216th Street Overpass in Walnut Grove….? “ it is NOT my job to do what my constituents want” Quote from Jack Froese – Your Mayor!

Posted: January 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

Your expectations of your Mayor and Council are…? So the Township of Langley, aside from being the CFIB WORST RATED major B.C Municipality, are a Mayor and Council with a MAJOR COMMUNITY LISTENING PROBLEM!

Some public comments and thoughts of Jack Froese.. Can you believe these? These are not manufactured, they are HIS words!

So Jack says…..

  • “I don’t make decisions based on petitions or public hearing turnout, I have to consider all of those who didn’t attend” – Jack Froese to Pete McMartin (Van. Sun) over Coulter Berry decision.
  • “Parents need to teach their children how to safely cross the street” in reference to their being no crosswalks on 216th Street – Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • “There would be safety initiatives taking place”, when asked what they would be, Froese said “he didn’t know” – Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • Residents stating that they hoped his attendance at the meeting would address their concerns. “Meeting, what meeting? I thought I was coming to a pancake breakfast.” – Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • … “it is not his job to do what his constituents want but what is best for them” – I guess Jack knows best – NOT! Jack Froese to resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • And the ultimate blow, INSULT, after producing a campaign video that in his own words called for an Indoor Pool in Aldergrove – Jack Froese proceeds with building an Outdoor Pool which is the LIE heard around Aldergrove!

Say no more!!! Isn’t it comforting to know your Mayor could care less! I would say the same for the current members of Township of Langley Council. If Council are silent, which they are, they have to be considered part of the problem!!

What will it take for taxpayers to wake up and fight back? The fight MUST take political action to change Council and then CHANGE senior administration! The problem has been and continues to be two fold –

  • Communities (there are 7) Aldergrove, Brookswood/Fernridge, Willoughby, Fort Langley, Murrayville, Walnut Grove and Rural are NOT united, they are not fighting for and in support of each other’s issues and
  • Your Council has not and will not challenge and go against its administration AND its influential MLA Rich Coleman!

The proposed 216th Street overpass – It is correct that this proposed overpass has been on the books for decades, back to when Walnut Grove’s population and that of the Township of Langley were but a fraction of what it is today. I can recall a meeting that was prompted by me in late 2009 with staff from the Provincial Transportation Ministry, requesting an update on it’s status. I say that because I, admittedly, was not aware of this proposed overpass and interchange at the time I was elected. The issue was brought to me at one of my drop-in monthly Mayor’s forums in early 2009 by two residents of the Forest Hills community in Walnut Grove. They had recently purchased homes in that area (within the previous couple of years) and knew nothing about it, but learned about it after moving in. My recollection from that meeting with the Ministry was, IF an overpass was installed it would be at the Township’s cost. On hearing that it was also clear to me there was no chance of it being built. I also recollect that we looked at the cost and design (it was very limited, a simple on and off concept being considered IF at all – no cloverleaf). There was no way it was in the financial cards for the Township. So all of the foregoing is for the purposes of full disclosure, and to the foregoing I say… So what? It was considered early on for planning purposes but it wasn’t etched in stone, either it’s ultimate need, location OR design?

So why do I say this? When you get into elected office you will uncover more plans going back more years on more community issues than you can possibly imagine. These plans in most cases were developed BEFORE any substantive population or need existed and/or developed BEHIND closed doors by staff as a matter of course. They span numerous Councils long since passed. There is nothing wrong with planning, except NONE of those plans should ever see the light of day or come close to being implemented BEFORE a full transparent, detailed and open dialogue is conducted with ALL residents which MUST occur BEFORE ANY decisions are made! Communities change dramatically over time.

Residents / taxpayers deserve their fundamental right of having their voice heard BEFORE any Council and / or staff, come to a decision on any change that will so dramatically affect their community and its livability. Any change MUST go through an open, detailed and transparent process like Public Meeting(s), Public Hearings and open debate by members of Council. A practice that the current Township staff have become masters at and very proficient at is processing by-laws, OCP amendments AND OCPs in a one process public hearing with limited description of its content (What I have called for years as an Omnibus process). The descriptions in these OCP By-Laws, written and published for public consumption are less than adequate and far too vague with respect to what is actually being changed.

OCP BY-Laws #5000, 5010, 5011, and 5012 – These by-laws were introduced back in June of 2013 under the guise of bringing the OCP in line with the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy. Not only were these Omnibus OCP by-laws introduced in mid-June of 2013 but the Public Hearing and 3rd reading was given in late July of 2013. All of this was convenient for staff, mid-summer, nobody is paying attention. Unfortunately as is the regular practice in the Township it becomes an opportunity for slight-of-hand – What else can we include with this opportunity? All of this was done to the detriment of our residents.  When something like the irresponsible action on the imposition of a 216th Street Interchange is introduced and the change of the 216th Street Arterial Road designation finds its way onto the map, residents are left with an uphill battle in uncovering the truth. BUT please consider the following ?

  1. The NEW OCP just passed contains the designation of 216th as an Arterial Road.
  2. Stage 9 / WG Neighborhood Plan / Section 5 / Page 13 adopted May 26th, 1997 shows 88th / 96th / and 216th are Arterial Roads. It identifies 88th and 96th as providing 2 lanes each way and 1 lane each way on 216th. It doesn’t clarify the status of 216th South of 88th?
  3. However the Walnut Grove Community Plan Map Amended by By-Law No. 4690 dated April 20th 2009 identifies 216th South of 88th as Minor Collector Status which still exists does it not?

The stated policy for conflict resolution as stated in the OCP just passed states:

4.5.1. If there is a conflict with respect to a land use designation on Map 1 and land use designations in a community or neighbourhood plan, the land use designations in the community or neighbourhood plan will take precedence.

4.5.2. If there is a conflict with respect to a policy in this plan and a policy in a community or neighbourhood plan, the policy in the community or neighbourhood plan will take precedence.

What, when and how did this happen? Where were Council members? Did they know what was in these by-laws BEFORE voting for them?

I have followed this issue through information that is available publicly and find the Township’s actions are nothing less than a travesty of justice, but based on past first-hand experience I am not surprised. The Township goes back into the archives relying on past discussions, plans and/or concepts that may have been discussed in the past within public service departments. I might add once again that all of this happened WHEN Walnut Grove had a fraction of the population that they do today. So, regardless of past thoughts, plans and/or concepts, do residents not deserve a detailed public transparent process to be provided and for the community to be heard before a decision is made?

This decision should be fought on the legality on this and other issues but it is also a moral and ethical decision by your Municipal Government, an area of governance that this Mayor and Council have shown little interest in.

One of my first actions in office was to hold a monthly Drop In Mayor’s Forum (offered to call it a Council Forum but ALL of Council rejected the idea). Over three years about 1,000 residents attended this informal opportunity. Ask any question, privately or publicly. I said while in the Mayor’s office, Mayor and Council should NEVER be afraid to hear what the public have to say, if they are – then WHY?      

The Township of Langley, thanks to a few back room players still operate as though this is the Wild Wild West to the benefit of a few insiders. Council cannot be hiding behind and cowering from our Provincial Government Bullies. All of us are having our current and future quality of life negatively affected by these people who have had their way thanks to gutless local politicians up to now.

I would be willing to bet that a land deal is behind this specific proposal for 216th street. Who is behind it, we can only guess although it wouldn’t take too much imagination.

Can Council fight to support residents? Should Council fight to support residents? The answer is YES and YES! The following are examples of major issues that were successfully fought for, in many cases in spite of the lack of support by the majority of Council. For a Council member it takes guts and a will to fight and a will to be creative in that fight to win the day on issues that have broad public support in your community. The questions I ask above should be considered ridiculous by any reasonably thinking taxpayer. I mean for what other reason do we elect our Council members? Unfortunately, in the Township of Langley, the inbred autocratic management has for years stymied Council members who have shown NO will or guts to push back and investigate what is really going on. WHY?

Mufford Crescent Diversion a good example – (see previous post Part 2) This was a done deal and approved by the ALC when I was elected to office subject to 9 conditions. All players – the 12 funding partners including the Province of B.C., Translink, CP Rail, Delta, Surrey, Township of Langley Council and Staff, City of Langley, Peter Fassbender, Rich Coleman, Mary Polak, Ministry of Transportation, Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon and more, were strongly in favor of this project and were fighting for it every step of the way. All of the 12 funding partners claimed this project went through a public process. NOT!

Despite the ALC conditional approval, after the election one of my first actions was to call for two Open Houses and a General Community Meeting. None of this was required but well, over 1,000 residents turned out to these three opportunities to be heard and over 95% were opposed to the project.

The original project design would have destroyed about 300 acres of farmland. The reality is this wasn’t a transportation plan as suggested, in my opinion behind the scenes, this was a land deal, nothing else made any sense? We fought this through two losing votes of Council.

Reading the proponents answers to the nine conditions, our community committee of four pointed out three incorrect statements (some would call them lies) that were made to the Agricultural Land Commission by the proponents that won the day for us, thanks to the then Chair Richard Bullock. Richard Bullock made the right decision on behalf of his mandate to the residents of the Province of B.C., unfortunately he paid a price – in my opinion this decision paved the way for his eventual dismissal as Chair of the ALC.

Unfortunately in this province, with the current provincial government and it’s bullying leadership, a target on your back comes with any opposition to any of their plans. Prime example – After I announced that we would hold two Public Open Houses and a Public Meeting on this planned highway I received a letter from then Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon advising that should we not accept their plan they would take the money and move it to another community. Following that, in a meeting in his office in Victoria with the MFA (Municipal Finance Authority) I was verbally told the same thing by him on my way out of the office – to which I replied, go ahead, don’t threaten me! The result, we won, the money stayed in our community to build a more acceptable option.

Those with no guts capitulate and our taxpayers pay the price. The current provincial government has turned bullying into an art-form. It makes for bad and corrupt government. The final decision was arrived at by listening to taxpayers!

208th Street Truck Route is another example –  During my term on Council we were dealing with a report dealing with dedicating 208th Street as a truck route and part of the Translink Major Road Network (MRN) which would have provided some cost sharing from Translink to it’s development. At one of my monthly drop-in Mayor’s forums at Willoughby Hall a delegation of about 25 residents turned out requesting an answer as to whether this was going to happen. My response was, it will unless you can prove to Council it is NOT wanted. Making a long story short, on my advice, they went to work and secured a petition with over 3,000 names and submitted them to Council. They won the day and Council, while not unanimous, defeated this proposal. Again, this decision was arrived at by listening to taxpayers!

There are other examples – During my three year term as Mayor, against all odds we fought for the protection of an expanded Noel Booth Park, Browns Pit, a NEW Water Management Plan, Landfill on Agricultural Land, 224th Street local feed lot and more. All of these were citizen inspired initiatives that dramatically affected them, from every corner of the Township. Nothing less should be expected.

Can you recall one issue that Jack Froese has initiated or supported residents – What was the last issue you can recall that Jack Froese and/or this council fought for on behalf of residents? Aldergrove OUTDOOR Pool? There aren’t any!!!

What are the vehicles used by community groups to successfully fight back –

  • Invite conversation with all elected officials involved and make your case, if they won’t meet make the case very public who will or won’t meet with you.
  • Utilize social media / Facebook / twitter to shame them and call them out.
  • Petitions from and for all involved PLUS the greater community.
  • Local Media / Major media
  • Delegations by different people at every Council Meeting!
  • Remember there is a Provincial Election coming this May and a Municipal Election coming in less than two years!

Back to the 216th Street proposal – There is absolutely no question that listening to the community is essential and there are many other very viable options for this project that should be considered. Those options could include questions related to location, design, size, concept and the truck route issue? What is absent from all of this is a Council willing to stand up to it’s administration and provincial political representatives, otherwise considered by some as their (Council’s) Political Masters. One only has to look at history to draw that conclusion. It is not a stretch!

What is happening in the Township of Langley is embarrassing!!!! A Mayor and Council without the guts or backbone to stand up for it’s residents and against what can only be described as it’s provincial masters! It is all about Provincial bullying and intimidation! Is it too late to fight back, not in my view BUT that will depend on whether your elected Council is willing to stand up for their constituents. Where there are guts, determination and a will, there is a way!!

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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