Archive for January, 2014

The problem is Council are either buying in hook, line and sinker or are in on the creation at the expense of the taxpayer! It makes for bad and very questionable government!

NEWS FLASH – Your Municipal Council’s actions and decisions have the greatest impact on our quality of life which includes affordability (taxes and fees for services), livability (compatible zoning, by-laws, regulations and land use) and services (arenas, parks, trails and other community amenities). It is very unfortunate and I would add disgraceful that only 19 – 21 % of residents take the time to vote. I am pounding the drum to wake up our community to the issues and will continue to do so! We need everyone’s help to spread the word because the election is only 8 months away!

In viewing the meeting of our Municipal Council prior to the Christmas break, it caused me some uncomfortable flashbacks but also drew me into the issues being dealt with and the impact their decisions were going to have on our community. Here is a snapshot of the issues that caught my attention and the questions I have about their debate and decisions –

Serious resident Parking issues in Willoughby – There were four residents (delegations) who each passionately spoke for their allotted five minutes on behalf of the residents of each of their residential communities or complexes relating to what can only be described as their impossible parking situation. It was well presented by the residents through a Power Point presentation. What has made their situation particularly intolerable is the introduction (with no notice or consultation) of NO PARKING by the Township of Langley on main corridor or collector streets.

What is at the heart of this problem and getting massively worse are the Township of Langley’s development guidelines, bylaw requirements and secondary suite requirements for resident and Visitors Parking. By today’s standard, they are completely sub-standard from what is necessary.

The result of their effort was a temporary relaxation of parking regulations over the Christmas holidays, was this the best they could do? What is a viable solution?

The best way to describe the problem was presented by one of the residents. The 42 unit development his family lived in, when approved by the TOL and Council provided 10 visitor spots. As was pointed out, this number would probably allow for 2 residents to do any kind entertaining with friends at any one time. Any visitors beyond the 10 would have to park about a half kilometer away, or receive a parking ticket. Welcome to the Township of Langley.

I have been out of office for two years and haven’t spent too much time observing the level of development up in the Willoughby slopes. To that end I went for a two hour tour the other day and quite frankly it was mind boggling. In my opinion the development going on in Willoughby is rampant and unabated. It is far too dense and without due care and attention to required community amenities to service the existing and planned development. An example of what I am talking about is another 617 unit development given 1st and 2nd reading just recently. A drive through of Willoughby will readily give you insight into the number of development signs and/or property sold signs on display.

Where have they gone wrong? Where do I start? Some would say it is too late, I don’t believe that it is but it is getting close!

This out of control Willoughby Development / Parking issue was one of many that caused me to come out of political retirement in 2008 to run for Mayor. Foolishly on my part I thought any reasonable thinking elected Council or Council member would welcome new ideas and insight into policy and plans that would provide significant improvement going forward. A key initiative I brought forward and had presented to Council was introducing Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) which up to that time had been successfully launched, welcomed and court tested in the City of Vancouver. The individual (now retired) who I had make this presentation to our Council had been instrumental in the CAC program in the City of Vancouver. As I said, foolishly, I thought we would or could welcome NEW IDEAS! As an example of the mentality of this Council; Councilor Ferguson’s comment was this may work in the City of Vancouver but this is the Township of Langley! Yes, and your point is Councilor Ferguson – I rest my case! How this man continues to get elected to Council is beyond me!

If they don’t assist current residents with permanent solutions to their parking and density problems and get control of the situation of out-of-control development now, Willoughby will be unlivable in the not too distant future! It is not about No development but IT IS ABOUT GOOD DEVELOPMENT!

Speaking of Out-of-Control Development – First and Second Reading was given to Official Community Plan Amendment and Rezoning Application Bylaws No. 5026 and 5027:

I have said from day one that in my opinion the Township of Langley process is flawed as it relies on what I consider to be a fashion of spot zoning and not good planning. I don’t believe good planning is accomplished through what I call Omnibus bylaws. In other words two processes in one. This development is a perfect case in point 1) They are Amending the Official Community Plan and 2) They are Rezoning the property to fit this particular development, ALL in one process, one public hearing. This process along-side the large number of “Neighborhood Plans” as opposed to a well thought out comprehensive Development Plan for the entire Willoughby Community is what is at fault for what we are seeing. It is a process that is very easily developer and staff manipulated through one process as opposed to two, which should be the case. The taxpayer is the one that pays the price through lack of public process and lack of Developer supported community needs. Here is the density at stake for the above development coming your way by Public Hearing –

7642 – 206th Street / 7725 – 208th Street / 7751 – 208th Street – Approximately (interesting choice of words) 617 units (29 single family lots, a 46 unit strata site), (16 detached units, 14 duplexes and 16 row-houses), (239 townhouses and 303 apartments). We (you the taxpayer) are being taken to the cleaners with respect to what (or what isn’t) being demanded from the developer. This IS NOT about being anti-development, IT IS about GOOD and SUSTAINABLE DEVLOPMENT.

Here is an interesting decision? – Third Reading of bylaw No. 5031 denied on a tie vote, (Councilor Dornan was absent) not because of the density or the plan but because of a split opinion on the wishes by the Mormon Temple to flip the most dense part of the development away from the Temple as opposed to being right next door. Their concern was over the potential for parking in their lot by neighboring residents. It was Councilor Fox who in his typical sarcastic and condescending fashion said the church can lock their gates. It was suggested by the Mayor that it may be brought back for reconsideration with a full council at the next meeting. That will be an interesting vote!

True to his word, Mayor Froese brought it back to last Monday’s Council meeting for reconsideration. Well, surprise surprise, Councilor Dornan voted in favor and Councilor Ward changed his vote and now supports it. Believe me, all it took was a week of convincing these two to get on-side with the rat pack!

This development is located between 82nd and 84th at about 204th. Density with virtually no asks by the Township, here is another 244 units (117 single family lots, a 90 unit strata site), 36 detached units and 54 townhouses), (29 row-houses and 8 duplexes); ALL OF THIS UNDER THE INADEQUATE PARKING REGULATIONS GOVERNING DEVELOPMENT IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY.    

Third Reading for Bylaw 5037 – Medical Marihuana Zoning bylaw amendment – Interesting debate 

Federal Medicinal Marihuana laws are being changed effective this coming April providing Municipal input and control over location and safety issues. This action is long past due and goes back to our united FCM position and lobbying efforts and local meetings with the Federal Ministries during 2010/11.

All municipalities are having to position themselves as to approved location of licensed premises, Agricultural or Industrial. The Agricultural Land Commission has stated that Marihuana Grow Ops are an approved agricultural function within the ALR.

The Township, in keeping with past practice, made an arbitrary decision without going to their Advisory Agricultural Committee to push ALL licensed Medicinal Grow-Ops to industrial property and off of Agricultural land. After all of that they go through 1st and 2nd reading, public hearing and then in this last meeting debate third reading. With a looming April deadline facing them and the need for a bylaw to be sent to Victoria for approval they start to debate about sending the proposed bylaw to their Agricultural Committee for input. Now for those that don’t know, which obviously includes Councilor Richter (after only 15 years on Council it takes some a little longer to know the rules) a Council member cannot accept new information or input after the Public Hearing! To my amazement she had a debate with the Administrator questioning why they could not get more input without coming back to Public Hearing! Not legal Councilor Richter, where have you been for 15 years? It boggles the mind!!

Latest Update – News on Coulter Berry –

At the January 13th, 2014 afternoon Council Meeting Councilor Fox moved a motion to receive the previously publicly named Win-Win proposal that was received from The Society of Fort Langley Residents for Sustainable Development. In short it basically dealt with a short term Permissive Tax Exemption. Like everything else this Council does they dismissed it and rejected it without so much as a benefit cost analysis. Then we have Councilor Richter lighting her hair on fire preaching the protection of public funds? What? This after no financial analysis has been done? This after her and her fellow councilors are responsible for wasting millions and millions of tax payer dollars on everything from overpaying on Trinity lands, the outrageous financial debacles in the Langley Events Center, McLeod Park over budget by three times and more! Talk about a gang that can’t shoot straight!!!

Now, interestingly, after making noises about appealing the decision, Eric Woodward just announced the reapplication of a newly designed Coulter Berry being submitted this week. Now it has to be said, this design was not created within this past week. This is all part of a larger Master Plan. To the community – Stay tuned for what lies ahead!!!


More interesting Township Features coming soon!

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

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The blind, irresponsible self-serving spending actions of this Council and staff continue unabated! Your elected Municipal Council has a fiduciary responsibility to protect tax payer dollars; if they don’t and you don’t hold them to account, it is your fault!

Thanks to Kent Spencer of the Vancouver Province (below) and his Front Page breaking news story of October 15th 2013, our eyes were opened to another very questionable land deal by the Township of Langley. The defense offered by Mayor Jack Froese, the Township of Langley and Trinity Western University was that this value, the purchase price, was supported by three independent appraisals. Well, this was not supported by the B.C. Assessment Authority. (Kent Spencer/The Province/Wednesday Oct. 23rd, 2013/2/3rd Page – A6) The question, WHY?

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) for those three independent appraisals

TELLS THE REST OF THE STORY……     Some would suggest it tells the REAL STORY!

First the issue (in headline form) –

The Province / Tuesday October 15th 2013 – FRONT PAGE and Full Page 3

“Giving Money Away”

Township spent $2.7 million buying land that Trinity Western University had received for free. (Kent Spencer – The Province)


The Province / Friday October 18th, 2013 – 1/3rd page Page A6

Council not told land value: Richter (Kent Spencer – The Province)


The Province / Wednesday October 23rd, 2013 – 2/3rd page – Page A6

B.C. Assessment won’t use sale price (Kent Spencer – The Province)


Story Recap on BLOG Post Posted November 5th, 2013

Township of Langley Property Deals and land use applications… Are you following the news? The STENCH from these issues is palpable and rising…. Then there is Richter’s response…. And we shouldn’t worry about our Council? What can I say?


So what do these appraisals tell us?

Important Pre-amble –

As you will see in the following, I am being very careful in my wording that follows in this BLOG Post. These Appraisal Reports offer warnings against any reproduction which I am sure has more to do with proprietary information (background and other) that they provide. Nevertheless there is a right for the public to have an answer(s) to questions as follows.  


As the previous Newspaper reports have indicated, the purchase price of this property has to be considered very questionable at best. All of this left the public with only one question to ask? WHY did the taxpayer pay $1.2 million (80%) over the B.C. Assessment price? The approximate equivalent to a 1 ½% Property Tax Increase.

To try to answer that question a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was filed requesting copies of the three independent appraisals on which this purchase price was based. They have been received and thoroughly reviewed. On their point that the appraisals supported the price paid by the parties, they are correct as far as that goes.

I must add at this time that I will not identify the appraisal companies, nor do I criticize them for the job that they performed in any way. All three are solid reputable firms who provided substantive reports that provided the professional service they were contracted to provide. However there lies the question and in my view the problem, the service they were contracted to provide was based on what instructions and/or Terms of Reference they were given?

The resulting answer of any commissioned appraisal or appraisals will be based on the terms of reference, instructions and directions provided by the principle(s), in this case the Township of Langley and Trinity Western University. Did they want a Market Value appraisal ie based on the current municipal zoning and approved Municipal and Regional land use OR an appraisal based some speculative and/or some anticipated, presumptive increase (improvement) to that zoning and/or land use? That was the case in these appraisals – they were to be based on purely speculative conditions that did not exist at time of sale, and there lies the problem! Frankly it should leave all of us residents, who have to pay the price of these decisions with ONE question – what is going on at City Hall?

IMPORTANT – It is very important to note that a given Council cannot bind a future Council to any decision they might make. Ie A future Council can always change bylaws or future policy.

The Questions I have below are for taxpayers and the Township of Langley, they are not of concern to the companies providing the appraisals, they did their job?

  • The Three Appraisals used are dated August 2011? Why mid-2011 when the sales were concluded mid-2012? Why weren’t they updated?
  • The properties included in the sale to the Township are part of the proposed University District proposal which has been declined by Metro Vancouver and is now before the courts? Why and who approved it prior to this legal issue being settled? This court decision will be instrumental on this property’s value, yet they concluded the agreement, prior to any decision rendered by the judiciary? This sale was NOT a conditional sale, it was firm.
  • The properties included in the sale to the Township of Langley (above) is based on a dramatic change in it’s permitted land use? How and why? This has not been legally approved.
  • The retained property by the private property owner considers the potential for a substantive change in the OCP and zoning. Again this was not a conditional sale. Why and under what and who’s authority, given any changes would have to go through a significant public process by this or a future government, did the Township conclude this agreement?
  • How does and why would the Township of Langley participate in a process that would inflate the value of property it wanted to purchase?
  • Is it not a conflict of interest for both the buyer (Township) and the seller (Trinity) to share the cost of the appraisals?
  • Then there is the Councilor Kim Richter public offering to The Province article by Kent Spencer –

It was very clear that the Township of Langley and Trinity University used the three independent appraisals as their defense for concluding this property agreement.

In response to the first news story about this land (above), Councilor Kim Richter, an experienced (close to 15 year, 5 term Councilor) is quoted extensively in this feature with the following:

Councilor Kim Richter doesn’t believe council was told it was buying land for 80% over it’s assessed value in 2012.

  • What an amazing statement – A Councilor with her experience and years of service coming up with this. Ask the question Ms. Richter ask the question!!!! It is your fiduciary responsibility as an elected representative of the taxpayer to ensure we get value for money. Just maybe residents will stop being fooled by your fluffy meaningless questions followed up with no follow through and no answers in open council. They are and have been nothing but a smokescreen for years! It is amazing what you can find out when you challenge staff reports; WHEN are you going to start, and mean it? How much damage has to be done to this community before members of council wake up and start doing the job they were elected to do?

“From my perspective it seems like quite a gap” said Richter.

  • Do you think Ms. Richter? 80% (or $1.2 million higher) equates to about a 1.5% tax increase. $1.2 million (based on speculative assumptions) that is gone for good thanks to the incompetence of this council. Was Council told about the conditions laid out in these appraisals? A million here, a million there, pretty soon you are talking real money! Unconscionable!

Richter “wasn’t aware that the costs of the Appraisal were shared with Trinity?” Was Council? It then becomes a serious issue of conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest.

  • Obviously further proof of the incompetence of this council. Appraisals and the details behind them are not questioned. Were they explained? How convenient!

Richter says she will ask to see the full Appraisal documents?

  • The silence has been deafening Ms. Richter, have you seen them?
  • Ms. Richter, we got tired of waiting for you to get to the bottom of this or to release them so we proceeded with an FOI request. Another case of wasted newspaper ink explaining your stated concerns.

“If this deal had not (already) been implemented, I definitely would have been asking for more information. Can we undo it? NO – Can we learn from it? YES – Would we do it again? Absolutely NOT” stated Richter.

  • The old 20 / 20 hindsight routine? Ms. Richter, are you now speaking for other members of council when you say it won’t happen again? That would be an interesting meeting to sit in on!!! We could sell tickets to that event.

The more interesting question is, has it happened before???

Some of us know the answer to that question don’t we!

Given what happened in this case there should be a Forensic Audit of all Real Estate transactions over the past 10 plus years. But who on Council will have the guts to raise that prospect!

 The Province / Wednesday October 23rd, 2013 – 2/3rd page – Page A6

B.C. Assessment won’t use sale price (Kent Spencer – The Province)

In a follow up news item dealing with the questionable Appraisal stated the following:

The valuation of the property lies at the heart of the controversy and on Tuesday, Trevor Brown, senior appraiser at B.C. Assessment expanded broadly on his reasons for believing the land was only worth $1.5 million.

He said the Township paid so much over the assessed value that the amount will not be used to determine future assessed values.

“We could not use that purchase price as market evidence for setting assessments” said Brown.

Through the course of the article he explains why this property is assessed the way it is through outlining a description of the property and by comparing six large agricultural parcels sold in Langley in 2012. When you have such professional opinion go public it definitely puts into question the management of our assets as well as the decisions that are being made in the taxpayer’s best interest.

Conclusion:  What we have seen over the first two years of this Council’s mandate is one of deals for friends and insiders, an increasing number of land deals / issues and constant conflict with Metro Vancouver.

It is long past due that we get off this train wreck to nowhere and fight for changes to our Municipal Governance before it is too late.


More interesting Township Features coming soon!

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

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