UPDATE – BREAKING NEWS! …. Township Council to execute ALC Memorandum of Understanding – Content hidden from residents until NOW!

Posted: November 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

Well, for anybody who didn’t watch the circus that was passing for Township of Langley Council tonight, Council members tried to disguise themselves as working on our collective behalf, it was an unmitigated joke! Kim Richter who keeps trying to pass herself off as somebody that cares asked a question that wasn’t even related to the issue and the entire Council sat and absorbed Mark Bakken’s absolute non-sensical response. Not one other Council member spoke up to question the ultimate result of their actions OR Mark Bakken, which is long overdue! Just pathetic!!! 

In what can only be described as an affront to the residents of the Township of Langley, your Township of Langley Council will be passing a resolution Monday night to execute a Memorandum of Understanding between the Township of Langley and the B.C. Agricultural Land Commission. At first glance it is full of motherhood statements, platitudes and warm and fuzzy dialogue, however a detailed read tells the real and a different story – it is nothing more than a back door agreement to provide a smoother path to remove properties out of the Agricultural Land Reserve under the guise of terms like  “Edge Planning” ”Adjustments to ALR Boundaries” “ALR / Urban Interface” and more. There is no doubt, by having this in place it will ease the application process! Your Council agreed to this behind closed doors in an in-camera meeting. For the record, decisions like this made in-camera must have a Public Council Resolution before taking effect which brings us to this Council Agenda item for Monday night. One Question among many – Is this the NEW plan by the B.C. Liberals to circumvent and skirt the ALR? Was there ANY involvement by our MLAs? Just asking the question?

OH they will tell you that it is just a clarification document of roles, purpose and responsibilities, you believe that I have a bridge to sell you!

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) operates under provincial legislation, enforced by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). The rules and regulations are very strict surrounding this act and the protection of agricultural land. For a number of years, through a number of initiatives by a number of people, your Provincial Government and the Township of Langley has been suspect in their feeble attempt in support of the ALR. While there are many local examples to point to (landfill on agricultural land among many), look no further than their dismissal of Richard Bullock (Past Chair of the ALC) because he would not capitulate to the Provincial Liberals wishes in the decisions and reorganization of the ALC. Frank Leonard (long serving Mayor on Van. Island / defeated in the last municipal election) was appointed as the NEW ALC Chair, and now all of a sudden we have this back door attempt, hidden from the light of day. Remember this MOU was not being provided to the public as part of Monday night’s Council Agenda, it was only available if you asked for it.

Richard Bullock the previous ALC Chair, and I might add the best ALC Chair that was ever appointed, was the individual that sided with 98% of residents in the Township against the originally designed Mufford Crescent overpass which would have dissected the Hudsons Bay and Bella Vista Farms. This would have made obsolete 200 –300 acres of prime agricultural land. That original design was a product of Translink and this Provincial Government. It was a land deal, nothing more nothing less. You don’t think they were upset with me and our campaign to stop that injustice? Thanks to Richard Bullock, we won that fight!

Changing Provincial ALR legislation would create a firestorm of protest and the Provincial Liberals know that only too well. As mentioned above, what we are seeing in this initiative is nothing more than a back door method designed to get the changes they want out of the glare and spotlight of media and the public. After all it would be seen as a negotiated agreement between the ALC and the Municipality. Move along nothing happening here. This MOU would be referred to in every appropriate ALC exclusion application made by the municipality going forward. Yes, the same application process would be in effect, BUT this MOU would be front and center in every application.

For many reasons this is a damning indictment of those on this Council that support this attempt at intrusion. Supporting this MOU shows absolutely NO foresight on their part. This Memorandum of Understanding was developed and agreed to in July of this year, approved by Council in an in-camera meeting and put on Monday night’s agenda for execution by Council. As mentioned earlier, no attachment of the agreement was provided with the agenda; it had to be asked for and was provided late Friday afternoon. This is so damming by any measure. 1) What is the need for an MOU given the law through Provincial Legislation? 2) Why was this produced outside of the public eye? 3) Why was the MOU not provided as an attachment to the agenda (the public were not provided a copy of this MOU)? 4) Where is the transparency and PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT Jack? 5) Whose idea was this MOU, the Township or the ALC?

I have many questions with respect to the reason and/or need for this MOU? Starting from the premise that TOL’s history and reputation are suspect, which they are based on numerous cases, the following items / questions pertaining to this document support our stand against this MOU

  • Why is there a need and/or reason for this MOU, who initiated it?
  • Under Section 46 of the Act, a local government must ensure that its bylaws and plans are consistent…. The MOU states (2nd whereas)Whereas it is appropriate that the bylaws, regulations, orders, policies and other instruments of the TOL be consistent with the ACT where possible.” Two different meanings, Act states MUST be consistent, MOU states be consistent with the Act where possible.
  • (3rd whereas) “…consistency should further the interests of both the ALC and TOL…” Well the ACT states must be consistent, any watering down of that language to “be consistent where possible” weakens the ACT. Not legally but an MOU that has been agreed to by both parties serves the same purpose.
  • (6th whereas) This MOU states it is not legally binding BUT it is an intrusion and clouds the area of defined responsibility. If you have an MOU that is agreed to by both parties but conflicts with Provincial Legislation, what will any decision be based on. Remember the Act states “MUST be consistent” and the MOU states “consistent where possible.”

This MOU is 8 pages long and filled with, as mentioned earlier, motherhood statements, platitudes and warm and fuzzy dialogue. I have refrained from publishing the entire MOU.

1.15 COHESIVE URBAN AND SUBURBAN PRECINCTS (PAGE 6)

“Consideration of adjustments of the ALR boundary….” Plus the following 2 points below that title in my view that are an opening for more applications and excuses for applications for ALR exclusion. This MOU would be a document that would be pointed to as justification for all applications going forward.

  • More rational ALR Boundaries – (Question – Rational in whose opinion?)
  • Better means of protecting the ALR boundaries and communities with shorter, more defensible ALR/Urban edges. – (Question – Shorter, more defensible? In whose opinion?)

1.17 MITIGATION – Among the normal TOL agreement platitudes it contains the following of concern.

“It is recognized that adjustments to the ALR boundary may be necessary to achieve the goals and objectives of this instrument. The parties mutually understand that it is the TOLs intent to avoid the identification of ALR lands for other than agriculture, but where it is not possible the TOL may put forth proposals for agriculture enhancements at the time of TOL or land owner initiated applications made under the act.”

2.1 CREATE A DEFENSIBLE AND DURABLE URBAN / ALR EDGE –

“The TOL will work towards designating appropriate land uses, and other practices and strategic acquisition on both sides of the Urban / ALR edge to ensure provision of a distinct and permanent boundary between affected areas. Furthermore the Parties will work to consider integration of plans and possible adjustments to the OCP and ALR, as necessary, to ensure creation of a well-defined permanent edge for Urban communities within a permanent rural setting.”

This process of developing MOUs under the guise of developing a working agreement can, and I suggest WILL lead to an abuse of power. It IS the thin edge of the wedge. Its intent may not be the same for all parties who negotiated this agreement in good faith, unfortunately there is a serious potential for abuse which is why legislation and laws are developed to negate. For those who have a personal need to benefit, this is certainly a creative way to achieve that desired result.

RG

NOTE: This BLOG Post is the first written in or about 6 months. I have taken the liberty of taking a sabbatical over the past period of time, recharging the batteries. It hasn’t stopped me from keeping track of local, regional, and provincial issues which has motivated me to get back to informing and communicating to our residents.

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 STAY ACTIVE!!!

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Comments
  1. gadfly says:

    This reminds me of the comparably secret MOU about the original Mufford Crescent overpass project – orchestrated by that Erickson guy – before there was even an application to the ALC. .

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