The Slow and Steady Corruption of your/our Municipal Democracy…. It was legal and you haven’t noticed?

Posted: December 8, 2019 in Uncategorized

Unbeknown to most residents of the Province of British Columbia, your rights municipally took a serious hit, a serious blow to your ability to file a complaint of wrongdoing against your Municipal Government, staff and/or Council Member, to have a respectful hearing and have something done about it. Be wary of any government that tells you they are going to make your life easier and less complicated. The date was May 29th, 2003 when the Liberal Government of the day under Premier Gordon Campbell, after a few years of promotion with the then Municipal Politicians across the province, irreversibly changed Municipal governance in B.C… They introduced and passed legislation introducing the B.C. Municipal Community Charter which replaced in large part the former Municipal Act. Let’s be clear there was a need to look at some revisions, however not a virtual rewrite of everything that governs you as a citizen within any community, municipality and/or city in the Province of B.C…

Now don’t get me wrong, not all changes are bad, BUT I urge you to review this BLOG Post through the eyes of what these changes have meant to you and all residents of our province. You see if we were going to believe that all staff and elected mayors and councilors within the province were going to act responsibly, honourably and with integrity, a rewrite of this legislation would be fine, BUT folks, that thinking is both naïve and unrelated to what happens in real life. Where there is a will there is a way. I am not targeting all municipal and City staff or all politicians, but I am referring to the need for oversight of all actions and decisions of those involved. No different than anyone who owns and operates a business, you have security as well as checks and balances. Even at that we hear horror stories daily.

The Old Municipal Act

I was an Alderman in Delta from 1986 – 1989 and we operated under the rules and legislation of the then Municipal Act. There was available to all municipalities, elected politicians and citizens of those municipalities an opportunity to register complaints to the Minister of Municipal Affairs in Victoria who would have their various audit personnel investigate the complaint(s) to ensure staff and elected representatives were acting within the framework of provincial legislation. They had the authority to issue penalties and changes.

I can recall (a councilor who shall remain nameless) in the early to mid-80s before I was elected who took exception to the actions and the directions of the Mayor of the day with respect to a budget issue and the Ministry sent over an audit team to investigate. That would not happen under today’s rules. This oversight was available to residents and elected politicians on everything covered by the then enacted provincial legislation.

The B.C. Community Charter

I can only offer my opinion that under this legislation (circa 2003) it is a license for abuse and corruption in the hands of the wrong people, and there lies the problem, I want to repeat that “It is a license for abuse and corruption in the hands of the wrong people.”

Now there will be many out there who will dismiss my suggestion as something that could not or would not happen, you know, a conspiracy theory, really? Tell me what a thief looks like or someone with detrimental ulterior motives? Anyone who has been in business knows what I am talking about. The problem in government, especially municipally (I would suggest senior levels of government have processes in place for checks and balances) is your elected politicians are part-time at best subjected to having to trust a wide variety of staff that spend their time steering their elected masters in whatever direction they want to. I have been there, and to-date have written over 100 BLOG Posts on issues that Township residents didn’t know anything about. Many of these were uncovered by doing some due diligence – you know, common sense.

As I have said, the Community Charter in principle is fine but in reality, it does not deal with the real world and the potential for, and the reality of corruption. I am sure they said they removed oversight due to cost, there is a cost to governance and democracy! Besides it would have been a convenient excuse in the day, but I would suggest it was done for ulterior motives.

Overview of the Community Charter (Taken from the Discussion Paper for Community Charter 2001.)

The Charter will be based on the principle of respect and recognition for communities and their local governments. It will enable municipalities to become more self-reliant by providing them with greater autonomy, independence, new powers and better financial and other tools for governing communities and delivering services. It will also create a new accountability framework for citizens to make sure government remains accessible and accountable in every community. Its vision continues to be based on principles of open, accountable and financially responsible municipalities. The Charter itself will be shorter and easier to read than existing legislation and will eliminate red tape for citizens and municipal councils alike.

Sounds great doesn’t it! Now read that carefully, it is a disaster for residents who are now told in the face of Municipal wrongdoing, including breaches of the Charter, sue us! This is the answer frequently received and obviously in the eyes of most citizens, this is a non-starter.

The Township of Langley – Why should we be concerned? Check out langleywatchdog, here is just a small cross section of important items we have covered, you should be concerned. If you want to refer to any BLOG Posts listed below go to archives on left side of page under the date you wish to review:

February 2013

Township Muzzles and banishes citizens from Council

Wall Townhouse Development vs Metro Vancouver court fight (despite previous TOL approval)

The Mufford Crescent Diversion (Your municipal Council lied to you)

March 2013

Langley Events Center – A project long past in need of a Forensic Audit, The Inconvenient Facts!

Development in the Township of Langley – The Inconvenient Facts!

Soil Deposits on Agricultural Land – It’s about money, for who?

April 2013

Soil Deposit on Agricultural Land – It gets more interesting!

Wall Townhouse Development – Closing comments speaks volumes!

Township residents denied just benefits in land sales!

May 2013

Is Township of Langley Council morally bankrupt?

Municipal Finances – The truth in Langley!

September 2013

Township of Langley sues citizen over FOI request. Facts!

November 2013

Township of Langley property deals – The stench is palpable!

December 2013

Township of Langley – Out of control taxation and spending!

January 2014

Township of Langley pays Trinity University 80% over assessed value!

February 2014

Brookswood Plan – A sadly failed effort by Council.

March 2014

Brookswood Plan – Don’t accept referral!

Brookswood Community Plan – The inconvenient facts and the truth!

May 2014

Township of Langley sues citizen – Loses badly!

Transportation needs South of the Fraser – Council fails badly!

June 2014

Metro FOI – Breaking News Coleman email!

July 2014

Township of Langley politics, more interesting – Liberal Poll!

Move along, nothing happening here!

September 2014

UPDATE BREAKING NEWS – Langley Events Center, the financial reality – An outrage!

(I have skipped all campaign related Posts)

June 2015

Aldergrove gets a pool – Promised Indoor during campaign receives an outdoor pool!

July 2015

Mayor Froese’s Public Engagement Committee – Nothing but a charade!

November 2015

Township of Langley Council executes ALC Memorandum of Understanding!

January 2016

Township of Langley Development is out of control. OCP and zoning not safe. Vesta?

March 2016

Aldergrove gets Pool – An insulting shaft by Council.

November 2016

After the calamity in the U.S. can we now agree that politics is important! Every vote counts!

December 2016

Achieving something while on Council requires determination and commitment.

Is it Dirty Politics or Corruption in the Township of Langley Part 1 of 4

Is it Dirty Politics or Corruption in the Township of Langley Part 2 of 4

Is it Dirty Politics or Corruption in the Township of Langley Part 3 of 4

Is it Dirty Politics or Corruption in the Township of Langley Part 4 of 4

January 2017

CFIB Municipal Spending Watch – The Township of Langley is the worst offender in B.C.

216th St Overpass in Walnut Grove – “It’s not my job to do what my constituents want” Froese

January 2018

Breaking News – The Railway through the Langleys… History revealed – just the facts!

NEW CFIB Municipal Spending Watch Survey – Township still the worst performing.

August 2018

The Smart and Only Way to solve the South of Fraser’s Transportation and Transit deficit.

October 2018

Township of Langley Election 2018…. Remember “Change Begins with Choice”!

January 2019

Well it’s been three months since our Municipal Election, Interesting results…. My thoughts?

February 2019

UPDATE! We Won! – Fraser Surrey Docks will NOT be using the Fraser Surrey Docks for Coal transfer!

March 2019

Urgent Plea to TransLink Mayors Council and Board members.

May 2019

The Truth about TRANSLINK SURVEY RESULTS EXPOSED…. Misrepresentation, it’s startling!

October 2019

BREAKING NEWS – CTV Investigative report on the actions of three current members of Council.

Just before I was elected plus while I was in office, there were a number of issues which I uncovered frankly just by asking questions of senior staff. I asked questions because common sense told me this just did not make any sense. Be careful the questions you ask, the answers in many cases add to the conundrum you are facing! The Council majority of the day were not prepared to acknowledge the problem, let alone act on them:

  • Park Lane Condo development in Fort Langley – Just prior to my election in 2008 the Council of the day had approved a three-story Condo development on the waterfront of Fort Langley. They gave 1st, 2nd, Public Hearing, and 3rd reading on this development when out of the blue comes the addition of a fourth story at 4th reading and Development Permit stage. Well FYI, you are only allowed to change form character and design after 3rd reading, NOT adding density. This was clearly a breach of the Community Charter, so what recourse did the public have – sue (using your money) or forget about it.
  • The Athenry Development up behind the renovated Willoughby Hall – After our election in 2008 we had the Athenry proposal brought before our Council by staff, a proposal that the previous Council dealt with at 1st, 2nd, Public Hearing and 3rd Reading, we were to consider 4th reading and obviously the Development Permit. As we had not dealt with it before we had to review all of the detail the previous Council dealt with and it was clear to me and the probably 30 residents with homes backing onto the development that the development had changed dramatically. Five buildings, not one, 15 foot set back from back fences and not the 40 feet originally proposed and it went downhill from there. Once again this resulted in a dramatic increase in density when only form, character and design were permitted to be dealt with. There were threatened lawsuits because the Township Council would not listen, some homeowners lost close to $100K in home value, there were family breakups over it and more. Again, with the Community Charter your only recourse is to sue.
  • Landfill on Agricultural Land – A runaway practice in the Township was what we called landfill farming. Prior to my election the Township on receipt of a complaint would refer all complaints to the Agricultural Land Commission to deal with the issue. Those referrals were automatic when in fact by Provincial Legislation every application called for a site-specific resolution by Council in support or opposition before sending that application to the ALC. This grew into a major issue in rural TOL when I uncovered a memo from the Township CAO to the ALC in 2005 advising that a resolution of Council had been passed to send all applications to the ALC when in fact, after asking to see that resolution, found that there was no such resolution. This should have resulted in some sort of legal action, but without the resulting support legislation that was available under the old Municipal Act our hands were tied, especially with the majority on Council being opposed to any action. Why, good question.
  • The Langley Events Center – Please review my BLOG Post on this issue, there should have been a Forensic Audit but with the Community Charter Legislation and Council opposition that would be impossible. This was and is a very serious financial boondoggle.

Summary:

So, as the saying goes you get the government you deserve. I have said many times that politics is not a spectator sport, it is a participation sport, that is if you truly care about how your government is managing your community. For those that think we can do politics differently today, I have news for you, outside of Social Media (which I agree is a big difference), politics today is as much a war as it has ever been. Obviously, I don’t mean that in a violent way BUT I do mean it as a serious fight of ideas and ideals and for honesty and integrity in government.

So, if you look at the reality of the Community Charter and its complete lack of oversight, add to that a weak and submissive (and/or controlled) Council from outside influencers coupled with the fact we now have FOUR year terms, the prospect of change is not great. What is even of greater concern is that senior staff in the Township of Langley have been in place for the best part of 19 years and I can tell you that IS NOT normal in Municipal and City Administration in British Columbia. It is very unhealthy in simple terms.

To put things in perspective I will repeat a comment made to me by Rich Coleman our MLA about 9 months before the election I won in 2008 (previously published in my BLOG). In a meeting we had in February of 2008 in his Board Room in Aldergrove he stated, “so what’s this meeting about”, I answered “I just wanted to come by and introduce someone who is running for Mayor” – his comment “We are OK with the job the Mayor is doing” my response, “well we are not”. He immediately went on “I want you to know two things, the CAO is a good friend of mine and you have been making noises about some land deals and we are OK with them”. For the record, I leaned across the table and stared at him and stated, “well we aren’t, it’s bullshit and it’s going to stop.” You don’t have to be a genius to read the message and to know what is going on and it isn’t very pretty.

When are we going to say enough is enough and elect members of Council that will put an end to this nonsense. The next election is only three years away (a very short amount of time in the world of politics), lets encourage strong, high profile members of our community to run for office who are willing to change our direction for the better. As a community we need to pay attention to the actions and or inactions of Council, our community depends on it.

We at langleywatchdog.com would like to extend our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year! See you in 2020!!!!

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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