UPDATE – 4th and Final Reading on tonights Council Agenda ! A Message to Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors….. STOP the insanity of the Trinity / Wall application by the Township of Langley! Cc – Residents of the Township of Langley

Posted: June 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

It is very disturbing when a Municipal Council thumbs their noses at a Regional Government (Metro) land use plan that they previously and unanimously agreed to. By Council proceeding with this proposal, despite significant local and regional opposition, that has everything to do with helping friends and insiders, our regions policy of building a sustainable and liveable environment is being put at risk. I am not overstating the seriousness of the Township of Langleys move, it is now up to the ALC and Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors to STOP this insanity! 

It is up to all of you to stand firmly against the revised application which conveniently embraces quality farmland as housing to support the University District application. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was never part of the University District Application. If you give into this application it will be open season on the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and it will end up being a useless document. It is interesting that RGS is an initiative that the Township Council supported unanimously. I was very pleased as Mayor to play a part!!!

Township of Langley University District – Wall Town House Development on Farm Land

vs Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy – The Facts!

Rich Coleman, Mayor Froese and members of Council are

“Not letting the facts get in the way of a good story”!

It is another land deal, all symptomatic of what is wrong in the Township of Langley!

Ask WHY? WHO REALLY BENEFITS?

 

The latest NEWS? – May 27th 2013 Council meeting!

Langley Township council voted through its revised community plan and zoning to create a University district around Trinity University which incorporates a controversial housing development on Prime Agricultural Land just to the South of Trinity. While it is not affiliated in any way with Trinity it’s builders have promoted it as housing for TWU Staff. This move to incorporate the two must be seen as a blatant attack and affront to the Regional Growth Strategy.

How or why is this happening? Check out some comments from a few Council members (Langley Advance P12 / Mathew Claxton Tuesday June 4th, 2013) –

Grant Ward – “This is not spot zoning, it will be housing for staff and students”. How absolutely embarrassing and insulting Ward is to the residents of the Township of Langley, nothing has changed! We are talking 69 Townhouses which will be market housing. This is exactly what it is – Spot Zoning!

Bob Long – “The removal of the portion of the Wall lands to be developed will keep the rest of the property productive farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve”. Councilor Long, don’t look now BUT without this development the entire property stays in the ALR where it belongs and can be productive IF the owners had the slightest interest, which they obviously don’t. That is their choice! You as an elected representative for the taxpayers of the Township of Langley are not obligated in any way to support their plan. I would suggest you have an obligation to deny this proposal.

The 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 the same municipal government plus or minus a few changes that seem to get elected time after time after time after time – WHY?

A little history – During my term as Mayor (2008 – 2011) I had regular meetings with Jonathan Raymond President of Trinity University (a very important and valuable corporate citizen to the Township of Langley) and follow up meetings with TOL senior staff on the subject of Trinity issues which included the University District concept. There were a number of conceptual plans for the University District idea that had been somewhat in limbo due to the ALR approval process. Through my initiative, in an effort to find some direction and approval we arranged for members of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) South Coast Panel of the day (Commissioners Bose, Tomlinson, Pranger and Chair Bullock); to meet and have lunch with Senior Staff of the TOL and Trinity University as well as myself at the university. Through those efforts and subsequent application, it was approved. BUT make no mistake about it, this approval / support was for a very confined and limited area that supports a very valuable educational institution that has been a part of the Township of Langley for decades.

Now the intriguing pieces of this puzzle – How did this confrontation with Metro come about?

Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) – Metro Vancouver, as required by Provincial Legislation, has had a Regional Growth Strategy in place since the late 80s. This was put in place to control growth by drawing Urban Boundaries within each member Municipality to stop urban sprawl as well as protecting Green Zones and the ALR. As required by that legislation is the need to review and update that RGS every so many years. The RGS must be unanimously adopted by all members of Metro or it goes to arbitration involving the Provincial Minister. Immediately following the 2008 election Metro Vancouver initiated the renewal and review of the RGS. As the Township of Langley Metro Director involved directly in discussions involving that RGS renewal process I served notice to Metro initially that we would probably be their first arbitration case. I, members of Council and staff were very concerned about the process and their ultimate intent. After two and a half years of discussion, negotiation, numerous public and private meetings with Senior Metro Staff, members of our Council and our Senior Staff and much more, recognizing the principle of the RGS and its governing Provincial Legislation, the NEW RGS was adopted unanimously by all members of the Township of Langley Council, all member Municipalities and their Councils as well as the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors.

So to Rich Coleman and his comments (May22/12 Langley Times) “Metro Vancouver Regional District has gone too far by meddling in Township business needs to be reined in”! It is obvious and not surprising that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Look at YOUR government Rich! The Langley Times Editorial “Local land use decisions should not be in the hands of Metro Vancouver’s Board period”! This editorial reflects the Times (local media) complete lack of due diligence and knowledge about what they are writing about. They (Langley Times) should be embarrassed and are doing a disservice to TOL residents. Maybe the Langley Times should have gone after Coleman and Polak for their governments’ perceived interference directing Metro per THEIR legislation!  – But then again that would be too uncomfortable as it would compromise their pandering to government MLAs!

The Wall Development proposal and its apparent conditional approval by the ALC in 2007 did not come to my attention until the final year of my term. When I first heard of this I frankly couldn’t believe it, even in the Wild Wild West of property deals known as the Township of Langley. I have seen this decision which I might add came about prior to the appointment of the current ALC Chairman Richard Bullock, a man I have great respect for. There are many questions about that decision of 2007! Now let’s be very clear, the Wall proposal, while receiving conditional ALC approval in 2007, (It was rejected on a couple of occasions in the early 2000s by a different ALC panel) was NEVER tied to or discussed with the University District plan in any way shape or form, I was involved in those discussions! Now interestingly enough, the NEW Mayor and his Council are lighting their hair on fire over Metro Vancouver squashing their by-law, in short because they do not fit the terms of the RGS.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? The Township of Langley Council has involved lawyers (Don Lidstone, an interesting choice) vs Metro Vancouver and are talking litigation at our expense all over the RGS that members of Township of Langley Council and Staff supported unanimously, a provincial legal requirement. What – Another land deal?

Further, in an effort to try to get around Metro’s legal argument they filed an application with the ALC to increase the original size of the University District to somewhere around four times its original size enjoining the Wall Proposal and much more within its boundaries. It is very interesting that this move embraced the private property of a very well-known Township of Langley family and Liberal Party supporter. I guess we are just to believe that this was an accident? The ALC has since rejected that proposal but the Township has brought back the original boundaries adding on the Wall Townhouse Development as an attachment to the original University District. This was NEVER the case!

This is an outrageous attempt at a private property deal on farmland, but it is in keeping with the Township of Langley’s methods and ways of doing business. Now who is this going to benefit?

Important side-note for the record – the Wall family and/or their owned companies were significant contributors to the Provincial Liberal Party, the leadership campaign of Premier Christy Clark as well as donating to a number of Township of Langley Councilors. Not accusing, just saying!

Going back to the introduction of the FIRST by-laws for the original University District and the Wall Development? By-Laws for 1st and 2nd reading were introduced for each project separately at the last Council Meeting before the last election (Last council) – In my opinion it was totally out of line for staff to introduce these by-laws in the last meeting of the old council, prior to the election. Having said that, I voted for both as under a principle I believe strongly in and my voting record supports this, the proponent (owner) has the right to be heard and be considered as does the public have the right to respond. Again remember, for the record, these two proposals came forward as two distinctly different items (by-laws) for consideration. They weren’t attached in any way. Now under the newly elected council, many of the same old faces, after a lengthy Public Hearing (large opposition) 3rd reading was given on the original University District by-law. The Wall proposal did not come forward for a reading at that time.

As mentioned above, the Township by-law was sent to Metro for approval as required under Provincial Legislation (Rich Coleman please note) and was denied, the by-law was quashed. So where did it go from there? The Township of Langley has since rescinded the original by-laws and has adopted a new singular by-law which covers the original University District plus the Wall Townhouse Development located smack in the middle of one of the finest farm properties in the valley. This proposal has faced considerable opposition (not that that matters with this council).

So once again the Township of Langley, spurred on by its resident Bully MLA Rich Coleman (see Rich Coleman comment) is trying to circumvent a provincially legislated requirement in the RGS, something that every municipality and/or City in Metro Vancouver is required to follow. Whether you or I like the idea of Metro Vancouver dictating that we follow the legislated requirement is immaterial, it is that way due to a provincially legislated mandate. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge, every member of Metro Vancouver has the same or similar problems, if the Township is permitted in this case, every member will be following suit! This attempt is particularly galling given the attempt to meld a legitimate concept (original plan for the University District) in with a well- connected private property deal.

It is yet another example of an outrageous attempt to manipulate or ignore the rules for the sole benefit of a few. IF you are OK or don’t see a problem with this happening I would suggest you would be OK providing special treatment to a very few at taxpayer’s expense. For those that suggest that this is an anti-university position, you are completely wrong, it is about treating everyone with fairness, morally and legally.

I would encourage, based on my years of inside experience in the Township of Langley, for taxpayers when considering issues such as I am presenting, to carry with them a good dose of skepticism. It is human nature not to do so I understand that but whenever you challenge issues such as this there is an old saying; “Connect the dots, follow the money!”

NOTE: There have been some interesting property sales, purchases and swap activity surrounding the proposed University District. This will have to be a topic for another day.

So as it is life in the Township of Langley! Enjoy what is happening so far? Change is NOT impossible!!!

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. Check in daily!

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

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Comments
  1. Harold says:

    So what can be done to challenge them? Can we apply heat to the Metro to stay the course?

    • Harold: Google Metro Vancouver and click on contacts Board of Directors or Committee members / Planning Committee. You will find their email addresses – I would encourage anyone to send as many emails to as many Directors as possible.

  2. Mike MacDonald says:

    I agree with everything said here 100%
    How can these councilors keep a straight face as they say this crap; they are cluess following the Leed of bully Coleman.

  3. Mike MacDonald says:

    I think it should be noted that the RGS board is loaded with people that know farming and food security not Longs and Wards who only know the false idea that development is a revenue.

  4. Mike MacDonald says:

    For years I have said if you look from above you can see the intent is to develop Milner valley.  the Wall fiasco is part of a plan.

    Yorkson on the west – Mufford overpass on the south – Glover widening on the east (or middle?) – TWU and Wall sham to the north. 

    But then whenever I mention the 216th freeway exchange s(hown on gateway maps) all the “developelors” (developer influenced Councilors) go nuts denying any 216 interchange nor rany isk of Farmland development. 

    Jordan Baitman once had a blog rant that I was crazy and the 216th interchange was never going to happen. Ferguson once wrote in the local papers challenging me and assuring the public that Mufford and other Developelor activity wouldn’t risk Milner valley nor any Farmland. Bait man went as far as to say publicly that I had monsters under my bed… But look now… They will surround and develop Milner valley in their misguided frenzy for high density at any cost.

       There is the history…  So I went into the development desk last week at TOL and asked them what where the plans for “Williams”.

    I’m sure you know Williams is the small north eastern tip of the Willoughbhy ocp east of (but not in) the Yorkson OCP; it’s an sub neighborhood in the Wiloughby OCP.  It would be west of the gateway overpass/freeway interchange on 216th (that I’m told doesn’t exist.)  Like Yorkson, Latimer and Routley, Williams is a neughbourhoood within the Willoughby Community Plan.

    The lady proudly told me that Williams won’t be developed until the 216th interchange is built!   She explained the overpass:interchange is late as it was supposed to be built by now!  It was promised to be built if and when operational requirements at the “fisaco” 200 Street Interchange could not be met.  This is straight from the Dirk Nyland report.

    So council denies any 216th interchange or attack on Milner valley but staff openly advises the public it’s on the way, even late.

    It’s coming along with widening glover, Mufford overpass to nowhere, widening 216th, Wall development of farmland…Milner valley will be surrounded – and developed for windfall profits – all as the taxpayers (and landlords now paying suit fees!) are left to cover the real COSTS of this development. they develop like a frenzy, based on misconceptions that it is a revenue, based on colemanisms like”affordable housing” then they add suit taxes and fees to cover the losses (not revenues) and destroy and concept of “affordable housing”

    Staff pointed out some of the planned 216 interchange and connector is farmland but explained there is a fairly standard procedure to get the farmland when “needed” for roads.  Seems to me (some of) council either is stupid, clueless or lying. Perhaps a mix.  

    So what will Williams be? Will stakeholders like farmers and Yorksen and Willoughby residents even get a say?  I wonder what good guy Dave Davis thinks of this. 

    • Mike: So Councilors have told you that you didn’t know what you are talking about? Not that you needed me to say it but they are lying through their teeth, but why should I be surprised. While I was in the Mayor’s office we held discussions with the Ministry and talked about designs and plans for this which has been in the works long predating the 200th street interchange. This has been known publicly for years. I guess it just points out their consistency in misleading the public. Remember when Kurt Alberts denied knowing anything about the Mufford Crescent Diversion, while at the time an application was at the ALC for three months! If all of this wasn’t so sad it would be laughable!!!!!!!!! RG

  5. Mike McPhee says:

    Mr. Green, I have read and re-read the Township’s Draft “Official Community Plan”. This “draft plan” embraces the Metro Vancouver RGS and highlights on many pages that Growth in Langley should PROTECT FARMLAND, increase COMPACT URBANIZATION and ONLY DEVELOP NEAR EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE (i.e. schools and bus routes). This trinity plan and the porposed 32nd and 200th plan DO NOT do any of this. To be blunt, big developers and Langley’s current council are ignoring the RGS and OCP plans. Keep up the good work Mr. Green.

    • Mike: Thank you for your comments and your attention to what is happening to your community. It is out of control and getting worse. The community has to wake up before it is too late. Sometimes, confrontation and/or a little turmoil on your Council is a GOOD thing especially when constructive change is being attempted! RG

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