UPDATE – Metro Vancouver Appeals Judgment recently awarded to Township of Langley….. Mayor Froese – The judicial process is NOT over, you are the one wasting taxpayer dollars!

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Metro Vancouver is appealing the Judgment of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neena Sharma in favor of the Township of Langley on a number of points in law! (NOTE: Justice Sharma is a NEWLY appointed judge and this was her first case.) My congratulations and thank you go out to the majority of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors for their willingness to fight what can only be described as a travesty of justice if one with any knowledge were to review her judgment. This thank you is on behalf of all residents who are so fortunate to be living in the most livable region in the world and who expect a level playing field, not the favors for friends and insiders that exist here in the Township of Langley.

With respect to the news of the appeal, I believe a review of the comments by Mayor Froese in the Langley Times and Advance and those from our MLA Rich Coleman, Premier, and OH sorry Deputy Premier had to say last year on the subject says it all! Now remember, the RGS and actions by Metro Vancouver are spelled out in Provincial legislation

Rich Coleman says / Langley Times – May 17th 2012 (Natasha Jones)

  • “Metro Vancouver has gone too far by meddling in Township business”
  • “the board has become too big for its boots”
  • “It’s become a behemoth as far as the bureaucracy is concerned”
  • “Metro has no business meddling in Township affairs”
  • “absolutely supports a move by the municipality to consider breaking away from the regional district and form its own with other local jurisdictions”
  • “an unaccountable government unto itself”

Minister Coleman’s comments are so off base they are frankly an absolute embarrassment. That he is publicly displaying such a complete lack of knowledge about how and why Metro Vancouver are in the position they are in under Provincial Legislation, is pathetic, but does tell a significant tale.     

Jack Froese says / Langley Times April 15th 2014 and Langley Advance April 17th, 2014 (Matthew Claxton)

  • “Unfortunate Decision”
  • “It’s disturbing that this much tax dollars are going into a squabble”
  • “I’m very confident that they are going to lose again”
  • “We can’t just sit down and let Metro Vancouver walk all over us”
  • “We were in the right (to approve the district)”
  • “It’s the law of the land”
  • “I think it is ridiculous”
  • “There is nothing to settle we won”
  • “The judge was very clear”

So let us see if we can make any sense out of this – a few weeks earlier faced with a very significant loss and finding of wrong doing in court over the Coulter Berry Fort Langley building Mayor Jack Froese was publicly very critical of the B.C. Supreme Court Justice of his decision. The TOL filed an appeal, even though the applicant filed a new application making an appeal meaningless. Now we hear Mayor Froese complaining about an appeal which is part of our legal process. The Township started this mess by being underhanded in their attempt at sliding a series of developments through despite an already agreed upon process. A process all 23 members of Metro previously agreed to unanimously!

Mayor Froese agrees with the Township Appeal but not the Metro Appeal? Sort of says it all doesn’t it!

A further thank you to ALL Metro Vancouver Directors for not capitulating to a few bullies in Victoria – We know who we are talking about don’t we!

I am repeating my Blog Post of last year (following) which provides a recap of this issue, how it came about and what is at stake!

Metro Vancouver is suing the Township of Langley over the Trinity/Wall Development…..

The Township of Langley that is responsible for this complete waste of taxpayers’ dollars!

First of all, let’s be clear, I am not a public defender of Metro Vancouver, I have and still have issues with them as I am sure many cities and municipalities within Metro do; BUT as I have said repeatedly, Metro Vancouver has no choice but to stand up to our Mayor and his gang on Council that can’t shoot straight. What this clearly displays for all to see is Mayor Froese’s complete lack of knowledge of Provincial Legislation as it affects our Regional District.

To listen to our Mayor and others (i.e. Misty van Popta on her Facebook page, you know a candidate in the last election who was being recommended by non-other than Joel Shacter, (friend of Rich Coleman) tell it, the Township of Langley have been innocent victims in this court action initiated by Metro Vancouver as they are being prevented from making their own zoning and development decisions. What absolute crap! The Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and the rules surrounding the RGS in terms of process and more are entrenched in Provincial Legislation, and have been since the mid-80s! They are being held to account to follow the process that is in place for every member. As much as every Municipality and City will have their own issues with Metro, and trust me there are a number, the RGS has assisted our region to be the most livable in the world.

The Wall Housing Development application has been innocently portrayed by the Township of Langley as housing to support the University District application. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was never part of the University District Application. If Metro gave into this application it would be open season on the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) which would end up being a useless document. The lower mainland, despite a large number of political tugs and pulls has prospered and is recognized as the most livable region in North America, let’s not lose it! As Mayor I was very pleased to play a part!!!

It is interesting that the RGS was an initiative that Township Council supported unanimously as did ALL municipalities and cities in the region; with Mayor Froese leading the way, no experience led by those with ulterior motives we are now fighting a legal battle against 22 other municipalities and cities in the region. What an exercise in cooperation!

Township of Langley University District – Wall Town House Development on Farm Land

Vs Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy – The Facts!

Rich Coleman, Mayor Froese and members of Council are

“Not letting the facts get in the way of a good story”!

It is another land deal, all symptomatic of what is wrong in the Township of Langley!

Ask WHY? WHO REALLY BENEFITS?

The latest NEWS? – May 27th 2013 Council meeting!

Langley Township council voted through its revised community plan and zoning to create a University district around Trinity University which incorporates a controversial housing development on Prime Agricultural Land just to the South of Trinity. While it is not affiliated in any way with Trinity its builders have promoted it as housing for TWU Staff. This move to incorporate the two must be seen as a blatant attack and affront to the Regional Growth Strategy. It simply IS NOT TRUE!

How or why is this happening? Check out some comments from a few Council members (Langley Advance P12 / Mathew Claxton Tuesday June 4th, 2013) –

Grant Ward – “This is not spot zoning, it will be housing for staff and students”. How absolutely embarrassing and insulting Ward is to the residents of the Township of Langley, nothing has changed! We are talking 69 Townhouses which will be market housing. This is exactly what it is – Spot Zoning!

Bob Long – “The removal of the portion of the Wall lands to be developed will keep the rest of the property productive farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve”. Councilor Long, don’t look now BUT without this development the entire property stays in the ALR where it belongs and can be productive IF the owners had the slightest interest in doing so, which they obviously don’t. That is their choice! You as an elected representative for the taxpayers of the Township of Langley are not obligated in any way to support their plan. I would suggest you have an obligation to deny this proposal.

The University District idea within the Township of Langley (TOL) is not new; it has been around for years. Unfortunately, like so many issues within our community, it is sadly lacking in any kind of democratic public process thanks to the control of a few!! This is the same municipal government plus or minus a few changes that seem to get elected time after time after time after time – WHY?

A little history – During my term as Mayor (2008 – 2011) I had regular meetings with Jonathan Raymond President of Trinity University (a very important and valuable corporate citizen to the Township of Langley) and follow up meetings with TOL senior staff on the subject of Trinity issues which included the University District concept. There were a number of conceptual plans for the University District idea that had been somewhat in limbo due to the ALR approval process. Through my initiative, in an effort to find some direction and approval we arranged for members of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) South Coast Panel of the day (Commissioners Bose, Tomlinson, Pranger and Chair Bullock); to meet and have lunch with Senior Staff of the TOL and Trinity University as well as myself at the university. Through those efforts and subsequent application, it was approved. BUT make no mistake about it, this approval / support was for a very confined and limited area that supports a very valuable educational institution that has been a part of the Township of Langley for decades.

Now the intriguing pieces of this puzzle – How did this confrontation with Metro come about?

Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) – Metro Vancouver, as required by Provincial Legislation, has had a Regional Growth Strategy in place since the late 80s. This was put in place to control growth by drawing Urban Boundaries within each member Municipality to stop urban sprawl as well as protecting Green Zones and the ALR. As required by that legislation is the need to review and update that RGS every so many years. The RGS must be unanimously adopted by all members of Metro or it goes to arbitration involving the Provincial Minister. Immediately following the 2008 election Metro Vancouver initiated the renewal and review of the RGS. As the Township of Langley Metro Director involved directly in discussions involving that RGS renewal process I served notice to Metro initially that we would probably be their first arbitration case. I, members of Council and staff were very concerned about the process and their ultimate intent. After two and a half years of discussion, negotiation, numerous public and private meetings with Senior Metro Staff, members of our Council and our Senior Staff and much more, recognizing the principle of the RGS and its governing Provincial Legislation, the NEW RGS was adopted unanimously by all members of the Township of Langley Council, all member Municipalities and their Councils as well as the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors.

So to Rich Coleman and his comments (May22/12 Langley Times) “Metro Vancouver Regional District has gone too far by meddling in Township business needs to be reined in”! It is obvious and not surprising that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Look at YOUR government Rich! The Langley Times Editorial “Local land use decisions should not be in the hands of Metro Vancouver’s Board period”! This editorial reflects the Times (local media) complete lack of due diligence and knowledge about what they are writing about. They (Langley Times) should be embarrassed and are doing a disservice to TOL residents. Maybe the Langley Times should have gone after Coleman and Polak for their governments’ perceived interference directing Metro per THEIR legislation!  – But then again that would be too uncomfortable as it would compromise their pandering to government MLAs!

The Wall Development proposal and its apparent conditional approval by the ALC in 2007 did not come to my attention until the final year of my term. When I first heard of this I frankly couldn’t believe it, even in the Wild Wild West of property deals known as the Township of Langley. I have seen this decision which I might add came about prior to the appointment of the current ALC Chairman Richard Bullock, a man I have great respect for. There are many questions about that decision of 2007! Now let’s be very clear, the Wall proposal, while receiving conditional ALC approval in 2007, (It was rejected on a couple of occasions in the early 2000s by a different ALC panel) was NEVER tied to or discussed with the University District plan in any way shape or form, I was involved in those discussions! Now interestingly enough, the NEW Mayor and his Council are lighting their hair on fire over Metro Vancouver squashing their by-law, in short because they do not fit the terms of the RGS.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? The Township of Langley Council has involved lawyers (Don Lidstone, an interesting choice) vs Metro Vancouver and is talking litigation at our expense all over the RGS that members of Township of Langley Council and Staff supported unanimously, a provincial legal requirement. What – Another land deal?

Further, in an effort to try to get around Metro’s legal argument they filed an application with the ALC to increase the original size of the University District to somewhere around four times its original size enjoining the Wall Proposal and much more within its boundaries. It is very interesting that this move embraced the private property of a very well-known Township of Langley family and Liberal Party supporter. I guess we are just to believe that this was an accident? The ALC has since rejected that proposal but the Township has brought back the original boundaries adding on the Wall Townhouse Development as an attachment to the original University District. This was NEVER the case!

This is an outrageous attempt at a private property deal on farmland, but it is in keeping with the Township of Langley’s methods and ways of doing business. Now who is this going to benefit?

Important side-note for the record – the Wall family and/or their owned companies were significant contributors to the Provincial Liberal Party, the leadership campaign of Premier Christy Clark as well as donating to a number of Township of Langley Councilors. Not accusing, just saying!

Going back to the introduction of the FIRST by-laws for the original University District and the Wall Development? By-Laws for 1st and 2nd reading were introduced for each project separately at the last Council Meeting before the last election (Last council) – In my opinion it was totally out of line for staffto introduce these by-laws in the last meeting of the old council, prior to the election. Having said that, I voted for both as under a principle I believe strongly in and my voting record supports this, the proponent (owner) has the right to be heard and be considered as does the public have the right to respond. Again remember, for the record, these two proposals came forward as two distinctly different items (by-laws) for consideration. They weren’t attached in any way. Now under the newly elected council, many of the same old faces, after a lengthy Public Hearing (large opposition) 3rd reading was given on the original University District by-law. The Wall proposal did not come forward for a reading at that time.

As mentioned above, the Township by-law was sent to Metro for approval as required under Provincial Legislation (Rich Coleman please note) and was denied, the by-law was quashed. So where did it go from there? The Township of Langley has since rescinded the original by-laws and has adopted a new singular by-law which covers the original University District plus the Wall Townhouse Development located smack in the middle of one of the finest farm properties in the valley. This proposal has faced considerable opposition (not that that matters with this council).

So once again the Township of Langley, spurred on by its resident Bully MLA Rich Coleman (see Rich Coleman comment) is trying to circumvent a provincially legislated requirement in the RGS, something that every municipality and/or City in Metro Vancouver is required to follow. Whether you or I like the idea of Metro Vancouver dictating that we follow the legislated requirement is immaterial, it is that way due to a provincially legislated mandate. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge, every member of Metro Vancouver has the same or similar problems, if the Township is permitted in this case, every member will be following suit! This attempt is particularly galling given the attempt to meld a legitimate concept (original plan for the University District) in with a well- connected private property deal.

It is yet another example of an outrageous attempt to manipulate or ignore the rules for the sole benefit of a few. IF you are OK or don’t see a problem with this happening I would suggest you would be OK providing special treatment to a very few at taxpayer’s expense. For those that suggest that this is an anti-university position, you are completely wrong, it is about treating everyone with fairness, morally and legally.

I would encourage, based on my years of inside experience in the Township of Langley, for taxpayers when considering issues such as I am presenting, to carry with them a good dose of skepticism. It is human nature not to do so I understand that but whenever you challenge issues such as this there is an old saying; “Connect the dots, follow the money!”

NOTE: There have been some interesting property sales, purchases and swap activity surrounding the proposed University District. This will have to be a topic for another day.

So as it is in life in the Township of Langley! Enjoy what is happening so far? Change is NOT impossible!!!

RG

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I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents. Check in daily!

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS

Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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