Jan 8/08: A Large Langley Township-owned Lot
Subdivided and Sold Off Secretly ...
A large Township property has been in the hands of a private owner
since May, but locals are just now learning about the swap.
"The whole process has been wrong, right from the start," said Larri
Woodrow, a director of the Derby Reach Park Association.
The details of the sale have been leaking out in bits and pieces from
Metro Vancouver Parks staff, members of the Langley Environmental
Partners Society, and Township staff and politicians, Woodrow said.
Woodrow, who has hunted and hiked on the vast wooded property in the
Derby Reach area for decades, is disappointed that the land has been
sold in secret.
It includes one of the last of Langley's bogs not developed as a
Mayor Kurt Alberts and Township administrator Mark Bakken confirmed
many of the details on Monday.
The Dickson Pit site has been subdivided, some to be added to Metro
Vancouver's Derby Reach Park and some sold to Thomas Martini for $2
The $2 million includes a $500,000 donation to Metro Vancouver Parks,
said Township Mayor Kurt Alberts.
The remaining $1.5 million will go towards future Township land
Alberts said the deal protects the wetlands on the site, while
securing revenue for the Township.
The 38-hectare site is now three legally distinct areas.
The nine-hectare portion to the east, identified as Lot A on Township
documents, is owned by the Pacific Parklands Foundation, a charity
affiliated with Metro Vancouver Parks.
The foundation will turn the land over to Metro Vancouver in the near
future, but negotiations are still underway.
The western two-thirds of the property is now owned by Martini, but it
is divided, as well.
The eastern portion of 12 hectares has a conservation covenant placed
on it, banning building construction except for educational or
conservation purposes, and banning any dumping of fill or garbage.
The final 17-hectare portion is unencumbered land, and lies directly
to the north of Martini's existing lot, at the north end of 216th
Street, in the 10400 block.
It could theoretically be subdivided into two lots, but no farther,
The entire land deal technically remains in camera, with Township
councillors forbidden to reveal too many details. This is despite the
fact that public documents have been released, including land titles
and maps showing the new disposition of the property.
Alberts said the reason the deal has not been announced, seven months
later, is the negotiation between the Pacific Parklands Foundation and
Metro Vancouver Parks.
The Township had agreed that Metro Vancouver would make the official
announcement about the deal, he said.
The public will eventually see the deal as a win-win-win situation,
Woodrow, who had hoped to see the entire parcel protected as public
land or parkland, is not so certain.
"I think we've lost," Woodrow said.
He noted that rumours of Dickson Pit's sale to the Martini family go
back for more than a year and a half.
The Langley Advance asked in the summer of 2006 whether the property
was for sale to the Martinis or not.
At the time, Bakken said the Township is approached about a purchase
of one of its properties about once a week, and that he couldn't
comment on specific properties.
"Really it's our hope to work with the GVRD [now Metro Vancouver] on
that property to ensure that all or a portion enhances the GVRD park,"
Bakken said at that time, adding that talks were ongoing with the GVRD.
This week, Bakken said the pit itself was still in public hands.
He admitted that not all the land that once went by that name remained
"Dickson Pit actually has not been sold to the Martinis," said Bakken.
The pit itself remains parkland, Bakken said.
"We've been quite consistent that Dickson Pit, or the bog area, is not
going to the Martinis," he said.
The sale was advertised in the Township Page ads which the
municipality runs in all local papers. However, the ad ran the week
before Christmas in 2006, appearing in the Aldergrove Star on Dec. 21.
It did not appear in the Langley Advance at that time.
The Aldergrove Star is not distributed in the neighbourhood
surrounding the property.
Bakken said the legal requirement for the Township is simply to run
the notice in two consecutive editions of a newspaper within the
Alberts said that, if there was a problem with the notification, it
could be looked at.
He said he was not aware of why it might run in one paper but not
"That may be something that we should review," Alberts said.
The Star ad did not give an address for the property, including only a
legal lot description.
The property's common name of Dickson Pit was not included anywhere in
There was no address included, because there is no building on the
property which has an address, Bakken said.
"That has come up in the past," Alberts said.
Woodrow planned to raise the issue of the land sale at the Monday
evening meeting of the Derby Reach Park Association.