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Langley: The Birthplace of BC is the Place to Be

As Metro Vancouvers population continues to shift eastward, in the not so distant future its conceivable that the area just east of the Port Mann Bridge will be at the geographic centre of the Lower Mainland. As far-fetched as that may seem, with development opportunities limited by the ocean to the west, the mountains to the north, and the US border to the south there is really only one direction for Vancouvers population to grow and expand, and thats towards the Fraser Valley. Ready, willing and already able to capitalize on this growth is a town with a rich history that dates back to the mid 1800s, the City of Langley.

Langley is the place where it all began for British Columbia. Back on November 19th, 1858 Governor James Douglas officially declared British Columbia a colony at The Fort Langley National Historic Site. Built on the provinces fur trade the city was named after Thomas Langley who was a Hudson Bay Company director for 30 years from 1800 to 1830. The original Hudsons Bay Company site is still marked with structures, reconstructions and interactive displays while the historic Village of Fort Langley maintains the same quaint architecture that existed 150 years ago.

Today this bustling and energetic municipality of 115,000 people has become an increasingly urbanized centre to compliment its natural heritage sites, equestrian centres and world-class wineries. New restaurants, active night spots, gigantic movie complexes and increased development in recent years have resulted in over 600 shops, big box outlets and specialty stores throughout the community, along with the highest square footage of commercial retail space outside of Vancouver.

But it doesnt end there. From a recreational standpoint, Langley has first-rate facilities for almost any sporting endeavour including soccer, baseball, football, tennis, ice skating, skateboarding, basketball, curling, lawn bowling, lacrosse, gymnastics and beach volleyball. No fewer than 15 pools, parks, recreation centres and rinks are open to the public, including the state-of-the-art 250,000 sq ft Langley Events Centre that opened in June 2009. Home to over 15 sports teams the 5000 seat facility hosts events for hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics and basketball, along with concerts and trade shows throughout the year.

Other notable outdoor activities include fishing, camping and hiking at Derby Reach in Fort Langley, boating and strolling the vast network of trails at Fort Langley Marina Park, walking or running along the Fort to Fort Trail, or kayaking and cycling at Brae Island Regional Park. For golf enthusiasts, you can tee off at one of seven local courses that range from the Par 3 novice course at the Langley Golf Centre to the more challenging 18-hole championship course at Newlands Golf & Country Club or the spectacular Redwoods Golf Course which has been named one of the top 100 courses in Canada.

With four local wineries, Langley has become a well-respected wine destination to go along with the many festivals and cultural events it hosts throughout the year including the International Festival in August and the Cranberry Festival in October. Its also the known as the horse capital of BC with stables that offer trail rides and lessons for everyone from novices to experts as well as a number of top calibre equestrian facilities including Milner Downs Equestrian Centre and one of North Americas premier facilities at Thunderbird Show Park.

From a real estate standpoint, recent statistics from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board show the benchmark price of a detached home in Langley to be $512,000, a townhouse $320,000 and an apartment $243,000. Over the past five years prices have increased more than 25%, and Langley home prices remain significantly below other Greater Vancouver municipalities as the benchmark price of a detached home in Burnaby is $847,000, Richmond ($1.1M), Coquitlam ($708,000), North Vancouver ($923,000) and South Delta ($686,000).

Whether its a visit to the Cascades Casino, a performance at the Summit Theatre or an afternoon of power shopping, Langley offers all the amenities of a large urban centre while managing to retain its small city atmosphere and charm. Add to this the ability to go wine-tasting at a local vineyard, horseback riding at a nearby ranch, or to take a stroll through an orchard and its easy to see why Langley isnt just another growing community, its the place to be.