The “South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor” (Interurban) Connects ALL Cities, Towns, Municipalities and Communities South of the Fraser…. Just look at the reason and rationale for our argument – Economic – Jobs – Community / Commuter access and growth – Environment and Financial responsibility (Costs per KM and Costs per Capita!). In my previous two BLOG Posts I covered the issues above from a 30,000 foot level. Now for some very real comparisons of the options….

Translink’s 10 year Plan calls for Light Rail Transit down the Fraser Highway Corridor to Langley City. WHY? It is nothing short of a short sighted parochial view that is Surrey central centric. It lacks any regional responsibility and recognition, we want to change that thinking! We have three very viable engineering reports to support our option!

I served on the Mayor’s Translink Council from 2008 – 2011 and participated on many debates with the members of the day about Metro Vancouver issues, needs and demands. I am not blaming members of that body as they are serving the population of Metro. (Up to the Eastern border of the Township of Langley – 276th Street) For starters we have to change that thinking as our regional needs for transportation goes beyond Metro Vancouver and INCLUDES the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Housing price escalation has dramatically forced thousands to move further east up the valley. Their transportation needs are looked after for the most part by BC Transit and regional needs by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). Is this why the transportation needs of half of the Township of Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack are not being responded to?

The West Coast Express catchment area serves a population north of the river that is 31% that of South of the Fraser. In that case it covers both the FVRD and Metro Vancouver. For the record, as mentioned in an earlier BLOG Post, Translink (West Coast Express) pays CP Rail $20 MILLION PER YEAR for the use of it’s rail line annually. That’s correct $20,000,000…. Per-year for 5 trains a day each way, PLUS Capital and Operational costs. What are they, so far they have been hidden so we have submitted an FOI request! Stay tuned for the results!

So, back to the issue at hand. The proponents of the Fraser Highway option would like everyone to forget or more appropriately ignore the cost and the tragic environmental impact (large amount of clear cutting which would be unavoidable) of the Green Timbers Urban Forest. What have we heard just lately? In the heat of an election campaign they are saying are second-class-citizens having to accept LRT and not Skytrain? That’s Skytrain and not LRT DOWN THE FRASER HIGHWAY. What? Are you kidding me, what part of the world are they living in? Since when is it their turn and right to be irresponsible with our tax dollars? What possible rationale argument can be made to support the Fraser Highway option that is responsible? I believe the following answers that question!

If you read my earlier BLOG Post we touched on the cost issue. Obviously however, the impetus to that cost escalation for Phase 2 (Surrey LRT – 104th as well as King George Blvd.) was land speculation that fed land acquisition inflation costs as admitted by the Translink CFO in a public oral statement. Extrapolating that inflation factor we have projected the total cost of Phase 3, Fraser Highway to Langley City (16.6Kms) to be an estimated cost just shy of $4,000,000,000 (that is $4 BILLION) as compared to the FREE USE of a 99Km passenger corridor, protected by a previous Provincial Government for passenger service. To be clear that is 4,000 – $1,000,000,000.

Looking at the benefits of the South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor the Fraser Highway option can be nothing more than a land deal. If approved we will all pay with our tax dollars!

This corridor sits a short 5 kms south of the Fraser Highway option, right thru the town/community of Newton! The state of the art reactivation of the South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail cost would be $1,200,000,000., as stated we have three engineering studies to support our position. FYI – Newton was created by the BC Electric Railway going through that community on or about 1910.  

I was very pleased to see one of our region’s premier columnists (Vaughn Palmer) with the Vancouver Sun broach the subject of cost escalation on our just announced transit projects, questioning how these costs have escalated to such an extreme level. (Van. Sun update Sept. 5th 2018) (Van. Sun update Sept. 6th 2018) These are questions that are long overdue being asked, so a well done to Vaughn Palmer! It would be worth everyone’s time to view these two columns. Now where are the answers he has asked for?

So lets lay out the expansion of Transit and their costs. We will start at the beginning with the EXPO Skytrain line circa 1986!

Expo Line – 1986

21.4 Kms – Length of the original Expo Line

$854 Million – Final project cost (1986 Dollars)

$39.90 Million – Per Km Cost                           

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

Included bridging

Millenium Line Extension – 2002

31.2 Kms – Length of the Millenium Line

$1.2 Billion – Final Project cost (2002 Dollars)

$38.46 Million – Per Km cost                                                            

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

Canada Line – November 30th, 2009

19.2 Kms – Length of Canada Line                                   

$2.1 Billion – Final Project Costs (2009 Dollars)

$110 Million – Per Km cost               

Included bridging

Included cut and cover tunnels

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

Evergreen Line – December 2nd, 2016

10.9 Kms – Length of Evergreen Line             

$1.43 Billion – Final Project Cost (2016 Dollars)

$131.19 Million – Per Km cost                                         

Included extensive tunneling

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

When viewing the proposed projects in terms of value for money it is relevant to compare to past projects and ask the questions that are obvious, what are the reasons for the dramatic escalation in project costs. As I have stated, the above costs are in the dollars of the year indicated and the projects have a varying number of differences with respect to tunneling, bridging, cut and cover and elevated guideways and stations. For the purpose of our discussion and comparison, all of that makes the costing of Surrey LRT that much more remarkable. WHY?

Now lets look at the recently approved Transit Projects, the distance and the cost for Surrey LRT and the Broadway subway corridor. Remember this is only Light Surface Rail with obviously surface stations.

IMPORTANT NOTE RE COSTS: The following costs were identified in 2016 (dramatically increased over 2012 and 2015 estimates), costs are expected to increase dramatically over the following 2016 estimates due primarily to land costs as per statements from Translink. We are using their numbers!                                           

Surrey LRT

10.5 Kms – Length of Surrey Newton / Guildford Line

$1,080,000,000 (BILLION$) – 2015 Estimated Cost Project Cost

$570,000,000 (Millions) – Project cost escalation in 3 years primarily due to land speculation.                       

$1,650,000,000. (BILLION$) – April 30th, 2018 final projected cost estimate.

$157,142,857. – (Millions) Cost per KM                        

NOTE – Significant Land cost per translink.

                                   

Broadway Millenium Line extension to Arbutus

5.8 Kms – Length of Broadway project

$2,830,000,000. (BILLION$) – April 30th 2018 final projected cost estimate

$487,931,034. – (Millions) Cost per KM

 

Projected Phase 3 – Surrey Center to Langley City LRT

16.6 Kms – Length of line Surrey Center to Langley City

$2,608,571,426. (BILLION$) – 2016 Estimated project cost based on Surrey Newton / Guildford.                                 

$157,142,857. – (Millions) Cost per KM

$3,900,000,000. (BILLION$) – 2024 Estimated project cost based on Sur. Newton/ Guild. Cost Escalation

$234,939,759. – (Millions) 2024 Estimated cost per KM based on land speculation of Surrey LRT.

2 KMs through ALR (No population / Fry’s Corner section)

NOTE – Significant Land cost per Translink

 

“OUR PROPOSAL – The Benefits”

Comparing the South of Fraser passenger Rail Corridor vs Fraser Highway Option

99.23 Kms – Length of South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

16.6 Kms – Fraser Highway LRT

 

$1,240,375,000. – Estimated Project Cost of South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor (All In – 2023 Dollars)

$3,900,000,000. – Estimated Project Cost of Fraser Highway LRT (2023 Dollars)

 

$12,500,000 – Estimated Cost per KM of South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

$234,939,759. – Estimated Cost per Km of Fraser Highway LRT

 

Land Cost – Free on South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

Land Cost – High on Fraser Highway LRT

 

Universities / Post-Secondary Institutions served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 14

Universities / Post-Secondary Institutions served – Fraser Highway LRT 3

 

Communities / Towns / Municipalities served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 16

Communities / Towns / Municipalities served – Fraser Highway LRT 4

 

Population Served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 1,200,000

Population served – Fraser Highway LRT 80,000

 

First Nation Communities served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 4

First Nation Communities served – Fraser Highway LRT 0

 

Serves the Abbotsford International Airport

(1,000,000 passengers in 2019) – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES  

Serves the Abbotsford International Airport

(1,000,000 passengers in 2019) – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Services Tourism and Agri-tourism – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES

Services Tourism and Agri-tourism  – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Services Campbell Heights and Gloucester Industrial Parks – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES   

Services Campbell Heights and Gloucester Industrial Parks – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Dramatic intrusion into Green Timbers Urban ForestSouth of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor NO 

Dramatic intrusion into Green Timbers Urban Forest – Fraser Highway LRT YES

 

Remove cars from Highway #1South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES

Remove cars from Highway #1 – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Protect Environment & Fraser Valley Air ShedSouth of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES 

Protect Environment & Fraser Valley Air Shed – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

7.9% the cost per KM of Sur. to Lang. LRT

20.23% of the cost per capita of Sur. LRT”

 

Per Capita Servicing Costs Based on Catchment Areas

Approved Surrey LRT

300,910 – The Population of Surrey Newton / Whalley / Guildford

$1,650,000,000 – The April 30th 2018 estimated project cost.

$5,483 – Cost per Capita

 

Projected Phase 3 – Surrey Center to Langley City LRT (Estimate based on Surrey LRT costs)

510,698 – The Population of Langley City / Willoughby / Clayton / Brookswood, Murrayville & Surrey less S. Surrey. 

$2,608,571,426 – The April 30th 2018 estimated cost using Surrey LRT numbers.

$5,107.85 – Cost per capita (Based on todays cost)

$7,636.61 – Cost per capita (Based on anticipated costs 2024) 

 

“Our Proposal”

State of the Art South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

1,200,000 – The Population of the area Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack

$1,240,375,000. – The project cost based on 2010 Leewood projected cost plus inflation.

$1,033.64 – The “Cost per capita!”

 

By any measure, the South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail Corridor is head and shoulders superior to the Fraser Highway Corridor!

Value for money!

Service for Transportation dollar spent!

Fiscally / Financially responsible!

Protection of the Environment!

Job Development and growth and access!

Economic Impact for the region!

Fraser Valley Community Growth and Development!

Reduction of cars from all east west roads in the valley easing movement!

Ease of commuter movement!

 

Summary:

As they say “It is Priceless” – A very short story. In 2009 / 10 a gentleman named Tom Prendergast was the President and CEO of Translink, as some will remember. As a member of the Translink Council I invited Tom out to our Boardroom so we could make a presentation to him and his team on what we had available to us in the region. (Tom came to us from the US East Coast.) I told him that I thought that we had something particularly unique but he informed me that there were literally thousands of these corridors throughout North America. For the most part they were all abandoned in and around 1950 with the advent of the car and our highways. The thought of the day was they wanted to sell off these corridors so as to not have competition years down the road. What is of interest though AND VERY UNIQUE (in his words) according to Tom Prendergast was the vision of a Provincial Government of the day that didn’t sell it off but protected it for future passenger use. Tom was interested at the time to initiate a demonstration line, unfortunately Tom was sought after by the New York Transit Commission for the position of President and CEO and left about 4 months later. He ended heading up the world’s largest Public Transit authority in the world. The Municipal led South of Fraser Passenger Rail Task Force which I formed with Councilors from Delta, White Rock, Surrey, Langley City, Township of Langley and Abbotsford, was not renewed by Jack Froese, the current Mayor of the Township of Langley. Why, is the question? Was it pressure from the likes of Peter Fassbender and Rich Coleman? Just asking! Past reputations are hard to hide from, just saying!

It is our goal through Translink, BC Transit and the Provincial Government to form a Provincially endorsed, community led South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail Task Force. This task force would hold community meetings from Kennedy Heights in Delta up to Chilliwack to determine community support for such an initiative. This would be a very timely community process (before any firm decision or commitments are made for Phase 3) to establish the issues, needs and interest of the 1,200,000 residents that would be affected. More to come, stay tuned!

To the question on which option to choose, we are prepared to leave that up to the recommendations of a South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force that would consider ALL Options and present independent advice to Translink and the B.C. Government. Obviously our opinion is to Say NO to the Fraser Highway option and YES to open up the Fraser Valley Transportation corridor out to Chilliwack. We have made our case and will be making it further over the next number of months. Implementation and activation would be fast, it would be state of the art and it would provide economic stimulus throughout the valley, it would help feed 14 University Campuses, reduce the number of vehicles commuting and solve the environmental issues in the valley. Having said that, we want decisions to be made that are well thought out, and responsible to the region and not just one community.

DO YOU WANT A PRESENTATION OF THIS PLAN? We have started booking presentations starting Sept. 4th and through the fall. If your community association, business association, society, service club or political organization would be interested in a detailed presentation of this initiative our team would be pleased to do so. We have a very detailed presentation including an 8 ft. map, Shaw video documentary and much much more. Our contact information is listed below.

VOLUNTEER – If you are interested in getting involved in our campaign by volunteering please contact us through the email below.

NOTE: This post is only the start of an intensive and extensive campaign for the reactivation of the South of Fraser Community Rail Corridor (Interurban Corridor) from the Pattullo Bridge through to Chilliwack! Much more to come, stay tuned!

Special Note: Our 28 minute Shaw video documentary of this rail line (produced in 2010) is on this BLOG site, click on the “S Fraser Community Rail tab” on the top tool bar to view or the following link – https://langleywatchdog.com/topics/

 

W.R. (Rick) Green

Former Mayor Township of Langley (2008 – 2011)

Home / Office 604 607-7338 – Cell 604 309-7795

Email creeksidefarms@shaw.ca

On behalf of VALTAC – Valley Transportation Advisory Committee Members:

Lee Lockwood, Roy Mufford and Peter Holt

 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

The “Smart and Only Way” To Fiscally, Economically and Environmentally Solve the South of Fraser’s Transportation & Transit Deficit! “Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack”, Tourism, Business or Community – WHAT IS STOPPING US?

A 99 Km State of the Art Community Light Rail Passenger Service from the Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack, that will contribute significantly to  economic growth, create thousands of jobs, serve 1.2 million citizens, Sixteen cities and communities, major industrial parks, Abbotsford International Airport (expect 1,000,000 passengers in 2019), Agri Tourism, FOURTEEN Post-Secondary Institution Campuses and much much more!

All of this on an existing protected rail line at NO COST for use; 99 kms at a TOTAL COST that is 48% of the TOTAL COST of the proposed 16 Km LRT line down Fraser Highway from Surrey Center to Langley City or 20.23% of the per capita cost! Langley City and the community of Clayton would receive the same service and the taxpayer would pay 7.9% of the per-KM cost of Surrey LRT, PLUS serve the ENTIRE Fraser Valley while we are at it!

So to the question of WHY? Why would anyone in elected office or with staff responsibility to recommend or implement a viable option do so that is so fiscally, economically and environmentally IRRESPONSIBLE? Did anyone do their homework? Was or is there an ulterior motive? What about the potential for land deals for friends and insiders? It is a license to print money! I have spent years as an Alderman and a Mayor, I say this with some significant knowledge of how the system works and who gets to be heard, in certain communities. Speculators with inside knowledge have done very well at the public’s (your) expense. Think this isn’t a possibility? Think again! After all, it is all paid for with YOUR tax dollars!

So let’s consider a recent real life example? The just approved Surrey LRT line was estimated in 2015 (publicly) to cost $1.08 Billion, today it has been approved at $1.65 Billion, that is an increase of $570 million (a 53% increase) in a very short three years. Two important points to remember “1” the Translink CFO explained at the announcement that the increase in cost was largely due to an increase in land acquisition cost (surprise) and “2” remember this project has been considered in Surrey for the best part of the last ten years. Was there time for Speculation on land OR Insider info? You bet! Given this example, can you imagine the inflationary cost of property acquisition (by say 2022/24) on the Surrey Center to Langley City line down Fraser Highway? Remember any property acquisition will be paid for through with tax dollars, not the private sector. So the dollars I talk about below are the Surrey LRT numbers of today, using the Surrey Center to Langley line length extrapolated into a proposed cost using today’s dollars. It wouldn’t be out of the question that the per-KM cost could easily grow to $240 Million (Per KM), which cannot happen with this protected Passenger Rail corridor. The corridor is owned by the Provincial Government, B.C. Hydro and protected for passenger use at NO COST by sales contract and agreement.   

We will get to the reasons why we have to start doing what is right for the region, but first some important history. It all started back in 2009 leading up to the general election.

As Mayor in the early Spring of 2009, in the process of researching Township rights related to the heavy rail / Interurban Corridor that passed through our community, I was able to uncover the Master Agreement (previously unknown) covering what is known as the Joint Section (the Pratt Livingston Corridor – roughly 232nd Street thru to Cloverdale). This Master Agreement came about due to the B.C. Government’s sale (1988) of the B.C. Hydro Freight Division, which included rolling stock and rails but NOT the corridor. Essentially the corridor, as part of the agreement allowed for freight use for the full corridor (Now Southern Rail) and for freight use on the joint section by CP Rail. Interestingly enough this Master Agreement, for the joint section, was a 21 year agreement renewable at either parties wish expiring in August of 2009. Why 21 years, nobody knows? The Master Agreement expired in August of 2009.

FYI – Our neighbor Peter Fassbender, Mayor of Langley City at the time was made aware of these developments as they occurred. For reasons still yet to be determined and still in question, he was never willing to come to the table to fight for such a beneficial development that would have served his community and region in such a significant way. Why? Interestingly the following happened? Again you have to ask the question WHY?

A short time after the above, surprise, surprise, then Premier Gordon Campbell, leading up to the election, (votes anyone) prompted and fed by then Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, announced (out of the blue) that they would build a Skytrain from Surrey Center to Langley City. A more IRRESPONSIBLE idea you could not find (I will explain my reasons for that comment shortly)! But it caught some traction locally, all-be-it it was helped along when Peter Fassbender was chair of the Mayor’s Translink Council at the time. I might add that in a subsequent Translink Board election he was defeated. He did not hold that position for long.

Well we mobilized all municipalities (Mayor’s and Councils) South of the Fraser with a letter writing campaign forcing the Master Agreements renewal through Bob Elton, then CEO of B.C. Hydro in June of 2009, two months before our citizen’s rights (your rights), were lost forever. What rights? There are a number of important protective clauses in the Master Agreement but there are two in particular! First is the fact that the Master Agreement protected the passenger rights use of this corridor (Joint Section) at NO COST, Second is the fact that should double tracking be required on the joint section due to use of the corridor for freight and passenger service, that double tracking will be done at CPs expense. Use of this corridor with today’s technology would NOT negatively affect the flow of freight movement in any way. It may cost CP Rail some double tracking on the joint section but then again they signed THE agreement, confirming they would pay its cost!

Just remember – WORDS MATTER, LEGAL CONTRACTS MATTER AND AGREEMENTS MATTER!

“For a comparison” the West Coast Express (North of the River) costs Translink in LEASE costs paid to CP Rail $20,000,000 per year (That is correct $20 MILLION PER ANNUM). Mission is paying Translink $780,600 per year for their share of this service with their contract coming up for renewal in 2019. These costs DO NOT include annual operational or capital costs, a number which IS NOT available through Translink’s financial report. What are they? Why aren’t they listed separately?

So let’s get back to the substantial reasons, specifically why we should implement the South of Fraser Corridor and NOT consider LRT down Fraser Highway! Langley City and the Clayton area of Surrey can benefit along with the entire Fraser Valley with this corridor. The Facts!

Cost Effective – This proposal for the 99.23 KMs South of Fraser Passenger Rail Project’s (Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack) total cost is 7.9% of the Cost per KM of the projected 16.6 km Surrey to Langley City LRT line down Fraser Highway! It is 20.23% of the Cost per Capita of the Surrey to Langley LRT line. 99.23 kms from Scott Road to Chilliwack that is FREE to the Province for passenger service unlike the Westcoast Express costing taxpayers, again in excess of $20,000,000 per year for its use to CP Rail plus capital and operating costs! OR let’s put it in plain talk – (these are in today’s dollars based on the cost of the current Surrey LRT.)

  • Proposed 6 km Surrey to Langley City LRT $157,142,857 per-km – Total $2,608,571,426. NOTE – In 2022 dollars based on the property and cost appreciation experience of the Surrey LRT (last three years) it could easily come in at $240,000,000 per-km for a Total cost of $3,999,000,000.
  • Our proposal – 23 km Pattullo to Chilliwack LRT $12,500,000 per-km – Total cost $1,240,375,000. NOTE – This is already publicly owned land; land cost escalation is NOT an issue!

Protects THE Environment – This proposal Eliminates the need to clear cut a large amount of the Green Timbers Urban Forest in Surrey! In addition 1 Train removes 177 cars from Hwy #1 and their emissions from the Fraser Valley Air Shed. It would protect the environment utilizing NEW Proven European Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology, dramatically reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions!

Economy / Job Growth – This proposal would Directly BOOST economic growth through the low cost movement of residents and goods South of the Fraser! It would provide direct access to the Abbotsford International Airport for passengers and employment access up and down the valley! (It is projected that passenger numbers by 2019 would be 1,000,000 passengers.) It would provide direct access to jobs throughout the Fraser Valley, including industrial parks, currently with no or very limited transportation access.

Ease of Regional Movement – This proposal would support and form an integral part of a coordinated and comprehensive transportation network for the entire region. Close to 3 million residents within the region will be able to move between North and West Vancouver, Vancouver out to Chilliwack using Bus, Seabus, West Coast Express, Skytrain and Light Rail! It would dramatically reduce traffic congestion on Highway #1 and on ALL east west road corridors.

Ease of Commuter Movement – Through a network of Park n Rides throughout the South side of the Fraser (Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack) featuring low cost commuter stations (similar to Europe) residents of the South of Fraser will have access to this state of the art system. This system would also be served by a bus network (Ribs) feeding the rail system (Spine) in a similar fashion to that created and occurring in Greater Vancouver with Skytrain.

Ease of Movement for Fraser Valley First Nations – The Township of Langley, the City of Abbotsford and the City of Chilliwack are home to significant First Nations communities. Sto:Lo, Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe, Sumas, Matsqui and Kwantlen First Nations will receive significant benefit from this service. This service would help to connect these First Nations through convenient and inexpensive transportation to populations within 16 Communities, 14 University Campuses, Industrial Parks, Airports and Special Interest venues from Chilliwack to West Vancouver! This transportation would be key to significant employment access and therefore significant job opportunities!

Promote Fraser Valley TourismThis proposal would open up the Fraser Valley and its attractions (Wineries / theme parks / Game Farm / Bike Tours and general Tourism) with access from Vancouver to Chilliwack! Open up transportation access to the growing Agri-Tourism industry throughout the Fraser Valley!

Access to Affordable Housing with transportation to support it Affordable housing is being searched for by those currently trying to live and survive in Metro Vancouver. The suburbs from the Township of Langley East are becoming THE destination of choice. Unfortunately readily accessible and cost effective transportation is the missing link. The Interurban Corridor is THE solution to that problem.

Access to Post-Secondary Education – This proposal would Connect Fourteen Post-Secondary Institution Campuses and 58,000 Students and Staff daily South of the Fraser between Surrey and Chilliwack. Improve Access – Increase Enrollment! The Locations are:

  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey Town Center
  • Simon Fraser University Campus, Surrey Town Center
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Newton
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Cloverdale
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, City of Langley
  • Trinity University, Township of Langley
  • University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford
  • Aircraft Maintenance Training Center / Flight Instruction Abbotsford Airport, Abbotsford.
  • Canada Education Park Chilliwack –

Home to:

  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • CBSA – Canadian Border Services Agency
  • Canadian Forces
  • JIBC – Justice Institute of BC
  • RCMP – Pacific Region Training Center
  • CPC West

In Summary: It is long past time that our government considers cost efficiency, practicality, fiscal responsibility, economic responsibility and environmental responsibility when making significant decisions for our region moving forward. It is long past time that we look at the Lower Mainland (Whistler through to Chilliwack) as a region onto itself with one transportation provider, not two as it is today. This capital project should have no-effect on the current carbon gas tax that is held within the Metro Vancouver Regional District Boundaries. Residents North of the Fraser have the West Coast Express that serves a much smaller population at an annual rail lease cost of $20,000,000 PLUS capital and operating costs. The Interurban Rail line use cost is ZERO plus annual capita and operational costs thanks to the Provincial Government of the day. Let’s campaign for common sense, it is long overdue.

It is our goal to convince Translink, the Translink Mayor’s Council and those elected this October South of the Fraser that we want a revision to the Translink 10 year Transportation Plan. This campaign will be intensive and extensive! We are pushing to establish a Provincial endorsed Community led South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force comprised of a cross section of community members and elected municipal politicians. It will be the Task Force’s mandate to the Provincial Government, Translink and BC Transit to prove the value and interest in this intiative.

Say NO to the Fraser Highway option and YES to open up the Fraser Valley Transportation corridor out to Chilliwack. Implementation and activation would be fast, it would be state of the art and it would provide economic stimulus throughout the valley, it would help feed 14 University Campuses, reduce the number of vehicles commuting and solve the environmental issues in the valley.

Again, FACTS matter, WORDS matter, LEGAL CONTRACTS matter and AGREEMENTS matter!

DO YOU WANT A PRESENTATION OF THIS PLAN? We have started booking presentations starting Sept. 4th and through the fall. If your community association, business association, society, service club or political organization would be interested in a detailed presentation of this initiative our team would be pleased to do so. We have a very detailed presentation including an 8 ft. map, Shaw video documentary and much much more. Our contact information is listed below.

VOLUNTEER – If you are interested in getting involved in our campaign by volunteering please contact us through the email below.

NOTE: This post is only the start of an intensive and extensive campaign for the reactivation of the Interurban Corridor from the Pattullo Bridge through to Chilliwack! Much more to come, stay tuned!

Special Note: Our 28 minute Shaw video documentary of this rail line (produced in 2010) is on this BLOG site, click on the “S Fraser Community Rail tab” on the top tool bar to view or the following link –  https://langleywatchdog.com/topics/

W.R. (Rick) Green

Former Mayor Township of Langley (2008 – 2011)

Home / Office 604 607-7338 – Cell 604 309-7795

Email creeksidefarms@shaw.ca

On behalf of VALTAC – Valley Transportation Advisory Committee Members:

Lee Lockwood, Roy Mufford and Peter Holt

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

The “Smart and Only Way” To Fiscally, Economically and Environmentally Solve the South of Fraser’s Transportation & Transit Deficit! “Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack”, Tourism, Business or Community – WHAT IS STOPPING US?

A 99 Km State of the Art Community Light Rail Passenger Service from the Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack, that will contribute significantly to  economic growth, create thousands of jobs, serve 1.2 million citizens, Sixteen cities and communities, major industrial parks, Abbotsford International Airport (expect 1,000,000 passengers in 2019), Agri Tourism, FOURTEEN Post-Secondary Institution Campuses and much much more!

All of this on an existing protected rail line at NO COST for use; 99 kms at a TOTAL COST that is 48% of the TOTAL COST of the proposed 16 Km LRT line down Fraser Highway from Surrey Center to Langley City or 20.23% of the per capita cost! Langley City and the community of Clayton would receive the same service and the taxpayer would pay 7.9% of the per-KM cost of Surrey LRT, PLUS serve the ENTIRE Fraser Valley while we are at it!

So to the question of WHY? Why would anyone in elected office or with staff responsibility to recommend or implement a viable option do so that is so fiscally, economically and environmentally IRRESPONSIBLE? Did anyone do their homework? Was or is there an ulterior motive? What about the potential for land deals for friends and insiders? It is a license to print money! I have spent years as an Alderman and a Mayor, I say this with some significant knowledge of how the system works and who gets to be heard, in certain communities. Speculators with inside knowledge have done very well at the public’s (your) expense. Think this isn’t a possibility? Think again! After all, it is all paid for with YOUR tax dollars!

So let’s consider a recent real life example? The just approved Surrey LRT line was estimated in 2015 (publicly) to cost $1.08 Billion, today it has been approved at $1.65 Billion, that is an increase of $570 million (a 53% increase) in a very short three years. Two important points to remember “1” the Translink CFO explained at the announcement that the increase in cost was largely due to an increase in land acquisition cost (surprise) and “2” remember this project has been considered in Surrey for the best part of the last ten years. Was there time for Speculation on land OR Insider info? You bet! Given this example, can you imagine the inflationary cost of property acquisition (by say 2022/24) on the Surrey Center to Langley City line down Fraser Highway? Remember any property acquisition will be paid for through your tax dollars, not the private sector. So the dollars I talk about below are the Surrey LRT numbers of today, using the Surrey Center to Langley line length extrapolated into a proposed cost using today’s dollars. It wouldn’t be out of the question that the per-KM cost could easily grow to $240 Million (Per KM), which cannot happen with this protected Passenger Rail corridor. The corridor is owned by the Provincial Government, B.C. Hydro and protected for passenger use at NO COST by sales contract and agreement.   

We will get to the reasons why we have to start doing what is right for the region, but first some important history. It all started back in 2009 leading up to the general election.

As Mayor in the early Spring of 2009, in the process of researching Township rights related to the heavy rail / Interurban Corridor that passed through our community, I was able to uncover the Master Agreement (previously unknown) covering what is known as the Joint Section (the Pratt Livingston Corridor – roughly 232nd Street thru to Cloverdale). This Master Agreement came about due to the B.C. Government’s sale (1988) of the B.C. Hydro Freight Division, which included rolling stock and rails but NOT the corridor. Essentially the corridor, as part of the agreement allowed for freight use for the full corridor (Now Southern Rail) and for freight use on the joint section by CP Rail. Interestingly enough this Master Agreement, for the joint section, was a 21 year agreement renewable at either parties wish expiring in August of 2009. Why 21 years, nobody knows? The Master Agreement was due to expire in August of 2009. We caught it in time!

FYI – Our neighbor Peter Fassbender, Mayor of Langley City at the time was made aware of these developments as they occurred. For reasons still yet to be determined and still in question, he was never willing to come to the table to fight for such a beneficial development that would have served his community and region in such a significant way. Why? Interestingly the following happened? Again you have to ask the question WHY?

A short time after the above, surprise, surprise, then Premier Gordon Campbell, leading up to the election, (votes anyone) prompted and fed by then Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, announced (out of the blue) that they would build a Skytrain from Surrey Center to Langley City. A more IRRESPONSIBLE idea you could not find (I will explain my reasons for that comment shortly)! But it caught some traction locally, all-be-it it was helped along when Peter Fassbender was chair of the Mayor’s Translink Council at the time. I might add that in a subsequent Translink Board election he was defeated. He did not hold that position for long.

Well we mobilized all municipalities (Mayor’s and Councils) South of the Fraser with a letter writing campaign forcing the Master Agreements renewal through Bob Elton, then CEO of B.C. Hydro in June of 2009, two months before our citizen’s rights (your rights), were lost forever. What rights? There are a number of important protective clauses in the Master Agreement but there are two in particular! First is the fact that the Master Agreement protected the passenger rights use of this corridor (Joint Section) at NO COST, Second is the fact that should double tracking be required on the joint section due to use of the corridor for freight and passenger service, that double tracking will be done at CPs expense. Use of this corridor with today’s technology would NOT negatively affect the flow of freight movement in any way. It may cost CP Rail some double tracking on the joint section but then again they signed THE agreement, confirming they would pay its cost!

Just remember – WORDS MATTER, LEGAL CONTRACTS MATTER AND AGREEMENTS MATTER!

“For a comparison” the West Coast Express (North of the River) costs Translink in LEASE costs paid to CP Rail $20,000,000 per year (That is correct $20 MILLION PER ANNUM). Mission is paying Translink $780,600 per year for their share of this service with their contract coming up for renewal in 2019. These costs DO NOT include annual operational or capital costs, a number which IS NOT available through Translink’s financial report. What are they? Why aren’t they listed separately?

So let’s get back to the substantial reasons, specifically why we should implement the South of Fraser Corridor and NOT consider LRT down Fraser Highway! Langley City and the Clayton area of Surrey can benefit along with the entire Fraser Valley with this corridor. The Facts!

Cost Effective – This proposal for the 99.23 KMs South of Fraser Passenger Rail Project’s (Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack) total cost is 7.9% of the Cost per KM of the projected 16.6 km Surrey to Langley City LRT line down Fraser Highway! It is 20.23% of the Cost per Capita of the Surrey to Langley LRT line. 99.23 kms from Scott Road to Chilliwack that is FREE to the Province for passenger service unlike the Westcoast Express costing taxpayers, again in excess of $20,000,000 per year for its use to CP Rail plus capital and operating costs! OR let’s put it in plain talk – (these are in today’s dollars based on the cost of the current Surrey LRT.)

  • Proposed 16.6 km Surrey to Langley City LRT $157,142,857 per-km – Total $2,608,571,426. NOTE – In 2022 dollars based on the property and cost appreciation experience of the Surrey LRT (last three years) it could easily come in at $240,000,000 per-km for a Total cost of $3,999,000,000.
  • Our proposal – 99.23 km Pattullo to Chilliwack LRT $12,500,000 per-km – Total cost $1,240,375,000. NOTE – This is already publicly owned land; land cost escalation is NOT an issue!

Protects THE Environment – This proposal Eliminates the need to clear cut a large amount of the Green Timbers Urban Forest in Surrey! In addition 1 Train removes 177 cars from Hwy #1 and their emissions from the Fraser Valley Air Shed. It would protect the environment utilizing NEW Proven European Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology, dramatically reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions!

Economy / Job Growth – This proposal would Directly BOOST economic growth through the low cost movement of residents and goods South of the Fraser! It would provide direct access to the Abbotsford International Airport for passengers and employment access up and down the valley! (It is projected that passenger numbers by 2019 would be 1,000,000 passengers.) It would provide direct access to jobs throughout the Fraser Valley, including industrial parks, currently with no or very limited transportation access.

Ease of Regional Movement – This proposal would support and form an integral part of a coordinated and comprehensive transportation network for the entire region. Close to 3 million residents within the region will be able to move between North and West Vancouver, Vancouver out to Chilliwack using Bus, Seabus, West Coast Express, Skytrain and Light Rail! It would dramatically reduce traffic congestion on Highway #1 and on ALL east west road corridors.

Ease of Commuter Movement – Through a network of Park n Rides throughout the South side of the Fraser (Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack) featuring low cost commuter stations (similar to Europe) residents of the South of Fraser will have access to this state of the art system. This system would also be served by a bus network (Ribs) feeding the rail system (Spine) in a similar fashion to that created and occurring in Greater Vancouver with Skytrain.

Ease of Movement for Fraser Valley First Nations – The Township of Langley, the City of Abbotsford and the City of Chilliwack are home to significant First Nations communities. Sto:Lo, Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe, Sumas, Matsqui and Kwantlen First Nations will receive significant benefit from this service. This service would help to connect these First Nations through convenient and inexpensive transportation to populations within 16 Communities, 14 University Campuses, Industrial Parks, Airports and Special Interest venues from Chilliwack to West Vancouver! This transportation would be key to significant employment access and therefore significant job opportunities!

Promote Fraser Valley TourismThis proposal would open up the Fraser Valley and its attractions (Wineries / theme parks / Game Farm / Bike Tours and general Tourism) with access from Vancouver to Chilliwack! Open up transportation access to the growing Agri-Tourism industry throughout the Fraser Valley!

Access to Affordable Housing with transportation to support it Affordable housing is being searched for by those currently trying to live and survive in Metro Vancouver. The suburbs from the Township of Langley East are becoming THE destination of choice. Unfortunately readily accessible and cost effective transportation is the missing link. The Interurban Corridor is THE solution to that problem.

Access to Post-Secondary Education – This proposal would Connect Fourteen Post-Secondary Institution Campuses and 58,000 Students and Staff daily South of the Fraser between Surrey and Chilliwack. Improve Access – Increase Enrollment! The Locations are:

  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey Town Center
  • Simon Fraser University Campus, Surrey Town Center
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Newton
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Cloverdale
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, City of Langley
  • Trinity University, Township of Langley
  • University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford
  • Aircraft Maintenance Training Center / Flight Instruction Abbotsford Airport, Abbotsford.
  • Canada Education Park Chilliwack – Home to:
  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • CBSA – Canadian Border Services Agency
  • Canadian Forces
  • JIBC – Justice Institute of BC
  • RCMP – Pacific Region Training Center
  • CPC West

In Summary: It is long past time that our government considers cost efficiency, practicality, fiscal responsibility, economic responsibility and environmental responsibility when making significant decisions for our region moving forward. It is long past time that we look at the Lower Mainland (Whistler through to Chilliwack) as a region onto itself with one transportation provider, not two as it is today. This capital project should have no-effect on the current carbon gas tax that is held within the Metro Vancouver Regional District Boundaries. Residents North of the Fraser have the West Coast Express that serves a much smaller population at an annual rail lease cost of $20,000,000 PLUS capital and operating costs. The Interurban Rail line use cost is ZERO plus annual capita and operational costs thanks to the Provincial Government of the day. Let’s campaign for common sense, it is long overdue.

It is our goal to convince Translink, the Translink Mayor’s Council and those elected this October South of the Fraser that we want a revision to the Translink 10 year Transportation Plan. This campaign will be intensive and extensive! We are pushing to establish a Provincial endorsed Community led South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force comprised of a cross section of community members and elected municipal politicians. It will be the Task Force’s mandate to the Provincial Government, Translink and BC Transit to prove the value and interest in this intiative.

Say NO to the Fraser Highway option and YES to open up the Fraser Valley Transportation corridor out to Chilliwack. Implementation and activation would be fast, it would be state of the art and it would provide economic stimulus throughout the valley, it would help feed 14 University Campuses, reduce the number of vehicles commuting and solve the environmental issues in the valley.

Again, FACTS matter, WORDS matter, LEGAL CONTRACTS matter and AGREEMENTS matter!

DO YOU WANT A PRESENTATION OF THIS PLAN? We have started booking presentations starting Sept. 4th and through the fall. If your community association, business association, society, service club or political organization would be interested in a detailed presentation of this initiative our team would be pleased to do so. We have a very detailed presentation including an 8 ft. map, Shaw video documentary and much much more. Our contact information is listed below.

VOLUNTEER – If you are interested in getting involved in our campaign by volunteering please contact us through the email below.

NOTE: This post is only the start of an intensive and extensive campaign for the reactivation of the Interurban Corridor from the Pattullo Bridge through to Chilliwack! Much more to come, stay tuned!

Special Note: Our 28 minute Shaw video documentary of this rail line (produced in 2010) is on this BLOG site, click on the “S Fraser Community Rail tab” on the top tool bar to view or the following link – https://langleywatchdog.com/topics/

 

W.R. (Rick) Green

Former Mayor Township of Langley (2008 – 2011)

Home / Office 604 607-7338 – Cell 604 309-7795

Email creeksidefarms@shaw.ca

On behalf of VALTAC – Valley Transportation Advisory Committee Members:

Lee Lockwood, Roy Mufford and Peter Holt

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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So work with me on this…. The public are being asked, in an election year, by a citizen who has had an ongoing fight over his developments with the Township of Langley (by his own admission), who is planning to run for Mayor (will decide this summer) to trust his public announcement with respect to his desire to set up an Eric Woodward Charity Foundation.

Mr. Woodward states that this foundation will be run by a Community Board of Directors, (for the most part) who will manage his property portfolio for the benefit of Community Charities and Causes.

Well here are a number of reasons to openly question his intentions:

Quotes from The Province Glenda Luymes August 12th, 2018

On Friday, Woodward said the sites, including three acres of mixed-use commercial and multi-family properties worth an estimated $18 million, will be transferred from his Statewood Properties Ltd. to the Eric Woodward Foundation over the next few months.

The foundation, overseen by a board of directors headed by former White Rock mayor Tom Kirstein, will take control of redevelopment. Woodward said he is not selling his property to the foundation, but he will be reimbursed for it. Future profits will go to local charities.

“will be transferred from his Statewood Properties Ltd. to the Eric Woodward Foundation over the next few months.” –

Question – Over the next few months? When exactly?

“Woodward said he is not selling his property to the foundation, but he will be reimbursed for it. Future profits will go to local charities.” – Not selling his property to the foundation, but he will be reimbursed for it? Future profits will go to local charities?

Question – What profits from where, read on!

In just a short review of the newspaper story, his Press Release and some investigation of the facts I have the following Questions?

  • Indefinite? Used repeatedly – The definition of Indefinite is “lasting for an unknown or unstated length of time?” Example – Local charities and causes will become the beneficiary of all future development and indefinite rental profit related to three Fort Langley development assemblies on Glover Road between Mavis Avenue and 96th Avenue, which will be indefinitely overseen by an independent Board of Directors of mostly Fort Langley residents, for up to 100 years or more. Questions – Indefinite Rental Profit? What and for how long? Indefinitely overseen by an independent Board of Directors? Question – How long?
  • Is the Foundation legally set up yet? If not how can the public have assurance that what they are told will be delivered? Would TOL staff or Council approve of a development without all pertinent and appropriate agreements and signatures in place? NO!
  • What revenue will be available from the Foundation that the Board of Directors will manage?
  • How many Directors will be on the Board of Directors of the Foundation? Who selects the Directors (should resignations occur)? What is the weight of each board members vote? Equal? Does Eric Woodward carry a Veto vote? (If so the Foundation is potentially nothing more than a tool to attempt to shield Eric Woodward from charges of a conflict of interest.) Are the Directors of the Foundation covered by liability insurance to protect them from lawsuits?
  • How independent are the Board of Directors? What are their terms of appointment?
  • They state that management will safeguard key principles for it’s management – What are those key principles?
  • They state they will be publicly accountable.. – How, to who and for what?
  • It is stated that it will take a short while to tie up all legal agreements… – So it appears the expectation is that this move of setting up a Charitable Foundation is based on trust with NOTHING IN WRITING, just based on verbal trust? There is too much riding on verbal trust.
  • What is meant by causes? Who decides on what causes? Does anyone on the Board have Veto power over decisions of the Board?
  • Debt on Eric Woodward’s property holdings? In researching the detail of Eric Woodward’s property holdings the best we could find is the following –
    • There are 19 addresses pertaining to Eric Woodward’s Real Estate Holdings
    • The assessed value of these holdings is just over $40,000,000.
    • There are 10 addresses with Mortgages totaling just over $34,000,000.
    • There is one property with an unknown mortgage amount but a monthly payment amount of $8,900. included in the following total.
    • There are 11 monthly mortgage amounts totaling over $379,000. per month.
    • NOTE – Eric Woodward would have the exact amounts.

Questions –    Presumably there would be development of a number of properties? How will that affect the total debt of the Foundation and any potential for donations to the community? Or causes?

How will the existing debt affect the performance of the Foundation?

I am posing the above only because the greater community of the Township of Langley is being asked to accept and support a proposition on what appears to be a benefit to our community. IF it was just a personal decision by the proponent to form a foundation holding his properties there would be no need to announce it to the community, he or they would just do it, none of our business.

Unfortunately all of these questions are only relevant should Mr. Woodward run for Mayor this year which appears to be the case. As we see it if Mr. Woodward kept his property holdings as is and won the election he would have to recuse himself from any debate, discussion or votes on virtually anything to do with Fort Langley. (Conflict of interest) If he sets up this foundation as suggested under the overriding issue of him running for Mayor and he won, we as residents should be very concerned that there would be an attempt to absolve himself of any potential conflict of interest given the Foundation? Even though it was set up in the manner being suggested, with Eric Woodward very possibly holding a veto vote over the Foundations decisions.

As a resident of the Township of Langley I appreciate those in our community who are willing to set up Foundations designed to make our community better. Unfortunately this Foundation carries with it too many questions as of today that could have a detrimental effect on our community. Read the above very carefully, there is just far too much unknown before any endorsement of support is given by anyone in the community for the sake of the community.

If the proponent can have a foundation set up legally in writing which answers the above questions of concern that adequately answers in time 5 – 6 weeks BEFORE the election, GREAT!

Again, IF the proponent can successfully answer the above questions I am all over it in support.

Why should we care? Because Eric Woodward is making it a community issue, it appears at first glance to be an attempt to shield his properties from a charge of conflict of interest to allow for his run for Mayor.

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern and/or interest to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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Your Mayor and Municipal Council, despite PROMISES of an Indoor Pool for years, election after election have broken their promises once again!!!!!! It is -3 degrees outside our home in Aldergrove with a forecast high of plus 4 degrees to a low of minus 6 degrees for the next two weeks at least. You have been waiting for years for an indoor pool facility that is user friendly for family and friends. You have participated in dozens and dozens of public information sessions, formed local societies, held meetings, held dialogue sessions with elected officials and expressed in the strongest of terms your wishes, and your Council PROMISED an Indoor Pool – Once again Aldergrove has been shafted, your Council lied!

It has just been a little over three years since the last election, when virtually EVERY candidate for Mayor and Councilor came out in support and PROMISED a long anticipated INDOOR POOL facility for Aldergrove. As a resident of the Aldergrove community for the past twenty two years I have received mountains of feed-back from residents complaining about how Aldergrove has been treated over many years by Township Council. As a matter of fact that was one of the many reasons why I ran for Mayor in 2008 and we won with great anticipation for change! Unfortunately the majority of Council did not feel the same way during my three year term or since that time, despite promises to the contrary.

What is very disturbing and disappointing to me, as a resident of Aldergrove, is watching and seeing the willingness of Residents and Taxpayers, many that I know had the same passion for Aldergrove as I did; but they have chosen to capitulate, sit back and are accepting to being LIED to by YOUR elected representatives. You hear residents complaining individually with lots of defeatist comments BUT believe there is nothing they can do about it. I am equally disappointed at the members of the Aldergrove Business Association to not rally members in- support of the Indoor Pool. As Mayor I encouraged, helped and supported the formation of this association, an issue like this is fundamental to it’s formation, very disappointing.

FACT – Aldergrove will continue to be shafted and your kids and grandkids will continue to bear the brunt of the policies and lack of action by your elected representatives if you continue to be accepting of Aldergrove’s treatment by your Mayor and members of Council.

Trust me you will be cajoled with bells, whistles and balloons at the opening coming up, probably around June or July this year, so that there will be no bad weather to deal with. I am looking forward to ALL members of Council diving in next December and look forward to the press comments, at what will be billed as the “Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience”. You have got to be kidding!

This didn’t happen in Murrayville, in Willoughby, in Walnut Grove or in Fort Langley. It is a sad commentary on Township of Langley politics, on a number of fronts. I will outline those concerns below.

Lets cut through the rhetoric and BS – Lets get to the FACTS –

First – Public Engagement / Public Input by this Council – When will we learn?

Over the last three Municipal Elections much has been said surrounding public engagement and public input.

  • Mayor Froese (Pete McMartin / Vancouver Sun) In the face of the Mayor’s decision over Coulter Berry in Fort Langley, Jack Froese was quoted that “he doesn’t govern by petitions, nor the turn-out and input at Public Hearings”.
  • In a comment made to a resident in Walnut Grove RE 216th Street Overpass.… “it is not his job to do what his constituents want but what is best for them” – I guess Jack knows best – NOT! Jack Froese to a resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • During the last Municipal Election, after listening to all of the heat over the decisions of Council, Mayor Froese promised to set up a Standing Committee on Public Engagement, which in fact he has done. PROBLEM – Mayor Froese has shown by his actions he has no interest in listening to the public? You don’t need a Public Engagement Committee or have a Public Engagement Charter to hear and listen to the public. Under the Community Charter you can hold Public Hearings, Public Input Opportunities, Public Meetings, written verbal and video Submissions from the Public and Public Petitions! Mayor Froese, despite this charade in an attempt to make the public believe you and Council are listening, you have once again proven that this IS a charade in spades. Frankly it is nothing more than a LIE!
  • Anyone remember the infamous Councilor Fox remarks made during an open house on the announcement of the pool project? – if the people of Aldergrove were not happy with the outdoor pool all they needed to do was raise the $10 million it would take to cover the pool, or in the alternative they could go to one of the indoor pools in the Township.” This is vintage Charlie Fox, condescending, arrogant and much more! Charlie, don’t look now BUT the people of Aldergrove helped pay for the W.C. Blair and Walnut Grove Pools, are you going to pay for the bus fare (for the very limited bus service that is available) for so many young people of Aldergrove to get to W.C. Blair? All of this is VERY insulting, and Fox touts his experience as a teacher and principle, really?
  • The original estimated cost for the complete expected indoor facility was up to $34.8 million. The stated cost of the announced facility is $25.8 million. Is Aldergrove not worth an additional $10 million? As stated earlier, Council approved a $7.5 million expansion of the LEC with NO public input, dialogue or discussion. A matter of fact they built the entire Langley Events Center in the same manner at a cost upwards of $66 million, and they can’t find $10 million for Aldergrove?

Mayor Froese and Council HAVE NOT listened to residents! Council has made a decision for an outdoor pool despite a PROMISE to the contrary. By virtue of this decision Mayor Froese and Council have LIED to the residents and taxpayers. Strong words, you bet, BUT it is long past time that we tell it like it is!

Second – Sale of Township lands to support building this facility –

Talk about mixed messages? Many of you will recall the issue a few years back about the sale of Township owned Glen Valley lands stating that the resulting revenue would go towards the Aldergrove facility. This, rightfully so, caused a significant firestorm of protest by the general public. Feeling the wrath of the public it was announced that NO, they had changed their mind and that this was not going to be a prerequisite to building the Aldergrove facility. Then, during the last election campaign during a tour of the existing facilities (or lack of) in Aldergrove, it was asked by a few candidates where the funds were currently from property sales in preparation for the Aldergrove facility. Councilor Fox who was on that tour stated that no, council had done away with that idea. In the Langley Advance article of June 18th, 2015 it stated that the Township has been raising funds from the sale of surplus lands? So the question has to be asked, did any funds from the sale of any lands go into the Capital Funds stated as already in place for this facility? Walnut Grove, Murrayville, LEC and the LEC expansion were not built and funded this way.

So what is the truth, property sale revenue was or was not used to fund this facility – Yes or No! Once again – Don’t lie to the public!

Third – Statements by Mayor and/or staff have to be questioned!

Mayor Froese – “The pool is a compromise of sorts with some of the conflicting demands that have come to the Township of Langley.” Response – This so-called compromise is a pathetic attempt at satisfying a long ignored public!

Mayor Froese – “The lap pool will be outdoor, but it will be a year round pool.” Response – Users, I am sure everyone will enjoy swimming outdoors from October through April in the cold and rain – NOT! Is our Council brain dead?

TOL Gen. Mgr. Jason Winslade – “One of the goals of this space is to kind of replace the Aldergrove Lake Experience.” Response – What? Come on Jason, you can do better than that! This is a significant stretch to draw any comparison to what was lost in Aldergrove Lake.

TOL Gen. Mgr. Jason Winslade – “Outdoor Pools that run all year are becoming common.” Response – A quick review on-line will show the only constant with outdoor pools is they are being closed and at the very least THEY ARE NOT year round facilities!

Fourth – Council decision?

It is stated that this was a unanimous decision of Council. When was the vote held? Where was the vote held? – Open Meeting or In-Camera? To the best of our knowledge it was not on an open Council agenda so it had to be in-camera! If that is the case, only items concerning staff, legal or property are permitted in-camera. Was this an illegal vote?

Information for residents – The reasons for the limitation of what can be discussed in-camera is that Council Votes and/or any associated DEBATE should be public and transparent so the public and press have all of the information on which the decision was made. Food for Thought? Is it possible, that Councilors Davis, Richter and Arnason voted for this proposal, afraid of how it would be seen by the public if they voted against it, an indoor pool? Message to Councilors, it takes guts to stand up for what is right, you have failed the people of Aldergrove.

Fifth – Council Announcement?

It is interesting that the announcement event by Council only came about on the heels of a letter sent by the Aldergrove Pool Committee. In answer to that letter there was a quick reply by Councilor Fox saying to wait for the press release which instantly appeared announcing a public meeting in Aldergrove in a couple of days. (Held Wednesday June 17th, 2015) Interesting timing? Summer was coming? It is not lost that there was no public announcement of the Wednesday announcement either in our TOL facilities on the TOL website or in our local newspapers. Could we properly assume that it was a controlled event with supporters only receiving an invitation? I would bet on it!

Sixth – Proposed conceptual layout? Outdoor?

If you go by the layout as published in the Langley Advance, better than 3/4s of the water facility area is devoted to water park and slides which as stated will only be open spring and summer while there is very limited facility for general swimming, lessons and more.

An outdoor pool is nothing more than a brain dead idea trying to be sold as unique. Frankly it is nothing more than an insult to the intelligence to the people of Aldergrove.

IMPORTANT – Councilor Charlie Fox just got into a Facebook debate with a few very unhappy and concerned residents. His arrogance and condescending approach to his job is one thing, misrepresenting the facts is quite something else! Definitely revisionist history!

In answer to Councilor Fox on Facebook –

FoxIt was clearly stated that it was not to be funded through tax dollars but through land sales and grants from differing levels of government? ResponseCouncil were thoroughly rebuffed on the land sale funding issue by the public and changed course. Is that how the LEC was funded NO, is that how the $7.5 Million dollar expansion of the LEC was funded NO! With the dramatic density changes made in the Aldergrove Core Community Plan (remember the one WE approved), what is happening with the funds that will be raised from the sale of the old Arena site?

FoxA facility in Brookswood will be funded through Community Amenity Charges (Correction Charlie, you mean Contributions) derived from growth. Aldergrove is growing in a very limited way. ResponseWell Charlie this is a surprising statement? Remember CharIie, I had Bruce Maitland introduce the use of CACs to Council during my term going through about three work sessions and Council rejected their use. I have yet to see and/or hear of our Council adopting CACs as a policy number one, and number two to suggest it could not be implemented in Aldergrove in a successful way is absolutely incorrect. To start with look at the Core Community Plan? What is Council doing to promote the commercial core of Aldergrove? The answer is 0!

FoxWhat about Walnut Grove Pool, it was paid out of the capital improvement fund and was built over 20 years ago with NO taxpayer dollars? ResponseWhat? Message to Charlie, ALL of the dollars spent within your global budget are ultimately taxpayer dollars. Funds raised through DCCs or other assessments on development comes through approvals given by elected representatives on behalf of the taxpayer. Operations are paid by the taxpayer. All other revenue driven from other sources ultimately is on the approval of our elected representatives with liability in all cases falling back onto the taxpayer. Are you saying the taxpayer in Aldergrove did not in any way pay for any portion of Walnut Grove OR the ongoing operations of Walnut Grove. What about the LEC? Increase in size and scope? Expansion of $7.5 million with NO public knowledge as identified by the local press?

FOXThe complete project will likely cost well over $43 million and not one penny of capital or infrastructure comes from taxpayer pockets? ResponseSo here is a challenge Charlie, you made the statement so back it up – It is now on your back to identify THE SOURCE of every penny of over $43 million required to build this facility! We wait with anticipation the answer to this request.

Summary

This is nothing more or less than outrageous and yes the people of Aldergrove should be outraged. They deserve much better! There are a variety of innovative ways to finance this project, but it is clear that this Council is relying on staff’s recommendations. These recommendations from staff are either intuitively directed by some of their political masters, are poorly thought out by staff or as I have felt for years are a product of those who are masterfully directing this municipality and not accountable to the voter.

Council at a minimum did not even have the foresight or willingness to install footings so as to be able to add walls at a later date.

Where is the vision of our Mayor and Council? Mayor Froese, in a video released during the 2014 election offered and promised his vision for an indoor pool in Aldergrove. YES, he very clearly PROMISED an INDOOR POOL on Video! That video has gone viral!

This issue is about Aldergrove, but remember, it can and has happened in Walnut Grove, Fort Langley, Brookswood, Willoughby and Murrayville. Council has us where they want us, divided and not supporting each other.  This has to change for change to happen!

Where are our Council members who were so ready to make a promise during the election, but hiding in the weeds when the announcement is made? You should all be ashamed of yourselves. We expected much better!!!!!!!! Just another example of this Council’s idea of Public Engagement, as they say and it is true, we get the government we deserve!!!

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

The rail line through the Township of Langley is difficult to deal with now but it is only going to become exponentially worse, given the plan to triple train movement through our municipality. Now, the Railway is not going away BUT it is long past time we deal with its interface within our community. There are 11 railway crossings to deal with! All of this comes at a very real cost, the cost of improvements should not in any way be borne by the taxpayer of Langley. As you can see by the local press features below, we are being presented with lists of needed projects and apparently the need for borrowing on one specifically, WHY?

The history surrounding the railways creation presents a number of historical REAL arguments in favor of the Township that have never been tested, in court if necessary! Is our Mayor and Council aware of the following? Obviously not!

It is time they stand up and challenge staff to do their job and do whatever is possible and probable in an effort to protect taxpayers. An example of that is the commitment back in September 24th 1968 that B.C. Hydro will be building an overpass (grade separation) on the By-Pass – Really? Read below!

Message to Council: Dig into the facts before you waste taxpayer dollars. The easy solution is just paying the bill, the tough call is to fight back and say NO!

Learning from history provides us with the knowledge necessary to deal with the original intent, purpose, plan and or laws that governed a remarkable engineering feat going back to the year 1906! This achievement was a Rail line from New Westminster through to Chilliwack that served the farming community and the then 18,000 residents in the valley at a cost of $3.5 million. (Click on “S Fraser Community Rail” link on menu bar above for video)

All of what surrounded this achievement and allowed it to be built was governed by the by-laws of the day, which are still in effect. By-Laws were enacted by every Municipality and City affected. For the purposes of this writing we are dealing with the Langleys.

What, if any responsibility are we accepting OR what input are the Langleys being afforded for needed improvements in the railway / public interface through our community?

What is the impact of the Heavy Rail line (the Interurban line) through the Langleys?

Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Agreement committing $307 million for 9 road/rail separations along the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor. This agreement was signed off by 12 funding partners to be witnessed by invited guests only behind closed doors in the Township of Langley Council Theatre on June 28th, 2007. 

Here are a couple of recent headlines:

“More than $375 million in transportation projects shortlisted for the Langley Region” according to new studies released by the Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum.

From the Langley Times

“Rail upgrades will cost Langley Township $6 million” Langley Township is looking at borrowing to deal with approximately $6.3 million in extra rail crossing upgrades it will need over the next several years.

From the Langley Advance – Mathew Claxton

It appears that the Township of Langley Mayor, Council and staff are unaware or ignoring the history dealing with the rail line. Why? Who is really responsible for the needed upgrades?

First, the history of how and why the Interurban corridor was developed and under what laws of the day permitted its development? I have highlighted key items in the agreements for brevity but I have the documents in my possession in case some would question my sanity.

The Facts in history are still in force! I will lay out the documents that are relevant!

The forerunner to the B.C. Electric Company and the current B.C. Hydro Company was known back in the early 1900s as the Vancouver Power Company Limited. For the then 79 mile Interurban Rail Line to be built, Vancouver through to Chilliwack, it required the right of way and cooperation of all the cities and municipalities along this route.

The Articles of Agreement – dated March 1st, 1906 incorporated into 1906 By-Laws

The rules of engagement were outlined in great detail through “Articles of Agreement” dated the first day of March 1906 (Schedules A & B) with respect to what the owners and any other subsequent owners (successorship) were required to follow with respect to the responsibility to cover costs in a wide variety of interfaces with the public. Just a few highlighted items of interest within the agreement:

“2c The Vancouver Power Co. shall and will, from time to time, and at all times during the erection of any poles, the laying and stringing of any wire or wires, and during any repairs to and alterations of the same, during the erection, maintenance and operation of the said electric tramway, take due care and proper precaution for the safety and protection of foot and other passengers and of livestock of all kinds passing along the streets, lanes, bridges or highways of the Township of Langley on which the erection, laying, stringing, construction, alterations, maintenance and operations are being performed, and will not unnecessarily interfere with or impede the public right of travelling on such public highways, streets, lanes or bridges, nor in any way obstruct the entrance to any door or gateway, or interfere with the free access to any buildings or premises;”

“2e The Vancouver Power Co. at its own cost and charge shall strengthen all bridges on the public roads or highways crossed by its tramway sufficiently to make the same safe”…..

“2i Whenever The Vancouver Power Co. shall use the streets, roads or highways of the Township of Langley for its tram line or lines, it shall at its own cost and charge construct and maintain, where same is necessary, culverts for water courses and drainage purposes in such places and of such dimensions through and under its tracks as may be directed from time to time by the Township of Langley;”

“3 ….but it is understood and agreed that whatever shall be done hereunder shall be such as may be done without any cost or expense whatever to the Township of Langley.”

“4….The Vancouver Power Co. will in no other way whatsoever discriminate against the Township of Langley or any of the residents thereof in the carrying on of its business.”

“8 The Township of Langley covenants and agrees that it will allow no other Electric Railway or Tramway to be built and operated along any public highway or road hereafter occupied and used by The Vancouver Power Co. under the provisions of this agreement, provided, however, that this clause shall have no force after the expiration of 99 years from the date hereof.”

Interpretation of #8 above – That would mean the rights over Township of Langley land would have expired November 3rd, 2005. The land I am talking about is the Municipal Road interfaces that cross the tracks that are in place. The land under the rails in the Township of Langley is not lineal ownership by the railway; it is a series of railway owned lands interrupted by municipal connecting roads owned by the municipality with rights given by the Municipality on a 99 year lease. That lease expired on Nov. 3rd 2005!

“14 It is further covenanted and agreed between the parties hereto that this agreement is to endure for the benefit of and be binding upon the successors and assigns of the Township of Langley and The Vancouver Power Co. respectively.”

The Langley Tram Power and Light By-Law 1906

The “Articles of Agreement” were incorporated into and through By-Laws which were specifically enacted for this purpose.

  1. On October 6th, 1906 “The Langley Tram Power and Light By-Law 1906 was read a first time and a third time.
  2. It was the law of the day that this railway required the assent of the electors (a referendum even back then) and was approved on the 20th day of October, A.D. 1906
  3. It was reconsidered, finally passed, signed and the Seal of the Corporation attached thereto the 3rd day of November, A.D. 1906.
  4. It was signed by John McDonald Reeve and J. W. Berry C.M.C.

Agreement between the The Vancouver Power Company and the Corporation of Langley

  • The Board of the Vancouver Power Company requested the District of Langley to execute each of these agreements and served notice that the Board has decided to proceed with the building of the Electric Railway from New Westminster to Chilliwack without avoidable delay.

FAST FORWARD TO

Minutes of the Corporation of the Township of Langley Special Meeting September 24th, 1968

Mayor Poppy was in the chair with Alderman Barichello, Blair, Booth and Shuster in attendance.

Topic for discussion, B.C. Hydro Railway. In attendance were Hunter Vogel MLA, William Mearns Vice President of B.C. Hydro, D. King and R. Martin of B.C. Hydro.

A full explanation and discussion took place with respect to the proposed Rawlison Crescent rail flyover from the mainline in Fort Langley connecting up to the Interurban Corridor by 232nd and Highway #1. This section, known as the Pratt Livingston corridor runs through to Cloverdale where it separates and runs straight through to Roberts Bank. This was being proposed for the purposes of serving the NEW (at the time) proposed Roberts Bank Port for the purposes of Coal shipments.

Mr. Martin went through a list of stated crossings in Langley; of particular interest is #10 on his list:

“10. Langley By-Pass – The track shall be re-located to facilitate the building of a complete grade separation at this location. Mr. Martin stated that the trains will be one mile (5,280 ft) in length and there will be one train each way per day at a maximum speed of 35 mile per hour. It would take approximately two minutes for a train to cross any road. Mr. Mearns stated that the proposals regarding crossings in Langley will be confirmed in writing.”    

Follow up was promised but no follow up was received to our knowledge.

Minutes of the Corporation of the Township of Langley Special Meeting November 12th, 1968

RE Roberts Bank Railway

Alderman Booth asked if any further information regarding the location of the railway link near Fort Langley has been provided to the municipality. Mayor Poppy replied that no information had been received to this date, and also pointed out that the decision to locate the railway in this vicinity had been made without any consultation at the local level whatsoever.

INFORMATION FACT – In 1968, in order to create a cost effective access to the NEW Delta Port Coal Terminal the WAC Bennett Government decided to route the heavy rail coal trains through Langley using the (Fort Langley) Livingston to Cloverdale section of the BCER/Hydro rail line. The entire Lower Mainland Planning Board was disbanded by the WAC Bennett Gov’t. as a result of the planning Boards opposition to the Langley routing. Langley was NOT consulted. Today the Township of Langley sees about 12 – 14 trains a day (coal and containers) that are 12,000 ft to 14,000 ft in length. With the advent of Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank it is public knowledge that we will be seeing upwards of 35 trains a day. How will this interface with car and truck traffic in the Township and the City?

FAST FORWARD TO

B.C. Government Press Release re sale of B.C. Hydro’s Freight Division to Itel of Chicago dated July 27th, 1988.

“B.C. Government Names ITEL Rail Corp. as successful bidder in sale of B.C. Hydro’s Freight Division. (Otherwise known as the Interurban Rail Corridor) C.P. Rail acquires operating rights to strategic trackage for Roberts Bank Coal Port. (Otherwise known as the Pratt Livingston Corridor roughly 232nd through to Cloverdale) a 21 year renewable agreement at either parties request. Passenger rights were protected in perpetuity as part of the ITEL sale and for 21 years as part of the CP agreement expiring in August of 2009 FOR THE Pratt Livingston Corridor.”

The terms and conditions pertaining to this sale seemed to disappear from public view or for that matter from the records of B.C. Hydro between B.C. Hydro, CP Rail and Itel of Chicago.

FAST FORWARD TO

Mayor Rick Green Township of Langley uncovered the previously unknown Master Agreement between B.C. Hydro, Itel and CP Rail in April of 2009

This Master Agreement could not be found by the Township and its lawyers going back to 2005. It was uncovered by myself within 24 hours of learning about it in 2009. “To the surprise of many passenger rights were spelled out in detail as a condition of this sale. Use for passenger service is to be at no cost!” It also spelled out that passenger use on the joint section known as the Pratt Livingston Corridor (approx.. 232nd Street through to Cloverdale) was subject to a 21 year clause renewable at either parties wishes due to expire in August of 2009.

INFORMATION FACT – Through the efforts of Mayor Green (Township of Langley) and all Mayors South of the Fraser, these passenger rights were renewed in April of 2009, four months before they were lost forever.

Summary:

The quality of life for our residents is at serious risk due to noise and traffic distribution, not to mention millions of dollars annually in lost wages and productivity incurred by Langley residents having to sit in traffic for 5 – 10 minutes (or more) each time a train goes by. Well there is a very interesting professional study produced in 2005 locally using a formula that had been developed from a university in the U.S. related to a cost/traffic/rail interface analysis.

There were eleven crossings analyzed using 2005 vehicle and train numbers and length for calculation. They are dramatically far less than today.

  • Based on ten of 18 port trains a day back in 2005
  • Average wait time 3 minutes
  • Average vehicle occupancy 1.5 people
  • Fuel Consumption idle 1.66 Liters per hour (Dept. of National Resources Canada statistic.
  • Fuel cost 90 cents per liter (todays cost $1.34?)
  • Lost time cost per individual $9.00 per hour

Extrapolating the above equates to

  • Direct cost of time lost per train             $  75
  • Cost of fuel consumed per train $    74
  • Direct cost to Langley residents per train $  49
  • Direct costs to Langley residents per day $6,674.90

The estimated total net economic loss per year to Langley City and Township residents resulting from Vancouver Port Authority Roberts Bank Delta Port train movements – $2,436,338.50 ! This is based on 2005 movement and cost numbers!

We look to our Council to seek out solutions to this pressing problem, putting the pressure, legal or otherwise, onto the current users based on historical agreements. If we don’t come to grip with this problem, as I said many times while in office, we will be two Municipalities, one North of the tracks and one South of the tracks!

NOTE – There are up to 4 Southern Rail Trains per day not included in the above calculation.

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

Congratulations to Mayor Jack Froese and Council; You once again continue to be the WORST financially performing major municipal government (elected Council) in the Province of B.C., very sadly quite an achievement!!!

Now, any action for change falls on the backs of you the taxpayers of the Township of Langley

 DO YOU CARE? GET INVOLVED TO CHANGE YOUR COMMUNITIES FUTURE!

“POLITICS IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT”

Remember the old Rafe Mair’s Axiom #1 – “You make a very serious mistake believing that people in charge know what the hell they are doing”. Ignoring the facts, is not an option!

In a just released updated independent research document by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business “B.C. Municipal Spending Watch 2017 (10th edition); Trends in Operating Spending, 2005 – 2015 determine that:

  • The Township of Langley ranks 20th out of 20 major (over 25,000 population) municipal governments in British Columbia – 2005 and 2015. YES again – LAST PLACE!
  • Put it another way, which is worse (if that is possible) in the overall provincial rank, the Township of Langley ranks 96th out of 152 of ALL cities, communities or municipalities.
  • The City of Langley after all is 23rd out of 152!
  • Port Coquitlam is #1 of 20 (The best performing) among major Municipal Governments.)

Key Findings:

  • B.C.’s population grew by 12 per cent from 2005 to 2015. Over the same period, operating expenditures adjusted for inflation ballooned by 46 per cent – close to four times faster than population growth.
  • In B.C., the excess spending above population growth and inflation over the past ten years represents $8.6 billion dollars. This means a B.C. family of four could have saved on average $7,445 in municipal taxes had municipalities kept their spending on a more sustainable path.
  • In B.C.s 20 largest Municipalities / Cities, between 2005 – 2015, Real Operating Spending per Capita Growth in % – The City of North Vancouver is 1st at 12.9% The Township of Langley is in last place, 20th at 56.7%!

CFIB Conclusions and Recommendations – Municipal operational spending is considered sustainable when it is at or below the rate of inflation and population growth. However, over a ten-year term between 2005 and 2015, the majority of municipal governments in BC have spent well in excess of sustainable levels. A major driver of unsustainable spending practices can be attributed to a broken collective bargaining system that drives up the cost of public sector wages and benefits. As this expense continues to rise, so do property taxes to support the rising costs. Ignoring the issue will only continue to add to the financial squeeze on British Columbian’s. Furthermore, as a disproportionate amount of taxes are passed onto small businesses, many are finding it difficult to absorb the increases. Only a small portion of B.C. municipal governments have demonstrated meaningful fiscal restraint. Excessive growth in operating spending by local governments leads to higher taxes which, in turn puts pressure on local commerce and stifles job growth. For local governments, the choice is clear: address their growth in operational spending now or leave a greater burden for future governments to deal with.

CFIB believes there is still an opportunity for municipal governments to adopt more sustainable spending practices. Ultimately, it will require strong political leadership.

Where is the Langley Times, Aldergrove Star and Langley Advance in reporting this meaningful information to their readers, you the taxpayer? Are they afraid of the repercussions? All three papers are owned by THE SAME COMPANY “Black Press”, an absolute embarrassment! Are you aware they split revenue from the Township of over $250,000 per year?

A little history is needed – What we are seeing now is a product of staff control and Council fiduciary irresponsibility going back to the 2002 – 2008 period, one of the key reasons I ran for Mayor and won in 2008. What was happening back then?

  • Council had voted for a Compound Property Tax Increases since 2005 – (6 yrs) +33.6% – Compound Cost of Living (CPI) of +9.3% throughout this 6 year period.
  • Voted against the recommendations of the Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance which included a need to look at department efficiencies in 2009 and a recommendation of a .93% tax increase. Immediately moved a motion to approve a 5% tax increase / passed.
  • During a 6 year period the majority of Council never voted against 1) any wage increase (Metro or Township), 2) an increase in staff numbers as requested by staff 3) a change in Council remuneration formula or 4) a Conversion of Fire Halls to full time.
  • The majority of Council supported the purchase of Redwoods Golf Course by Township of Langley –  no public referendum – Significant Public Cost tied to a very questionable contract with previous owner who has a comfortable management contract for 20 years and another 10 at their option. Township taxpayers continue to pay.
  • Supported purchase of Bedford House Restaurant by the Township of Langley –  no public referendum – Significant Public Cost of close to $1 million over assessed value.
  • Supported the sale of public land (Questionable advertising of non ALR Dixon Pit property) to close friends of some in the Township of Langley for pennies on the dollar. Sold for $2 million when market value of 40 acres developed just as hobby farms was estimated to be $12 – $14 million.
  • Building of Langley Event Center (LEC) for a cost of $66.2 million with the following
    • Awarded contract to the Langley Development Group (LDG) without a contractual agreement providing a clear understanding of the services they were paying for or what LDG was to provide.
    • No P3 partnership (To reduce Township taxpayer risk) This was promised and advertised in numerous press releases by the BC Gov’t and Township of Langley to the citizens of Langley. This was a LIE, there was no P3 agreement in place!
    • Supported 3 Council resolutions to permit staff to negotiate and conclude all contracts between the Township of Langley and the LDG. Council abdicated their fiduciary responsibility to staff from who should be responsible, that of Council.
    • Unwilling to review LEC agreements when no P3 agreement was uncovered, December 2008
    • No Business Plan
    • No public referendum
    • Despite no contractual agreement to do so, paid the Langley Development Group $8.83 million to go away. Settlement should not have been any more than $2 million max.
    • In an answer to the media: What did the taxpayers receive for $8.83 million? Jordan Bateman’s answer – Ownership of the LEC! Message to Jordan and the citizens of the Township of Langley, the Township always owned the LEC!
    • The Langley Development Group (LDG) who was awarded the contract under a less than open and public process had a principle partner, one Maury Keith (Jim Bond was the other partner with Keith whose construction company was awarded the building contract).

It is long past due that Township of Langley taxpayers should be awakened to what is being done to them every year and the accumulative effect of out of control spending and taxation. A few additional facts that should be clear when talking about Township spending –

  • An $800,000 expenditure in the Township of Langley equates to an approx. 1% tax increase.
  • A line that is often used by Municipalities is “they have to balance their budgets” per Provincial legislation – True except simple Math 101 will tell you that a) tax increases or b) increasing debt – will solve the balancing budget problem for municipal politicians and the bureaucracy in a heartbeat – they have learned that art form very well. It does nothing to stop their thirst for your tax dollars.
  • Capital Spending – A $7.5 million expansion to the LEC which received no public input, scrutiny or announcement prior to construction start. Public process in awarding this contract was non-existent! $7.5 million of your tax dollars on a whim!
  • Staff statements that these Capital expenditures do not affect taxation rates nor are they part of any tax payer supported debt is an insult to the intelligence of all of us. Regardless of how you cut it, funds for these expenditures came out of reserves, which were funded by taxation and will have to be replenished through taxation. There is only one taxpayer, YOU, this council just doesn’t get it and more importantly they refuse to challenge staff on proposed expenditures!

On the Taxation Side – Tax and Spending History:

The reasons for my criticism are real based on FACT, not imagination or hyperbole!

Tax Increases –

  • 2002 to 2008 + 26%              6 years
  • 2002 to 2011 + 40.49%         9 years
  • 2002 to 2014 + 49.08%         12 years

A compound tax increase of over 49% in 12 years!

  • How many residents had a 49% increase in pay over this period of time?
  • B.C.’s Cost of Living since 2002 – 2014 was only +19.9%            (Stats Canada / B.C.)
  • Taxation Increases – Close to 2 1/2 times the cost of living!

What is it you often hear at tax time? – On average a general property tax increase is only 2.95%? This is all slight of hand BS!

Creative Property Tax Statements –

I don’t know how many of you will remember, it wasn’t that far back, that our Property Tax Bill used to contain one if not a couple of classifications. In other words you received a tax increase of say 4% which included ALL services under the General – Municipal heading. Well in the spirit of creativity we are now being provided numbers for a variety of categories of services.

In reality it is nothing more than an attempt to justify their tax increase by breaking it out by category. We are now provided with –

  • General – Municipal
  • General – Protective Services (Fire and Police, I guess it could also include by-laws?)
  • Fraser Valley Regional Library
  • Parks
  • Sewer
  • Storm Water
  • Transportation – Roads

Maybe we should ask for “General – Administration” and “General – Legal” and “General Staff / Council Expenses” which seems to be a popular expense with today’s Council.

I am not sure how or why I should feel more comfortable, especially knowing how inadequate our budget process and oversight is.

As I stated above, the unbelievable but true fact remains it is staff under the direction of outside forces who are the ones steering and commanding the ship. Council members over the past 12 – 15 years have been nothing more than passengers on that ship taking their marching orders from those unelected. OH don’t get me wrong, Council members get their opportunity to make themselves feel good in front of the public in public debate, Q & A during Public Hearings (we know how that listening goes don’t we) and Notices of Motion (although I see Councilor Long wants to find a way to circumvent that opportunity, why am I not surprised). The fact is the MEAT of the management of our Municipality is left to others, those unelected! It is being allowed to happen by your Mayor and Council.

As to Budgeting:

As anyone in business knows, respect for a thorough budgeting process is essential to accomplishing the desired result of fiscal accountability on behalf of taxpayers in this case or survival of a business. In the case of Municipal Government that process requires RESPECT for your tax dollars through a thorough vetting of all departments provisional budget requests. Every single department, if left to their own will and resources has an extensive WANT list. The challenge is paring that down to an affordable NEEDS list. Now there is no question that budgeting is a very difficult process, it requires the elected (Council members) to be challenging of the unelected (Staff) line by line as to their and Council priorities measured against Municipal needs and measured against value for money. Again, it is all about RESPECT for your tax dollars. This Council by their actions has NO RESPECT for your tax dollars nor any respect for democracy.

It requires the elected to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money, both in operating and capital expenditures.

I will give you one small example – There was one discovery that my Standing Committee of Finance uncovered (among many) while going through the budgeting process. When Committee members questioned a few items of significance we discovered that staff had created “Capital Projects Funded – NOT STARTED” which went beyond the most recent year into the past number of years than the year we were dealing with. While investigating a number of these items we found that they were nothing more than a method of creating a variety of slush funds of convenience for staff. There are numerous such slush funds spread throughout the budget.

A fundamental principle should be to review every Capital Project approved by council that wasn’t started in that given year. Is it still needed? Why wasn’t it started? What was the business plan for it?

Another small example – At the start of our Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance process and in discussions with the CAO, one of our committee members who was a retired CA and Senior Managing Partner from a prominent accounting firm stated he would like to see us adopt a 0 based budgeting format, to which our CAO replied, we do, it is modified 0 based budgeting format. Most professionals in the business will tell you, there is no such thing – It is either O based or it is not! That was just the start of a no cooperation attitude.

In my opinion, going through the “well entrenched Township of Langley staff budgeting process of convenience” and my attempts to correct that process, it was clear that nothing was going to change. Councilors of the day Bateman, Fox, Ward, Ferguson, Dornan, Kositsky and Long were determined that would be the case. Today’s Mayor and Council by their actions are NO different! It was very clear to me that not one of the above ever met a tax or spending increase they didn’t like. Just look up their records, it is a fact!

I would also suggest Councilor Richter’s actions through this period were less than helpful. While she likes to come across as the taxpayer’s conscience, in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. I measure people by their actions not words! So all of us are left with the status quo!!

In Summary:

The Township of Langley has without exception one of the worst spending and taxation records within British Columbia! I have said it many times before, these Council members make a habit of adopting a staff budget, NOT a Council budget. If you don’t believe me go and compare a Provisional Budget presented by staff and compare it to the adopted budget by Council.

This long standing process of budgeting with tax increases and spending increases that are in some cases, three times the cost of living and more are just not sustainable. What is more worrisome is there is no move a-foot to change these habits. The only thing that will change what is happening is a NEW Council which can bring about change in senior administration, are you up for it? The election is less than one year away!

Am I surprised by this independent CFIB report NO! I warned residents of what was going on going back to 2007 and through the 2008 election to the end of my term in 2011. This is a shocking report and should serve as an alarm bell to taxpayers. The Township of Langley is a Municipal Government out of control with NO checks and balances, by staff or more important by your Council. Budget reviews are a joke and an insult to the intelligence of you the taxpayer. There is NO true budget review. As I stated earlier, a statement that I used in a public budget meeting when Council were determined to pass the staff Provisional Budget was “If Council adopts this budget you are adopting a STAFF budget NOT a Council Budget”. I received severe criticism by members of Council for that statement, but IT WAS TRUE! That statement is as true today as it was back in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Now we have this CFIB research supporting and proving that FACT.

There are an endless number of irresponsible decisions being made by this Council. To bring effective change you need a Mayor with a vision for good responsible government and ability to lead and a Council who can think for themselves and not just fill a chair to do others bidding.

Change will only happen if we can unite taxpayers from every community to bring dramatic change to this fiscally and morally irresponsible municipal government. I challenge all of those over the past number of years that got involved because of a parochial (self-serving) interest. It is beyond me how, knowing the truth about what is going on, taxpayers can sit back and dismiss so much wrong doing, what many would call corruption! Trust me, none of this stuff happens by accident!!

If you have any questions with respect to the accuracy of the content or about issues raised please contact me directly at any time. Contact information is available through www.langleywatchdog.com

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

As most will be aware it has been six plus months since my last BLOG Post, unfortunately this sabbatical was beyond my control due to personal health reasons. As I am sure those that know me well will understand, given the wide number of important policy and governance issues before us, municipally and provincially, it has been driving me crazy not to be able to write about them – UNTIL NOW! They are just too important to keep quiet about so we are back at it!

First up, why the delay in publishing our BLOG? An IMPORTANT PERSONAL MESSAGE! In short a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer, something nobody ever wants to hear right? On a personal note I would not normally go public with my personal situation but on second thought it is important to send a message out to our male readers, GET YOURSELF CHECKED OUT! My sense is the key reason us guys don’t get checked out is FEAR, that is understandable, BUT please remember, THE ALTERNATIVE IS NOT GREAT, IT CAN ONLY GET MUCH WORSE! Please understand anything I state here are my personal facts and my choices, everyone is different, but if my story and/or message help ONE person, this has all been worthwhile.

In my case it all started by receiving a call from our family doctors office asking me to come in for a physical exam before he could or would renew my prescriptions, it had been two years since my last exam. So off to the doctor for what most of us guys see as a very unwelcoming experience, followed up by getting all of the normal blood tests including a PSA test. My PSA, two years previous was 3.3 (normal right?), my test this time came back at 8.8 so I was scheduled for another PSA a month later which came back at 9.9. All of that bought me a ticket to a local Urology Specialist who immediately scheduled a biopsy – the unfortunate result Prostate Cancer. Out of 12 samples taken 12 had a varying number of cancer cells, it was aggressive. I am 71 years old and had none of the published signs of a prostate problem, I felt great!

So what now? I was immediately sent for a Chest X-ray, CT Scan, Blood Tests and Bone Scan, feeling very uncertain given the biopsy results? Obviously we had lots of questions through the process and all of the what-if questions we could think of. The good news – the results of all of the above tests were negative, no signs of cancer elsewhere, which obviously was THE concern and the results were a relief. But it is still Cancer!

Throughout this process we were given a variety of options for treatment, many with varying degrees of concern; however the primary initial treatment offered is Hormone Ablation Therapy (shots) every four months. FYI – Prostate Cancer cells grow by feeding on a man’s testosterone, the principle of hormone therapy is it reduces and/or eliminates testosterone which either kills off cancer cells or causes them to become dormant as their food source is eliminated. We started this treatment immediately. (The primary side-effects of Hormone Ablation Therapy that I experienced and still am experiencing are hot flashes which many women will know only too well.) I have been the brunt of many family jokes!

Well then what? Internal Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy), Direct Beam Radiation and/or surgery were all considered and discussed, but we were referred to a Radiation Oncologist at the Abbotsford Cancer Center for a broader discussion of the options. After a great deal of family discussion we went for Direct Beam Radiation which began a meticulous process followed by 28 days of radiation, 5 days a week (Monday thru Friday) for 28 days. The daily process of water consumption prep was tough but the radiation was a piece of cake for me while going through it but there is certainly a cause and effect that follows for a number of months (still dealing with it in the form of fatigue, a common side-affect). All of this said it was all very worthwhile, two months after my radiation my PSA was down to .017, which is very significant. The question now is how long it will last, but there are many other options coming, one step at a time!

In conclusion on this topic, I am only telling my story as it affected me based on my personal status, everyone is different, but my message is clear GET CHECKED OUT! Our medical system in my opinion was nothing short of outstanding and amazing from our Doctor to our Specialist to the timely scheduling of tests and appointments to the referral and care by the B.C. Cancer Agency. Am I out of the woods, probably not, after all again it is Cancer, but I am feeling very positive on my prognosis. I have no plans on going anywhere anytime soon. AGAIN A REMINDER, GET YOURSELF CHECKED OUT!

Back to langleywatchdog.com, why I continue to publish it and what is to come????????

NO, I AM NOT RUNNING FOR OFFICE AGAIN, so I will get that question out of the way, but I am determined to use my many years of experience as Provincial Candidate, Provincial Executive Positions, Mayor, Alderman, a member of the Mayor’s Translink Council plus years sitting on a multitude of Municipal and Metro Vancouver Committees to speak up and inform and educate the public. I use my network of insiders in obtaining information that will be of interest to readers. What to look for, what to be aware of and why you should be concerned, on what and where appropriate. I will be available to answer questions publicly and/or privately and willing to meet residents (publicly or privately) where and as needed.

For those old enough to remember Rafe Mair, a Lawyer, a Provincial Cabinet Minister and a long-time very popular open line host on CKNW you may remember his oft stated Mair’s Axiom 1 “You make a very serious mistake believing that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing”! From the inside, no truer statement was ever stated.

This BLOG was started in January of 2013, designed to inform and educate residents. To-date we have published in the neighborhood of 90 plus BLOG Posts on a wide ranging number of topics and issues that the general public should know and be educated about. Viewership as of today stands at over 80,000.

Our world of what and how citizens and residents learn about what is going on municipally and provincially has been stood on its head. Speaking of Municipal Government, our traditional source of learning about issues occurred through our local press, unfortunately not any more. Today, through mergers and consolidation our local press publishes nothing more than puff pieces as a fish wrap to carry local flyers. How do the local media stay alive? Example, when I left the Mayor’s office in the Township we were paying collectively about $250,000 annually to the Times, the Advance and the Star for our weekly Township page. Another major source of revenue is the Real Estate and development industry, and we know what is happening with development in the Township, don’t we? They are not interested in upsetting these sources of revenue; it is their bread and butter. I could go on and on about other reasons the local press is less than effective and mute on so many issues of local concern, but I digress! Maybe at a later date!

I will give the local editors, managers and publishers this much, they are having to meet budgets and directives from their employers and DO NOT have the resources they used to have to do the investigative job and reporting they should be doing. Having said that, given the intimidation by the powers that be, I don’t have any confidence they would report anything they did find. Oh as well let’s not to forget, they no-longer have any competition thanks to recent mergers and acquisitions. Something that used to be done effectively by the local press, the proper dissemination of information through investigative reporting, has become nothing but a joke on an unsuspecting public.

Sitting back for the past number of months and watching what is going on, specifically at the Municipal level has driven me crazy. Not just what is going on BUT the number of issues that are affecting the majority of residents in the Township of Langley which are not being dealt with by the local print media.

Stay tuned, we will frequently be publishing a number of BLOG Posts on a number of issues that you should be thinking about and in many cases concerned about. What is happening in 2018? By the looks of it there will be more than enough to cover and be concerned about.

 Let’s consider –

  • The 2018 Municipal Election – It will be a busy year for local candidate campaign news!
  • What will be the 2018 Campaign Issues?
  • Facts and issues in and around the Township of Langley in the areas of:
    • Finance – Debt and Taxation
    • Development – Community Plans and Zoning
    • Actions of Mayor and Council
  • The 2018 Provincial Referendum on Proportional Representation – What are the facts?
  • Translink plans as they affect the region and the Township of Langley
  • And of course news and views on Municipal and Provincial issues that break and are of interest to readers.

Remember Mair’s Axiom 1

“You make a very serious mistake believing that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing”!

Stay Tuned!

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe should be of significant concern and interest to residents of the Township of Langley.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and STAY ACTIVE!!!

 

Share this BLOG; FORWARD THIS POST TO YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS AND RELATIVES!

Your expectations of your Mayor and Council are…? So the Township of Langley, aside from being the CFIB WORST RATED major B.C Municipality, are a Mayor and Council with a MAJOR COMMUNITY LISTENING PROBLEM!

Some public comments and thoughts of Jack Froese.. Can you believe these? These are not manufactured, they are HIS words!

So Jack says…..

  • “I don’t make decisions based on petitions or public hearing turnout, I have to consider all of those who didn’t attend” – Jack Froese to Pete McMartin (Van. Sun) over Coulter Berry decision.
  • “Parents need to teach their children how to safely cross the street” in reference to their being no crosswalks on 216th Street – Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • “There would be safety initiatives taking place”, when asked what they would be, Froese said “he didn’t know” – Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • Residents stating that they hoped his attendance at the meeting would address their concerns. “Meeting, what meeting? I thought I was coming to a pancake breakfast.” – Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • … “it is not his job to do what his constituents want but what is best for them” – I guess Jack knows best – NOT! Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • And the ultimate blow, INSULT, after producing a campaign video that in his own words called for an Indoor Pool in Aldergrove – Jack Froese proceeds with building an Outdoor Pool which is the LIE heard around Aldergrove!

Say no more!!! Isn’t it comforting to know your Mayor could care less! I would say the same for the current members of Township of Langley Council. If Council are silent, which they are, they have to be considered part of the problem!!

What will it take for taxpayers to wake up and fight back? The fight MUST take political action to change Council and then CHANGE senior administration! The problem has been and continues to be two fold –

  • Communities (there are 7) Aldergrove, Brookswood/Fernridge, Willoughby, Fort Langley, Murrayville, Walnut Grove and Rural are NOT united, they are not fighting for and in support of each other’s issues and
  • Your Council has not and will not challenge and go against its administration AND its influential MLA Rich Coleman!

The proposed 216th Street overpass – It is correct that this proposed overpass has been on the books for decades, back to when Walnut Grove’s population and that of the Township of Langley were but a fraction of what it is today. I can recall a meeting that was prompted by me in late 2009 with staff from the Provincial Transportation Ministry, requesting an update on it’s status. I say that because I, admittedly, was not aware of this proposed overpass and interchange at the time I was elected. The issue was brought to me at one of my drop-in monthly Mayor’s forums in early 2009 by two residents of the Forest Hills community in Walnut Grove. They had recently purchased homes in that area (within the previous couple of years) and knew nothing about it, but learned about it after moving in. My recollection from that meeting with the Ministry was, IF an overpass was installed it would be at the Township’s cost. On hearing that it was also clear to me there was no chance of it being built. I also recollect that we looked at the cost and design (it was very limited, a simple on and off concept being considered IF at all – no cloverleaf). There was no way it was in the financial cards for the Township. So all of the foregoing is for the purposes of full disclosure, and to the foregoing I say… So what? It was considered early on for planning purposes but it wasn’t etched in stone, either it’s ultimate need, location OR design?

So why do I say this? When you get into elected office you will uncover more plans going back more years on more community issues than you can possibly imagine. These plans in most cases were developed BEFORE any substantive population or need existed and/or developed BEHIND closed doors by staff as a matter of course. They span numerous Councils long since passed. There is nothing wrong with planning, except NONE of those plans should ever see the light of day or come close to being implemented BEFORE a full transparent, detailed and open dialogue is conducted with ALL residents which MUST occur BEFORE ANY decisions are made! Communities change dramatically over time.

Residents / taxpayers deserve their fundamental right of having their voice heard BEFORE any Council and / or staff, come to a decision on any change that will so dramatically affect their community and its livability. Any change MUST go through an open, detailed and transparent process like Public Meeting(s), Public Hearings and open debate by members of Council. A practice that the current Township staff have become masters at and very proficient at is processing by-laws, OCP amendments AND OCPs in a one process public hearing with limited description of its content (What I have called for years as an Omnibus process). The descriptions in these OCP By-Laws, written and published for public consumption are less than adequate and far too vague with respect to what is actually being changed.

OCP BY-Laws #5000, 5010, 5011, and 5012 – These by-laws were introduced back in June of 2013 under the guise of bringing the OCP in line with the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy. Not only were these Omnibus OCP by-laws introduced in mid-June of 2013 but the Public Hearing and 3rd reading was given in late July of 2013. All of this was convenient for staff, mid-summer, nobody is paying attention. Unfortunately as is the regular practice in the Township it becomes an opportunity for slight-of-hand – What else can we include with this opportunity? All of this was done to the detriment of our residents.  When something like the irresponsible action on the imposition of a 216th Street Interchange is introduced and the change of the 216th Street Arterial Road designation finds its way onto the map, residents are left with an uphill battle in uncovering the truth. BUT please consider the following ?

  1. The NEW OCP just passed contains the designation of 216th as an Arterial Road.
  2. Stage 9 / WG Neighborhood Plan / Section 5 / Page 13 adopted May 26th, 1997 shows 88th / 96th / and 216th are Arterial Roads. It identifies 88th and 96th as providing 2 lanes each way and 1 lane each way on 216th. It doesn’t clarify the status of 216th South of 88th?
  3. However the Walnut Grove Community Plan Map Amended by By-Law No. 4690 dated April 20th 2009 identifies 216th South of 88th as Minor Collector Status which still exists does it not?

The stated policy for conflict resolution as stated in the OCP just passed states:

4.5.1. If there is a conflict with respect to a land use designation on Map 1 and land use designations in a community or neighbourhood plan, the land use designations in the community or neighbourhood plan will take precedence.

4.5.2. If there is a conflict with respect to a policy in this plan and a policy in a community or neighbourhood plan, the policy in the community or neighbourhood plan will take precedence.

What, when and how did this happen? Where were Council members? Did they know what was in these by-laws BEFORE voting for them?

I have followed this issue through information that is available publicly and find the Township’s actions are nothing less than a travesty of justice, but based on past first-hand experience I am not surprised. The Township goes back into the archives relying on past discussions, plans and/or concepts that may have been discussed in the past within public service departments. I might add once again that all of this happened WHEN Walnut Grove had a fraction of the population that they do today. So, regardless of past thoughts, plans and/or concepts, do residents not deserve a detailed public transparent process to be provided and for the community to be heard before a decision is made?

This decision should be fought on the legality on this and other issues but it is also a moral and ethical decision by your Municipal Government, an area of governance that this Mayor and Council have shown little interest in.

One of my first actions in office was to hold a monthly Drop In Mayor’s Forum (offered to call it a Council Forum but ALL of Council rejected the idea). Over three years about 1,000 residents attended this informal opportunity. Ask any question, privately or publicly. I said while in the Mayor’s office, Mayor and Council should NEVER be afraid to hear what the public have to say, if they are – then WHY?      

The Township of Langley, thanks to a few back room players still operate as though this is the Wild Wild West to the benefit of a few insiders. Council cannot be hiding behind and cowering from our Provincial Government Bullies. All of us are having our current and future quality of life negatively affected by these people who have had their way thanks to gutless local politicians up to now.

I would be willing to bet that a land deal is behind this specific proposal for 216th street. Who is behind it, we can only guess although it wouldn’t take too much imagination.

Can Council fight to support residents? Should Council fight to support residents? The answer is YES and YES! The following are examples of major issues that were successfully fought for, in many cases in spite of the lack of support by the majority of Council. For a Council member it takes guts and a will to fight and a will to be creative in that fight to win the day on issues that have broad public support in your community. The questions I ask above should be considered ridiculous by any reasonably thinking taxpayer. I mean for what other reason do we elect our Council members? Unfortunately, in the Township of Langley, the inbred autocratic management has for years stymied Council members who have shown NO will or guts to push back and investigate what is really going on. WHY?

Mufford Crescent Diversion a good example – (see previous post Part 2) This was a done deal and approved by the ALC when I was elected to office subject to 9 conditions. All players – the 12 funding partners including the Province of B.C., Translink, CP Rail, Delta, Surrey, Township of Langley Council and Staff, City of Langley, Peter Fassbender, Rich Coleman, Mary Polak, Ministry of Transportation, Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon and more, were strongly in favor of this project and were fighting for it every step of the way. All of the 12 funding partners claimed this project went through a public process. NOT!

Despite the ALC conditional approval, after the election one of my first actions was to call for two Open Houses and a General Community Meeting. None of this was required but well, over 1,000 residents turned out to these three opportunities to be heard and over 95% were opposed to the project.

The original project design would have destroyed about 300 acres of farmland. The reality is this wasn’t a transportation plan as suggested, in my opinion behind the scenes, this was a land deal, nothing else made any sense? We fought this through two losing votes of Council.

Reading the proponents answers to the nine conditions, our community committee of four pointed out three incorrect statements (some would call them lies) that were made to the Agricultural Land Commission by the proponents that won the day for us, thanks to the then Chair Richard Bullock. Richard Bullock made the right decision on behalf of his mandate to the residents of the Province of B.C., unfortunately he paid a price – in my opinion this decision paved the way for his eventual dismissal as Chair of the ALC.

Unfortunately in this province, with the current provincial government and it’s bullying leadership, a target on your back comes with any opposition to any of their plans. Prime example – After I announced that we would hold two Public Open Houses and a Public Meeting on this planned highway I received a letter from then Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon advising that should we not accept their plan they would take the money and move it to another community. Following that, in a meeting in his office in Victoria with the MFA (Municipal Finance Authority) I was verbally told the same thing by him on my way out of the office – to which I replied, go ahead, don’t threaten me! The result, we won, the money stayed in our community to build a more acceptable option.

Those with no guts capitulate and our taxpayers pay the price. The current provincial government has turned bullying into an art-form. It makes for bad and corrupt government. The final decision was arrived at by listening to taxpayers!

208th Street Truck Route is another example –  During my term on Council we were dealing with a report dealing with dedicating 208th Street as a truck route and part of the Translink Major Road Network (MRN) which would have provided some cost sharing from Translink to it’s development. At one of my monthly drop-in Mayor’s forums at Willoughby Hall a delegation of about 25 residents turned out requesting an answer as to whether this was going to happen. My response was, it will unless you can prove to Council it is NOT wanted. Making a long story short, on my advice, they went to work and secured a petition with over 3,000 names and submitted them to Council. They won the day and Council, while not unanimous, defeated this proposal. Again, this decision was arrived at by listening to taxpayers!

There are other examples – During my three year term as Mayor, against all odds we fought for the protection of an expanded Noel Booth Park, Browns Pit, a NEW Water Management Plan, Landfill on Agricultural Land, 224th Street local feed lot and more. All of these were citizen inspired initiatives that dramatically affected them, from every corner of the Township. Nothing less should be expected.

Can you recall one issue that Jack Froese has initiated or supported residents – What was the last issue you can recall that Jack Froese and/or this council fought for on behalf of residents? Aldergrove OUTDOOR Pool? There aren’t any!!!

What are the vehicles used by community groups to successfully fight back –

  • Invite conversation with all elected officials involved and make your case, if they won’t meet make the case very public who will or won’t meet with you.
  • Utilize social media / Facebook / twitter to shame them and call them out.
  • Petitions from and for all involved PLUS the greater community.
  • Local Media / Major media
  • Delegations by different people at every Council Meeting!
  • Remember there is a Provincial Election coming this May and a Municipal Election coming in less than two years!

Back to the 216th Street proposal – There is absolutely no question that listening to the community is essential and there are many other very viable options for this project that should be considered. Those options could include questions related to location, design, size, concept and the truck route issue? What is absent from all of this is a Council willing to stand up to it’s administration and provincial political representatives, otherwise considered by some as their (Council’s) Political Masters. One only has to look at history to draw that conclusion. It is not a stretch!

What is happening in the Township of Langley is embarrassing!!!! A Mayor and Council without the guts or backbone to stand up for it’s residents and against what can only be described as it’s provincial masters! It is all about Provincial bullying and intimidation! Is it too late to fight back, not in my view BUT that will depend on whether your elected Council is willing to stand up for their constituents. Where there are guts, determination and a will, there is a way!!

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

Share this BLOG; forward it to your friends, neighbors and relatives!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

Congratulations to Mayor Jack Froese and Council; You are the WORST performing major municipal government in the Province of B.C., sadly quite an achievement!!!

To the taxpayers of the Township of Langley – “DO YOU CARE?” Ignoring what is happening is not a solution as it is costing you dearly! GET INVOLVED TO CHANGE YOUR COMMUNITIES FUTURE, POLITICS IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT!

The best descriptive I could use to describe the dilemma facing the taxpayers in the Township of Langley is; – Rafe Mair’s Axiom – “You make a very serious mistake believing that people in charge know what the hell they are doing”. This BLOG Report on the FACTS on Spending and Taxation should give us all a lot to be concerned about!

In a just released independent research document by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business “B.C. Municipal Spending Watch 2016 (9th edition: Trends in Operating Spending, 2004 – 2014 determine that);

  • The Township of Langley ranks 20th out of 20 of major (over 25,000 population) municipal governments in British Columbia between 2004 and 2014. YES that is correct, LAST PLACE!
  • Put another way, what is worse (if that is possible) in the overall provincial rank, the Township of Langley ranks 112 out of 152 of ALL communities, municipalities and/or cities in the province of B.C.. The City of Langley after all is 48th! FYI – Maple Ridge is #1 (The best performing) among major Municipal Governments.)

Key Findings:

  • Only 5 out of the 152 municipalities (3 per cent) examined in BC kept operating spending in line with inflation and population growth over the past decade. None of the 20 largest municipalities made the list.
  • BC’s population grew by 12 per cent from 2004 to 2014. Over the same period, operating expenditures adjusted for inflation ballooned by 48 per cent – four times faster than population growth.
  • In BC, the excess spending above population growth and inflation over the past ten years represents $8.6 billion dollars. This means a BC family of four could have saved on average $7,445 in municipal taxes had municipalities kept their spending on a more sustainable path.
  • In 2004, BC residents spent on average $889 dollars for the operations of their local government (total municipal operating spending divided by total BC population). In 2014, that dollar amount increased to $1,178 per person when adjusted to inflation, representing a 33 per cent increase in operating spending per capita in BC.
  • BC’s major centres, Vancouver and Victoria, both increased their operating spending by 23 per cent from 2004 – 2014 after adjusting for inflation and population growth.

By those same parameters the Township of Langley increased their operating spending by 68.4% during that 10 year period after adjusting for inflation and population growth! 3 times greater than Vancouver and Victoria!

Where is the Langley Times, Aldergrove Star and Langley Advance in reporting this meaningful information to their readers, you the taxpayer? Are they afraid of the repercussions? All three papers are owned by THE SAME COMPANY “Black Press”, an absolute embarrassment! Are you aware they split revenue from the Township of over $200,000 per year?

A little history is needed – What we are seeing now is a product of staff control and Council fiduciary irresponsibility going back to the 2002 – 2008 period, one of the key reasons I ran for Mayor and won in 2008. What was happening back then?

  • Council had voted for a Compound Property Tax Increases since 2005 – (6 yrs) +33.6% – Compound Cost of Living (CPI) of +9.3% throughout this 6 year period.
  • Voted against the recommendations of the Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance which included a need to look at department efficiencies in 2009 and a recommendation of a .93% tax increase. Immediately moved a motion to approve a 5% tax increase / passed.
  • During a 6 year period the majority of Council never voted against 1) any wage increase (Metro or Township), 2) an increase in staff numbers as requested by staff 3) a change in Council remuneration formula or 4) a Conversion of Fire Halls to full time.
  • The majority of Council supported the purchase of Redwoods Golf Course by Township of Langley –  no public referendum – Significant Public Cost tied to a very questionable contract with previous owner who has a comfortable management contract for 20 years and another 10 at their option. Township taxpayers continue to pay.
  • Supported purchase of Bedford House Restaurant by Township of Langley –  no public referendum – Significant Public Cost of close to $1 million over assessed value.
  • Supported the sale of public land (Questionable advertising of non ALR Dixon Pit property) to close friends of some in the Township of Langley for pennies on the dollar. Sold for $2 million when market value of 40 acres developed just as hobby farms was estimated to be $12 – $14 million.
  • Building of Langley Event Center (LEC) for a cost of $66.2 million with the following –
    • Awarded contract to the Langley Development Group (LDG) without a contractual agreement providing a clear understanding of the services they were paying for or what LDG was to provide.
    • No P3 partnership (To reduce Township taxpayer risk) This was promised and advertised in numerous press releases by the BC Gov’t and Township of Langley to the citizens of Langley. This was a LIE!
    • Supported 3 Council resolutions to permit staff to negotiate and conclude all contracts between the Township of Langley and the LDG. Council abdicated their fiduciary responsibility to staff from who should be responsible, that of Council.
    • Unwilling to review LEC agreements when no P3 agreement was uncovered, December 2008
    • No Business Plan
    • No public referendum
    • Despite no contractual agreement to do so, paid the Langley Development Group $8.83 million to go away. Settlement should not have been any more than $2 million max.
    • In an answer to the media: What did the taxpayers receive for $8.83 million? Jordan Bateman’s answer – Ownership of the LEC! Message to Jordan and the citizens of the Township of Langley, the Township always owned the LEC!
    • The Langley Development Group (LDG) who was awarded the contract under a less than open and public process had a principle partner, one Maury Keith (Jim Bond was the other partner with Keith whose construction company was awarded the building contract).

It is long past due that Township of Langley taxpayers should be awakened to what is being done to them every year and the accumulative effect of out of control spending and taxation. A few additional facts that should be clear when talking about Township spending –

  • An $800,000 expenditure in the Township of Langley equates to an approx. 1% tax increase.
  • A line that is often used by Municipalities is “they have to balance their budgets” per Provincial legislation – True except simple Math 101 will tell you that a) tax increases or b) increasing debt – will solve the balancing budget problem for municipal politicians and the bureaucracy in a heartbeat – they have learned that art form very well. It does nothing to stop their thirst for your tax dollars.
  • Capital Spending – A $7.5 million expansion to the LEC which received no public input, scrutiny or announcement prior to construction start. Public process in awarding this contract was non-existent! $7.5 million of your tax dollars on a whim!
  • Staff statements that these Capital expenditures do not affect taxation rates nor are they part of any tax payer supported debt is an insult to the intelligence of all of us. Regardless of how you cut it, funds for these expenditures came out of reserves, which were funded by taxation and will have to be replenished through taxation. There is only one taxpayer, YOU, this council just doesn’t get it and more importantly they refuse to challenge staff on proposed expenditures!

On the Taxation Side – Tax and Spending History:

The reasons for my criticism are real based on FACT, not imagination!

Tax Increases –

  • 2002 to 2008 + 26%              6 years
  • 2002 to 2011 + 40.49%         9 years
  • 2002 to 2014 + 49.08%         12 years

A compound tax increase of over 49% in 12 years!

  • How many residents had a 49% increase in pay over this period of time?
  • C.’s Cost of Living since 2002 – 2014 was only +19.9%            (Stats Canada / B.C.)
  • Taxation Increases – Close to 2 1/2 times the cost of living!

What is it you often hear at tax time? – On average a general property tax increase is only 2.95%? This is all slight of hand BS!

Creative Property Tax Statements –

I don’t know how many of you will remember, it wasn’t that far back, that our Property Tax Bill used to contain one if not a couple of classifications. In other words you received a tax increase of say 4% which included ALL services under the General – Municipal heading. Well in the spirit of creativity we are now being provided numbers for a variety of categories of services.

In reality it is nothing more than an attempt to justify their tax increase by breaking it out by category. We are now provided with –

  • General – Municipal
  • General – Protective Services (Fire and Police, I guess it could also include by-laws?)
  • Fraser Valley Regional Library
  • Parks
  • Storm Water
  • Transportation – Roads

Maybe we should ask for “General – Administration” and “General – Legal” and “General Staff / Council Expenses” which seems to be a popular expense with today’s Council.

I am not sure how or why I should feel more comfortable, especially knowing how inadequate our budget process and oversight is.

As I stated above, the unbelievable but true fact remains it is staff under the direction of outside forces who are the ones steering and commanding the ship. Council members over the past 12 – 15 years have been nothing more than passengers on that ship taking their marching orders from those unelected. OH don’t get me wrong, Council members get their opportunity to make themselves feel good in front of the public in public debate, Q & A during Public Hearings (we know how that listening goes don’t we) and Notices of Motion (although I see Councilor Long wants to find a way to circumvent that opportunity, why am I not surprised). The fact is the MEAT of the management of our Municipality is left to others, those unelected! It is being allowed to happen by your Mayor and Council.

As to Budgeting:

As anyone in business knows, respect for a thorough budgeting process is essential to accomplishing the desired result of fiscal accountability on behalf of taxpayers in this case or survival. In the case of Municipal Government that process requires RESPECT for your tax dollars through a thorough vetting of all departments provisional budget requests. Every single department if left to their own will and resources has an extensive WANT list. The challenge is paring that down to an affordable NEEDS list. Now there is no question that budgeting is a very difficult process, it requires the elected (Council members) to be challenging of the unelected (Staff) line by line as to their and Council priorities measured against Municipal needs and measured against value for money. Again, it is all about RESPECT for your tax dollars. This Council by their actions has NO RESPECT for your tax dollars nor any respect for democracy.

It requires the elected to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money, both in operating and capital expenditures.

I will give you one small example – There was one discovery that my Standing Committee of Finance uncovered (among many) while going through the budgeting process. When Committee members questioned a few items of significance we discovered that staff had created “Capital Projects Funded – NOT STARTED” which went beyond the most recent year we were dealing with. While investigating a number of these items we found that they were nothing more than a method of creating a variety of slush funds of convenience for staff. There are numerous such slush funds spread throughout the budget.

A fundamental principle should be to review every Capital Project approved by council that wasn’t started in that given year. Is it still needed? Why wasn’t it started? What was the business plan for it?

Another small example – At the start of our Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance process and in discussions with the CAO, one of our committee members who was a retired CA and Senior Managing Partner from a prominent accounting firm stated he would like to see us adopt a 0 based budgeting format, to which our CAO replied, we do, it is modified 0 based budgeting format. Most professionals in the business will tell you, there is no such thing – It is either O based or it is not! That was just the start of a no cooperation attitude.

In my opinion, going through the “well entrenched Township of Langley staff budgeting process of convenience” and my attempts to correct that process, it was clear that nothing was going to change. Councilors Bateman, Fox, Ward, Ferguson, Dornan, Kositsky and Long were determined that would be the case. It was very clear to me that not one of the above ever met a tax or spending increase they didn’t like. Just look up their records, it is a fact!

I would also suggest Councilor Richter’s actions through this period were less than helpful. While she likes to come across as the taxpayer’s conscience, in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. I measure people by their actions not words! So all of us are left with the status quo!!

In Summary:

The Township of Langley has without exception one of the worst spending and taxation records within British Columbia! I have said it many times before, these Council members make a habit of adopting a staff budget, NOT a Council budget. If you don’t believe me go and compare a Provisional Budget presented by staff and compare it to the adopted budget by Council.

This long standing process of budgeting with tax increases and spending increases that are in some cases, three times the cost of living and more are just not sustainable. What is more worrisome is there is no move a-foot to change these habits. The only thing that will change what is happening is a NEW Council which can bring about change in senior administration, are you up for it? Just two years away!

Am I surprised by this report NO! I warned residents of what was going on going back to 2007 and through the 2008 election to the end of my term in 2011. This is a shocking report and should serve as an alarm bell to taxpayers. The Township of Langley is a Municipal Government out of control with NO checks and balances, by staff or more important by your Council. Budget reviews are a joke and an insult to the intelligence of you the taxpayer. There is NO true budget review. As I stated earlier, a statement that I used in a public budget meeting when Council were determined to pass the staff Provisional Budget was “If Council adopts this budget you are adopting a STAFF budget NOT a Council Budget”. I received flak by members of Council for that statement but IT WAS TRUE! That statement is as true today as it was back in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Now we have this CFIB research supporting and proving that FACT.

There are an endless number of irresponsible decisions being made by this Council. To bring effective change you need a Mayor with a vision for good responsible government and ability to lead and a Council who can think for themselves and not just fill a chair to do others bidding.

Change will only happen if we can unite taxpayers from every community to bring dramatic change to this fiscally and morally irresponsible municipal government. I challenge all of those over the past number of years that got involved because of a parochial (self-serving) interest. It is beyond me how, knowing the truth about what is going on, taxpayers can sit back and dismiss so much wrong doing, what many would call corruption! Trust me, none of this stuff happens by accident!!

If you have any questions with respect to the accuracy of the content or about issues raised please contact me directly at any time. Contact information is available through www.langleywatchdog.com

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

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