RUNNING AS AN INDEPENDENT
Meat department manager/sportswriter, age 40
Murrayville resident who’s lived in Langley 7 years
Alex Joehl is a name you may recognize.
His face is one that may seem familiar.
You’ve likely seen him around town – likely at the hockey rink or perhaps the grocery store.
And perhaps you’ve seen this name on almost every single election ballot in the Township of Langley since 2017.
By now you know what Alex stands for.
He’ll push back against the politicians who spurred divisiveness in our communities merely for political gain. He hasn’t forgotten the caution tape on outdoor children’s playgrounds.
He’ll keep taxes down by shrinking the bureaucracy and kyboshing white elephant spending projects.
He wants to bring us a local, tailor-made police force that works for us.
He’ll propose an electoral system that actually represents each region of the Township.
Have you held office in past? If so, please specify: No.
(These answers are presented as the candidates submitted them)
1. Should the Township set targets for the creation of more low-income and seniors rental spaces, social housing units, and/or co-op development to improve home security?
No. The best thing the Township of Langley council can do to provide more homes for low-income and senior rental-oriented spaces is the build more housing, period. Between the drawn-out permitting process and the debilitating fees administered to builders, it is no surprise that there are few developers in the business of low-income rental housing.
The ToL has a long way to go to serving all citizens, but socialist schemes like subsidies will only bring on slum-style housing, and I believe our residents deserve real choice.
2. Should the Township create a performing arts venue within the next council term?
No. I do support the establishment of a performing arts venue over the next term.
However, I do not think that any taxpayer dollars should be allocated towards it.
My suggestion is that the Township of Langley lease out one of the properties it owns to a private group for $1 per year for 99 years. Then, said private group can fundraise to pay for the building and operating of the performing arts venue.
I am a fan of live music, stand-up comedy, and on occasion a live play or musical.
However, I don’t think that the taxpayers of the Township of Langley should be subsidizing personal choices of others, just like we should not be diverting funds to excessive new sporting resources either.
3. Does the Langley Township fire department need to be expanded in terms of crews, equipment, and/or halls?
No. During the outgoing mayor’s tenure the Township of Langley saw the greatest increase in property taxes collected of all Metro Vancouver municipalities. Why? We converted from a part-time and volunteer-based structure to a full-time service.
We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. While it is important for services to keep up with community growth, we shouldn’t be stretching resources too thin for the sake of satisfying special interests.
4. Should property tax increases be restricted to the rate of inflation or lower?
Yes. Kim Richter has been popular for voting against many budgets because the tax increase out-paced the monetary inflation. However, she also ran for the federal Liberal party in 2021 – the same party who is responsible for the current monetary inflation.
I would support any bylaw that would minimize or restrict the increase a council can impose. Though I fear that if we limit how one tax can be implemented that another one would be increased in lieu of it. There is no silver bullet to controlling government spending or taxation. The only thing that will keep taxes in line is a strong opposition on council – something I’d bring to the table.
5. Should the Township encourage greater housing density in new and existing neighbourhoods?
Yes. The natural process of development naturally favours higher density because it allows the developers to extract a higher value for the property.
But, extensive zoning designations add to an already complicated building process and increase the time to approve permits. This is an added cost to housing affordability in the Township and we need to eliminate as many input costs as possible.
There will always be a demand for single-family detached housing, and the Township doesn’t need to do anything to disincentivize it. Monetary inflation caused by the Federal government’s monetary policy has already put a detached home out of reach for many hopefully residents. So, yes, more density is the outcome that potential homeowners will look for.
Higher density has a smaller environmental footprint and also fewer resources are required to serve these communities with police, fire, and utility services.
I would advocate for the Township to adopt an “as-of-right” process to approve development, to speed up the process, while also keep building within the “spirit” of the community plan.
There’ll always be a place for one-acre lots in the Township of Langley, but our council doesn’t need to push density, because higher density is the way of the future.
6. Should the Township do more to build and upgrade roads, sidewalks, and bike paths in fast-growing areas?
No. Everyone knows that libertarians hate roads.
But, seriously, the Township of Langley government doesn’t need to work harder on roads, sidewalks, and bike paths – it just has to work smarter.
We don’t need more four- or six-lane throughways in our city – it may move people quicker, but at the detriment of safety, walkability – and at what cost? To add lanes to roadways expropriating land from owners will be either expensive or unethical and I’m not in favour of either one.
Unless we adopt a totally new system of funding infrastructure we’ll be doomed by the constant practice of chasing traffic needs – Development Cost Charges can’t keep up, and Township contractors won’t build roads fast enough anyway. To build infrastructure ahead of development we’d need to increase property taxes and I’m sure no Langleyite is interested in that.
We need to do two things: A) accept the status quo of a broken, incomplete road system or B) adopt a radical new charge structure that includes road-pricing – road tolls.
Road tolls are not likely to be popular with voters, so, option A) it is.
7. Is the Township’s population growing too fast?
No. Population growth is primarily a good thing if the housing is available. Unfortunately, although housing starts are at a good pace now, we are thousands of units in a deficit and it’ll take years to catch up.
The speed of population increase is only a negative if infrastructure and housing doesn’t grow with it.
It’s time our local government entered the 21st century.
8. Should the Township consider switching to a municipal police force, instead of using the RCMP?
In 2018, I ran for mayor suggesting we abandon the RCMP and form our own local, made-in-Langley force.
What was true then is still true now – the RCMP fails to provide the service that municipal police forces do.
One of the benefits of contracting the RCMP to police a city has been cost – they’ve been traditionally less expensive.
However, that is not necessarily true anymore.
In the last year the cost of policing the Township has increased almost 25 per cent. Are you getting better service?
The RCMP now has a union, which allows the members to have more protections, but it doesn’t change the top-down structure that constantly has the RCMP riddled with controversy.
A media outlet in the Fraser Valley put out a request to find out how often officers used force and drew their weapons.
After only a month the Abbotsford Police Department fully cooperated and divulged even more information, for the sake of transparency.
The RCMP? It has been a year and still they have not catered to this simple request, despite a mandate all federal departments answer requests within a month.
Clearly the RCMP is not serving the Township of Langley.
It’s time for a fresh start.
9. Does the Township have enough parks and public spaces to meet the needs of its growing population?
Yes, and it’ll need to be increased as development accelerates.
10. Should the Township commit to making a decision on proposed new developments within 12 months or less?
Extensive, complicated zoning is an added barrier towards building more homes and businesses.
It’s time that the Township of Langley simplified the process.
Currently there are more than two dozen different types of zoning (too many!) and they are all very exclusive.
The Township should adopt a more inclusive mode – don’t say what a property may be, but only lay out what it CAN’T be.
Instituting an “as-of-right” system would also help speed up the development approval process.
A report from the last election cycle stated that in the Township of Langley it took a home building permit 17 months to get approved – that’s criminal.
While I’m sure the staff at the Township office has done their best to cut that time down, projects still needlessly get stuck at both the bureaucratic and political level, holding up the advancement of our wonderful city.
Langley should apply some of the lessons learned from the Japanese model.
Japan’s system is more flexible because it allows higher-use zones to be designated later on without forbidding lower-use activities. Residential is residential, which means that rented, owned, single-family, multi-family and studio apartment blocks coexist.
It’s time to get politics out of housing in Langley.
How the questions were presented to each candidate
Langley Advance Times readers have repeatedly told us how much they value this important, straight-forward reference guide that helps orient them with the range of choices on the ballots – both at the council and school board levels.
Towards that end, we have attempted to make this package available (along with the following instructions) to each of the candidates in a timely fashion ahead of the Oct. 15 election.
Please read carefully before you start to fill this out.
To help voters in Langley make their choices on election day, the Langley Advance Times is asking local candidates 10 issue-based questions.
You must provide a ‘yes,’ a ‘no,’ or a ‘don’t know’ (Y, N, D) response to EACH of these questions.
Each question MUST be answered with yes (Y), no (N), or Don’t Know (D). This will be published in a grid in the Oct. 6 edition. Any questions not answered will be LEFT BLANK.
Candidates may also expand on ANY OR ALL of these questions (to a maximum of 200 words each). Please note any responses longer than that will be cut off at the 201-word mark.
Due to space limitations, we can only guarantee to run one of these answers in the Langley Advance Times print edition ahead of the election. You must CLEARLY indicate which expanded answer you want to see published in print. If you do not specify, we will choose. Any and all expanded answers provided will be published online at www.langleyadvancetimes.com.
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