Infrastructure, homelessness, and a new police force are issues on Langley Township mayoral candidate Alex Joehl’s mind.
When it comes to roads and other infrastructure, Joehl called 208th Street a “microcosm” of the Township’s failures on that subject. The major road through Willoughby varies from two to three to four lanes, and is being built piece by piece as developments are approved.
Joehl wants to increase resources for infrastructure.
“We’re going to have to keep taxes at the level they are now,” he said.
He intends to do that while boosting infrastructure spending by cutting other things from the budget – anything other than fire, policing, or locked-in union contracts, Joehl said.
Although he wants to make cuts to some Township programs, Joehl said the Township needs a healthy road system, parks, and to plan for future school sites.
“As a libertarian, there’s nothing I hate more than spending taxpayers money,” Joehl said, but the Township could be doing more to secure school sites in fast growing areas.
Joehl said he’s generally in favour of density, and although he is fine with high rises, he said they don’t need to be everywhere in the Township.
Density helps prevent urban sprawl, Joehl said.
“The alternative [to sprawl] is build up, and utilize the areas already marked off for urban centres,” he said.
On policing, one of Joehl’s main promises has been to review the Township’s contract with the RCMP and to consider replacing the Mounties with a municipal police force.
Joehl said statistics show that municipal police forces can better serve their communities than the RCMP, and have increased accountability to their community. He said the RCMP doesn’t necessarily serve the town first.
“They serve the hierarchy of the RCMP first and the Township second,” said Joehl.
Some crime issues could be dealt with more efficiently with the civic force, Joehl said.
He noted that the downside is that the RCMP is less expensive than a civic force.
On homelessness, he likes the idea of the Quality Inn supportive housing project, as it would be much cheaper than building something from scratch, and the hotel-based structure would give the residents their own rooms.
“Privacy goes a long way to making a person feel like they have their own home,” Joehl said.
He said he appreciates concerns of neighbours, however.
“We need to make sure this is the best option,” Joehl said.