, in the region.

The new plan came with new Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) guidelines, and Councillor Michael Pratt noted that developers would pay more for apartment units than for single family homes.

“The goal here is not to create a lottery win for land speculators, the goal is to create a better neighbourhood,” said Woodward.

Nelson said the higher rates are to “capture” some of the increase in land value the Township is creating by increasing the density in those areas.

After public hearing and consultation in the fall, the project is likely to come back to the council for a third reading by around November.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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