Archive for June, 2015

Well Aldergrove, you have been waiting for years for this, you have participated in dozens and dozens of public information sessions, formed local societies, held meetings, held dialogue sessions with elected officials and expressed in the strongest of terms your wishes – Once again in a well-orchestrated Council launch of their decision you have once again been ignored!

It has just been a short seven months since the last election, when virtually EVERY candidate for Mayor and Councilor came out in support of a long anticipated 50-metre indoor pool facility for Aldergrove. In reading some public comments about this announcement, there appears to be, by some, a willingness to accept or at the least offer a grudging and reluctant acceptance of this decision. Once again sitting back, accepting the backtracking of a promise, suggesting we at least got something…. This didn’t happen in Murrayville, Willoughby or Walnut Grove. To me, it is a sad commentary on Township of Langley politics on a number of fronts. I will outline those concerns below.

First – Public Engagement / Public Input – A lot of discussion and debate has taken place during the last two Municipal Elections over the wide-ranging issues surrounding public engagement and public input. As we all know very well, through a Pete McMartin column in the Vancouver Sun in the face of the Mayor’s decision over Coulter Berry in Fort Langley, Jack Froese was quoted that he doesn’t govern by petitions, nor the turn-out and input at Public Hearings. During the Mayors term 2011 – 2014, there were numerous irresponsible or certainly questionable votes as reflected in numerous Public Hearing Minutes. During the last Municipal Election, after listening to all of the heat over the decisions of Council, Mayor Froese promised to set up a Standing Committee on Public Engagement, which in fact he has done. PROBLEM – Mayor Froese has shown he has no interest in listening to the public? You don’t need a Public Engagement Committee to hear and listen to the public. Under the Community Charter you can hold Public Hearings, Public Input Opportunities, Public Meetings, written verbal and video Submissions from the Public and Public Petitions! Mayor Froese, despite this charade surrounding an attempt to make the public believe you and Council are listening, you have once again proven that this IS a charade in spades. You and Council HAVE NOT listened to residents! A decision has already been made and yet the Township will be holding public information sessions?

From a variety of sources attending the announcement on Wednesday night it was suggested by none other than Councilor Fox that – if the people of Aldergrove were not happy with the outdoor pool all they needed to do was raise the $10 million it would take to cover the pool, or in the alternative they could go to one of the indoor pools in the Township. This is vintage Charlie Fox, condescending, arrogant and much more! Charlie, don’t look now BUT the people of Aldergrove helped pay for the W.C. Blair and Walnut Grove Pools, are you going to pay for their bus fare (for the very limited bus service that is available) for so many young people of Aldergrove to get to W.C. Blair? All of this is VERY insulting!

Among numerous objections to this plan there is the current epidemic in skin Cancer (Malignant Melanoma). Why are we putting our population at risk with an outdoor pool?       

A reminder to all, during 2012 the Township held Public Meetings to look over two possible designs for a NEW INDOOR Pool, Ice Arena and Community Centre complex. This is what was wanted and what was planned!

Second – Sale of Township lands to support building this facility – Talk about mixed messages? Many of you will recall the issue a few years back about the sale of Township owned Glen Valley lands stating that the resulting revenue would go towards the Aldergrove facility. This, rightfully so, caused a significant firestorm of protest by the general public. Feeling the wrath of the public it was announced that NO, they had changed their mind and that this was not going to be a prerequisite to building the Aldergrove facility. Then, during the last election campaign during a tour of the existing facilities (or lack of) in Aldergrove, it was asked by a few candidates where the funds were currently from property sales in preparation for the Aldergrove facility. Councilor Fox who was on that tour stated that no, council had done away with that idea. In the Langley Advance article of June 18th, 2015 it states that the Township has been raising funds from the sale of surplus lands? So the question has to be asked, did any funds from the sale of any lands go into the Capital Funds stated as already in place for this facility? Walnut Grove and Murrayville facilities were not built and funded this way.

So what is the truth, property sale revenue was or was not used to fund this facility – Yes or No! Don’t lie to the public!

The original estimated cost for the complete expected indoor facility was up to $34.8 million. The stated cost of the announced facility is $25.8 million. Is Aldergrove not worth an additional $10 million? Council approved a $7.5 million expansion of the LEC with NO public input, dialogue or discussion. A matter of fact they built the entire Langley Events Center at a cost upwards of $66 million in a similar fashion, and they can’t find $10 million?

Third – Statements by Mayor and/or staff have to be questioned!

Mayor Froese – “The pool is a compromise of sorts with some of the conflicting demands that have come to the Township of Langley.” Response – This so-called compromise is a pathetic attempt at satisfying a long ignored public!

Mayor Froese – “The lap pool will be outdoor, but it will be a year round pool.” Response – Users, I am sure everyone will enjoy swimming outdoors from October through April in the cold and rain – NOT!

TOL Gen. Mgr. Jason Winslade – “One of the goals of this space is to kind of replace the Aldergrove Lake Experience.” Response – What? This is a significant stretch to draw any comparison to what was lost in Aldergrove Lake.

TOL Gen. Mgr. Jason Winslade – “Outdoor Pools that run all year are becoming common.” Response – A quick review on-line will show the only constant with outdoor pools is they are being closed and at the very least THEY ARE NOT year round facilities!

Fourth – Council decision?

It is stated that this was a unanimous decision of Council. When was the vote held? Where was the vote held? – Open Meeting or In-Camera? To the best of our knowledge it was not on an open Council agenda so it had to be in-camera! If that is the case, only items concerning staff, legal or property are permitted in-camera. Was this an illegal vote?

Information for residents – The reasons for the limitation of what can be discussed in-camera is that Council Votes and/or any associated DEBATE should be public and transparent so the public and press have that information. Food for Thought? Is it possible, if Councilors Davis, Richter and Arnason voted for this proposal, that they did so being afraid of how it would be seen by the public if they voted against it? Message to Councilors, it takes guts to stand up for what is right, you have failed the people of Aldergrove.  

Fifth – Council Announcement?

It is interesting that the announcement event by Council only came about on the heels of a letter sent by the Aldergrove Pool Committee. In answer to that letter there was a quick reply by Councilor Fox saying to wait for the press release which instantly appeared announcing a public meeting in Aldergrove in a couple of days. (Held Wednesday June 17th, 2015) Interesting timing? Summer coming? It is not lost that there was no public announcement of this Wednesday announcement either in our TOL facilities on the TOL website or in our local newspapers. Could we properly assume that this was a controlled event with supporters only receiving an invitation? I would bet on it!

Sixth – Proposed conceptual layout? Outdoor?

If you go by the layout as published in the Langley Advance, better than 3/4s of the water facility area is devoted to water park and slides which as stated will only be open spring and summer while there is very limited facility for general swimming, lessons and more.

An outdoor pool is nothing more than a brain dead idea trying to be sold as unique. Frankly it is nothing more than an insult to the intelligence to the people of Aldergrove.

Summary – This is nothing more or less than outrageous and yes the people of Aldergrove should be outraged. They deserve much better! There are a variety of innovative ways to finance this project, but it is clear that this Council is relying on staff’s recommendations. These recommendations from staff are either intuitively directed by some of their political masters, are poorly thought out by staff or as I have felt for years are a product of those who are masterfully directing this municipality and not accountable to the voter.

Where is the vision of our Mayor and Council? What is their vision for our municipality?

Where are our Council members who were so ready to make a promise during the election, but hiding in the weeds when the announcement is made? You should all be ashamed of yourselves. We expected much better!!!!!!!! Just another example of this Council’s idea of Public Engagement, as they say and it is true, we get the government we deserve!!!    


Stay tuned for discussion of top of mind topics that directly affect us in the Township of Langley and our region to be published in the months ahead and much more….!

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

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