Appeal Court overturns the lower court decision on Coulter Berry…. The decision and what it means to the residents of the Township of Langley?

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Can Council and the Municipality just do what they want, when and for WHO?

Last Thursday’s unanimous decision, after sitting through the hearing on the morning of June 24th wasn’t entirely a surprise. It was an eye opener for sure, but the argument and decision was very instructive on a number of counts. This post is not about crying over the decision, as much as I don’t agree with it – “it is what it is” as they say! More importantly it is time to give an analysis of the decision and to look at what very real message this sends to all taxpayers? It appears that Government can almost do what it wants with impunity, if it uses creative license with it’s arguments and content surrounding resolutions, policy, bylaws and guidelines.

After reviewing the reality of the issues going on within this Municipality and listening to the Township’s legal arguments in a court setting you can only come to one conclusion – the Township of Langley while winning legally has become morally and ethically challenged or put another way to be blunt, morally and ethically bankrupt!

Changing our Municipal Council this November has clearly become THE ONLY choice!

Well, what is THE argument pro and con:

Density – The Local Government Act (LGA) clearly states, and it is not ambiguous, 972 (4) The following restrictions apply to subsection (2) 972 (4)(a) “the use or density of use may not be varied”, that was used in the common sense decision by Justice Groves of the B.C. Supreme Court.

The Appeal Court noted that the TOL had provision for a residential density limit for this C-2 commercial zoned property, but did not have a density limit for commercial uses. Therefore technically the TOL had not altered density in their opinion because TOL had not stated density limits for commercial use. It is important to note that Judge Groves had offered comment on this particular issue in the first case. He suggested that if the LGA felt density was such an important issue, it seemed odd a municipality could get around this by simply not declaring a limit on density. (common sense?)

So one of the key arguments by the society that issued the challenge was that this was an increase in density, after all it was 3 stories not 2, it was 67% site coverage not 60% and it incorporated something like 9 suites for accommodation on the third floor. And it had an 8 inch rear yard setback to the adjoining property.

The Township lawyer argued this is not a change in density, using, in an around about way, this commercial vs residential argument. Just because it is an additional story it could have higher ceilings and on and on and on!  The bottom line is that if the height limit, not coverage and setbacks had been calculated into a standard floor area ratio like other municipalities use for mixed use commercial density limits, this development would have clearly been shown to increase density contrary to the LGA section 972.

Interesting and for the record – At the original Public Input Opportunity on November 20th, 2012, Eric Woodward is recorded saying no less than THREE TIMES that there was a DENSITY INCREASE with the addition of the third floor.

Mayor Froese also notes his approval of DENSIFYING the Coulter Berry Development, supposedly in some way to protect encroachment on ALR lands?

All of this on record and then we have the Township lawyer in court denying an increase in density.

By the way Jack, is this why you have voted to approve 69 Townhouses in the middle of some of the finest ALR land in the valley for the Wall family – What is that you say? You are approving this in a bid to “Protect encroachment on ALR lands”?

(And yes if anyone would like to challenge me on this I have the audio!)

You can’t make this stuff up! 

So Mayor Froese states “If the decision was allowed to stand it would have set a precedent that would have limited the ability of all Municipalities to manage development”. This will go down as one of the most outrageous statements Mayor Froese has come out with and believe me he has a lot of competition from his own statements for that title!

  • For starters Mayor Froese, how about the strengthened bylaw adopted unanimously in 2005 by a number of your Councilors that was to ensure the commercial core would be limited to 2 stories? To the residents of the Township, how much protection do you place in the Township’s security of your assets through its’ current resolutions, policies, bylaws and regulations? It obviously depends on who applies for special favors. It will be the luck of the draw if you happen to border on one of their friends properties who has requested special consideration!
  • “To manage development” in the eyes of this Mayor and Council means they can alter, change or do as they please regardless of past promises, resolutions, policies, bylaws or guidelines! You can only judge your politicians by their actions and this Council has proven in spades that past, resolutions, policies, bylaws and guidelines are not worth the paper they are written on!
  • While the Society won the first legal decision in the B.C, Supreme Court which has now been overturned on Appeal, it does not change the facts. Those facts surround the story of how this Council with the support of senior staff permitted the breaching of long standing resolutions, policies and Heritage Guidelines. All of these resolutions, policies and Heritage Guidelines were in place thanks to literally decades and thousands of hours of volunteer work provided by citizens that were only deserving of respect. What do they get in the end for their community work and commitment from this Council? Complete and an embarrassing disrespect!
  • An apology from this corner? No I am afraid not! Council and staff is definitely not deserving of one! Past statements hold true as the facts were at the time the statement was made. I have clearly provided the decision of the Appeal Court. Now I am sure Council members will be drinking their own bathwater with this decision, but what I said earlier is the issue ahead for all residents – the Township of Langley while winning the legal challenge they have become morally and ethically challenged or put another way they are morally and ethically bankrupt!  

So in a nutshell, regardless of what our Municipal Government initiates in terms of resolution, policy, bylaws or guidelines, if the Government you have in power is absent of any morality and ethics, they can and will do whatever they like. Here is proof of what can happen when you have elected members who are not prepared to stand up for their citizens.

Given this result and the actions of this Council, can any resident reasonably sit back and feel comfortable that their elected members of Council will protect their interests? Will they stand up for them in the protection of their community? The answer is an obvious NO!!!

The way I see it Township of Langley residents have four choices against the actions of your Municipal Government 1) launch a lawsuit and take your chance against the deep pockets of the collective taxpayer 2) say to hell with it and not fight something that is obviously wrong and somehow stomach it, 3) Move to a community in which their elected members respect their citizens or 4) VOTE IN A NEW COUNCIL!

They have made that choice for us! I don’t know about you but I would rather stay to fight and change our Municipal Government. My family and I enjoy this community too much to abandon it! Please become active, participate in the process and Elect a NEW Council this November!

RG

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

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

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Comments
  1. Lois Hooks says:

    I have been fighting this battle in my own little way as I live in Fort Langley. It has made me truly nervous about living here and wondering if anything I own may be taken away by the actions of this council. At the present I hear our home in the Fort may be bought out. Will I have a say or will I be forced out. With this council I am not confident that even my fully paid for home is safe from their whims. How can we get rid of the council and how can we overturn their wicked decisions? How can we remove the Township Lawyer and get a principled one? I would be willing to put some money on the line (even tho’ is’t not plentiful) if others would join in and do whatever legally to remove this evil from our community – before they ruin it completely if it’s not already too late.

    • Lois, thank you for your comment. It is not too late at this moment but if we don’t remove them (except for David Davis) this November (the next term is 4 years) it just may be too late! I would encourage you to talk to friends, neighbors, relatives and everyone you can to ensure you support alternative candidates. What is happening in this municipality is like nothing else, certainly in the lower mainland. Don’t let up, and keep up the fight!

  2. gadfly says:

    Just like approving Quadra Homes’ larger apartments was not “increasing the density”…..

    Toyota Camrys for the price of Toyota Corollas. Bah!

    • The manipulation or creative interpretation of rules, regulations, policies, resolutions and bylaws in the Township of Langley is without precedent. I defy you to find one other municipality in Metro Vancouver that would come close to what is here! The sad part is, up to now it has been done under the radar and the noses of the general public. Well at least it is now being exposed for what it is!

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