Friday, 20 July 2012


Good evening.

 My name is Hilary Ruffini.I have lived in the area for 38 years.

 I’m here to ask council to defer any sale of these lands until all environmental issues for the area have been addressed by some holistic and public plan. The taxpayers of Langley are custodians of some very diverse areas and via the Council of the day, commissioned an expert survey and advice in the form of the Westwater Research Centre Environmental Study, which had major public input, and from the O’Connor Associates Township gravel site survey.
        1. The Fraser River Action Plan, 1999, identifies West Creek and Palmateer Creek – which includes East and Williams Creeks – as “Endangered” with heavy irrigation use and water quality problems defined. It makes recommendations for Municipal management which includes several forms of protection that affect the “Mclellan” aquifer.
         2. The Westwater study identifies this whole area as highly environmentally sensitive. Its recommendations for the conifer forest (#47) are – thankfully – now taken care of but the first one was:       
               a. Maintain existing forested vegetation to protect local aquifer recharge and minimize pollution.

       Recommendations for the aquifer (#48) include:
                            a. Control or minimize residential development using septic disposal systems in order to protect groundwater quality.
                            b. Maintain existing forested vegetation to protect the aquifer.
                            c. Improve farm management practices that would affect the aquifer.
                            d. Prevent water quality deterioration since the aquifer provides local water supply for West and East Creeks.

The Gravel report made these recommendations:

               The conifer site should not be used.
               For the old Gray Pit, used for municipal waste disposal, it suggests that, because of potential environmental liabilities the Township might find it beneficial to cease operations and consider rehabilitation of the site. It borders the non ALR properties still up for sale.
     In every way the sale of these lands seems to flout these commissioned recommendations that, reasonably, we expect to be taken into serious consideration.

All the properties sit squarely atop the aquifer and have been put up for sale with no apparent restrictions as to environmental use. There will be 5 septic systems, 5 domestic wells, every property will have extensive tree removal and ground disturbance simply to access and live there. If, as is likely, there is some form of farming on them, there will be added water and pollution pressure in an environmentally sensitive area four blocks from the Fraser River. There needs to be environmental guidelines in place before any sale.

 It has been a scramble for residents to find the existing documentation to support this request, which would not have been necessary if a proper plan had been disclosed by the Township using a publicly explained planning process and taking into account the recommendations.

 There has been an unfortunate breakdown in communications between the Township and residents impacted by this sale. A newspaper notification was not enough – especially when, at the last council meeting, I heard how many letters were mailed out in connection with other permits, how landscape and tree concerns were addressed in other planning processes. I still fail to understand why residents of the Glen Valley area were not afforded the same courtesy. Much angst could have been avoided with a little more communication.

Regarding whether the conifer forest was every designated as park, I’ll mention this. In the mid 70’s I explored our new area on foot using a map obtained at the municipal hall. It clearly marked this area as Park Reserve. Not seeing a park sign and not wanting to trespass I checked with a senior pioneer family member who told me that it had been deeded to the Township for park use. We understand that was not officially the case.

The conifer forest, which is the most visible concern, is unique and has grown to its vigorous arboreal teenage years as an intact ecosystem, strong enough to repel all invasive species that plague other more managed wetlands and parks. 90 years of wonderful neglect since Mary Steel Crawford bought the westernmost edges in 1922 has produced this. Destroy or disturb it and you will never be able to replace it. It doesn’t need any form of development – it could do with another 90 years of doing what it is obviously doing well just by itself - and nobody has even mentioned its possible historical significance in terms of Langley farming and pioneer era.

I will finish with one quote from the ESA report that is applicable to all areas of Township planning, especially in this highly scenic area. It is referring to scenic values but you could easily substitute environmental.

“It must be realized that the loss of any benefits conferred by vegetation and wetlands represent a real cost to society. If scenic quality in the Township is lost, the long-term economic loss to the Township may not be easily measurable, but it will occur.”

Respectfully submitted: Hilary Ruffini

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