The City of Langley, commonly referred to as Langley City, is a municipality in the Metro Vancouver Regional District. It lies directly east of the City of Surrey, adjacent to the Cloverdale area, and is surrounded on the north, east and south by the Township of Langley.
Early European settlement in the area was known as “Innes Corners” (after homesteader Adam Innes); in 1911, the area became known as “Langley Prairie”, part of the Township of Langley a.k.a. Langley Township since 1873. Twentieth-century improvements in transportation access, including the construction of the British Columbia Electric Railway in 1910, Fraser Highway in the 1920s, and Pattullo Bridge in 1937, profoundly impacted the area, transforming it from rural into the main urban and commercial core of the Township. In turn, this birthed the need for upgraded and new amenities, especially with respect to health, infrastructure, safety and sanitation.
The municipal government, however, refused to finance these projects as it bowed, instead, to politically influential farming communities and smaller, mostly rural, business centres, like Fort Langley, Milner and Murrayville, that viewed such spending as unnecessary. Talk of secession began in Langley Prairie in the 1930s, as a result. Headed by a panel of important residents and businesspersons, including Richard Langdon, president of the Langley Board of Trade, the push for independence came to a head in the 1950s.
Specifically, two issues decided Langley’s future. Street lights, which Langley Prairie argued were not only needed for safety but also progress, but on which reeve George Brooks declared “not a nickel” would be spent. As well, Langley Prairie’s belief that it did not have the political sway or its fair share of municipal services that it deserved relative to its local tax contribution. Langley Prairie by now constituted 20% of the Township’s tax base. A referendum on secession was therefore held in September, 1954. It passed with over 85% of the vote. Langley Prairie officially seceded and became the City of Langley on March 15, 1955.