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.

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.

Well it has been a full and very interesting year in politics within all three levels of government as usual in British Columbia. In 2016 I took the liberty of taking a sabbatical for most of the last half of the year given our personal move off the farm. Our sole purpose at www.langleywatchdog.com is to offer profile on major issues, to inform the public; while offering a special insight based on first-hand experience as Mayor of the Township, Alderman in Delta (that is what we were in the late 80s) and about 40 years of activity behind the scenes municipally, provincially and federally.

We at www.langleywatchdog.com are gearing up for a very active year in 2017, preparing a number of featured BLOG Posts on issues, Breaking News and information. All of this focused on what will seriously affect residents of the Township, primarily at the Provincial and Municipal levels. Provincially, we are heading into a General Election in May and there are numerous simmering issues that are going to be hot topics of debate and conversation.

Municipally we have numerous Township of Langley issues plus Metro Vancouver’s regional issues that including Transportation that unfortunately residents are just are not but should be aware of. There is so much material and information that is just not getting into the Public’s hands; we will keep our readers informed. What is really happening behind the scenes, check us out starting again the first week of January 2017, tune into  www.langleywatchdog.com .

Over 70,000 views to-date! Feel free to contact me at any time by email, Facebook or by phone. All contact information is available on our BLOG and ALL contact is guaranteed to be confidential!

On behalf of www.langleywatchdog.com we want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year. See you in January 2017!

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!

The question…. What kind of municipal government do you want? Transparent, listens to the community and states the truth OR one that hides the truth from you in favor of friends and insiders?

Here is The Rest of the Story….  Here is Part 4 of a 4 part series looking at the truth behind what really went on during my three year term in the Mayor’s office. Is this the level of respect you want or are happy with from members of Council towards your choice for Mayor or for that matter to any other duly elected member of Council? You be the judge!   

So back to the controversy…. As stated earlier it was the reaction by a few well-connected individuals, some call them the Township of Langley Establishment, who have strong connections to senior municipal staff and those currently elected, against my actions and efforts to stop all the back room dealing. This applied to very questionable actions by the Council that I ran on and was elected to serve. Difficult? What an understatement!

From the outset I was fully aware that my actions which amounted to stepping on some BIG TOES could cost me, but I will admit never did I believe the steps that these people would go to attack me. The term dirty politics doesn’t come close to the depths of their attacks which fully included members of Council supporting their plan.

The Inconvenient TRUTH and FACTS about the INFAMOUS BROWN ENVELOPE and RCMP investigation into Mayor Green!  

It is long overdue for the citizens of the Township of Langley to be made aware of the TRUTH!

Council’s actions and reaction in response to information that I brought forward to them for information, was nothing short of outrageous. The reaction by Council members was nothing less than politically motivated, all timed and designed to short circuit a duly elected Mayor from performing his duties in office. It was a misguided ideological attempt to short circuit the voter’s wishes. Do you think I am overreacting in my conclusion? Only if you believe in the tooth fairy!

So what really happened to motivate the actions by members of council against the Mayor?

  • During three breakfast meetings in the months of May and June of 2009, arranged by a prominent citizen and friend, a casual comment was made at each meeting by a prominent citizen (one in each meeting, more on them later) about a company called Brownshack Developments Ltd., a name that I honestly had never heard of before. These meetings, just a few of hundreds that I held with citizens throughout the municipality, were just casual conversations and an introduction of myself, to residents and business owners, wanting to meet the new Mayor. Sounds simple doesn’t it? By the way, I have witnesses to these facts.
  • In August of 2009 I received an email accompanied by a B.C. Company Summary and a Corporate Securities Register with respect to this company. That register was an eye opener to me in that it contained the names of spouses of a few prominent citizens who had been shareholders of that company from May 15th, 1996 thru to March 2nd 2005 connected to one elected Langley representative (provincial) and a senior employee with the Township of Langley.
  • This news, as it was new to me, was an eye opener and on first glance looked POSSIBLY concerning. While I say that, the next decision was what to do with it, IF ANYTHING. For the ensuing number of weeks I kept those documents in my office reviewing them from time to time still unsure as to what steps to take, IF ANY and doing nothing was a possibility.
  • This was the case until Wednesday morning Oct. 27th 2009 when on my way to Rotary I picked up my newspapers. In our mailbox (located about 1,200 feet from our home on a rural property) it was a brown envelope (no name on the front) containing a copy of the Corporate Register that was in my office attached to an anonymous letter outlining unfounded allegations addressed to Kent Spencer of the Vancouver Province. My immediate concern was that a story may appear in the Sunday Province and I had to inform council of this information in case that should occur. This obviously was a complete shock, however I contacted a few very high profile and well connected individuals I knew asking who to contact for independent legal advice (I did not tell them anything about the issue). I made an appointment with Allan Hamilton QC immediately and went downtown to his office that morning. I reviewed the details of the issue with Mr. Hamilton and he confirmed my opinion of what to do next, specifically call an In-Camera meeting with council immediately with no staff present. On return to my office that is exactly what I did through the Clerks Office. I took this action based on my review of the following section of the Community Charter which relates to the Mayor’s responsibility to Council:

Community Charter Section 116 (2) (b) states  “to communicate information to the Council”….  in other words keep Council informed.

  • For 24 hours before the meeting some members of Council on receipt of the notice of the special in-camera meeting badgered me a number of times as to what the meeting was about etc. Given the nature of the information it was prudent to only discuss this information when everyone was around the table. On calling the meeting to order on Thursday October 28th, 2009 at 7:00PM I had council react in what could only be described as a combative, immature and irresponsible way, some telling me they had known of this for over a decade, this was a non-story and Bateman said he wrote on this 12 years earlier. I was accused of trying to ruin personal reputations and much more. A meeting from hell for trying to do the job I was elected to do!

Ruining personal reputations? Nothing could be further from the truth. This was exactly why I handled it in the fashion I did, as I was advised, to protect everybody’s identity in an in-camera meeting with no staff present.

This issue turned out to be nothing more than another issue of convenience; it fit their campaign strategy against the Mayor perfectly. They didn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story!

  • On Oct. 29th, 2009 Councillor Ward presented a Notice-of-Motion to the effect that Judy Rogers, a Consultant for the Corporation, hire a third party to review the actions of the Mayor, his calling of an in-camera meeting and his handling of an anonymous letter related to this issue. That notice-of-motion was presented and passed in the Special Closed Meeting of Council December 7th, 2009.

I can tell you that as Mayor I was chairing all of these meetings. This motion was passed without any discussion or debate related to my actions which were very clear and evident to members of council supported by legal advice and NO consideration of cost.

  • Don Lidstone was hired to investigate my actions. He did a very thorough investigation, interviewed all of us, submitted a report and met with council. In that report he reached the conclusion that I followed legal advice, did not breach my oath of office nor did I break any law. In his request to interview me he advised that I could bring legal-council with me, a choice that I declined given the fact I had nothing to hide.

During Don Lidstone’s investigation and interviews it seems the only thing members of council were concerned about or interested in was what actions they could take against the Mayor. The one issue council was concentrating on is I had told legal counsel and members of Council that when I received the info in that envelope it was the first I had heard of the issue when in fact I had received it Aug. 5th, 2009 by email. I provided Council with a statement of explanation and apology at the time of Don Lidstone’s report admitting that fact as well as stating that I had been told, as I stated earlier, in breakfast meetings about this issue in May and June of 2009. Why did I mislead Council as to when I knew this info – My reason for that was I was mad at myself for not advising Council back in August as I was procrastinating on where to take this information, if anywhere. Another very significant part of my rationale was that I was trying to protect my sources.

It still bothers me as to how that information got out of my office. I investigated and found out the locks on the Mayor’s office hadn’t been changed since the building opened in 2005, the day they moved into the new Municipal Hall office and there were twelve people or departments who held a key. That was corrected.” In the end it was determined as I recall there were over 30 people that had access to my office. Great security for the Mayor’s Private Office?

  • In a subsequent meeting of council a motion was introduced and passed to provide Council Members with independent legal advice paid for by you the Township taxpayer and to EXCLUDE the Mayor. Their motion that was passed and excluded me for support of my legal expenses was contrary to an existing policy in the Township that states legal expenses will be paid except in cases of guilt. I was found not guilty of anything! Fair, you be the judge! They continued to badger Lidstone with the question – what else could they do to discipline the Mayor other than censure, apology and removal from the Metro Board. (they were warned about what they could say in a public statement to ensure my position, integrity and respect could or would not be brought into question.)
  • Council Committee of Inquiry – After considerable badgering of Don Lidstone by Council members about what else they could do to the Mayor he relented that there was a Council Committee of Inquiry that could be established, permissible under the Community Charter. This was news to me and it carried with it subpoena powers over the signature of the Mayor. Basically similar to a judicial body but made up of members Council. This was of great concern to me, not for me, but for the office of the Mayor. Remember the three prominent citizens I told you about earlier, those that I had breakfast with and received that first information about Brownshack? Council were very upset that I wouldn’t tell them who they were! Don Lidstone wanted to interview them. I had my contact phone the three involved and ask them if they were willing to be interviewed. They came back very quickly and said no, keep us out of it. I told all involved their privacy would be protected by me. With that answer in hand I secured a lawyer to deal with this Committee of Inquiry issue. It took a while but my lawyer was able to get the point across to ALL concerned that by legislation it was the Mayor, not Deputy Mayor or the appointed Mayor that had to sign any subpoenas, and this Mayor would not be signing any subpoenas.

Why not sign subpoenas or why fight this Council Committee of Inquiry? The Mayor’s day or for that matter a Councillors day consists of hours and hours of conversations, meetings and discussions with residents. To ensure trust in the office those discussions, meetings and conversations must remain confidential. The public’s trust in an elected office would deteriorate and be destroyed quickly if that wasn’t the case.  To-date the closest I have come to identify the three individuals I had breakfast with is to say they are very prominent citizens. I could have solved my problem by disclosing their names, names I know members of Council know very well and would be shocked at who they were.

I will now go further for the first time, not naming names as that was my promise but I will say now that they were THREE VERY VERY PROMINENT LAWYERS in the Township of Langley. (Let the guessing begin!)

What is important here is to state that it was the principle of protecting the Mayor’s ability to have confidential discussions with constituents that I was fighting for. As an aside I would pay big money to see the looks on the faces of members of Council if these three showed up to testify, but I digress!!!!

The public should be aware that council caused legal expenditures for the Township of over $100,000. (paid for by you the taxpayer) My personal legal expenses to defend myself against a frivolous non-issue amounted to over $25,000. in after tax dollars, an expense I had no choice but to engage given the actions by members of council! I could have solved my problem by going back on my word, something that would have saved my family $25,000 but something that I was not prepared to do.  

As stated by lawyer Don Lidstone – “There is no legal requirement for any public statement or report; any such action would be based on political considerations. If council considers any release of a statement or report to the public, the statement or report would have to be carefully redacted to protect the Mayor’s personal and private information in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and to ensure that he is not defamed by the statement or report. As stated, the decision to release a statement or report to the public would be based on political considerations, and is not required by law.”

Summary to this point:

This has to be the most politically motivated attack on a Mayor in the lower mainland.

What was the issue? – Simply, I received information that members of council should know. I sought and followed legal advice and outlined the issue to council. Council claimed to know all about the information which is where it should have stopped. Instead we dealt with this issue for ten months with some members of council still fighting the 2008 election and getting ready for 2011. It was a political attack of considerable proportions designed to remove me from office sooner than later. It wasn’t going to happen and defies anything democratic, I would not bend to threats, political attacks OR bullying.

It all reached what I thought was a conclusion in the afternoon in-camera meeting of Council on September 13th, 2010. Council were preparing a Press Release, my lawyer was in attendance, and I served notice that if they wanted to take this public I would be issuing a Press Release with all relevant information on the issue. They would not get away by accusing me of wrong doing when none existed. I scheduled a Press Conference to be held in the Council Chambers for 10:00 AM Tuesday September 14th, 2010. That notice went out during the evening of September 13th, 2010. I released all information including the Securities Register and the Kent Spencer letter which was attached to my Press Release. For the record (and you will see why shortly) at the conclusion and after terminating our in-camera meeting, I told Don Lidstone I would be releasing these documents as they were not in-camera material. Specifically they existed in the public realm before the existence of our in-camera proceedings. Therefore they could not be considered in-camera protected.

As bad as all of this was there was more, an RCMP investigation!

Well all of this wasn’t enough for the likes of Grant Ward. I received word in early January of 2011 that a complaint had been filed against me in December. I was blind-sided by John Daly of Global News coming out of a Council Meeting in early January 2011 and was confronted with this revelation. Given the reaction by some members of Council, it was clear they were all aware of it except me. There were all kinds of comments made about the Mayor and about me having to step down, this was a criminal investigation and more. A tough day in the Mayor’s office, you bet!

It wasn’t until I pursued a meeting with the investigating officer that one actually took place. You would think due process would have placed the accused as a higher priority, especially the Mayor in a highly-charged environment. In that meeting with my lawyer present (more money) that I discovered Grant Ward and Joel Schacter were among those that filed the complaint (RCMP disclosed that fact). The complaint “Are you ready for this” was that I was in breach of a Provincial Statute namely the release of an in-camera document! The document in-question – the information I received in my mailbox that day, the documents that was in the public realm that could not be classified as in-camera material and the documents I warned members of Council that I would release if they pursued this non-sense any further.

No, it wasn’t anything more than that and it was NOT criminal! Funny how this works, with the help of members of Council I was slandered repeatedly in the media without so much as an explanation of the facts nor any correction to the headlines!

In Closing – An irresponsible action by members of Council, followed up by an irresponsible waste of tax payer dollars, proven to be not guilty, followed up by a bogus complaint to the RCMP over the release of documents already in the public realm, followed up by a 10 month investigation over the release of these documents which included Crown Counsel returning them (not interested) and Special Crown Counsel returning them (not interested).

As all of this wasn’t enough over a non-issue (political) finally an Independent Special Prosecutor David Crossin QC was appointed and concluded NO CHARGES should be laid against Langley Township Mayor Rick Green. His final report follows –

MEDIA STATEMENT

CRIMINAL JUSTICE BRANCH

September 9, 2011 11-17

Mayor Rick Green – Decision of Special Prosecutor Announced

Victoria – The Criminal Justice Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General today announced that independent Special Prosecutor David Crossin, Q.C. has concluded

that no charges should be laid against Langley Township Mayor Rick Green, following an RCMP investigation into his alleged actions in September 2010, in

connection with his censure by Langley Township counsel. Having reviewed the investigative report prepared by the police and applied Criminal

Justice Branch policies and charge approval standards, Mr. Crossin concluded that there is no substantial likelihood of conviction for any offences.

Mr. Crossin, a senior Vancouver lawyer, was appointed by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert W.G. Gillen, Q.C. on June 7, 2011, following receipt of the

Report to Crown Counsel prepared by police in relation to their investigation. Given the position of Mr. Green, as well as the complainants and potential witnesses

involved in the case, Mr. Gillen concluded that it was appropriate to appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Mr. Crossin’s mandate included:

  • Conducting an independent charge assessment review of the Report to Crown Counsel submitted by the investigative agency and making the charging decision

he deemed appropriate in the exercise of his independent prosecutorial discretion.

  • Offering such legal advice as was necessary to the police in the event that further investigation by them was required;
  • Providing a written report to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General with the results of his review and the reasons for his decision;
  • If in his view a prosecution was warranted, continuing that prosecution and any subsequent appeal.

The Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Justice Branch appoints Special Prosecutors pursuant to the Crown Counsel Act when there is a significant

potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of criminal justice.

The decisions of Special Prosecutors are final, subject only to receiving written directions from the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General or Assistant Deputy

Attorney General for the Criminal Justice Branch. In such an event, those directions must be made public by publishing them in the Gazette.

Given that no charges have been approved by Mr. Crossin, neither he nor the Criminal Justice Branch will be releasing any details of the report which he reviewed.

This Media Statement has been reviewed by the Special Prosecutor and he has

approved its release.

Media Contact: Neil MacKenzie

Communications Counsel

Criminal Justice Branch

(250) 387-5169

 

IMPORTANT – Contrary to what came out in the media this investigation was not criminal BUT a complaint that I breached a Provincial Statute by releasing in-camera documents pertaining to Brownshack Developments. The documents I released came to me from the public therefore it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize they were not subject to the rules of in-camera. All of that being said it took the RCMP and three Crown Prosecutors 10 months of expensive investigation (your tax dollars) to agree I did nothing wrong. Interesting point, the timing of their decision’s Press Release came a short two months BEFORE election day! 

So lets see, you have a Mayor who was out of favor because I fought against the Provincial Government and or MLA Rich Coleman (a former Solicitor General and RCMP officer) on a number of issues (Land Deals, Events Center, Translink, Mufford Cresc.); and you have a complaint by Councilor Grant Ward (a former RCMP officer)? Political? NO, say it ain’t so!

Now lets be clear I am NOT suggesting anything, I am just saying!

Once again, this took 10 months with the decision from the Independent Crown Counsel coming out on Sept. 9th, 2011. A short 2 months BEFORE election-day! Actually it worked to perfection as far as the Langley Establishment was concerned.

How was all of this possible you say, only in the Township of Langley!

 

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 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 question … What kind of municipal government do you want? Transparent, listens to the community and states the Truth, OR one that hides the truth from you in favor of friends and insiders?

The Rest of the Story….  Here is Part 3 of a 4 part series looking at the truth behind what really went on during my three year term in the Mayor’s office. Is this the level of respect you want or are happy with from members of Council towards your choice for Mayor or for that matter to any other duly elected member of Council? You be the judge!   

So back to the controversy…. As stated earlier it was the reaction by a few well-connected individuals, some call them the Township of Langley Establishment, who have strong connections to senior municipal staff and those currently elected, against my actions and efforts to stop all the back room dealing. This applied to very questionable actions by the Council I was elected to serve with. Difficult, what an understatement!

From the outset I was fully aware that my actions which amounted to stepping on some BIG TOES could cost me, but I will admit never did I believe the steps that these people would go to attack me. The term dirty politics doesn’t come close to the depths of their attacks which fully included members of Council supporting the grand plan.

Next Up, Settlement of the LEC (Langley Event Center) Boondoggle – The issues surrounding the Langley Event Center started with the fact there was no P3 agreement (start of this post) as told to the residents of the Township for years. But that was just the tip of the ice-berg!

(This topic is covered in depth in my March 3rd, 2013 BLOG Post)

As I have repeatedly said, there should be a Forensic Audit on this facility. It is filled with a litany of very questionable decisions which I have gone through in depth in my earlier BLOG Post.

I had a choiceDo I tell the public the truth after the conclusion of final negotiations? You decide? Any grade 12 business student (Councilor Richter take note, you should be more than embarrassed) would have corrected or fought against the obvious financial / business wrongs that were a part of this development. After my election and getting involved with the status of the LEC, I was shocked at the apparent willingness of council to fall in line with the direction of staff and not challenging what was going on. The Council of the day (Long, Fox and Richter still on Council) permitted this to happen without being called to account.

Council gave staff the authority to negotiate and conclude all agreements? That is correct, Council gave staff, by and through three resolutions, the responsibility to sign off on what they (staff) saw fit. Council members totally abdicated their fiduciary responsibility. To this day I can’t believe what was allowed to go on unchallenged. Despite myself making some significant changes, at the end of the day a completely unwarranted $8.6 million settlement was agreed to with the so-called (NOT) private partner. The complete detail and truth was issued in my press release dated Wednesday, December 15th, 2010. By the way, the local media ignored this as they ignored everything else. Why? As one publisher told me it wasn’t as bad as I said it was and it wasn’t as good as they say it was. What a cop out, a reflection of the complete lack of scrutiny and the total incompetence by this council and your local media. A complete disservice to our community!!!

Next Up, Soil Deposit on Agricultural Land – Despite citizens hearing and being told by the Township of Langley for years that the control of soil deposit on agricultural land is the responsibility of the Agricultural Land Commission, we discovered this was a lie! The facts were uncovered in previous correspondence with the ALC. Further, on a tip from a resident I uncovered a letter written by the TOL CAO to the ALC stating there was a resolution of Council in November 2005 to send all land fill applications to the ALC (as required by provincial legislation) for review and approval, when in fact there was NO such resolution of Council. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to suggest or at least ask the question, when Provincial Legislation stipulates one thing (commonly called “the law”) and you ignore it, in other words you advise a Provincial Crown Agency (ALC) there was a resolution as required by Provincial statute, when in fact it didn’t exist, does that not break the law? Who is responsible? How many property owners had been adversely affected by neighboring soil deposits during that five year period? Just asking! Do these affected residents, if negatively affected, not have a legal argument against the Township of Langley?

I had a choice – Do I tell the public the truth or not? Not a chance that was I going to allow this wrong doing to continue. I would suggest that there have been many residents who have been adversely affected by incorrectly approved soil deposits on rural neighboring properties. I would also suggest that there are liability issues out in our community, thanks to the actions of staff and members of council. I can hear Richter from here, “there you go again promoting a lawsuit”! This was a statement she made against me in an open Council meeting when I said IF the Township issued a fill permit to my neighbor and we ended up with a water problem I would sue. No, Kim, it is called being honest and fulfilling your responsibilities to the taxpayer of your community. A foreign concept I know, to some! Could a group of these affected residents make an interesting court challenge against the Township of Langley? You be the judge!

Conclusion – All of the above are what I would call the major issues, but there were and are many many more ie the Park Lane Condo Wall in Fort Langley (adding 4th floor / increase in density at 4th reading, illegal), school sites in Willoughby and now with a friendly supporting Mayor you see the controversial Coulter Berry Building in Fort Langley, a $7.5 million expansion of the LEC (no public input, notification or process) by the current Council, the Brookswood / Fernridge planning debacle and the OUTDOOR Aldergrove Pool (Promised an Indoor Pool) it goes on and on and on!

So where do Township of Langley residents go from here?

I tried my best to correct these bad decisions. I am very pleased in what I was able to accomplish – as a matter of fact I accomplished more in three difficult years than Kurt Alberts accomplished in nine years. But it appears to me that we are, I was going to say back to square one, but I would suggest we are further back than that. Don’t believe me, just look at the decisions that are being made in Willoughby, Fort Langley, Trinity Wall / University District Development, Tuscan Development, Coulter Berry favors, expansion of the LEC, TOL Outdoor Pool (promised Indoor) in Aldergrove and the wrong-headed Brookswood Community Plan.

Rail Traffic – FACT – We will see up to 38 – 15,000 ft. (per information through Westshore Terminals) unit trains per day (coal and containers) in the years ahead with the development of Roberts Bank without a sound or ounce of protest coming from members of Council or staff. After years of silence on the subject we are now hearing (a little late) about the need for more overpasses given the expansion, only now coming to light.  With this we are losing out on a Community Light Rail Passenger Service from Scott Road to Chilliwack on the Interurban Corridor. During my term we secured the renewal of passenger rights on this corridor, 4 months BEFORE they were to expire forever, but those now in power at the Provincial level and Municipal level are ignoring this opportunity at our / your expense. You see renewing them is one thing, activating passenger service will require the political go ahead from the Province and by extension B.C. Hydro.

I don’t know what it is going to take to get residents actively involved to make the changes that are so dramatically needed in the next election. I tried and believe me I don’t apologize. The one thing I didn’t expand on is the red herring legal issue that I was attacked on which was an absolute sham, that will be covered in Part 4 of this series. Once again, on Council I was at a serious disadvantage given the disparity of votes and what can only be described as an ineffective, biased attack dog Council.

I don’t like to raise personal issues relating to my family but in this case it speaks to the character, or lack of character of one Councilor Grant Ward. In the middle of my last year I had a very serious personal issue occur; My daughter, who was 6 months pregnant with her first child was diagnosed with two malignant melanoma brain tumors with, in the view of a couple of top neuro-surgeons in the province, there was very little they could do for her. During that very dark 48 hour period we discussed putting her on life support to save the baby. Well we received the best gift that any parent / grandparent could ever receive, today as unbelievable as it sounds we have a healthy daughter and granddaughter in our lives.

Why I mention that personal story is a short anecdote in closing Part 3; on the first Monday meeting (2 days) after my daughter’s diagnosis, I had excused myself from the Monday meeting of Council (I was at Shannon’s bedside in hospital) and I asked Acting Mayor Bob Long through my assistant to read a statement publicly on my behalf given unfounded rumors that had been circulating about my absence. Acting Mayor Long was interrupted by none other than one Grant Ward saying in effect that a Council Meeting was not the place for that statement. I understand Bob continued to read my statement which I wouldn’t have expected anything less, but this kind of immoral action displays what kind of individual there was sitting on council. I also have it on record that Councilor Ward had made a number of comments at community events to supporters of mine that I was seeking sympathy. I rest my case!

There is obviously much more to that story but on a personal note it puts life into perspective. What is really important in life? That is an easy answer – FAMILY!!

Part 4, and the final BLOG Post of this series will expand on the most controversial issue to-date. That was the now infamous brown envelope and subsequent police investigation. How that came about, who laid the complaint and the inconvenient facts (to some). It is interesting that after holding a press conference, issuing a detailed press release and answering all questions from an audience of regional and local media we never received anything close to fair coverage in the media other than controversial head-lines. So for the inconvenient truth and uncomfortable facts behind that issue – Read Part 4!

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 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 question … What kind of municipal government do you want? Transparent, listens to the community and states the Truth, OR one that hides the truth from you in favor of friends and insiders? You have had the latter for years and continue to do so!

The Rest of the Story cont’d….  Here is Part 2 of a 4 part series looking at the truth behind what really went on during my three year (some would say controversial) term in the Mayor’s office. Is this the level of respect you want or are happy with from members of Council towards your choice for Mayor or for that matter to any other duly elected member of council? You be the judge!   

So back to the controversy….

First up, first Council Agenda of my term –

Langley Events Center (LEC) – No P3 Agreement as publicly promised to the taxpayer FOR TWO YEARS BY staff and ALL members of Council and the Province of B.C. through regular PUBLIC press releases (A lie, you bet it was) – Contained in our FIRST Council In-Camera Agenda was a staff report requesting an additional $7.5 million for the NEW Langley Events Center (75% complete at the time) along with a number of recommendations for the facility. With some obvious concerns I had after reading the Agenda and associated reports over the weekend I asked our CAO for a signed copy of the extensively and publically advertised P3 agreement at an 8:00 AM Monday meeting scheduled by myself. His answer – there wasn’t one. Shocked and armed with this new revelation I went into our first in-camera meeting, innocently enough and advised Council of what I had learned and I requested the courtesy of Council for a one week deferral so a new Mayor, a new Councilor (one councilor was away) could be brought up to speed. Their answer, put forward by then Councilor Jordan Bateman (you remember him, he of Canadian Taxpayer fame, and alleged defender of the taxpayer) call the question on the motion and the staff report and recommendations were passed. A reasoned request denied in 5 seconds. (NOTE – This entire LEC financial boondoggle issue was extensively covered in a previous BLOG Post of March 3rd 2013.) It was not an issue during the 2008 election campaign because the issue was unknown at the time but was the first to hit my desk.

Councilors responsible for not agreeing to a reasoned one week deferral – Charlie Fox, Grant Ward, Jordan Bateman, Bev Dornan, Mel Kositsky, Bob Long and Steve Ferguson!

Now to be clear, I had a Choice – Do I tell the public the truth or NOT? My first Mayor’s Report in the next Council meeting was in keeping with my belief in an open, transparent and responsible government. I announced that there was no P3 agreement in place and I was very concerned. (P3 agreements are established so as to share the risk, this was not done.) A lie was perpetrated on the taxpayers of the Township. I received criticism from members of Council for telling the truth. One Council member was quoted in the press as saying I don’t understand why the Mayor had to make that public, say NO MORE? IMPORTANT – For a complete understanding of why I still say this project should undergo a Forensic Audit go to the March 3rd, 2013 langleywatchdog BLOG Post.

Next up, Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance – One of my campaign promises was to set up a Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance, permitted for the Mayor to establish under Community Charter legislation. I appointed three members of Council and three very qualified citizens of the Township, one a well-known and then just retired managing (loca) Director (CA) of a large local accounting firm, a retired federal auditor and a local lawyer. The majority of Council expressed their displeasure with my actions as they were pleased with the job they had done in the area of taxation and spending (Please see their record of taxation, over a six year period taxes increased at 3 times the rate of inflation BLOG Post May 2013) and it was downhill from there. They didn’t stop there, Councilors Ward and Ferguson, along with some firefighters and media in tow crashed a few of our committee meetings in nothing but a disgraceful, embarrassing and very public spectacle which negated anyone volunteering in future years.

This committee spent weeks of very hard work, met every department and went through the Provisional (Staff) Budget line by line. Questions were asked that challenged staff, something that hasn’t been done before or since. All of this went into the conclusions and recommendations of the committee. A comprehensive report was presented to Council in an open 4:00PM meeting and not one question was asked of members of the committee by Council. The report included a recommended tax increase of .93%, (less than 1%!) it was totally ignored. Yes, Jordan Bateman, he of Canadian Taxpayer fame, you know the defender of the taxpayer was on Council and with the majority of Council supported and approved a 4.9% tax increase. At the time, three times the cost of living (the CPI)!

I had a choice – Do I live up to my commitment and promise which I was elected on as presented during the 2008 election, or capitulate to members of council that liked everything the way it was? I was not willing to capitulate and continue their way of doing things which was not serving the public well. Among a number of initiatives, we wanted to conduct were value for money audits. For some reason (use your imagination here), Township Councilors and staff didn’t like the idea.

Next up, Mufford Crescent Diversion –  A $60 million multi funded (12) partner project, which was UNKNOWN to the public prior to the 2008 election. There was (no public consultation, input or knowledge) of the project that by design was going to direct 500 cars per hour north when they want to go south onto a two lane country road at 216th and 64th. (a land deal for somebody but not a traffic solution!) Following a promise I made during the election campaign, after winning, before swearing in and two days before the ALC was going to vote on this application I served notice to the ALC that we would be going to public consultation through two Open Houses and a Public Meeting. After attracting over 1,000 residents to these three events with over a 95% Public REJECTION of the proposed overpass and road plan Council requested a Vote on the project at a 4:00 PM untelevised afternoon meeting. Due to the high profile nature of the issue I advised Council BEFORE their vote that should they vote in favor of the overpass I would bring it back in two weeks to a televised evening meeting for a public vote as allowed under the Community Charter for the Mayor. Both votes approved the proposed project 6 – 3. (Green / Richter / Kositsky opposed) As far as I was concerned that was that, Council would have to live with their decision, ignoring the wishes of the public. For the record, as mentioned earlier, the ALC, before our swearing in had given this project Conditional Approval subject to nine very specific conditions. In any event I thought that was the end of it but I was mistaken. The public should be alarmed at what happened next.

That was the case until June of that year. I was apprised of a submission by The Pacific Land Group to the ALC on behalf of the 12 funding partners. This submission was the formal response to the nine conditions (conditional approval) by the ALC with respect to this initiative. I contacted our CAO Mark Bakken requesting a copy of the submission. Reading this report was a revelation! How wrong and misleading could one report possibly be? (A full explanation on Mufford is contained in an earlier BLOG Post of February 22nd, 2013)

I had a choice – Do I tell the Agricultural Land Commission the truth or not?

Was the Mufford Crescent Diversion a done deal? Never-the-less, due to the absolute erroneous information in this report upon which the ALC was going to make a final decision, I along with three other community members scheduled a meeting with ALC Staff armed with an independent report correcting this false information. For the record, it was clearly stated in my letter accompanying our independent report that I was NOT challenging the vote of Council, just correcting information in the submission. I was speaking as a resident as were other members of the committee. We wanted to ensure that the ALC vote would be based on correct information not incorrect information. Members of Council were outraged that I would have the audacity to request a meeting with ALC staff, questioning the report that was submitted by the proponent, I might add regardless of how wrong it was?

An Interesting conclusion and decision on the Mufford proposal? Despite the overwhelming odds and subliminal and some not so subliminal THREATS I received in fighting the B.C. Provincial Government, our MLAs, Minister of Transportation, Translink, eleven other funding partners, majority of Township Councilors, Mayor Fassbender, City of Langley and engineering staff; That project, their project, was rejected by the ALC on the arguments we presented. Our facts were correct. The TRUTH prevailed! Was I wrong in fighting for the truth as well as supporting such a large majority of the public, NO, I would do it again despite the intimidation, bullying and angst by Council. Where was all of that coming from? Follow the money!

Next Up – Athenry Gate Development / Willoughby – During the week of Nov. 22nd, 2010 I became aware of an agenda item (Athenry Developments) scheduled for a “Development Permit” Public Hearing and 4th reading on Monday November 29th, 2010. This item had received 1st and 2nd reading, public hearing and 3rd reading (conditional approval) in June of 2008 by the Council previous to ours, again prior to my election as Mayor. In doing my due diligence in preparation for the upcoming Public Hearing, I researched this project and its history, through a variety of Staff Reports. I was frankly shocked in finding the project that was proposed and given the appropriate readings, including Public Hearing bore no resemblance to what was before us at Development Permit Stage and 4th and final reading. For the Record, Changes can only be made after 3rd reading in Form, Character and Design. Density cannot be increased after 3rd reading without going back to a NEW Public Hearing. These changes in my opinion then and now DID NOT come close to meeting that standard and therefore would be deemed illegal.

The original June 2008 approved project was for one building located roughly in the center of the property while the 2010 version was for three, four story apartment buildings, a two story office building and a Cultural Center. This change impacted all surrounding private homes severely with a dramatically reduced set back, increased height of buildings with very close imposition immediately next to surrounding homes. In my opinion and experience this was and is a travesty of justice that happened to local hard working taxpayers. (NOTE – As I understand it, the affected residents had launched legal action but withdrew without giving up their right for taking action in the future.) Due to their position they were denied access to speak directly to councilors (They must go through Township lawyers) about ongoing problems with the development that has so dramatically affected their quality of life and home values! Were their rights for political representation not being trampled on?

For anyone reading this and dismissing its impact, I would ask – what would your reaction be IF you were in the same position? I know of one resident who sold their dream home in this development, it cost them about $100,000. In reduced market value. This has been verified by a number of local local real estate representatives.

So, how did this issue conclude? I convened a meeting with our CAO in my office Monday morning expressing a serious concern about going forward with this application for 4th reading and Development Permit stage that evening. I was told that our lawyers had agreed with staff and concluded the changes were nothing more than changes in form, character and design and so we proceeded with dealing with this issue at that night’s Council meeting, where by the way and interestingly enough, Councilor Kositsky was absent (conveniently for him). A very controversial issue being dealt with by the Mayor and only seven councilors!

I was concerned with the potential for legal issues being raised during the meeting so I requested the Township lawyer be in attendance. I had advised Council during the dinner break that if I felt we were getting into difficult territory that I would suggest a 15 minute adjournment motion from Council. This indeed did happen, at a point when we were dealing with a possible deferral motion of 1 – 2 weeks. In our adjournment (not a meeting) I canvassed support for deferral, while having three of us agree, in typical fashion support for deferral was denied. On exiting the Board Room finishing that adjournment I looked back and saw Mark Bakken CAO and Councilor Charlie Fox huddled around Councilor Bev Dornan (the only three left in the room). Interesting development as we were down to 8 votes with Kositsky away. The vote at the time was 5 – 3 against a deferral. If it was a tie vote deferral would also have been denied BUT then it would have gone to a vote of approval on Development Permit and 4th reading which was approved 5 – 3. If it had been a 4 – 4 tie it would have been defeated. Does this sound like securing your votes? Can’t say for sure, just thought I would ask the question?

Given the obvious bent of Council it would have been easier to give in than to fight, that is not in my DNA and not what I was elected to do!

Part 3 of this BLOG Series coming in three days, more controversial issues to deal with!

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, GET and 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.