As a writer, photographer and Langley homeowner, I find the nomenclature of planning for the future growth of our small town to be rather alarming. Take the word “densification,” for example. What images does that evoke in the minds and hearts of Langley residents? Urbanization and high-rise buildings are what occur to me! I sure hope that is not what’s in store for Langley. I, for one, have chosen this natural jewel of a place as my home for the past 22 years because of its spacious beauty and the welcoming warmth of the residents here. Over the years, Langley has grown slowly and steadily enough to sustain the depth and breadth of its essence along with the expansion of its population. And, in my opinion it has done so because of the creative quality of the people who live and work in Langley.
So, why the sudden push for densification of Langley? The state Growth Management Act and the county plan say that Langley needs to accommodate another 90 residents within the next 20 years. I hope it’s possible to do so without sacrificing the rural character of our town.
As I imagine planning for Langley’s future growth, two metaphors come to mind. One is from the recent fog and how to drive through it safely: Move slowly and be very careful with each choice we make along the way. The other is from a favorite Joni Mitchell song about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.
“They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone?”
We must remember that densification is not only about creating more housing, it’s also about creating a lot more places for people to park. Let’s honor the creative spirit of our town and find ways to continue growing while also preserving the land and natural habitat we have been so richly gifted with.