BREAKING NEWS !! Township of Langley acted improperly…. Coulter Berry Building Heritage Alteration Permit set aside!!!!

Posted: October 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Who said you can’t fight City Hall, just maybe this decision will instill courage into the many residents who may have thought all was lost. This decision only happened thanks to the incredible hard work, commitment and financial resources by members of the Society of Fort Langley Residents for Sustainable Development.

So, to all of those out there that tried to dismiss this challenge by throwing out threats, accusations and bullying tactics against those that have worked so hard to protect due process, be warned that the light at the end of the tunnel is not daylight, it is a train headed your way. What has and is going on in the Township of Langley is wrong and MUST be stopped. Here is a great first step!

I have just returned from spending 1 ½ of the 2 day B.C. Supreme Court Petition hearing for Judicial Review held in Chilliwack B.C. with Justice Groves presiding. The end result (verbal decision) was quite unexpected by all concerned as I think it would be fair to suggest a Reserved Decision was expected. The only conundrum in the case for all concerned, including the Judge, was what happens to the development while a decision is being considered. Therefore in retrospect a decision certainly was preferred which is what Justice Groves mentioned in his pre decision comments and explanation.

Decision – The Township of Langley acted improperly and Township of Langley Heritage Alteration Permit No. 100685 is set aside. Justice Groves also awarded costs!

Sitting in that B.C. Supreme Court court room was quite an experience.  It could not help but open one’s eyes to what due process is all about and what we have been missing in the Township of Langley.

The first half day heard legal counsel for the Petitioner, Roy J. Stewart Q.C., deal with a number of questions from the Judge as well as laying out their case, the last half of the first day was his (the Petitioner’s) summary of their case. Today was the response from the Respondent’s legal counsel Daniel R. Bennett (Bull Houser & Tupper LLP) followed up by a response from Roy J. Stewart QC and finally the decision of Justice Groves.

The presentation of the Petitioner’s case was bang on and let light shine in on how illegitimate this process was. The sad reality is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Now as I recall, this illegitimate process of approval was prompted by members of Council against the wishes of a Planning Department staff report.

So who is responsible – Here is a start:

  • On Council – Mayor Froese, Kim Richter, Grant Ward, Charlie Fox, Bev Dornan, Bob Long, Steve Ferguson and Michelle Sparrow
  • On Staff – CAO Mark Bakken and Manager Engineering and Community Development Ramin Seifi
  • Eric Woodward with Kurt Alberts as a key supporter!

OH By the way – Congratulations to David Davis for being the only responsible member of our Township Council, well done!!

I can tell you, sitting in the gallery and listening to the arguments from the Township of Langley legal counsel, I was having a flash back to discussions I was privy to internally during my three years as Mayor. I was opposed then and I am now to the Township of Langley Council and bureaucracy’s arrogance about what they think they have the right to do. The court was having it explained to it by Township legal counsel that today’s Judicial Approach equated to a more “Generous Approach to Municipal Powers”. I am not convinced, given the decision, that the Justice was impressed with that argument.

Just an FYI – Be prepared for the counter response by all parties mentioned above. Nothing would surprise me relative to actions to proceed in one way or another. Stay tuned!


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


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  1. Mei Lin Yeoell says:

    Missed your work this summer, Rick, but this is an AWESOME piece of news. Are you at liberty to tell us how much the legal action cost?

    • I have no idea at to what costs will be awarded but in my view awarding costs is a reflection of how the Judge felt about the actions of the Township. I will be posting more information as it becomes available. RG

  2. Wally Martin says:

    I assume Woodward has spent a bundle to date on this project. Will TOL be and of course the taxpayers be on the hook to repay his to him?

    • Wally: I wasn’t able to edit your post at this end but for clarification you meant to say “this to him”. This has to be considered winning the first period of a hockey game, BUT a very important win. There are a number of questions unanswered. Will the Township establish a permitted change in a by-law which will then have to go through a formal process, which is what the petitioner’s were requesting from the start? Will Council (not including David Davis) still support this project as they have done up to now? If they don’t what actions will Eric Woodward take given his investment to-date? In short this Council and senior staff have put the Township of Langley in a serious situation. Stay tuned! RG

  3. C. Doyle says:

    Of course he will have to be compensated. If the opponents had been able to sue the proponent directly they more than likely would have had they had the same feint hope held out to them by legal counsel. As a result of suing the township the supreme court is saying precisely that this ‘harm’ is the fault of TOL or, by extension, the citizens because after all council is the peoples choice to represent us and conduct business on our behalf regardless of wether or not you personally chose them they were democratically elected and that means by a majority. Have you ever known of an instance where blame has been assigned for harm and the assignee was not liable for compensation? Being liable however is not a guarantee that it is finished. So if you thought opposition was without cost to you as a taxpayer stand by because I didn’t hear the ‘Fat Lady’ sing. The township has thirty days to appeal the decision and that no doubt will trip the meter on again if they do. Cheers.

    • Far be it from me to determine what and if compensation should be forthcoming, obviously I have my opinion. The argument here is about “did the Township of Langley follow due process” and the answer from the courts is no they didn’t. The courts were not asked nor could they be “should this be a three story building” that is the decision of Council but only within due process. I have heard people say “well all Council has to do is come back with a zoning change amendment” which IS TRUE which means an appropriate by-law being written, 1st and 2nd reading given, Public Hearing, 3rd reading and then final adoption. The key issue here is providing the general public with their clear opportunity to speak to Council through a Public Hearing, which to-date has been denied. This administration has come up with something called a “Public In-Put Opportunity” which will not provide an official account of public response. Now Council are responsible. They have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer to manage the affairs of our Municipal Government within the laws of the land. Be there no doubt, there will be a very heavy cost to us the taxpayer, all to be laid at the feet of this council who (minus David Davis) requested and supported this process to approve which has now been found illegitimate. The other shoe has got to drop, it will be interesting. Yes the TOL has 30 days to appeal but it must be based on an error in law in the judgment. The interesting part is this so-far is a verbal decision, the written decision can take up to 4 months to publish. How do you appeal without seeing the written decision to determine if you have a leg to stand on?

      This group that filed for a Judicial Review did the right thing. Finally we had someone who had the guts, intestinal fortitude and financial resources to do so. The sooner the establishment within the Township of Langley (which includes the majority of this council including the Mayor) gets the message that their antics and support for a chosen few is coming to an end the better.

      • Mike says:

        100% agree the right thing has been done here!

        Maybe some people want a big huge building in the Fort, and if so the proper process (and feedback) can happen to change the Heritage Guidelines and related bylaws…FIRST.

        This disgusting council cannot unilaterally ignore the bylaws – that’s what the Supreme Court is saying – and dammit I agree. The “Joan of Arc” arrogance of this council is what might cost the taxpayers money (again) NOT the people who (within their rights) challenged council.

        It reminds me of poor Jaccob, he (within his rights) asks for some public documents, the (provincial) government agrees he was within his rights, and yet this council tries to imply they are going to sue him etc (Bullies). People and Jacobs of the world are within their rights to challenge council – Council is not divine.

        As for damages? Maybe…but then again the builder chose to start before the full building permit was issued didn’t he? He had (I think) excavation permit, and so lets see what happens.
        If there are damages? Well Council in all their arrogance is at fault (same council that would fight Metrovan wasting tax dollars for their “divine” right to spot develop farms!?!?)

        Council might cost us money – not the group who challenged tyranny.

        “Generous Approach to Municipal Powers”????? Does that mean once council is elected they think they have divine rights to bend bylaws because they know whats best? NO!

        It reminds me of Athhenry gate which was allowed to be taller, wider and closer to property lines than OCP or neighbors wanted – upsetting neighbors enough to “try to sue” – wasn’t the mayors key campaign people also tied to that fiasco somehow???

        Seems this mayor likes his provincial and developer friends more than he respects the OCP/ Bylaws/ guidelines which us “mere peasants” count on to protect our lifestyle and investments.

  4. gadfly says:

    Congratulations indeed. From this, it is very likely that if during the past decade and a half, MORE people (individuals and/or groups) would have questioned the “due priocess” as perceived and implemented (meaning: railroaded) by the ToL (Council and staff), similar Judicial Reviews would have been made MUCH EARLIER. I can think of a handful of development projects that should have been “turfed” when the applications were made.

    But there is somewhat more basic to it. The principial change to start using SxD (Sustainability by Design) principles instead of the DWC (Development With Care) provincial guidelines – particularly in the Willoughby Community – is the underlying cause of “what went wrong”. I would guess that there was not even a trace of “due process” to make that change – and therefore not even a way for the public to suspect that anything was untoward. .

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