Well Aldergrove, it is February 19th 2018 hovering around -3 degrees outside…. Are you getting ready to jump into your community OUTDOOR POOL this time next year?

Posted: February 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

Your Mayor and Municipal Council, despite PROMISES of an Indoor Pool for years, election after election have broken their promises once again!!!!!! It is -3 degrees outside our home in Aldergrove with a forecast high of plus 4 degrees to a low of minus 6 degrees for the next two weeks at least. You have been waiting for years for an indoor pool facility that is user friendly for family and friends. 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, and your Council PROMISED an Indoor Pool – Once again Aldergrove has been shafted, your Council lied!

It has just been a little over three years since the last election, when virtually EVERY candidate for Mayor and Councilor came out in support and PROMISED a long anticipated INDOOR POOL facility for Aldergrove. As a resident of the Aldergrove community for the past twenty two years I have received mountains of feed-back from residents complaining about how Aldergrove has been treated over many years by Township Council. As a matter of fact that was one of the many reasons why I ran for Mayor in 2008 and we won with great anticipation for change! Unfortunately the majority of Council did not feel the same way during my three year term or since that time, despite promises to the contrary.

What is very disturbing and disappointing to me, as a resident of Aldergrove, is watching and seeing the willingness of Residents and Taxpayers, many that I know had the same passion for Aldergrove as I did; but they have chosen to capitulate, sit back and are accepting to being LIED to by YOUR elected representatives. You hear residents complaining individually with lots of defeatist comments BUT believe there is nothing they can do about it. I am equally disappointed at the members of the Aldergrove Business Association to not rally members in- support of the Indoor Pool. As Mayor I encouraged, helped and supported the formation of this association, an issue like this is fundamental to it’s formation, very disappointing.

FACT – Aldergrove will continue to be shafted and your kids and grandkids will continue to bear the brunt of the policies and lack of action by your elected representatives if you continue to be accepting of Aldergrove’s treatment by your Mayor and members of Council.

Trust me you will be cajoled with bells, whistles and balloons at the opening coming up, probably around June or July this year, so that there will be no bad weather to deal with. I am looking forward to ALL members of Council diving in next December and look forward to the press comments, at what will be billed as the “Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience”. You have got to be kidding!

This didn’t happen in Murrayville, in Willoughby, in Walnut Grove or in Fort Langley. It is a sad commentary on Township of Langley politics, on a number of fronts. I will outline those concerns below.

Lets cut through the rhetoric and BS – Lets get to the FACTS –

First – Public Engagement / Public Input by this Council – When will we learn?

Over the last three Municipal Elections much has been said surrounding public engagement and public input.

  • Mayor Froese (Pete McMartin / 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”.
  • In a comment made to a resident in Walnut Grove RE 216th Street Overpass.… “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 a resident (Langley Times letter to the editor)
  • 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 by his actions he has no interest in listening to the public? You don’t need a Public Engagement Committee or have a Public Engagement Charter 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 in an attempt to make the public believe you and Council are listening, you have once again proven that this IS a charade in spades. Frankly it is nothing more than a LIE!
  • Anyone remember the infamous Councilor Fox remarks made during an open house on the announcement of the pool project? – 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 the 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, and Fox touts his experience as a teacher and principle, really?
  • 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? As stated earlier, 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 in the same manner at a cost upwards of $66 million, and they can’t find $10 million for Aldergrove?

Mayor Froese and Council HAVE NOT listened to residents! Council has made a decision for an outdoor pool despite a PROMISE to the contrary. By virtue of this decision Mayor Froese and Council have LIED to the residents and taxpayers. Strong words, you bet, BUT it is long past time that we tell it like it is!

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 stated 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, Murrayville, LEC and the LEC expansion 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! Once again – Don’t lie to the public!

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! Is our Council brain dead?

TOL Gen. Mgr. Jason Winslade – “One of the goals of this space is to kind of replace the Aldergrove Lake Experience.” Response – What? Come on Jason, you can do better than that! 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 all of the information on which the decision was made. Food for Thought? Is it possible, that Councilors Davis, Richter and Arnason voted for this proposal, afraid of how it would be seen by the public if they voted against it, an indoor pool? 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 was coming? It is not lost that there was no public announcement of the Wednesday announcement either in our TOL facilities on the TOL website or in our local newspapers. Could we properly assume that it 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.

IMPORTANT – Councilor Charlie Fox just got into a Facebook debate with a few very unhappy and concerned residents. His arrogance and condescending approach to his job is one thing, misrepresenting the facts is quite something else! Definitely revisionist history!

In answer to Councilor Fox on Facebook –

FoxIt was clearly stated that it was not to be funded through tax dollars but through land sales and grants from differing levels of government? ResponseCouncil were thoroughly rebuffed on the land sale funding issue by the public and changed course. Is that how the LEC was funded NO, is that how the $7.5 Million dollar expansion of the LEC was funded NO! With the dramatic density changes made in the Aldergrove Core Community Plan (remember the one WE approved), what is happening with the funds that will be raised from the sale of the old Arena site?

FoxA facility in Brookswood will be funded through Community Amenity Charges (Correction Charlie, you mean Contributions) derived from growth. Aldergrove is growing in a very limited way. ResponseWell Charlie this is a surprising statement? Remember CharIie, I had Bruce Maitland introduce the use of CACs to Council during my term going through about three work sessions and Council rejected their use. I have yet to see and/or hear of our Council adopting CACs as a policy number one, and number two to suggest it could not be implemented in Aldergrove in a successful way is absolutely incorrect. To start with look at the Core Community Plan? What is Council doing to promote the commercial core of Aldergrove? The answer is 0!

FoxWhat about Walnut Grove Pool, it was paid out of the capital improvement fund and was built over 20 years ago with NO taxpayer dollars? ResponseWhat? Message to Charlie, ALL of the dollars spent within your global budget are ultimately taxpayer dollars. Funds raised through DCCs or other assessments on development comes through approvals given by elected representatives on behalf of the taxpayer. Operations are paid by the taxpayer. All other revenue driven from other sources ultimately is on the approval of our elected representatives with liability in all cases falling back onto the taxpayer. Are you saying the taxpayer in Aldergrove did not in any way pay for any portion of Walnut Grove OR the ongoing operations of Walnut Grove. What about the LEC? Increase in size and scope? Expansion of $7.5 million with NO public knowledge as identified by the local press?

FOXThe complete project will likely cost well over $43 million and not one penny of capital or infrastructure comes from taxpayer pockets? ResponseSo here is a challenge Charlie, you made the statement so back it up – It is now on your back to identify THE SOURCE of every penny of over $43 million required to build this facility! We wait with anticipation the answer to this request.

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.

Council at a minimum did not even have the foresight or willingness to install footings so as to be able to add walls at a later date.

Where is the vision of our Mayor and Council? Mayor Froese, in a video released during the 2014 election offered and promised his vision for an indoor pool in Aldergrove. YES, he very clearly PROMISED an INDOOR POOL on Video! That video has gone viral!

This issue is about Aldergrove, but remember, it can and has happened in Walnut Grove, Fort Langley, Brookswood, Willoughby and Murrayville. Council has us where they want us, divided and not supporting each other.  This has to change for change to happen!

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!!!

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. Mike McPhee says:

    I feel for the people of Aldergrove , first they lose the Aldergrove Lake due to mismanagement, Next they do not get a decent Indoor pool that is more than required for their growing area. What irks me the most is when Politicians use the term “taxpayers dollars” . My Tax dollars are for Roads, Pools, and the Community, my tax dollars are certainly not for the ego powers plays of a bunch of overpaid, under worked morons who couldn’t manage their way around the inside of an outhouse.

    • Mike: Couldn’t agree with you more. what makes it worse is the people of Aldergrove are giving in and not fighting back. I keep hearing residents and businesses say they don’t want to be political, well don’t look now but that is what is the foundation of our communities, provinces and the Country. Wake up folks, get politically active or you get the government you deserve!!!

  2. Rick says:

    I agree and I’m seriously going to lose it when I hear the next “Be happy, at least we got this” post.

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