Archive for December, 2013

The first year of has brought with it a greater level of success than we could have possibly hoped for. To-date our viewers over an active 8 month period number over 25,000! Not bad for a community specific, community political BLOG. It is our hope that we have been able to provide some behind the scene FACTS on important issues, previously unavailable to residents and taxpayers of the Langleys! Thank you to all of our readers!

There is a time to hold those in public office, their feet to the fire (when deserved), and there is time to back off, albeit temporarily. This is definitely the time of year to sit back, enjoy family and friends and celebrate the season.

On behalf of all of our family and those of us with we would like to extend our very best wishes to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous NEW YEAR!

We will be working over the holidays on some very enlightening and eye opening BLOG Posts containing information that should be of serious concern to each and every resident of the Township of Langley. We will be back right after the NEW YEAR!


Rick Green

The agents of misinformation on Coulter Berry in the Township of Langley are still at it – Not letting the inconvenient facts get in the way of a good story! The smoke and mirrors support being put forward and offered up by the friends of the Township of Langley Establishment, Eric Woodward and Coulter Berry in Fort Langley has a familiar ring to them. Connecting many of those dots is an interesting exercise, once again in searching for answers behind how this was possible smacks of what is in it for me? The self-serving continues……

Well one thing we have to admit, it is consistent with the politics in the Township of Langley!

You know it never ceases to amaze me how some individuals (so many of them identified supporters of the TOL Establishment and this Mayor and his majority slate on Council) can rationalize the irresponsible, and in the case of Coulter Berry, illegal actions of this Council. Is it blind loyalty or? Don’t you have to ask WHY? Who’s interest are they looking after?

A saying I have used many times to get a point across –

“I believe in a dictatorship as long as I am the dictator”!

My point is that in elected office or in an official staff position you do not have the right or authority to manufacture an illegal process for the benefit of anyone regardless of circumstances. You are not a dictator! You have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of your community to be fiscally prudent and abide by the rule of law. So let’s look at the illogical conclusion of the kind of thinking that caused this problem; if what has gone on with the Coulter Berry building is OK with you then one would have to believe you believe that legislation, laws and by-laws are OK as long as you agree with them otherwise to hell with them and any need for you to be compliant! In my experience this kind of thinking is and has been deep seeded and pervasive in the Township of Langley for far too long. There has been and continues to be a deliberate effort to be creative in the interpretation of bylaws and provincial legislation. Once again the local media is an abject failure in its investigation and non-reporting of same!

So before we look at many of the irrational comments made by a few supporters, lets look at the key points outlined in the long awaited written legal decision by The Honourable Mr. Justice Groves. Here are the pertinent parts of the decision: (I am only providing points that are particularly key to the decision. I have also underlined key points. (The full written decision is available on-line at

(Page 2)

(10) The Local Government Act (LGA) in part 27, Division 5, deals with Heritage Alteration Permits. Section 972 of the LGA is germane to my analysis in these Reasons. It reads as follows:

Division 5 – Heritage Alteration Permits

Heritage Alteration Permits (HAP)

972        (2) The heritage alteration permit may, in relation to heritage property or property within a heritage conservation area, vary or supplement provisions of one or more of the following. (It goes on and lists 4 items a thru d.)

972        (4) The following restrictions apply to subsection (2):

                             (a) the use of density of use may not be varied

(14) It is not disputed by Langley, generally speaking, that in order for this proposed development to proceed, the zoning provisions in effect in this Heritage Conservation area would have to be amended, specify the Zoning bylaw in the heritage designated area of Fort Langley requires building to be no more than two stories high. The height restrictions are found in section 602.6 of the Community Commercial Zone (C-2) bylaw.

(18) The petitioners argued first that Langley at the meeting in which they considered the HAP did not specifically amend the zoning bylaws. I find that they purported to do so at the meeting. I would not accede to the petitioner’s grounds for setting aside the HAP on that basis.

(19) However the petitioner further argued, and I agreed, that Langley, when they approved this HAP breached s. 972 (4)(a) of the LGA.

(20) The LGA allows under s. 972(2)(b), through the HAP process, amendments to zoning bylaws. However, s. 972(4)(a) places a restriction on what a council can do under a HAP. This section prohibits council from varying the use or density of use of the lands subject to the HAP.

(21) The LGA does not define the term density of use.

(22) I find that Langley actions, in allowing a building to have, for lack of a better term, a footprint in excess of 60% maximum noted in the zoning bylaw and allowing a building to be in excess of the two stories allowed in the Zoning bylaw, in this case, a three-storey building, had the effect of changing the density of use of the subject lands.

(23) The concise Oxford Dictionary has an applicable definition of density as follows: “the quantity of people or things in a given space”.

(24) The use of the term density of use in the LGA, must be considered in the context of what this HAP purported to do in regards to the lands in question.

(25) Under the applicable zoning, the footprint on the properties in question must at maximum be 60% of the area of the land. Additionally, the building must not be more than two stories high. So the question in it’s simplest terms is therefore, has Langley changed the density of use of this parcel of land by allowing a footprint in excess of 67% of the area of the land and by allowing a building to three stories high rather than two. Common sense, and any reasonable interpretation of density of use suggest that they have. They are allowing a building that is approximately 50% higher than the current zoning allowed and they are allowing an increase, although a modest increase, in the footprint of the building on the lands in question.

(26) Council’s actions, I find as fact, have increased the density of use of the lands in question, an action which is expressly prohibited, or beyond their power under s. 972 of the LGA. As such, the HAP must be set aside.   

RE Coulter Berry – Comments made in letters to the editor –

Langley Advance Tuesday Dec. 3rd 2013 –

  • “The unfortunate result of the heritage hole in the ground was achieved by six people with private interests fortunate to get a judge who found a process technicality”.  “There was no public hearing about whether to launch a court challenge. There was no public hearing in the court proceedings”.


The accusation of private interest – no doubt you mean fear of competition? Do yourself a favor and don’t insult your own intelligence. A two story building will provide plenty of room for legitimate competition so that is a specious and irresponsible argument.

  • “Found a Process Technicality” –

RESPONSE – A process technicality is NOT TRUE, it is illegal! Please review the written decision.

  • “No Public Hearings to decide Court Challenge?”


You have to be kidding, right? – As a citizen you/we have the right to due process and to challenge undue or improper process by government in the courts. Governments are not exempt from court action. I can only wish and hope there were more people willing to fight for the rights of the general population against many of the actions of this municipal council.

  • “No Public Hearings in Court Session?”


Unfortunately that is not part of our judicial process. The Township of Langley, thanks to all of its residents paid a handsome fee for its legal representation against this challenge whether we agree with the challenge or not. You should have attended the two day Court session; you would have a better appreciation of the Township of Langley’s inadequate defense (my opinion) of their irresponsible actions.

Langley Advance Tuesday Dec. 3rd, 2013 –

  • “Get on with the Project” –

RESPONSE – An illegal act? Please review the written decision.

Other complaints – The hyperbole continues with the orchestrated letter writing and attack campaign by the friends of Eric Woodward moving into high gear unabated. They include statements like – “Self-appointed bullies”, “This group pretending to speak for the entire community…”, “I didn’t vote for them…”, “The Supreme Court Judge from Prince George…”, sympathy for the developer and what he has been through and more and more and more!

And the best of all (although it was hard to choose) “Coulter Berry was approved by an elected Council”! This may come as a shock to those in favor of this building however a Council majority does not have the power to approve a project at will. They MUST adhere to all pertaining Provincial Legislation, the Community Charter, and the Local Government Act as well as their own by-laws and procedures which they can change BUT only according to due process. I will say that sitting in that court room listening to the argument put forward by the Township Legal Counsel the argument that they can almost do as they please sounds eerily familiar. The judge obviously didn’t agree.

Let’s be clear, the argument against this building from the outset is that the Township of Langley erred in the legal processing of this development. This Mayor, Council and staff had every opportunity over a considerable period of time to correct the process however they repeatedly ignored the representations made to them.

In a letter to the editor (Langley Advance Nov. 20th, 2013) “Holistic Coulter Berry investor crushed in Fort Langley” from Mr. John Allan states the petition was a “misuse of the legal system”. Well there are a few points Mr. Allan should be aware of before he makes such a statement. A review of the petitioner’s affidavit #2 shows that Roy Stewart QC advised the TOL and the developer in January of 2013 that a challenge was inevitable. Again in May 2013 both were advised again and it wasn’t until July 5th 2013 the petition was entered. All three of these written legal warnings were issued long before the developer dug the infamous Heritage Hole as it has become known. Mayor, Council and Eric Woodward gambled and lost, it is as simple as that. Sympathy in this case for the developer is not warranted!

The professionals in the planning department rejected the plan, The Langley Heritage Commission and the Heritage Advisory Board rejected the plan, The Langley Heritage Society and B.C. Heritage opposed the plan and a petition of 940 names and the vast majority of speakers were also opposed to the plan. So here we sit with a plan that was foisted on residents of the Township of Langley by members of Council who ignored professional advice, community advice and taxpayer input in favor of an individual who has requested or has been provided with special favors. WHY?

In a well written letter to the editor (Langley Times Tuesday Dec. 10th, 2013) it states – “Mayor Froese said he doesn’t remember any controversy or protest”? WHAT?

NEWS FLASH TO MAYOR FROESE – Please keep up, read this BLOG and OH by the way, read your correspondence and meeting minutes pertaining to this issue going back about 2 years! Remember Pete McMartin’s column (Vancouver Sun) quoting Mayor Froese as not making decisions based on petitions and public hearing presentations related to this project?

Have you ever asked yourself why Mayor Jack Froese, Council members – Charlie Fox, Michelle Sparrow, Kim Richter, Grant Ward, Bev Dornan, Bob Long, Steve Ferguson, ALL except David Davis were tripping over themselves to manufacture and implement what has proven to be an illegal process? Is it just coincidence that former Mayor Kurt Alberts (consultant to Coulter Berry), former Councilors Jordan Bateman, Howie Vickberg and MLA Rich Coleman are on record as supporting this building? An illegal process?

Have you ever asked yourself why staff was against this plan for Coulter Berry from the outset? Could it be that they deemed it an illegal process? Just asking!

Response to the BC Supreme Court decision:

The response to this written court decision by Eric Woodward, the proponent of this development as outlined in his message on the “We support Coulter Berry” Facebook site leaves one in shock. I sat through 1 ½ of the 2 day hearing and I have to tell you we must have attended two different hearings. His is but a narrow self-interest and wishful thinking interpretation of the facts. They were wrong and they know they were wrong! They got caught.

Misty van Popta on the same “We Support Coulter Berry” Facebook site stated “So essentially there is nothing wrong with Coulter berry. Nothing illegal, nothing sinister done by Council in approving it. Its just a matter of incorrect paperwork. OH my goodness.” If this wasn’t so outrageous it would be laughable. All of this comes from an individual who was backed by Joel Schacter and Coleman (per Schacter’s email) for Council in the last election? Obviously she is not letting the inconvenient facts get in the way of a good story. Van Popta for Council, with this kind of thinking, how devastating would that be?

A Common Sense solution –

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to suggest that this Mayor and Council need to go back to the drawing board and come back with a plan that meets the by-laws that are and have been successfully in place for years.


They come back with the appropriate by-laws that would rescind all Heritage guidelines and stand by the project that has just been rejected by the courts for reasons of wrong process. I would strongly suggest any move in that direction will cause an uproar in this community from one end to the other that will make anything to-date look like a church picnic!

A Message to Council and Staff – Any attempt to Spot Zone would be met with vehement opposition. Any zoning amendments considered would need to be consistent with the Langley OCP, Fort Langley OCP and the Fort Langley Building and Façade Guidelines. This is confirmed under Part 26, section 884 (2)(b) of the local government act.

Over to you Good Luck. It is a very costly hole you dug for yourselves and more importantly us taxpayers! Thanks a bunch!!!!


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!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.

I have been searching for the best descriptive I could use to describe the dilemma of taxpayers in the Township of Langley, well here it is; – Rafe Mair’s Axiom – “You make a very serious mistake believing that people in charge know what the hell they are doing”. This BLOG Report on the FACTS on Spending and Taxation should give us all a lot to be concerned about!

On the Spending Side:

NEWS FLASH! – The NEW extensive Canadian Federation of Independent Business Report Municipal Spending Watch (Nov. 2013) shows –

The Township of Langley ranked the 3rd WORST in OPERATING spending out of 27 Municipalities and Cities from Lions Bay through to Hope in 2011 and 2010! This is not a one of, it is part of a long term inbred culture that I was unsuccessful in fighting against in my three years in the Mayor’s office. A forensic audit on Capital Spending would be even more enlightening. (A few examples of that are listed below)

The only Cities and Municipalities that were worse were the Villages of Lions Bay and Harrison Hot Springs, both with populations of approx. 1,500 each.

So how do we feel so far about the job this Municipal Council is doing?      

It is long past due that Township of Langley taxpayers should be awakened to what is being done to them every year and the accumulative effect of out of control spending and taxation. A few facts that should be clear when talking about spending –

  • An $800,000 expenditure in the Township of Langley equates to an approx. 1% tax increase.
  • A line that is often used by Municipalities is “they have to balance their budgets” per Provincial legislation – True except simple Math 101 will tell you that a) tax increases or b) increasing debt will solve that problem for municipal politicians and the bureaucracy in a heartbeat and they have learned that art form well. It does nothing to stop their thirst for your tax dollars.
  • Capital Spending – The outrageous and very questionable payment of an $8.6 million dollar Langley Event Center (LEC) settlement to the Langley Development Group  (Morey Keith was the principle in the Langley Development Group who was appointed and reappointed to the B.C. Lottery Board by Rich Coleman.)
  • Capital Spending – A $7.5 million expansion to the LEC which received no public input, scrutiny or announcement prior to construction start.
  • Staff statements that these Capital expenditures do not affect taxation rates nor are they part of any tax payer supported debt is an insult to the intelligence of all of us. Regardless of how you cut it, funds for these expenditures came out of reserves, which were funded by taxation and will have to be replenished through taxation. There is only one taxpayer, YOU, this council just doesn’t get it.  

NOTE – This list could be very extensive, but you get the point.

On the Taxation Side – Some History:

The reasons for my criticism are real not imagined!

Tax Increases –

  • 2002 to 2008   + 26%                 6 years
  • 2002 to 2011   + 40.49%           9 years
  • 2002 to 2013   + 46.29%           11 years

A compound tax increase of over 46% in 11 years!

  • How many residents had a 46% increase in pay over this period of time?
  • B.C.’s Cost of Living since 2002 was only       +17.9%              (Stats Canada / B.C.)
  • Taxation Increases – Over 3 times the cost of living!

What is it you often hear at tax time? – On average a general property tax increase is only 2.95%? Isn’t that interesting, my personal Property Taxes for a 5 acre property in North / East Langley (Senior and not farm taxes) in the ALR show the following:

  • 2011 – $2,711.08
  • 2012 – $2,810.07          + 3.6%
  • 2013 – $2,995.94         + 6.6%

On a side note, I can remember after one of my failed attempts to stop the unnecessary tax increase, I suggested to Council we have staff bring back to us the effect of the decided tax increase (using the average as calculated by staff) on each one of our (Council members) homes. This is something we did in Delta and helped to give Council, in some cases, a reality check as all of us on Council resided on different properties in different locations throughout the Township. I can remember the comment from Kim Richter that it was confidential and she wouldn’t provide it. How absurd, I rest my case!

Creative Property Tax Statements –

I don’t know how many of you will remember, it wasn’t that far back, that our Property Tax Bill used to contain one if not a couple of classifications. In other words you received a tax increase of say 4% which included all services under the General – Municipal heading. Well in the spirit of creativity we are now being provided numbers for a variety of categories of services.

In reality it is nothing more than an attempt to justify their tax increase by breaking it out by category. We are now provided with –

  • General – Municipal
  • General – Protective Services
  • Fraser Valley Regional Library
  • Parks
  • Storm Water
  • Transportation – Roads

Maybe we should ask for “General – Administration” and “General – Legal” which seems to be a popular expense with today’s Council.

I am not sure how or why I should feel more comfortable, especially knowing how inadequate our budget process and oversight is.

As I stated above, the unbelievable but true fact remains it is staff under the direction of outside forces who are the ones steering and commanding the ship. Council members over the past 12 – 15 years have been nothing more than passengers on that ship taking their marching orders from those unelected. OH don’t get me wrong, Council members get their opportunity to make themselves feel good in front of the public in public debate, Q & A during Public Hearings (we know how that listening goes don’t we) and Notices of Motion (although I see Councilor Long wants to find a way to circumvent that opportunity, why am I not surprised). The fact is the MEAT of the management of our Municipality is left to others, those unelected! It is being allowed to happen by your Mayor and Council.

As to Budgeting:

As anyone in business knows, respect for a thorough budgeting process is essential to accomplishing the desired result of fiscal accountability on behalf of taxpayers in this case or shareholders in private business. In the case of Municipal Government that process requires the thorough vetting of all departments provisional budget requests. Every single department if left to their own will and resources has an extensive WANT list. The challenge is paring that down to an affordable NEEDS list. Now there is no question that budgeting is a very difficult process, it requires the elected (Council members) to be challenging of the unelected (Staff) line by line as to their and Council priorities measured against Municipal needs and measured against value for money.

It requires the elected to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money, both in operating and capital expenditures.

I will give you one small example – There was one discovery that my Standing Committee of Finance uncovered (among many) while going through the budgeting process. When Committee members questioned a few items of significance we discovered that staff had created “Capital Projects Funded – NOT STARTED” which went beyond the most recent year we were dealing with. While investigating a number of these items we found that they were nothing more than a method to create slush funds of convenience for staff. A fundamental principle should be a review of every Capital Project approved by council that wasn’t started in that given year. Is it still needed? Why wasn’t it started? What was the business plan for it?

Another small example – At the start of our Mayor’s Standing Committee of Finance process and in discussions with the CAO, one of our committee members who was a retired CA and Senior Managing Partner from a prominent accounting firm stated he would like to see us adopt a 0 based budgeting format, to which our CAO replied, we do, it is modified 0 based budgeting. Most professionals in the business will tell you, there is no such thing – It is either O based or it is not! That was just the start of a no cooperation attitude.

In my opinion, going through the “well entrenched Township of Langley staff budgeting process of convenience” and my attempts to correct that process, it was clear that nothing was going to change. Councilors Bateman, Fox, Ward, Ferguson, Dornan, Kositsky and Long were determined that would be the case. It was very clear to me that not one of the above ever met a tax or spending increase they didn’t like. Just look up their records, it is a fact!

I would also suggest Councilor Richter’s actions through this period were less than helpful. While she likes to come across as the taxpayer’s conscience, in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. I measure people by their actions not words! So all of us are left with the status quo!!

NOTE: For a detailed description of the facts surrounding my attempt to bring fiscal accountability to the Township of Langley see posting May 17th, 2013.

In Summary:

So the question – Why is Council such a failure in being responsible with your tax dollars? While I could provide a more graphic description of what is going on I will refer back to Rafe Mair’s Axiom for a more polite way of saying it:

“You make a very serious mistake believing that people in charge know what the hell they are doing”

Well folks, it is time for change, are we going to get on with it?

The Township of Langley has without exception one of the worst spending and taxation records within the Lower Mainland from Squamish to Hope for years! I have said it many times before, these Council members make a habit of adopting a staff budget, not a Council budget. If you don’t believe me go and compare a Provisional Budget presented by staff and compare it to the adopted budget by Council.

This long standing process of budgeting with tax increases and spending increases that are three times the cost of living and more are just not sustainable. What is more worrisome is there is no move a-foot to change these habits. The only thing that will change what is happening is a NEW Council, are you up for it? Just one year away!


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!

To comment on this post – Click on this Post, top left hand corner under recent posts.