Back when Eddy’s was still in downtown Langley, there was a print showing a car parked outside Mike’s Place with a bumper sticker reading “Keep Langley the Way It Was When I Got Here.” While listening in on the city council meeting last week, there was a resounding sentiment from people speaking out against the fairgrounds housing project: People want Langley to stay the same way it was from what they remember.
I moved to the island in 2013 and to Langley in 2016. In that short time, I’ve seen numerous businesses come and go, neighborhood changes, and shopfront facelifts. The nature of all things is change. It’s not always favorable, but it is inevitable.
I work full-time in Langley, as does my husband. We are child-free and our jobs are ones we’ve held for many years. That being said, even in our dual-income-no-kids household, we are very, very lucky to own our home. We do not live extravagantly nor do we take lavish trips overseas, yet we do not bring home six figures a year — not even close. The cost of everything is rising, but housing is astronomical. Even scouring Drew’s List we can see rentals going from $2,500-3,000 a month, not including utilities, yet many job listings begin at $18 an hour, most of which are not even full-time. I mentioned both Eddy’s and Mike’s Place, neither of which is still open. Neither is Dancing Colors, Sassy Siren or Brackenwood Gallery, all of which were here when I first came to Langley.
What this tells me is that there is a demand for people of working age to work in Langley so that businesses can remain open. However, that doesn’t mean the population of Langley wants us to live in Langley. People are asking “Why the fairgrounds? Build it anywhere except the fairgrounds. I want it to stay the way it was when I was a kid!” Where else can these housing communities go, I ask?
It seems anywhere that is suggested, people are in an uproar about a changing facade. If we work in Langley but can’t afford to live here, where is the motivation to continue to work in a community that does not value its workers enough to have affordable housing options?
I’m aware that a large part of our community is affluent and/or retired. The reality of Langley is many people who have lived here for decades, were able to purchase a home for the price of what we make in a year, if even that. Back in the days when a summer job could pay tuition for an entire year of university. Taking the bus from Oak Harbor, where housing is only marginally more affordable, to work in Langley isn’t feasible with its current schedule, neither is taking the ferry every day to one’s job.
I can’t help but feel like most Langleyites want the convenience of the workforce but do not necessarily want us to be their neighbor. This is extremely disheartening as a major reason why I fell in love with Langley was its deep sense of community and support. I’m not entirely sure where this shift occurred, but it is apparent now more than ever.