While keeping its rural character, the bigger Langley has built a diversified economy with an eye to providing jobs for local residents
There’s no doubt what’s driving the population boom in Langley: soaring housing costs rippling outward from Vancouver are pushing homebuyers to more-affordable parts of the Fraser Valley. For example, a benchmark house in Langley costs two-thirds the price of one in East Vancouver. The Township of Langley saw its population rise by 7.8 percent from 2012 through 2017, making it one of B.C.’s fastest-growing communities.
There are actually two Langleys: the larger, more rural township, and the 10-square-kilometre City of Langley, which removed itself from the former in 1955. It would be easy for Langley Township to become a vast bedroom community. Its 23,000 hectares of undeveloped land, just 40 kilometres from downtown Vancouver, tantalize builders. Recent transportation upgrades have encouraged commuting: the Golden Ears Bridge opened in 2009, and the Trans-Canada Highway expansion and new Port Mann Bridge were completed in 2012. The provincial government removed tolls from both last year.
The township—three-quarters of which sits in the Agricultural Land Reserve—is taking steps to avoid that fate. Residential, commercial and industrial development is mostly kept near the western border with Surrey. Agriculture has been a staple of the economy since the 1800s. Local farms and greenhouses produce chickens, eggs, mushrooms, berries and more, totalling $340 million in receipts in 2015. Today, though, the sector accounts for just over 3 percent of jobs as other industries have overtaken it.
Retail, construction and health care have become the top employers as more people arrive to live and shop. Most construction has been new homes, but over the past 15 years, Langley Township has issued building permits for $372 million in industrial developments. The district, whose industrial expansion has outpaced that of Vancouver and Surrey, is encouraging job growth that keeps residents working closer
To that end, it wants to export products rather than commuters. Manufacturing, wholesale trade, and warehousing and distribution have become staple industries by capitalizing on Langley’s lower land costs, central location and transportation infrastructure. Importers and exporters have direct access to the Trans-Canada and the U.S. border, plus a road and rail network with quick connections to Vancouver’s port and airport.
The township envisions a knowledge-based service sector that will outpace goods production. Tourism, long anchored by the Fort Langley National Historic Site, is poised for dynamic growth. Fittingly, the township’s agricultural heritage will play a big role as its vineyards, dairies and berry farms cater to a burgeoning agri-tourism industry. The farm-to-table movement and consumers’ taste for authentic, natural foods are making what’s old new again.
Household age (0-45, 45-64, 64+): 32.5%, 43%, 24.5%
University grads: 20.1%
Average household income: $116,720
Average household income under 45: $115,711
Five-year income growth, 2012-17: 13.7%
Five-year population growth: 7.8%
Benchmark detached home price: $1,028,200
Benchmark condominium price: $424,300
Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom: $1,340
Average annual household spending on shelter: $26,851
Key industries: Construction; retail; manufacturing; wholesale trade; warehousing and distribution; agriculture; health care and social services
Notable employers: Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.; Fraser Health Authority; Overwaitea Food Group; School District 35
Regional unemployment: 4% (February)
Total value of building permits issued in 2017: $509,600,000
Change from 2016: 22.6%
Cost of a business licence: $127.50-$5,000
Average processing time for a building permit: 6-16 weeks
Business property tax rate: $15.17 per $1,000 of assessed value
Average office lease rate per sq. ft./year: $17.84
Average retail lease rate: $14-$40
QUALITY OF LIFE
Major post-secondary institutions: Trinity Western University
Major recreational amenities: Langley Events Centre; seven recreation and community centres, 138 sports fields; almost 1,900 acres of green space; five skating rinks; five skateboard parks; disc golf park; boat launch; hiking, cycling and horse-riding trails
Key annual events: Fort Langley May Day Fair and Parade; Brigade Days; Fort Langley Food Truck Festival; Langley Good Times Cruise-in; Fort Langley Cranberry Festival; Fraser Valley Wine Festival
Average annual household spending on recreation: $6,088
Residents who walk or bike to work: 2.3%