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Langley City council approves $15-M loan proposal

Will fund SkyTrain-related land buys and one-way upgrades
Mayor Nathan Pachal said a proposed $15-million loan didn’t actually require consultation, but an alternative approval process was carried out in the interest of “being transparent and accountable to the public.” (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley City council has approved a $15-million borrowing proposal, after it cleared an alternative approval process that – strictly speaking – wasn’t required.

That was according to Mayor Nathan Pachal, speaking at the Monday, July 26 meeting where council unanimously approved seeking the loan, to fund SkyTrain-related land purchases and pay for upgrades to the one-way section of Fraser Highway.

A staff report to council said 4.7 per cent of eligible electors had filed forms opposing the loan under the alternative approval process.

That was less than half the 10 per cent minimum required under B.C. law.

READ ALSO: Langley City will need residents’ approval to borrow $15 million

In his comments, Pachal noted the alternative approval process is not mandatory for loans that have interest payments of less than five per cent of the total “revenue that is recurring” from taxes, which happens to be the case with the $15-million loan proposal.

“There’s actually no statutory requirement to do that,” Pachal stated, but added the municipality has sought approval in the past for loan amounts below the minimum required amounts.

“We didn’t need to do an alternative approval process per legislation, but certainly, just [in terms of] being transparent and accountable to the public, I think it was really good we went through this process regardless,”Pachal said.

He described the pushback against the proposal as a “robust” citizens campaign, commenting “civic engagement was very present.”

Pachal said the City went “above and beyond” provincial requirements for notifying taxpayers.

”We put some information in the tax notices,” Pachal said.

“Every property owner would have received an insert.”

As well, Pachal said the City took out four newspaper ads, double the usual number, as well as posting ads online.

READ ALSO: LETTER: Langley City should have mailed each taxpayer letter on $15 million loan idea

In his online blog, Pachal explained he didn’t comment on the loan proposal because “the provincial government strongly discourages councils from appearing to promote the reasons for taking out a loan during the alternate approval process period, as it could be seen as biased.”

Before the vote, Councillor Delaney Mack excused herself, noting attention on the loan has become focused on the one-way, where she operates a business.

“In fairness, I’m going to recuse myself from voting,” Mack said.

In response to a question from Coun. Mike Solyom, City chief administrative officer Francis Cheung said he “can’t disclose” which properties the City is looking at.

Now that council has approved the loan proposal, it must still be certified by the inspector of municipalities, following a 30-day challenge period during which residents could apply to block the bylaw.

Once the province has provided an approval certificate, the City can pursue the borrowing through the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA). It’s not expected to happen before the fall.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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