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
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
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