The Township of Langley website identifies the Murrayville area as the municipality’s “traditional civic core. Murrayville is home to the Langley Memorial Hospital, Langley RCMP Main Detachment, Langley School District offices, W.C. Blair Recreation Centre, and Langley Regional Airport.”
The centre of the original village stands at 216 Street and 48 Avenue. It includes a church (1889) and a former general store that is now a café and bistro. Around this is a modest stock of pre-1930s houses, some converted for commercial uses such as real estate or accounting offices.
Most of the recent commercial development, however, has taken place in strip malls with low-rise office complexes five to eight blocks west of the village centre. The main pedestrian connection to the village is busy with automobile traffic. The neighbourhood plan, dated 1989, declares the Township’s intention “to encourage service commercial uses in locations readily accessible to vehicles.” The plan was completed at a time when the local population was less than 2,000, and it envisioned a maximum population of 9,700. This has nearly been achieved, almost entirely with the new construction of single detached homes and townhomes, with a minimal number of apartment complexes.
Some may question the use of the term “civic core” to describe a set of functions scattered along arterial roads. The school district offices, police headquarters and recreation centre sit on adjacent parking lots, but the hospital is 1.5 kilometres away and the small airport terminal is more than 2 kilometres from the police station. The driving times are generally brief, of course, but I think it take more than this to make an urban core.
My co-tourist Robert Smarz and I lunched at the Murrayville Town Pub. It has a cheerful neighbourhood atmosphere, although the nearby commercial architecture, housing an odd variety of uses including a branch of the Fraser Valley Public Library, is sub-inspiring.