“Township sues over FOI request”… so says the Langley Times headline! Lets start by getting our facts straight! Taxpayers should be very concerned!

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

The lack of quality reporting continues to be a major problem in the Township of Langley and you have to ask the question why? Regarding the Athenry Development / Jacob de Raadt issue – Who did this reporter talk to or more important, who fed this misinformation to the local press? This kind of garbage put into the public domain as fact is frankly disgusting.

I have written about this travesty three times on this BLOG, on February 4th, March 11th and April 24th 2013. In my opinion the Athenry Development will go down as the biggest injustice done to neighbors of any development that I have had any familiarity with over my many years in local politics. It was and is just wrong. Here is a recap –

First a little history on the Athenry Gate Development – During the week of Nov. 22nd, 2010, I became aware of an agenda item (for Athenry Developments) scheduled for a “Development Permit” Public Hearing on Monday November 29th, 2010. This had received 1st and 2nd reading, public hearing and 3rd reading (conditional approval) in June of 2008 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, 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 and I stated that in a meeting I had with the CAO prior to the Council Meeting. Staff claimed the changes were covered under form, character and design, which I did and still do totally disagree with.

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 plus 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. How high and how close? On the plans there was a large condominium building estimated to be about 50 – 60 feet high, less than twenty feet from their back fence. With these dramatic changes to the project there were a number of serious concerns not the least of which was the issue of drainage given the potential for flooding of surrounding homes.

How would you like to be made aware of this after you moved in? Prior to buying and moving in to your dream home an entirely different development had been explained to you by the planning department at the hall. NEW home owners deserve to be given the facts about surrounding zoning and development and planned changes BEFORE proceeding with a home purchase.

In my opinion and experience this was and is a travesty that happened to local hard working taxpayers. (NOTE – 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 that backed onto Athenry; it has cost them about $100,000. This has been verified by local real estate representatives.

So if anyone reading this BLOG Post figures on this being an exaggeration of the impact of this development or the facts of the case, do yourself a favor and drive by the just moved Willoughby Hall and check out the NEW 5 story (4 on top of a ground level parking garage) Condominium building that is just being finished which abuts these homes. Now you tell me that there is nothing wrong with that? Just put yourself in their shoes?

So back to the Langley Times – Where do they get their information? Here are the facts!

Yes, interestingly enough this is the same Jacob de Raadt who was subject to a number of complaints by this council and banishment from Township Council Chambers!

Jacob de Raadt filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) with the Township of Langley to obtain copies of all versions of the storm water management plan for the Athenry Development. He was denied that information through FOI, that part is true.

As is his right and that of any other citizen of the Province of British Columbia, he, acting on behalf of his clients filed an appeal request of the FOI denial through to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia as he objected to being denied what he thought were documents he had the right to view. His appeal through the Privacy Commissioner was detailed, thorough and complete. The B.C. Privacy Commissioner took the complaint and passed it on to their adjudicator Elizabeth Barker who took some considerable time to view and consider all of the information provided by both sides and she released her decision dated July 24th 2013.

The lengthy and detailed decision and the reasons for it are available on the “Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner” web-site her conclusion is –

“For the reasons stated above, and pursuant to s. 58 of FIPPA, I make the following orders:

  1. Langley is not authorized by s. 12(3)(a) of FIPPA to refuse to disclose the original and the four subsequent revisions of the storm water management plan.
  2. Langley must give the applicant a copy of original and revisions 1, 2, 3, and 5 of the storm water management plan, on or before September 6th, 2013. I also require Langley to copy me on its cover letter to the applicant, together with a copy of the records.”

So the decision and all of this seems relatively straight forward, correct? NOT in the Township of Langley! The Township of Langley in a letter to Mr. Jacob de Raadt dated August 20th, 2013 from Township’s Bull Housser lawyer Mr. James Goulden advised, “on behalf of the Township seeking a judicial review of the Order in the near future. In those proceedings, the Township will be asking the court to overturn the Order.”

So the Township being the Township, why stop there (with the Order) let’s spend more money on lawyers which in my view is bad enough. NOW the kicker, where the Langley Times misinformed the public and a couple of intriguing questions to ask yourself:

  1. The Township of Langley is seeking to have the order to release the documents overturned? Excuse me! THEY RELEASED THE REQUESTED DOCUMENTS AS ORDERED TO ONE JACOB de RAADT. So, NO Langley Times, they have released the documents as ordered but at the same time are appealing their release through the courts. What you say? Only in the Township of Langley. Why spend a few dollars on legal bills when you have an open ended budget using tax payer dollars!
  2. Why was Jacob de Raadt named in this Judicial Review? Yes he sought clarification which surely is anyone’s right in our democracy, BUT it was the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner that investigated, conducted the review and issued the decision and Order. The Township’s argument, IF they have one, is with the others named on the Petition namely The Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia and the Attorney General of British Columbia NOT Jacob de Raadt. This couldn’t have anything to do with their fight with Mr. de Raadt could it? Just asking the question?
  3. A fair question would now be, is this the Township’s new strategy? That is to force anyone who applies for information through an FOI request, is denied and appeals successfully to the Information and Privacy Commissioner to challenge that decision through a Judicial Review? Forcing tax payers into court to defend themselves against what has to be considered their basic democratic rights? Is this another way of saying, or a shot across the bow to anyone who is attempting to get the truth? What is happening in the Township? Is this what you want out of your local government?
  4. The Langley Times states the Township of Langley is suing over the FOI request. NO, Langley Times, the Township of Langley is petitioning the Court requesting a Judicial review of the decision and the Order of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. So, Jacob de Raadt is named in the Petition for a Judicial Review of an Information and Privacy Commissioner decision, not his FOI request. All of this because a taxpayer exercised their democratic rights? Shame!

In summary, I am not sure who is running this municipality but IT IS NOT Mayor and Council. However, Mayor and Council are complicit in everything that is going on in the Township of Langley by their actions or more important their inactions! So where are we at as a community? Does something have to happen to you personally before you will be responsive and fight back? This Mayor and Council are worse than the Council of Kurt Alberts, IF that is possible.

I know it is nice to see members of Council get along with very little show of disunity and I know it is hard to understand that just because a Council is united in the majority of their decisions (minus a dissenting voice in the back ground ie David Davis) –

“IT DOES NOT MAKE THE MAJORITY DECISION CORRECT !!!”

In my opinion it all but makes Council decisions suspect!

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!

 

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Comments
  1. gadfly says:

    gadfly from Osoyoos agrees with the above assessment

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