The Mufford Crescent Diversion – Your Provincial and Municipal Government mislead you and four Councilors are still in office! At what point will you say enough is enough?

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

The TRUE story behind the high profile public fight over the Mufford Crescent Diversion (Highway and Overpass) which best exemplifies what is and has been so wrong in Langley politics BY the current elected representatives, Municipal, Provincial and Federal!

The start – The Mufford Crescent Diversion is a product of the 2007 multi-stakeholder (Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments / Private Industry) Roberts Bank Rail Corridor agreement featuring nine projects (overpasses) in the lower mainland of British Columbia. This agreement was arrived at in secret prior to it being signed in a closed door meeting in the Township of Langley Council Chambers. A limited number of the public were allowed to attend as observers only, no questions were allowed. While the need for an overpass has never been in dispute, the process, design, location and a secret decision that was foisted upon the unsuspecting residents of the Township of Langley is what has always been at issue.

What was being planned that you were never told about? (Not a surprise in the Township of Langley)

In the 2008 (pre-election) we discovered information on this project. It took three visits to the Township Engineering Department by three different citizens to have someone admit, confidentially, to the facts complete with a map of the project. The secret plan for the Mufford Crescent Diversion (Overpass and highway) was a design that split the historical Hudson Bay Farm which included the Bella Vista Farm property in half funneling 500 cars an hour onto 64th at 216th, onto farm roads incapable of handling that traffic.

For the record, the Mayor of the day in answer to questions from a resident in mid-October 2008 said NO application had been made to the Agricultural Land Commission. THE TRUTH? Contrary to what the Mayor said (surprise) an application had been made in September of 2008. The decision to give conditional approval by the ALC was given the week after the election in 2008 a week and a half before the swearing in of the new Council. No public consultation, no notification, no advice!

Important, for the record! – As the Mayor Elect I contacted the Agricultural Land Commission the Wednesday following my election and served notice that despite what they may do in their deliberations I would follow through with my promises made during the election campaign and bring this project back to a public consultation process. The ALC went ahead with conditional approval that week in spite of my call.

Public Consultation as promised and the RESULT! – Two Open Houses and a Public Meeting later that saw over 1,000 people involved with 97% in opposition. This was the measure of public interest and public opposition. This level of public response is unheard of.

Throughout this consultation process we tried, unsuccessfully, to have Translink, the lead agency, move the dollars for this project to another Langley location. The Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Agreement states “In the vicinity of 64th and Glover Rd.” The response from the nine funding partners to our request was NO. The then Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon wrote me an open public letter stating this plan was the only option.  Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, wrote an open letter saying the City of Langley had no interest in another plan. What a great start post-election. An interesting neighbor showing no courtesy of a phone call, no class! All I was doing was delivering on what I promised during the election. If all of this doesn’t reinforce the belief that there is an incestuous relationship with Langley politicians at all levels, nothing will!

The Vote – At the conclusion of the public process the Council of the day at a 4:00 PM afternoon Council meeting (nobody in the audience) indicated they wanted to have a vote on the Mufford Crescent project as presented. I advised members of Council that if their wish was to vote and it was in favor I would use my Mayor’s authority to bring the vote back for another vote in two weeks at a public televised evening meeting. Council chose an immediate vote which we held; the result 6 – 3 in favor of the project. I served notice as promised that I would bring it forward for another vote. My point was that on such a contentious issue you cannot hide behind an afternoon meeting with nobody in the audience. Well, not that it was a surprise, but two weeks later with over 300 overflow in the Council Chamber audience and on TV the second vote was held, the result a 6 – 3 in favor. Mayor Green, Councilors Richter and Kositsky opposed, Councilors Ward, Ferguson, Fox, Dornan, Long and Bateman in favor. These six dismissed the results of the public consultation process and the wishes of the electorate.

Just a thought – Given the incident in Surrey over Casino-Gate with Rich Coleman contacting members of Council during a Public Hearing, is there any chance he contacted members of our Council prior to our vote? Do you think? Just asking the question? Interesting thought isn’t it!

If all of this was the case, how on earth did this original proposal get defeated? – At this point I was satisfied despite the insurmountable odds we faced; we were able to bring this project forward to see the light of day. I was pleased, for reasons of democracy and a solid public process, that I was able to buck the wishes of all senior levels of government, their agencies and Private Sector partners. The vote was the vote, it was a done deal. At this point, in my opinion, it would be up to the public in the next election to deal with those members of Council who ignored their wishes if they wished.

That was the case until June of that year. I was apprised of the submission by the proponents consultant to the ALC on behalf of the funding partners. This submission was in answer to the nine conditions (conditional approval) by the ALC with respect to this initiative. I contacted our CAO Mark Bakken requesting a copy of this report.

Reading this report was a revelation! How wrong and misleading could a report possibly be?

Now here is the Question for those reading this Post. What would you do in the position as Mayor? Now consider your promise during the election campaign, the overwhelming response to the public process, the attempts by the Provincial Government and the City to interfere and the two votes held in favor of the project despite an overwhelming public rejection of this proposal.

Then you read a report submitted on behalf of the funding partners to the ALC in answer to the ALCs conditions and you find statements that are patently false. You can use whatever adjectives you want, I prefer to be polite! Do you support the truth or do you capitulate and give in to the powers that be?

A couple of the nine ALC conditions required for ALC to support:

  • 216th St from Milner through to Murrayville must remain two lanes.
  • The bisected farm properties south of the New Mufford Crescent Diversion road shall be consolidated to enhance farming activity.

Well here are the facts:

  • 1) Nobody can guarantee 216th St. would remain two lanes. No Municipal Council can regulate or enforce a future government to live by that decision. 2) Funneling 500 cars an hour onto a two lane country road would require four lanes on 216th from 64th up to Murrayville.
  • Who was going to consolidate the farm properties in question? The Township of Langley is not in the farming business nor would it have the funds required to purchase the properties in question to consolidate as required.

Given the fact that the proponents through their representative, had misrepresented the truth to a Government Agency (on the above points at least) and given the ALC was preparing to make its decision based on that report we had a choice; respond to the ALC with the facts or let it go despite the truth.

I asked our CAO, Mark Bakken if I could respond with a group from the community in response to this report; he advised I could as long as it was clear I was not representing Council. I proceeded to book an appointment with ALC Staff and made our presentation. My letter of introduction to the ALC emphasized that I was not fighting the vote nor was I representing council. I made it clear that when the ALC made their decision they had to do so knowing the facts.

A short time later, members of Council made a presentation to ALC Staff countering our presentation. It seems they were very upset that I would make our presentation, despite the facts involved. Given their actions and votes throughout this process I have to believe they were in on it from the beginning. There was never any interest in facts, a different option or public process. As I have said throughout this Post, I had a choice – be honest or buy into the long standing Township program of deception!

During the period of time that followed, the ALC was considering all submissions with respect to the proposal before them. It was during this period that the Provincial Government appointed a new Chair of the Commission, Richard Bullock. Surprisingly it was Richard Bullock who ultimately initiated a series of public and private meetings with residents in the Agricultural Community. Richard Bullock also initiated a large Public Meeting at the Langley Events Center with about 350 people in attendance. Easily 95% opposed to the project. At Richard Bullock’s request I had a phone conversation with him with respect to my opinion on this project as he apparently had with numerous people on both sides of the equation.

The Decision – Well after all of this the community won on the principles it was fighting for, an overpass yes but send it back to the drawing board for a different option. The decision to reject this proposal was made primarily on the two points I raised above and why we had to make our points on the facts!

The point being made in all of this – It is a lesson for all of us, you don’t have to accept wrong doing in your community, you can fight City Hall. While I was in office we won a number of battles, now all we have to do is win the war! I would do it again and I don’t apologize!

RG

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The first of next week will be a surprise but I believe WILL be interesting to all readers!

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

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Comments
  1. John M. says:

    The serious blunder regarding the 64th avenue overpass route is a sad story of how Langley Township citizens were deliberately steered in the direction desired by Kevin Falcon and his B.C. Liberal buddies. It has brought back many bad memories of the event and a trace of anger as well. I keep thinking that it’s a pity that so many residents of the township did not clue in to what was going on. Maybe a little political knowledge regarding the statistics about voter involvement was applied. You can bet it was.

    The length of the controversy and the confusion stirred up by the many agencies with perhaps more than a little bias helped the final decision slip into history. It was always very clear though, to any one following the issue that the overpass routing approved by a bloc of members on the township council of the day simply made no sense. A local map is all one needs to see this.

    I can remember shaking my head wondering what motivated that group of councilors to manipulate the issue in concert with their B.C. Liberals pals, who are masters of that same art. There are not many reasons for politicians to mislead their constituents. None of them are excusable and often not legitimate.

  2. gadfly says:

    It should be added to this true story that prior to the summer 2007 multi-party agreement, the preliminary design had already been prepared in secret by a Vancouver consulting firm that was actually sworn to secrecy in the Request for Proposals for their assignment. They were prohibited from having public input.

    This means that Township of Langley staff (and likely the 2005 – 2008 Township of Langley Council as well) were completely aware of the process as well as the proposed project, but the general public was left in the dark, knowing nothing at all.

  3. They never have cared about the actual problem, which is traffic on the “bypass”. Real solution? An overpass on the bypass; no one can disagree – unless they have another agenda.

    The reality is in Google Earth, look from above:

    *To the West that nice ridge of trees is Yorksen and high density development.
    *To the North is the TWU expansion, the Wall developments, and the 216th freeway interchange the Province has on plans in the library.
    *To the East is the Hospital and many more houses…
    *…now to the South this huge overpass, and then they will widen Glover and 216th…

    THEY will get what they want: Milner Valley as Condos – the president being set by Wall spot developments to the North.

    Don’t even pretend it has anything to do with traffic or roads, the current design is a joke!

    If there is a train, then how will people get off the bypass to the overpass on 64th/Mufford? Cars cant – simply put – cars CANT get from the bypass to the overpass when a train comes.

    There is some elusive early warning system they talk about, but refuse (even when asked in writing) to provide any details on. What early warning system? Where? Back at 200th? Where will cars go North the overpass?

    None of this was done for Traffic or the good of Langley: it was done for developers.

    All this development without Community Grants? Leaving tax payers with crappy-unsafe Roads like 208th? All with Council going along but then wondering why they need to raise taxes every year? If development was a revenue on the budget then Langley Township should be rich!

    But yet taxes go up every year and Council doesn’t catch on that this development is a net capital cost?

    I have no respect for this council. I went to a Robbie Burns Dinner this year only to see some of these councilors and their mayor there, all worshiping themselves – it was all I could do not to tell them what I think by lifting my kilt.

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