On a hot July afternoon, two people took shade under a tree near the playground of Rotary Centennial Park.
Accompanying them were a pair of overflowing shopping carts and, nearby, sat a heap of garbage.
It is a scene that is becoming all too familiar at the small park, according to area residents and the City of Langley.
Ongoing reports of used needles, abandoned shopping carts, garbage, graffiti and vandalism have prompted the City to allot $5,000 for a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) study of the park, which is located in a residential area behind Safeway, at 208 Street and Fraser Highway.
“It’s disgusting what goes on there,” said Councillor Gayle Martin during the July 27 council meeting, as members debated the use of the $5,000.
According to councillor Val van den Broek, it is unnecessary to spend extra money on a study.
The City is hiring Greg Perkins of Liahona Security Consortium Inc. as a consultant to do the review, however there are several trained Langley RCMP officers that are capable of performing it, van den Broek said.
“There are staff members at the RCMP that can do this for free because we are already paying their wages, instead of taking $5,000 from the taxpayers to do this,” she said.
Van den Broek told council she dealt with Rotary Centennial Park for years while working at the City’s community police office, and that reviews have been done on the area in the past.
The statement caused confusion in council chambers.
If the RCMP did comprehensive reviews and found there were things that could be done, why wouldn’t they share this with the City, asked Martin.
Both Francis Cheung, the City’s CAO, and Gerald Minchuk, director of development services, told council they were not aware of any studies that had been conducted.
That’s because the information gathered in them is confidential, due to the privacy act, said van den Broek.
The review is between the reviewer and the owner of the property, she said.
The City is the property owner, Cheung confirmed.
“If that report is only conducive to the owner of the property, we are the owners,” said Martin.
“So why wouldn’t we have it? I would think you would know if we commissioned a report.”
Despite the confusion, the councillors agreed that immediate action is needed in the park and that the vote cannot wait until they reconvene in September.
Council voted to commission the CPTED study, with van den Broek opposed.
The study will be paid for through council’s enterprise fund, which is made up of casino proceeds paid to the City.
Cheung later confirmed to The Times that formal CPTED studies have been done on the residences near the park, but not on the City-owned park itself.
Therefore, the municipality does not have access to the previous studies.
Van den Broek also later confirmed that she has conducted informal studies on the park, however none that were formal CPTED investigations.
“There’s little things you can do which is an informal CPTED,” van den Broek told The Times.
“There’s bigger things you can do where it’s a formal report, where you write things out and you go over everything, you give it back to the person and say there are the recommendations.
“In regards to the actual park itself, [they’re] informal.”