British Columbia

Fort Langley development standoff leads to not-so-quaint boarded-up buildings

Local developer withdraws development plans for the historic town citing 'onerous' heritage zoning demands

Local developer halts major project in historic town because of 'onerous' heritage zoning demands

Visitors stroll past one of the many recently boarded-up buildings on Fort Langley's main strip. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

As the birthplace of B.C., Fort Langley offers thousands of visitors who flock there each year a quaint trip back in time.  

But now a dispute between the Township of Langley and a local developer means a distinct feel of decline is threatening the heritage charm of the area. 

A number of buildings on the main drag were boarded up last month. The buildings' owner, Eric Woodward, says "onerous" requirements imposed by the township have forced him to sideline development plans that have been in the works for years.

Developer Eric Woodward said he has withdrawn all development applications in Fort Langley. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

 "There's no economics basis to proceed based upon the conditions they've been putting upon us," said Woodward.

"Currently, there's no development applications pending for any of our sites in Fort Langley. They've all been withdrawn."

Mayor Jack Froese admits the buildings have become an eyesore, but says heritage preservation development guidelines are in place to preserve the very thing that makes Fort Langley special.

"There's facade guidelines, design guidelines, there's height guidelines," said Froese. "It allows council that opportunity to ensure that what is planned is consistent with our vision for Fort Langley."

Fort Langley business owners are worried the boarded-up buildings will damage the appeal of the area. (Jon Hernadez/CBC)

Woodward's original plans included building a boutique hotel, new shops and residences that would have required numerous variances from the township. 

With the busy summer season approaching, local businesses are concerned the boarded-up buildings will drag down the area.

"These buildings across the street from me... that visitors keep asking about, I hope the township says get those down," said antique shop owner Shirley Remple.

"It's not good for business."