Archive for February, 2014

What is happening with respect to the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan is a disgrace to the community. Despite my direction for change during my term, for the successful Aldergrove Core Community Plan, Township Council and staff could not wait to get back to their old process of manipulation and control. Top-Down Planning! Don’t believe me, take one look at Willoughby and their use and proliferation of “Neighborhood Plans”. In my view this process leaves open a more broader and disgusting use of Spot Zoning!

This process of Community Planning is like nothing I have seen throughout the lower mainland. The key problem issues are 1) Overall Planning Process (proliferation of Neighborhood Plans) 2) OCP and Zoning changes (omnibus process) all in one process and 3) Process of Community input and dialogue. Why is it that way? Very simple, it is much more easily manipulated and controlled by staff and special interests. Just ask yourself who is going to make the money?

An example of what happened close to home – “Aldergrove Core Community Plan”

Leading up to the 2008 election campaign I went after then Mayor Kurt Alberts for his complete lack of willingness to address the lack of an updated Aldergrove Core Community Plan. This was something that was on Aldergrove’s wish list for years. I promised in that campaign that I would advance that as a priority which we did but it wasn’t going to be the same old process!

Early on in my first term, staff, knowing that the Aldergrove Community Plan was a priority in my election platform prepared and brought forward a report to Council outlining their process for developing an Aldergrove Community Plan. I intercepted that report when I was reviewing our Draft Council Agenda on the Wednesday prior to our Council Meeting. I called an immediate meeting with our CAO and Director of Planning to outline my wishes for a new process and I had this item removed immediately from the Agenda and requested a NEW report outlining a NEW process which appeared in a later Council Agenda. (more on that later) Interesting, the new process was adopted by Council, but I am willing to bet they didn’t know what inspired this new process, until now! They didn’t even ask!

So what is wrong with the process they (staff) are obviously so enamored with?

In short their plan is very arbitrary at the outset. They (staff) arbitrarily decide what area will be covered for either a Neighborhood or Community Plan. There is no public debate on that issue just “it is what it is!” After developing some material to support their cause they call a One Day Community Planning Charet. They invite members of the community to attend, they set up teams at tables around the room, they provide maps, throw out discussion points and provide some food and beverage; and at the end of the day they wrap up all the maps with drawings and suggestions from those that attended and thank everyone for attending with a message, we will get back to you in six, eight to twelve months. In due course you see a plan that is put together with no further oversight or public input. This process only leads to poor planning, no REAL community input and a product our communities cannot be happy with. Don’t believe me, look to Willoughby! It is still not too late to correct Willoughby’s problems by the way BUT IT IS getting late in the mission.

In short – A Planning Process that involves the community is the way to go!

In Aldergrove we set up a Community Planning Committee with I believe eleven members consisting of residents, active business owners, an absentee property owner, local community association representative plus two non-voting positions, one from Council and one School Trustee. This group was provided professional planning assistance to work with by the Township of Langley, They were charged with the responsibility, with help from a facilitator, to elect a Chair and run a series of community meetings designed to reach a conclusion of their desires for their community. The long and the short of that process is, we established a Core Community Plan, established bylaws, provided readings, held a Public Hearing and approved the NEW plan, all with virtually NO opposition.

Back to Brookswood/Fernridge –

During the 2008 election campaign and before then Mayor Kurt Alberts had publicly decreed a number of times in the media that he wouldn’t address an update to the Brookswood / Fernridge Community Plan until Willoughby was built out. This was a position I was firmly opposed to. In my monthly drop-in Mayor’s Forums I was inundated with residents wondering about what is going to happen with Brookswood/Fernridge. They were challenged by land speculators, empty houses turning into drug dens and much much more. As many said, it was similar to what was happening up in Willoughby.

It was and is my position that residents in our various communities deserve to have input into their community plans. I don’t mean lip service as before but real active and meaningful input. They deserve to know what to expect in the near to mid-term in their communities.

It is imperative to fight the existing process with all of the energy you can muster. I implore everyone to not be lulled into a sense of complacency. That position would work for this Council because they are happy with apathy.

Please know you can effectively change what is going on, but you have to become active.

  1. Sign the petition!
  2. Attend the Public Hearing!
  3. Speak at the Public Hearing if at all possible! (Not everyone is comfortable with Public Speaking but if you can brave it out, please do)

This Municipal Council has an abhorrent record of listening to the public. Nothing will change until all of us make the change for them!!!

For more info

A Call to action – Attend this Public Hearing and be heard! Details

  • Brookswood / Fernridge Public Hearing
  • Township of Langley Municipal Hall – 20338 65th Ave.
  • Fraser River Presentation Theatre – Council Chambers 4th Floor
  • Monday March 3rd 2014 – 7:00 PM



More interesting BLOG Postings coming later this week!

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If not, you will get the government you deserve!!!! What is happening now in Fort Langley is an injustice to all Township of Langley residents. This Council is perpetrating a breach of a trust given to it by residents who voted for them in the last election to protect their community. Do you remember the promises made by all of your members of Council during the last election? What do you think of them now?

Fort Langley is the birthplace of British Columbia. Council is directly threatening the Fort Langley Official Community Plan, our Heritage and the long protected Heritage Conservation Area in Fort Langley. This by all appearances is just the start of more to come. It is the tip of the iceberg and is about more than one building. Don’t let them take this action without a hell of a fight, don’t let them change your community forever!!!!!

This BLOG, was created after one year of experience with this Council and it’s actions. Now happily in retirement I can assure you I have more than enough to occupy my time than spend many hours of every day writing Posts for this BLOG. Unfortunately the actions of this Council challenged me directly to speak up and do my part to tell the real story, thereby the launch of I can’t sit back and watch this happen!

Now, I have heard it said before, “this happens in ALL cities and Municipalities”. Well, I can say emphatically in 35 years of personal political experience, I have never witnessed the degree of political incompetence and willful disregard for the public as is the case in the Township of Langley. The creative wherewithal that senior staff can garner to suit their purpose is beyond the pale. Even IF the saying (above) was true, which it isn’t, are you prepared to sit back and be walked all over by your government? What if it directly affected you? (and it could at any time) As I said earlier – you will get the government you deserve!!! Now is the time to react, here is why!

The Township of Langley Council has wasted NO TIME in looking after their friend and insider Mr. Eric Woodward at your expense. Immediately following Mr. Woodward’s love in / Open House on Thursday night in Fort Langley MC’d by none other than Eric’s consultant, former Mayor Kurt Alberts (good friend of the Jack Froese slate on Council), Friday morning’s posting of next Monday’s Council Agenda is further proof that they can’t ram this through fast enough! This is the worst case of spot zoning imaginable!

Surprise, surprise, Monday night’s Council Meeting will feature First and Second Reading of Bylaws:

No. 5063           Bylaw No. 5063 amends the Fort Langley Community Plan by clarifying the informative purpose of the Fort Langley Building Façade Design Guidelines, namely to assist but not bind Council in implementing the Fort Langley Community Plan.

No. 5064           Bylaw 2014 No. 5064 rezones property located at 9220 Glover Road from Community Commercial Zone C-2 to Comprehensive Development Zone CD-100 to permit development of a three storey, mixed use development.

No. 5068           Bylaw 2014 No. 5068 amends the Township of Langley Sign Bylaw to ensure consistency with the informative intent of the Fort Langley Community Plan and specifically the building design guidelines.

I will say the Township of Langley is consistent. By introducing a convoluted set of three bylaws at one time, (an omnibus Bylaw process) they limit public consultation and input. Please note the wording in Bylaw No. 5063 – “namely to assist but not bind Council in implementing the Fort Langley Community Plan”. Not firm, just if THEY (Council) wish to enforce, you know if you are a friend or part your hair the right way! What an absolute insult to our community and it’s planning. This is a whole you could drive a truck through.

The Size of Coulter Berry 2.0 is completely and totally out of character with the long standing heritage policies, heritage Guidelines and Heritage Conservation Area. Now, take into account Mr. Woodward now owns over 50% of the Commercial Area of Fort Langley. Question – How long do you think it will be for Mr. Woodward, an obvious close friend of members of Council, (why else would they be going through this) will it take to redevelop a number of other properties whereby he will be seeking similar spot zoning approvals ? WE will have lost the character of Fort Langley forever. Please take a stand against this kind of out of control Municipal Government.

“If we don’t stand for something we will stand for anything”

and we have stood for anything far too long !!!!!

Call to Action – WE NEED YOUR HELP – Please attend:

Hello All,

It appears the Township of Langley is planning a fast track ramming through of the spot zoning to accommodate the Coulter Berry Development. They also intend to implement OCP amendments which will likely open the door to many more Coulter Berry type developments being proposed and approved in the Fort .The only chance we will have short of another long and expensive court battle is for them to see that there is huge public opposition to their attempts.

This February 24th at 7 pm at the Township of Langley council meeting we need to get as many like-minded individuals to come out and wear their Yellow hand, Heritage Button etc. and sit respectfully and quietly and have our presence show the mayor and council we will not be allowing them a free pass on this. They are considering the first and second reading of the spot zoning and OCP amendments.

We will have people at the entrance to the 4th floor council meeting room ready with yellow hands to hand out. I hope as many of you as possible will take the time to show up. We will also need even more to show up for the future public hearing that will be held before the Township’s final decision. This will likely be March 10th by all indication, we will keep you posted!

Please share this notice with everyone you know who you believe cares about Fort Langley as we do. We need to get the word out and garner support as quickly as possible. I look forward to a sea of yellow hands on Monday and even more at the public hearing.

Thanks Harold

Council Meeting will be held at:

Township of Langley Municipal Hall

20338-65th Avenue

Langley B.C.

7:00 PM Monday February 24th, 2014

4th Floor – Fraser River Presentation Theatre



More interesting BLOG Postings coming later this week!

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Fort Langley has developed a unique and very worthy reputation both regionally and internationally thanks to a vast number of community heritage activists over many years. The Heritage Conservation Area is a deliberate protection put into Municipal Legislation years ago to do exactly that, PROTECT THE HERITAGE LOOK; it is not something that can be bargained away on a whim to someone with significant financial resources, regardless of how many properties they own. Our community is NOT FOR SALE!

So Eric Woodward, who now owns over half of Fort Langley’s Commercial Core, is hosting:

  • Open House for ANYONE interested
  • Thursday February 20th
  • Fort Langley Community Hall
  • 7:00PM to discuss his Coulter Berry project.

This is a great idea because given his direct mail letter and reply card sent to all residents, a challenge to his version of the facts are in order. It’s content, in my opinion is somewhat less than truthful (I am being polite). I know Eric is really looking for a love-in but I would encourage as many as possible to attend and ask the tough questions.

So lets separate fact from fiction, it is important for our community to know the facts – The following are extracts from Eric Woodward’s community letter. (EW – Eric Woodward)

  • EW – “….a lawsuit against the Township of Langley regarding a perceived approval process error….”
  • FACT – It wasn’t perceived at all – the Heritage Alteration Permit (HAP) was set aside on the basis that the Township improperly varied density, contrary to the Local Government Act.
  • EW – “I sincerely believe that Township staff chose the correct review and approval process for Coulter Berry, that Justice Groves made a mistake….”
  • FACT – Regardless of an individual’s wealth, or the number of properties they might own, in this country we are governed by the rule of law, not what any individual might believe or think – thank goodness! The vast majority of the public and the legal community do not share your opinion. Please read the reports done of Justice Groves decision by two large legal firms – Young Anderson and Stuart McDannold Stuart. Both of these reports support Justice Groves findings. It recognizes the clarity this decision will bring to others when dealing with issues of density in developments.
  • EW – “At a cost of $3 million, an underground parkade just isn’t economically viable in a two story building,…”
  • FACT – There is no question a parkade would not be viable in a two story building, however who’s idea was it to have an underground parkade?  As far as parking is concerned, the Township have been absent for years in developing an up-to-date Community Plan which would cover the issue of much needed parking. That could come about through a progressive program of Community Amenity Contributions (CACs), which Mr. Woodward as a developer would be asked to contribute into – the same as Vancouver and a number of other Cities and Municipalities utilize for the benefit of their communities. But then again, the Township of Langley has never been known to be progressive in assisting taxpayers.
  • EW – “Of course, in matters of development, not everyone agrees. I respect that.”
  • FACT – Respect? The letters to the editor and Coulter Berry Facebook campaign launched through the Coulter Berry Facebook site as well as the open and sometimes subliminal bullying tactics by you and supporters of Coulter Berry? This is a funny way to show respect for an opposing view of fellow citizens. Respect, I don’t think you can spell the word!
  • EW – “There are other three story buildings within the commercial area… The Fort Langley Official Community Plan … permits three story buildings…”
  • FACT – There are two existing 3-storey buildings within the commercial core. I believe you will find that these buildings were approved prior to the guidelines enacted by Council in 1993 limiting the height of the buildings to 29.5 feet and two storys. The Coulter Berry building sits within The Heritage Conservation Area which I am sure you know is designed to preserve historic interest. It does NOT permit three story buildings. Another very interesting fact – In 2004, Council, including Mayor Kurt Alberts and Council members Howie Vickburg, Bob Long, Steve Ferguson, Kim Richter and Grant Ward unanimously approved a reinforcement bylaw. It limited height and scale of new buildings within the Heritage Conservation Area. This action was designed to clarify the height limitations within the Heritage Conservation Area. (NOTE – All of the above, those on Council and those who are not now on Council are NOW IN FAVOR OF WHAT THEY WERE THEN OPPOSED TO. WHY?)
  • EW – “In my opinion, a lawsuit started 7 ½ months after Council approval, well after construction has started, has little to do with process concerns….”
  • FACT – The Mayor and a number of Council members were at your ground breaking event on August 20th, 2013. Photos show an undisturbed construction site. No Heritage Hole! A very important fact, the court petition against the Township was entered July 5th, 2013, 6 weeks prior to your sod turning. It is public knowledge that you, Statewood Properties and the Township of Langley were sent a letter Jan. 31st, 2013 serving notice of a possible legal challenge, as well as an April 4th, 2013 meeting with Township senior staff and James Goulden, Township lawyer to discuss the legal opinion about density issue.
  • EW – “It is not gambling to finalize the design and begin construction of an approved building that many residents support and want to see completed.”
  • FACT – Wrong Eric, it is gambling to start construction BEFORE a building permit, thereby official approval, is issued and knowing a Court Petition had been launched weeks prior to your construction start. As it turns out you should have held back to get a firm decision because your building was illegally approved.

And finally this from Eric Woodward…. A suggestion that “we now face the possibility of the Coulter Berry site remaining as it is today for many years”…. “or delay a re-approval until next year, the Coulter Berry proposal will financially collapse.”

Eric’s message of holding the community of Fort Langley hostage with threats that this construction site (Heritage Hole) could be a lasting fixture on Fort Langley’s landscape, if approval is not given, is reason enough for a rejection of this proposal.

You see Eric, while it might be hard for you to understand (I don’t know why?) RESPECT cannot be demanded it can only be EARNED!!!

So far, in the Township of Langley, you are batting 1000 due to your actions!

I know it is not standard practice in The Township of Langley BUT wealth and/or the amount of property you own does not provide you with any special privileges where most residents and I come from. I would only suggest to those supporting this Coulter Berry proposal – if supporting non-compliance of the law is OK then who gets to decide what rules and/or bylaws can be ignored? Your Council? The Provincial Government? The Federal Government? I would suggest in a democracy like ours there is a process to change a bylaw. Unfortunately our Council chose a route of convenience (they thought) that has cost you and I, the taxpayer what must be over $100,000 in legal fees, but apparently that is not over. Is an appeal next?

Eric, as a local resident who claims to want to make Fort Langley a better place I would strongly suggest compliance and working with the wishes of the vast majority of residents. If the options available to build Coulter Berry in keeping within the present OCP, Guidelines and bylaws are not workable you should seriously consider selling the property to another developer.

Notice to all residents of the Township of Langley – It appears, as suggested earlier, that the Township will be appealing the B.C. Supreme Court Ruling despite numerous legal and professional opinions that the judge got it right. It also appears that despite the appeal by the Township of Langley, they will also be processing the new application from Eric Woodward. This application must include a zoning change which will require 1st and 2nd reading, a Public Hearing, 3rd reading and 4th reading. It is very important for residents of the Township to remain vigilant. This fight is far from over!!!

The kind of statements being thrown out by Eric Woodward are nothing more than threats and intimidation. As I said earlier, if Eric Woodward is not prepared to abide by the rules and bylaws of the Township of Langley, sell the property to someone who will. The day that the Township of Langley capitulates to threats by this developer or any other is the day our community has lost it’s self-respect and integrity. It would be the day everything is for sale in our community. Regardless of how this community has been managed in the past, it must come to an end for the good of all of it’s residents. I will not stand by and let this happen, I hope you are with me!

Are our taxpayers going to stand for this? Remember the old saying –

“If you don’t stand for something you will stand for anything”


Brookswood – Fernridge Community Plan – NEW Open House  – Please attend!!!!!

In typical fashion, the Township of Langley have structured a top down process in it’s attempt at developing a NEW Brookswood / Fernridge Community Plan. The concerns expressed by the majority of residents is well justified as it appears it is a plan with a forgone conclusion. Despite residents concerns of the eventual outcome I would encourage everyone attend and express your feelings, one way or the other. As Mayor Froese puts it “This is the final opportunity to learn about the Community Plan and have your say before it goes to Public Hearing.” Given the Mayor’s previous public and published comments that he doesn’t decide based on Public Hearing turnout or petitions, our collective confidence in his OR Council’s decisions are very suspect!

  • Brookswood / Fernridge Community Plan Open House
  • Brookswood Secondary School – 20902 37A Ave. Langley
  • 4 – 8 PM
  • Wednesday Feb. 19th, 2014

Please attend and make your voices heard!!!!!!!!! More on this in a later Post!

NEW – Additions to BLOG Post

1)      Transportation is the single biggest issue we have South of the Fraser. You will now see a TAB at the top of our BLOG that is – S Fraser Community Rail – This tab features a professionally produced 25 minute video by Shaw Cable that tells the story of renewing passenger rights on the Interurban Rail Corridor between Scott Road Station and Chilliwack B.C.

2)      We have added a separate TAB for videos which will be used from time to time for videos dealing with Township of Langley issues of concern.


I am working on a few posts at present that I believe should be of significant concern to residents of the Township of Langley.

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.

Translink in its early incarnation, pre Transportation Minister Falcon and pre senior government (Federal and Provincial) interference had in my opinion a good chance of being successful. Senior government politicians then got involved and screwed it up royally, and they continue doing it to this day! I will give the B.C. Liberal Government credit for something, they set up a layer of protective agencies that the province controls but where others get blamed aka Translink and B.C. Ferries.

“The Liberals have done their best to insulate themselves, don’t be fooled!”

It is interesting to read and hear columnists and editorial writers preach the virtues of a referendum within Metro Vancouver that is being touted as the way to keep Translink funding in-line and responsible. They have bought into this morally bankrupt provincial government’s initiative hook line and sinker. (This is coming from a staunch free enterpriser!) Now god forbid, let’s try to bring some common sense to this whole thing, IF that is possible!

I will preface my arguments and my position from a standpoint of someone who was there at the table during a very difficult time in its history. A Mayor and a member of this toothless and impotent Mayor’s Translink Council, which by the way is just the way this Provincial Government wants it! Having said that, I had three invaluable years of experience which I used to soak up a good deal of history from many around the table; at the same time I had the unique opportunity to draw my own conclusions about fellow Mayors and Councilors, not relying on past rumor, gossip and innuendo that was fostered by those in this Provincial Government.

To lay the groundwork for my position I want to draw a parallel (trust me it is not a conspiracy theory) on how this B.C. Government works in dealing with Municipalities / Metro and other Regional Governments and what is and has happened within the Langleys. As I have said many times, after being elected Mayor it was a real eye opener. To state the obvious, it is all about being self-serving!

To the City of Langley and its then Mayor Peter Fassbender. I knew Peter in another life; the company I worked for in the food industry was a client of Palmer Jarvis who Peter worked for at the time. Without reservation prior to getting elected I would have bet serious money on us getting along; how wrong I was. You see, what has been going on in the Langleys for years interestingly enough duplicates what has been rampant within this Provincial Government and that is – Bullying, Intimidation and Coercion!

What I was very surprised at while I was going through a number of issues that were linked to the Provincial Government was a critical void of objective and investigative journalism in major media, not just at the local level. There is so much more that needs to be challenged and reported on, not reworking Liberal Talking Points!

Some abbreviated history:

What became very obvious within the first two weeks of being sworn into office on December 1st 2008 was, you either agreed with the establishment or you suffered the consequences. This establishment I talk about includes the likes of Peter Fassbender and Rich Coleman. It was unfortunate for me and the majority of residents in the Township of Langley, who didn’t, and many still aren’t aware, of what is going on behind the scenes, believed, foolishly, that you could respect opposing views. In other words you could agree to disagree. Definitely not in the Langleys nor would I strongly suggest with the Provincial Government and that is a sad commentary!

From the start Peter and I faced off on the issue of Amalgamation of the Langleys, I in favor and Peter against. We then went onto the infamous Mufford Crescent Diversion, Peter in favor of the first proposal and I, after over 1,000 people voiced their concerns, against. We won on Mufford despite nasty open letters by Peter Fassbender and Kevin Falcon, the then Minister of Transportation against any other option. Translink was and is a funding- partner of the NEW Mufford Crescent diversion. Despite the bullying and threats to get into line or lose the funding we fought, won and retained the funding.

Then it was onto the Translink Mayors Council. Immediately after the Municipal Election Diane Watts was elected Chair and Peter Fassbender was elected Vice-Chair of the Mayors Translink Council. It was shortly after the election we were confronted by Kevin Falcon (who in the previous term fired all of the Mayors from Translink and appointed a Private Board of Directors), to approve an estimated $400 million in funding for the Evergreen Line by Translink on the backs of Lower Mainland residential property owners via property taxes. It was after our first year that Dianne Watts stepped down and Peter was elected Chair. We were able to draw a line in the sand for two and a half years and refuse to provide any additional funds from property taxes despite Peter Fassbender’s efforts to get us to capitulate. After the second year Peter was defeated in favor of Richard Walton, Mayor of North Vancouver District. Throughout this period Peter Fassbender was the lone hold-out. It was the opinion of many of us that Peter was an obvious SHILL for the Provincial Government. I believe history since that point in time has proven our point in spades!

The Memorandum Of Understanding – It was Peter Fassbender who talked the Province and the majority of Mayors (and I was one who got sucked in) into signing the infamous Memorandum of Understanding which took place, with then Premier Gordon Campbell, in a Private Board Room at the Vancouver Golf Club on the same day and place, interestingly enough, to coincide with a public announcement at the Monthly Coquitlam Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. It was all intended for eye candy, because as it turned out it was all about perception, there was absolutely no reality. The Province has reneged on virtually all points in that Memorandum of Understanding.

The Role of the Mayor’s Translink Council – The Governance Model of Translink – The Liberals have made it an Art Form and not for the good of the province, of putting in place an agency that shields itself from direct criticism! One of the best examples of this is the Private Board of Directors who are really in charge of everything Translink, contrary to public opinion, with the Provincial Government hiding in the shadows giving direction. The Mayor’s Translink Council has very limited to no authority and responsibility. I recently heard a radio interview with Gregor Robertson suggesting the Mayors were more of an advisory body! What? With the greatest of respect, in three years of endless meetings and discussions there was nothing advisory about it! The government and the Private Board treated the Mayor’s Translink Council with complete contempt.

The Translink Mayor’s Council is responsible for approving funding, sound good so far? BUT (and it is a big but) the required funding packages are set by the senior executive of Translink through their Private Board. In other words the senior executive of Translink determine what funding they require to look after their specific needs/service improvements as THEY SEE IT, and then take it to the Private Board for adoption. They will then come to the Mayors Translink Council for approval with, as an example, three packages i.e. A) for $300 million, B) $200 million or C) for $100 million. Each one of these packages contains a different menu of transit improvements. Now of particular interest; the Mayors are NEVER asked for input or priority with respect to the content of those packages or lower mainland needs and service improvements and they cannot add or subtract items from each package. So in other words it is Translink’s way or the highway. Provincial Translink legislation permits the Mayor’s Council to raise additional funds in three ways 1) taxing authority for an additional Property Tax supplement (beyond the automatic maximum 3% annual Translink property tax increase without the Mayors Translink Council Authority) 2) Gas Tax or 3) User Fees (Fares). Now, under Provincial Legislation the Mayor’s Council could implement a 4th option – a vehicle levy, however they have no way at the present time to collect that fee under existing legislation to involve ICBC as an example. The Province won’t touch that option as it is a political land mine and they know it, but it is in the legislation.

Beyond this very fuzzy and questionable funding responsibility the Mayors get to approve appointees to the Private Board of Directors search committee. The process? The search committee advertises, receives applications and vets all the resumes and applications received. In the last year of my term I believe we received five recommendations for three available positions from the search committee to choose from. When I asked how many applications they received, the answer was about 220. That is it; we got to select three from this five? It was and is all about manipulation and control by the province!

I served on the Mayors Translink Council from Dec. 1st 2008 through to the end of November 2011. I saw first-hand and heard directly about the history from long standing experienced members (Mayors) about provincial intrusion and interference in Board deliberations. The dysfunction goes back to on or about 2004 – 05 when the Mayor’s Translink Council was dealing with the infamous Evergreen Line and the Canada Line, the wishes of the communities and committees from the Tri City area and the interference from the Provincial and the Federal Government. As funding is and has been very scarce ALL of those municipalities, cities and committees from the Tri Cities area and the Translink Board of Directors of the day (Mayors) requested at grade Light Rail which is used successfully all over the world and at a fraction of the cost of Skytrain (approximate saving $400 million). They were told by the Province and the Feds that they would implement the transit system but it had to be Skytrain! Due to conflict with the Province over the Canada Line and the Evergreen Line the Mayors were fired by the then Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon and the new governance model (Private Board) was implemented. No input from Mayors and no input from the public.

Revolving Door of Ministers of Transportation – At the time I was elected in 2008 Kevin Falcon was the Minister responsible and it wasn’t that long after that Shirley Bond became Minister. I have to say that over my 35 years in politics and knowing many Ministers and Premiers personally the arrogance of these two towards the Mayors of the Lower mainland was over the top and something I have never seen the likes of.

After Premier Campbell’s resignation and Christy Clarks win, Blair Lekstrom was made Minister. We must have had about six meetings with him. I felt, despite Blair coming from the North, that here was a guy who, judging by his previous actions within caucus, would take a stand on principle. I believe most Mayors felt the same, he certainly had a more conciliatory tone that others. Well it didn’t take long before Minister Lekstrom’s efforts fell on deaf ears, as we made absolutely zero headway in resolving the two outstanding issues; 1) additional approved funding sources and 2) change in governance model. These two issues were addressed and promised in the memorandum of Understanding that, as it turns out, was a colossal failure. We then developed an agreement in principle with the Minister, but Christy Clark threw Minister Lekstrom under the BUS in the media on two occasions within two days. In a subsequent meeting I told Minister Lekstrom my feelings directly about how the Premier treated him. After Blair Lekstrom announced he would not run in the next election, Mary Polak became Minister.

Now what is happening? Unbelievable! You couldn’t make this stuff up! –

B.C General Election, May 2013 – For those that probably don’t recall, Peter Fassbender was the first that offered in a public statement, pre General Election Campaign, about the need for a Referendum on Transit in the Lower Mainland. It was some time after that Christy Clark came out strong and publicly during the writ period for the need of a Referendum. While I wish I could say I was surprised, nothing Fassbender does surprises me anymore.

So, as a gift by Premier Clark we get the NEW, young, fresh out of the box, inexperienced Minister of Transportation Todd Stone from Kamloops. He arrived on the scene preaching the virtues of a Referendum backed up by all of the Liberal Talking Points. (Christy’s talking points)

Next we get Premier Clark reinforcing the need for a Referendum and that it WILL be held on the same date as the Municipal Election in November of 2014. I mean why try to work with the Mayors and Councilors in the lower mainland when you can just issue a decree. Don’t build a bridge just blow it up!

Next we get the NEW inexperienced Transportation Minister Todd Stone (from Kamloops), in answer to questions from the Mayors Council and the media, that they are working on the referendum question. They will make it public soon. This question and response was repeated a few times over the last number of months.

Next we get the NEW inexperienced Minister Todd Stone’s insistence that holding a referendum is firm and will be held on election-day in November.

Next we get Premier Clark Waffling on whether they can delay the vote into next year which now may be an option? Or maybe NOT!

Next, as unbelievable as this is, we have the NEW, inexperienced Minister Todd Stone coming out publicly saying it is now up to the Mayors to come up with the question for the referendum. Long past the time needed to do so, the Mayors now had to come up with an agreement on a vision and a set of priorities to pose in the Referendum. All of this, after months of sending a completely different message which was in keeping with Provincial legislation?


And finally we have this NEW, inexperienced Minister Todd Stone saying he will now announce, within the next two weeks, a change in the Translink Governance model. Just think of the challenge, all of this, less than 8 months before election-day?

Will someone tell me who is running this Province!

Why not a referendum? It is easily the single dumbest political move of all time. Now before some of you start throwing things at your computer, seriously consider the following –

  • Let’s be clear, I do not support Translink in its current form. It requires a full remake and governance change. Nothing good will happen without that change. It will be interesting in what the Province comes up with.
  • In any referendum Translink would be a lightning rod for all Translink haters and the NO voters (All of that is deserved and there are many but you don’t want Translink, because of past practice to be the issue).
  • Despite what question is asked, what if the answer is NO? I can tell you that it will put our transportation network and service into reverse and back about 10 years! Then what? Do you think any level of government, despite the need, will ignore a NO vote and increase taxes despite the vote? Not likely!
  • What options for additional funding will be suggested or offered in any referendum? Will anything address the Township of Langley’s complete transportation deficiency? The taxpayers of the Township are now spending approximately $15 + million per year in Translink Property and Gas Tax. They receive no value for their tax dollars. Would Langley Taxpayers support additional Property Tax – NOT!
  • Will the idea of a $1.00 per crossing (or less) toll on ALL bridges and crossings be an option? Do the numbers, it is a fair and equitable option!
  • If you are going to do a referendum for General Transportation improvement why not add the Massey Bridge crossing? Would Delta be in favor of that item being a referendum item? Not likely!

The solution?

  • A NEW Governance Model of Translink that includes membership by i.e. 4 – 5 Mayors on a new formulated Board of Directors including Metro Vancouver (elected) and Planning (advisory only) who has authority over priorities and technology to be used.
  • A complete remake of funding for Translink cutting the existing gas tax level and adding an equitable funding plus tolling policy on all crossings plus Sea to Sky of say $1.00 each way.
  • One Transportation provider in the lower mainland from Lions Bay to Hope. Let’s bring ourselves into the 21st century. We can no longer do justice through two transportation agencies.   

The long and the short of it is this. It is long past time that Municipal Politicians start treating taxpayer’s money like their own, but they need to have authority to do so. The dictatorial approach by the Provincial Government has got to stop. As you see by the above, the similarities between the long standing-way of the Province doing business with the Township is eerily similar to how the Province sees itself with our Metro Government.

Where is the Township of Langley Mayor and Council on the issue of a Referendum? Where is the Township of Langley Mayor and Council on Transportation improvements for the Township of Langley? The silence is deafening!!!!!

PS – And then there is Councilor Ferguson who stated in open Council a few weeks ago when discussing the parking problem in Willoughby “Township citizens need to give up their love of ownership of a vehicle” –Anyone living in the Township for 5 minutes knows that you cannot survive without a car as there is absolutely NO transportation option. I rest my case – Once again you can’t make this stuff up!!!!



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