UPDATE – “The Township of Langley sues citizen over his FOI request relating to their decision over the Athenry travesty”… The Township of Langley’s attempt at Judicial Bullying of a taxpayer FAILS. Township loses again, unfortunately at taxpayers’ expense!!!!!

Posted: May 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

The following historical account of the Athenry Development issue and subsequent actions spells out in detail how this Council and staff are completely out of control and must be stopped. The Township of Langley LOST in this misdirected and irresponsible appeal to a B.C. Supreme Court Justice regarding a Provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner decision. The Township of Langley’s B.C Supreme Court action named the Commissioner and Jacob de Raadt (a local area resident and consultant) in a Judicial Review action.

(The Langley Times) – The decision – In a 22 page written decision filed in the Vancouver Court Registry on April 15th – Justice Bruce Cohen ruled the Township rendered the whole matter moot when it handed over different versions of a storm water management plan for the Athenry Development project in Willoughby per the Provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner decision… but there is more!

What makes this an even more relevant and damning decision Justice Cohen goes on to say (which he was not required to do) “he would have ruled in favor of de Raadt and the commissioner”.     

I have written about this travesty four times on this BLOG, on February 4th, March 11th, April 24th and September 26th 2013. In my opinion the Athenry Development will go down as the biggest injustice done to neighbors of any development that I have had any familiarity with over my many years in local politics. It was and is just wrong. Here is a recap –

First a little history on the Athenry Gate Development – During the week of Nov. 22nd, 2010, I became aware of an agenda item (for Athenry Developments) scheduled for a “Development Permit” Public Hearing on Monday November 29th, 2010. This had received 1st and 2nd reading, public hearing and 3rd reading (conditional approval) in June of 2008 prior to my election as Mayor. In doing my due diligence in preparation for the upcoming Public Hearing, I researched this project and its history, through a variety of Staff Reports. I was frankly shocked in finding the project that was proposed and given the appropriate readings, including Public Hearing bore no resemblance, in my opinion, to what was before us at Development Permit Stage and 4th and final reading.

Changes can only be made after 3rd reading in Form, Character and Design.

These changes in my opinion did not meet that standard and I stated that in a meeting I had with the CAO prior to the Council Meeting. Staff and legal advice claimed the changes were covered under form, character and design, which I did and still totally disagree with.

The original June 2008 approved project was for one building located roughly in the center of the property while the 2010 version was for three, four story apartment buildings plus a two story office building and a Cultural Center.

The decision of your Municipal Council to bring this reinvented proposal forward for fourth reading and Development Permit from the PREVIOUS elected Council’s first and second reading, public hearing and then third reading was wrong and completely off base given the following –

The Local Government Act – Division 4 – Public Hearings on Bylaws

Provision after a Public Hearing

894(1) After a public hearing, the council or board may, without further notice or hearing.

  1. Adopt or defeat the bylaw, or
  2. Alter and then adopt the bylaw, provided that the alteration does not

i.      Alter the use,

ii.      Increase the density, or

iii.      Without the owner’s consent, decrease the density of any area from that originally specified in the bylaw.

The approved Athenry development in my opinion breached i. and ii. above. Unfortunately that would require affected citizens to take the Township of Langley to court in what is always a risk and patently unfair. The approval of this development was in my opinion poking residents in the eye with residents only recourse being a lawsuit. The Township of Langley’s deep pockets (taxpayer funded) is nothing more than financial intimidation against well-meaning and affected taxpayers.

Another case – The 2005 Council approved the first controversial phase of the Bedford Landing Condominium development in Fort Langley adding a 4th floor at final reading and development permit stage, which once again breached the above Local Government Act 894 (1) b ii. (it increased density at final reading which is not permitted)      

Back to Athenry, this change impacted all surrounding private homes severely with a dramatically reduced set back, increased height of buildings and close imposition immediately next to surrounding homes. How high and how close? On the plans there was a large condominium building estimated to be about 50 – 60 feet high, less than twenty feet from their back fence. With these dramatic changes to the project there were a number of serious concerns not the least of which was the issue of drainage given the potential for flooding of surrounding homes.

You made the decision to buy and move into your dream home based on what had been explained to you by the planning department at the hall. How would you like to be made aware of these changes after you moved in?

In my opinion and experience this was and is a travesty that happened to local hard working taxpayers. (NOTE – The affected residents had launched legal action but withdrew without giving up their right for taking action in the future.) Due to their position they have been denied access to speak directly to councilors (They must go through Township lawyers) about ongoing problems with the development that has so dramatically affected their quality of life and home values!

For any residents reading this and wondering what their reaction might be IF they were in the same position? I know of one resident who has sold their dream home that backed onto Athenry; it has cost them about $100,000. This has been verified by local real estate representatives.

So if anyone reading this BLOG Post figures on this being an exaggeration of the impact of this development or the facts of the case, do yourself a favor and drive by the just moved Willoughby Hall and check out the NEW 5 story (4 on top of a ground level parking garage) Condominium building that is just being finished which abuts these homes. Now you tell me that there is nothing wrong with this development and more importantly how it came about? Just put yourself in their shoes?

So to the Langley Times – Where do they get their information? Here are the facts!

Yes, interestingly enough this is the same Jacob de Raadt who was subject to a number of complaints by this council and banishment from Township Council Chambers!

Jacob de Raadt filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) with the Township of Langley to obtain copies of all versions of the storm water management plan for the Athenry Development. He was denied that information through FOI, that part is true.

As is his right and that of any other citizen of the Province of British Columbia, he, acting on behalf of his clients filed an appeal request of the FOI denial through to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia as he objected to being denied what he thought were documents he had the right to view. His appeal through the Privacy Commissioner was detailed, thorough and complete. The B.C. Privacy Commissioner took the complaint and passed it on to their adjudicator Elizabeth Barker who took some considerable time to view and consider all of the information provided by both sides and she released her decision dated July 24th 2013.

The lengthy and detailed decision and the reasons for it are available on the “Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner” web-site her conclusion is –

“For the reasons stated above, and pursuant to s. 58 of FIPPA, I make the following orders:

  1. Langley is not authorized by s. 12(3)(a) of FIPPA to refuse to disclose the original and the four subsequent revisions of the storm water management plan.
  2. Langley must give the applicant a copy of original and revisions 1, 2, 3, and 5 of the storm water management plan, on or before September 6th, 2013. I also require Langley to copy me on its cover letter to the applicant, together with a copy of the records.”

So the decision and all of this seems relatively straight forward, correct? NOT in the Township of Langley! The Township of Langley in a letter to Mr. Jacob de Raadt dated August 20th, 2013 from Township’s Bull Housser lawyer Mr. James Goulden advised, “on behalf of the Township seeking a judicial review of the Order in the near future. In those proceedings, the Township will be asking the court to overturn the Order.”

So the Township being the Township, why stop there (with the Order) let’s spend more money on lawyers which in my view is bad enough. NOW the kicker, where the Langley Times misinformed the public and a couple of intriguing questions to ask yourself:

  1. The Township of Langley is seeking to have the order to release the documents overturned? Excuse me! THEY RELEASED THE REQUESTED DOCUMENTS AS ORDERED TO ONE MR. JACOB de RAADT. So, NO Langley Times, they had released the documents as ordered but at the same time appealed their release through the courts. What you say? Only in the Township of Langley. Why spend a few dollars on legal bills when you have an open ended budget using tax payer dollars! (BY THE WAY, THE JUDGE AGREED!)
  1. Why was Jacob de Raadt named in this Judicial Review? Yes he sought clarification which surely is anyone’s right in our democracy, BUT it was the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner that investigated, conducted the review and issued the decision and Order. The Township’s argument, IF they had one, was with the others named on the Petition namely The Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia and the Attorney General of British Columbia NOT Jacob de Raadt. This couldn’t have anything to do with their on-going fight and intimidation of Mr. de Raadt could it?
  1. A fair question would now be, is this the Township’s new strategy? That is to force anyone who applies for information through an FOI request, is denied and appeals successfully to the Information and Privacy Commissioner to challenge that decision through a Judicial Review? Forcing tax payers (at their expense) into court to defend themselves against what has to be considered their basic democratic rights? Is this another way of saying, to anyone who is attempting to get at the truth, if you try this, the same thing could happen to you? What is happening in the Township? Is this what you want out of your local government?
  1. The Langley Times stated the Township of Langley is suing over the FOI request. NO, Langley Times, the Township of Langley is petitioned the Court requesting a Judicial review of the decision and the Order of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. So, Jacob de Raadt is named in the Petition for a Judicial Review of an Information and Privacy Commissioner decision, not his FOI request. All of this because a taxpayer exercised their democratic rights? Shame!

In summary, I am not sure who is running this municipality but IT IS NOT Mayor and Council. However, Mayor and Council are complicit in everything that is going on in the Township of Langley by their actions or more important their inactions in their support of staff decisions! So where are we at, as a community?

Does something have to happen to you personally before you will be responsive and fight back? This Mayor and Council are worse than the Council of Kurt Alberts, IF that is at all possible, they are completely out of control.

I know it is nice that members of Council claim they get along, nothing could be further from the truth. Remember the majority of council’s claims that during my term and the last election campaign that the dysfunction was the fault of the Mayor!

The INCONVENIENT TRUTH – All of the dysfunction that has gone on within our council for the last three years and beyond can be laid squarely at the feet of Richter, Ward, Fox, Dornan, Long, Froese, Ferguson and Sparrow!

In my opinion all of this makes this Council’s decisions suspect!

RG

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!!!

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Comments
  1. rickmanuel says:

    Every time I read your well researched and well laid arguments surrounding the council that seems to keep getting elected despite these moronic decisions, I ask myself what have we done to deserve this?

    Knowing the scenarios that these clowns have orchestrated before hand would have made a different decision for us to move to Langley I believe. Unfortunately they keep getting re-elected because people don’t care for the most-part; it’s got to be something major or personal for these voters to wake up!
    The way this council conducts itself hopefully will wake some people up…

    Keep up the good work Rick, exposing all the warts on these toads seems to be a full-time job! Glad to hear your daughter’s better…

    Rick

    • Thank you for the comment. I have said this many times before, It would have been very easy for me to walk away knowing I did my best to change the decades old culture of favors for a few at the expense of the majority while I was in office. It was very obvious back then but even more obvious today that it was all part of the plan, 8 against 1, create an unfounded issue a week and voila you have entrenched a perception, given 8 against 1 – IT must be the Mayor!

      Unfortunately or fortunately depending on ones point of view I am determined to STOP and change the incestuous goings on within this Municipal Government. This wasn’t my intent until close to the end of year 1 of this new (madeover) Municipal Council. I was very willing to let them show their true stripes which they have now done in spades. They have taken bad Municipal Government to a new low. Maybe I still believe in the tooth fairy BUT I do believe our community will rise up and show they are not going to take it any more. That applies to the whole gang on Council that cannot shoot straight. This does not include David Davis who has more common sense, ethical understanding and integrity in his little finger than the rest of them have collectively in their entire bodies!

  2. gadfly says:

    Thank you Rick. There is actually much more to it, for which investigation I hope to receive my clients’ authorization to proceed.

    • Jacob: I hope all is going well. Yes there is more to it however this post lays out the key wrong doings and I hope poses the question to the majority of residents that those responsible for approving this at best deserve to get tossed from Council. I would also suggest that this has to be investigated with an effort to bring those responsible to light in one fashion or another.

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