Phillip Milligan

Big rig truck park unlikely to go ahead: Township council

Councillors had ‘active discussion’ about controversial proposal at meeting with Surrey counterparts

The odds are against a controversial proposal to build a 77-acre truck park on 16 Avenue at the Surrey-Langley border, based on what members of Surrey council have told their Langley Township counterparts.

“It  may not even get to council,” Langley mayor Jack Froese said following a dinner meeting of the two councils in late October.

Froese said there was “quite an active discussion” at the informal session with Surrey council about the notion of a heavy truck facility in the area south of 16 Avenue near 192 Street.

Froese said he was told that the truck park proposal might not even make it to Surrey council because of the various regulatory hurdles it would have to clear.

“They (project proponents) have a long road to go,” Froese said.

At the meeting, councillor Bob Long said Surrey mayor Linda Hepner promised as a “good neighbour” to keep Langley Township updated.

Opponents of the proposal have warned the truck park could damage the nearby Little Campbell River, a salmon and trout spawning area.

Brian Coote, of Friends of Hazelmere Campbell Valley told an Oct. 19 meeting of Township council that the truck park could contaminate Brookswood groundwater and called on Langley to formally oppose the proposal.

Another critic, Sofi Hindmarch, told the same meeting the parking facility is in an ecologically sensitive area where at least 13 and as many as 22 threatened species live.

Councillor Kim Richter proposed a council vote to condemn the project, but agreed to a postponement in light of the discussion with Surrey.

Richter said her take on the dinner meeting is that Surrey councillors view big rig parking as a major issue that needs to be resolved, and they consider it a regional problem that the provincial government should address.

Details of the meeting with Surrey were revealed during debate at the Nov. 2 evening meeting of Township council, which voted to put off taking a position on the project until there is a detailed plan to look at, assuming the proposal ever gets to that stage.

“This isn’t the time for this (a vote on formal opposition to the proposed facility),” mayor Froese said.

“I don’t think a motion to oppose something we haven’t seen is a good idea,” councillor Angie Quaale said.

Council did vote to have Township staff communicate with their Surrey counterparts about the proposal.

The idea first surfaced at Surrey council during discussion of industrial development in the South Campbell Heights area.

It came from Surrey Councillor Tom Gill, who said with an estimated 1,300 big rigs parking illegally throughout the city, something needs to be done to find parking spaces.

The truck park would allow truckers to wash their rigs, change oil and tires, and would include washroom facilities.

Gill said he would insist on the highest environmental standards so there would be no impact on the Little Campbell River.

Phillip Milligan, president of the Little Campbell Watershed Society, said the Little Campbell River is an important salmon spawning area, home to spring, coho and chum salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout.

“The Little Campbell, believe it or not, is one of the most productive steelhead rivers in the Lower Mainland,” Milligan said.

Because it’s a relatively small river, any pollutants entering the water could be devastating for the fish population, he said.

“How do they keep the effluent, all the chemicals, all the brake fluids, the antifreeze — how to they keep all of the oils out of the river?”

The development plan would have to undergo a public hearing before it could come to council for approval.

– files from Kevin Diakiw, Black Press

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