Coulter Berry Building in Fort Langley….. This could only happen in the Township of Langley, it is nothing to be proud of – Whose Council is it? Who do they work for?

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

In my previous post, I outlined the individuals involved, their connections and the facts surrounding the whole issue of Fort Langley Heritage By-Laws; how and why they were strengthened and by who in 2004. Amazingly, the who of the past, are all of those involved in creating this EDIFICE to a guy named Eric Woodward who apparently believes that the rules apply to everyone BUT him. The problem with all that is that the majority of council seem to be eating his dirt (see sod turning) or drinking the same bathwater, whichever metaphor you wish to choose!

Well, all of that aside, the fight continues with Eric Woodward and Kurt Alberts dragging all of those within earshot out for a photo-op and sod turning. Now they claim to have an excavation permit but DO NOT have a building permit; only in the Township does the Council majority come out en masse for a photo-op on a project that doesn’t have a building permit!

So despite this fact of life (on any other development a building permit would be considered important) Mayor Jack Froese and Councilors Kim Richter, Grant Ward, Charlie Fox, Bev Dornan and Michelle Sparrow attended the sod turning. One has to wonder where the other two members of council were who have supported this outrage, namely Bob Long and Steve Ferguson – is it possible they got lost on the way to the celebration or non-event?

So let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why has this become such a major HOT BUTTON and divisive issue? Whether or not you support this project, I cannot urge you strongly enough to consider the following. Regardless of personalities and personal likes and/or dislikes of individuals involved consider whether you believe municipal development rules should apply differently depending on your wealth, connections and/or property holdings? Consider the following –

  • Treating everyone equally? – When you moved to Fort Langley or anywhere in the Township for that matter, did you not expect your elected Mayor and Municipal Council to follow and enforce the Official Community Plan (OCP), Neighborhood Plans and Zoning By-Laws that are in place? If there was to be a change did you not expect they would follow due process in making any changes i.e. New By-Laws (four readings) which would include a Public Hearing to inform the taxpayer and allow a legal opportunity for input?

It has become painfully obvious that there has been a questionable change of rules through a Heritage Alteration Permit. Is that legitimate? I have contacted many in the planning field and without exception they state this must have to go through a public rezoning process. Let’s not forget Jack Froese’s public comment on the result and outcome of Public Hearings. (Pete McMartin Column / Van. Sun)

  • Density Increase? – It is interesting when you look at the Township response to the court petition specifically to the question of density increase. The Township adamantly insists it is not an increase in density.

Not an increase? Let’s put it into simple common sense language and compare apples with apples – (A lot of numbers but think about it?)

  • Old IGA plus Old Hardware building – 13,977 sq. ft. (approx.)
  • NEW Coulter Berry Building (no underground) – 43,755 sq. ft.
  • Increase in square feet and percentage increase – +29,778 sq. ft. 213%

 

  • Permissible square footage (current zoning/no undergrnd) – 19,324 sq. ft.
  • NEW Coulter Berry Building (no underground) – 43,755 sq. ft.
  • Increase in square feet and percentage increase – +24,431 sq. ft. 126%

 

Put it another way, the application for the NEW Coulter Berry Building including underground parking is 65,918 sq. ft. vs. the old allowable square footage (current zoning) of 19,324 sq. ft. an increase of +46,594 sq. ft. 241%.

 

Despite the obvious common sense facts (above) that show much more than a substantial density increase; the owner in conversation with some, has admitted to an increase in density as well as the fact he promotes the need for density increase on his Facebook page by posting Vancouver newspaper clippings.

After all of this the Township continues to say it isn’t a density increase?

If you read the above numbers carefully it makes the case against this development in spades, however numbers can be glossed over. I would encourage all those who are interested to go down to Fort Langley and talk to the “Hands on Heritage Group” for a vivid picture on what we are talking about. It is an eye opener.

So what are we to conclude? Council thinks the residents are too stupid to understand?

  • Missing documents? – When reviewing the Petition Application, the responses and subsequent Affidavits regarding the Development Application Form there were a few items missing which MUST be included. The Development Application Form carries with it a page entitled “Development Application Requirements”. For Commercial, Industrial, Institutional, Multi-Family Residential and Comprehensive Development they provide a list of about 10 items that are required.

On the Development Application Form under Application Submission Requirements it states “Items listed are required at time of application submission. If any of the required documents listed below are not included, the application will not be accepted.” I guess it failed to say except Eric Woodward?

Aside from a couple of missing items the key missing document is –

Item K “Letter of Intent – Detailing the proposal including name/type of business and number of employees.”

It was missing. Now how do you spell density increase? Pretty convenient item to miss despite the fact the TOL says it must be submitted but it wasn’t which by TOL rules it WILL NOT be accepted!

  • Incorrect information? – The community brought to the attention of the Township that the developer had supplied incorrect information regarding the existing hardware building. This incorrect information was very important in that including the square footage of the two unlawful buildings it had impact on the calculations for space in the new building.

To be clear quoting from a James Goulden (BHT Lawyer) email to a Mr. Harold Whittell states “We acknowledge that the developers initial floor area calculations for the Frontier Hardware building wrongly included the two unlawful storage structures which had already been removed from the Development lands. However, the Developer’s latest floor area calculations now exclude those two unlawful storage structures, and the Township has proceeded on the basis of the corrected figures.”

The Township subsequently verified that the allegations were correct. The correct process should have been to have the developer “amend” the plans and then have them brought before the same “process” as the original application. The review by council or public process was not done.

  • The developer caught out – The developer was still trying to claim the gross floor area of the two unlawful storage buildings AFTER he was caught out.

The admission (above) was only after the community had to go about proving that they were actually GONE and what they looked like before demolition. Who was responsible for submitting the original plans which included the square footage of the two unlawful buildings?

So where does it go from here? The next stop is the B.C. Supreme Court Application for a Judicial Review filed by the “Society of Fort Langley Residents for Sustainable Development” on September 9th in Chilliwack.

In my view this issue is symptomatic of a much bigger issue in the Township of Langley. It speaks to the very reasons I ran for Mayor and the very reason I will continue to shine a light on the goings-on in development and property deals throughout our community.

I can tell you despite what you may have been told about me, (there was a good deal of character assassination) I lived up to what I said I would do in office and we accomplished a lot. Most important, I do not apologize. Anybody with any reasoned amount of life experience could not serve three years in the Mayor’s office and not connect the many dots. It was a steep learning curve about what really goes on, that is what drives me to expose the wrong doing in our community.

So I was ecstatic when this citizen group stepped forward and put their money where their mouth is. There is nothing for them to gain personally other than standing up for the community in which they live. The name calling, intimidation, bullying and more aimed at those in support of this legal action is beyond the pale, Stop and ask yourself THE very key simple question from both sides of the issue – who is gaining anything personally from this action? It certainly is not the members of this society – now Eric Woodward, Kurt Alberts and the other hangers on, that is for you to decide. We owe these citizens a big thank you; remember this initiative has come at a significant financial cost to all of them, no benefit other than protecting their community!

A Special message to Council members – While there is no secret about our past relationship I want to urge each and every one of you to dig down and have the courage to come forward asking for a sober second thought. Surely, you can’t believe that this is a positive addition to Fort Langley. The mass of this building is completely inappropriate within Fort Langley in the context of the OCP and surrounding properties.

There is NO second chance, once a building permit is issued you will have changed the character, the look, the density and the heritage of Fort Langley FOREVER! This is not overstating the issue. Remember it is the Birthplace of B.C. and we all have a moral responsibility to protect the values that so many residents have put into this community. Do you want this outrage to form a part of your elected record and what you will be remembered for?

All of us taxpayers and residents of the Township of Langley, not just Fort Langley, can only hope each one of you will search your conscience and do the right thing. As I said earlier, a sober second thought would be a great place to start!!! Do it now, before it is too late!

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!!!

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Comments
  1. Well written Rick. Sure leaves you shaking your head This seams to be a familiar song throughout Langley Township with the present Council..Perhaps a more suitable name for Fort Langley ought to be Fort Woodward.

  2. Stella Baker says:

    I am sick and tired of Eric and Kurt and there schemes and sneaky ways. Behind Kurts lurking demeanor is a man driven to make “The Fort” anything but what we all come here for. A quaint, peaceful, community. I drove past the said building in question, first thing I noticed was how this building cut out the light from the sky onto the street. A lot of people involved in this do not even live here, I believe, so what is it to them. I am thoroughly disgusted with what is happening to my little peace of heaven.

  3. gadfly says:

    In the same vein as Athenry Gate.

    • Yes exactly. That was a travesty of justice that serious repercussions on a number of families which should never have happened. How those on this Council voted for that can look in the mirror is quite astounding!
      RG

  4. Pam Arthur says:

    I watched as guests at the recent C.B. party arrived. Parking in Lee,s Market. Obviously not shopper,s by their dress! Listened to the speeches which were blasted a block away and am saddened to see and hear the incredible racket that has been going on for the last week. Empty trucks lining the street causing havoc on Church St. The lane blocked outside our grocery store. I will not vote for any of those council members who sold out to E.C.W. And I,m wondering who owns the Official Facebook Page of Fort Langley?

    • Pam: The apparent positive response to this development by some is nothing more or less than the result of bullying, coercion, intimidation and more. The sad reality of this fact is how some people are willing to compromise their self respect and break (not bend) under this pressure. Quite frankly it is disgusting and totally distasteful. By completely capitulating to the likes of Woodward, Alberts Froese and every member of this Council (except Davis) they will be remembered for this devastating hit against Fort Langley, it’;s residents and every self-respecting citizen of the Township of Langley. Does anyone notice how bad it has become since the last election or are we still burying our heads in the sand!

      RG

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