The University District / Wall Townhouse Public Hearing Closing Comments by members of this Council speak volumes…. The arrogance and condescending comments and attitude are without measure!!!

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

This langleywatchdog.com BLOG was created as my reaction to watching the irresponsible actions of this Council after one full year in office. Nothing has changed from my three years… It has gotten worse!!!

So a little skill testing question…. WHAT IS THE COMMON DENOMINATOR between the 2008 Council and the 2011 Council?

THE ANSWER – Councilors Ward, Long, Ferguson, Fox, and Dornan… and in this term supported by Councilor Sparrow and Mayor Froese!!! Why should we be surprised?

The Langley Times feature news item (Dan Ferguson) dated Tuesday April 23rd, 2013 puts everything into perspective. It seems The Fort Langley Community Association and the Salmon River Enhancement Society both took the position that attending a Public Hearing in the Township of Langley was a waste of their time. This decision on their part was based on a long held belief, supported by THE FACTS of numerous planning and project votes by this Council. “We no longer feel that attending public hearings and having council ignore our input is a suitable investment of the time of volunteers who reap no monetary benefit for the many hours they have contributed to this community” said Doug McFee, director of the Salmon River Enhancement Society. Connie Blundy, Chair of the Fort Langley Community Association states “We have chosen to forward our position as a written submission so as not to spend our time in lining up to speak to the issue before Council, given this council’s recent history of adjudicating recent submissions by largely ignoring the community input at Public Hearings.”

So what are the examples identified by those opposing the University / Wall proposal and more?

The Inconvenient Facts – Just a few examples of bad practice:

  • Fort Langley’s Bedford Landing Parklane Waterfront Condominiums Phase 1 –  “The Condo Wall” – In mid-2008 the ParkLane condominiums on the waterfront of Fort Langley was approved at 3rd reading for a three story development. At 4th Reading and Development Permit Phase, despite resounding objection from the community, Council approves a four story development. Now known as the “Condo Wall”. Under the Community Charter you can only change Form, Character and Design after 3rd reading. Adding an additional floor breaches that rule in my opinion. All of this happened before the 2008 election.
  • Fort Langley’s Bedford Landing Parklane Waterfront Condominiums Phase 2 – “The Condo Wall” – The Park Lane Condo Development, despite numerous public meetings and public dialogue, a four story configuration was approved. The Public Hearing was contentious with very significant public opposition in the form of petition and speakers at the Public Hearing. In my opinion the public consultation was a token sham! All of the 2nd phase occurred post the 2008 election.
  • The Forewest Condominium Development on the bottom of the Willoughby Slopes. Staff worked with the developer and made an attempt in my last year in office to change the OCP and complete a rezoning (two by-laws) in one process that would completely change the density and character of this community. With a very strong opposition it was turned down. With very little change from the original proposal this development was brought back in front of the New Council, received strong opposition and it was approved. Ask yourself WHY?
  • The Coulter Berry Building in Fort Langley – How is it possible that Council passed the Statewood application for the Coulter Berry building which did not comply with the OCP or the Heritage Conservation area, was turned down by TOL staff in Heritage and Planning and yet was passed 8-1 when the developer presented it to Council. This building for the record is three stories or 14.5 feet over the height limit of 29 feet and two stories. Site coverage exceeded the allowable limit by 7% and it was contrary to the town’s main street heritage character. Approval was given despite wide spread opposition of a 950 person petition and 2 – 1 in opposition at the 2 evening Public Hearing. (There are only roughly 2,500 that live in Fort Langley) The kicker! In Fort Langley, – Eric Woodward, the owner of the Coulter Berry building, plus a substantial property portfolio in the Fort, a Township of Langley appointee to the Heritage Advisory Committee, President of the Fort Langley BIA, fellow resident with Jack Froese in Bedford Landing and a donor of $2,000 to Jack Froese in the last election received approval! It is important to note that three other builders adapted their new buildings in Fort Langley to the OCP. Why Special Treatment for Mr. Woodward? Only in the Township of Langley you say! Are you surprised?
  • Athenry Development / WilloughbyI 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 Hearings bore no resemblance in my opinion to what was before us at Development Permit Stage and 4th and final reading. Changes can only be made after 3rd reading in Form, Character and Design. These changes in my opinion did not meet that standard! 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 and close imposition immediately next to surrounding homes. In my opinion and experience this was and is a travesty 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 have been 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! For any residents reading this and wondering what their reaction might be IF they were in the same position? I know of one resident who has sold their dream home in this development, it has cost them about $100,000. This has been verified by local real estate representatives. (A Full Post on this issue at a later date)
  • Soil Deposits on Agricultural LandThis issue is a very serious rural concern and another example of Municipal neglect that affects property values and livability, not unlike Athenry, Forewest, Mufford Cresc. Overpass and Fort Langley issues do in our urban environment. Regardless of where you live in the Township of Langley, issues such as this affect your fellow residents. We should all be very concerned about how all of our communities are being treated by Municipal Hall and your elected Council. Under Provincial ALC Legislation a resolution of Council is required before a soil deposit application can be forwarded to the ALC. The CAO of the Township of Langley sent a letter to a Provincial Crown Agency (ALC) stating there was a resolution of Council when in fact there wasn’t a resolution of Council. As a result of this action they proceeded to send all soil deposit applications to the ALC for review and decision despite the legislation that was in place and essentially washed their hands of any repercussions. How many innocent landowners have been drastically affected between Nov. 22nd, 2005 and June of 2010? Staff and Council have a Fiduciary responsibility to residents of the Township of Langley to abide by the law (provincial legislation) and to act in their interest. What went wrong? How could they disregard this responsibility?
  • Mufford Crescent Diversion – 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! 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. 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 as promised. 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 any votes? Can you conceive of a parallel situation with Township of Langley Councilors?
  • The University District / Wall Townhouse Development on ALR landThe University District idea within the Township of Langley (TOL) is not new; it has been around for years. Unfortunately, like so many issues within our community, it is sadly lacking in any kind of democratic public process thanks to the control of a few!! This is also the case with the Wall development proposal on farmland which I only learned about in my last year on Council. The Facts!Rich Coleman, Mayor Froese and members of Council are“Not letting the facts get in the way of a good story”! Another land deal? It is all symptomatic of what is wrong in the Township of Langley!Ask WHY? WHO REALLY BENEFITS? Don’t forget – The Wall family have been considerable donors to Christy Clark’s Leadership Campaign, to the B.C. Liberal Party and have also contributed to a number of Council members. Remember Rich Coleman’s public comments for this project and against Metro? I wonder why? Despite the opposition of Metro Vancouver (contrary to a previously agreed to Metro Regional Growth Strategy), despite the ALC not agreeing to the proposal they (Council) press on. What will it take for this Council to pay attention to the community that elects them?

So what is the outrage NOW? Just look at the following comments from a few members of Council from last night’s Council meeting. It is hard to believe these people are elected to represent us thinking like this:

The pre amble – Mayor Jack Froese and a majority of Council objected to the letters. (a number of letters sent by those opposing the University / Wall application and their unwillingness to appear at the Public Hearing) saying that just because the groups didn’t get their way doesn’t mean council was ignoring them.

  • Councilor Bob Long said “Somebody should write these folks and explain how the public hearing process works”. The Mayor agreed!
  • Councilor Charlie Fox bristled at the tone of the letters, calling some of the comments “offensive”.
  • Mayor Froese stated “They obviously don’t understand Public Hearings” and “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I certainly do listen”.

Response –

  • Councilor Long, you are obviously past your best before date, insulting the intelligence of the electorate. The general public are well ahead of you.
  • Councilor Fox – Offensive? Take a look in the mirror! What is offensive is your condescending attitude. What does this call for Charlie, another threatening letter or email?
  • Mayor Froese – What can we say. Sitting in the Mayor’s chair without one iota of experience, you are insulting the public saying they don’t understand the process? In one short year you are past your best before date!

So you say you listen, Mayor Froese? Remember these comments, you can run but you cannot hide.

(Pete McMartin Vancouver Sun column on Mayor Jack Froese) Nov. 29/12 RE Coulter Berry Building in Fort Langley:

Mayor Froese was asked why he voted for it despite the evidence of so much local opposition states:

  • “He does not govern by petition”.

Of the preponderance of speakers opposing the variance at the official hearings Mayor Froese states:

  • “We really have to listen to the silence of the people who didn’t come out.”

Pete McMartin states “How Froese intuited that this absent cohorts silence was in favor of the Coulter Berry development and not against it, or split down the middle, is a mystery I will leave with him. Politicians have powers of the mind I cannot fathom.” Despite the size of the opposition only one councilor voted against it, it sure says something about what is going on, doesn’t it!

Conclusion:

It is long past time that the citizens of the Township of Langley unite and get motivated to respond and fight back against the actions of this Council. When you voted in the last Municipal Election I don’t believe you voted for a dictator but one that believes in our democracy. I believe you voted for someone who would not side with friends and insiders but would treat all citizens equal. I believe you voted for someone who would be or understand what it would take to be fiscally responsible.

This BLOG is presenting the facts, not some dreamt up gossip or innuendo, – I am up for the challenge if you wish to dispute any of the foregoing!

RG

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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!!!

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