There have been many occasions when residents have been caught off guard by a development proposal in their neighbourhoods.
While signs are required on properties that are the subject of a rezoning or development permit application, there is currently no way to broadcast more widely the intentions of a developer, or the Township itself.
On Dec. 12, Joe Zaccaria and Eric Woodward suggested a solution to council: make Langley in Progress available on a monthly basis.
Langley In Progress provides a summary of development activity and statistics, and summarizes on a community basis the status of significant multi-family, comprehensive development, commercial, industrial, institutional and single family subdivision development applications. Minor development projects, such as subdivisions of fewer than five lots, may not be listed in the report.
Langley In Progress is published quarterly, Zaccaria and Woodward asked council to consider making it a monthly publication.
“We have a strong, vibrant economy and developer partners that are helping to contribute to our success in attracting jobs and people,” Zaccaria told council.
“As progress occurs, the citizens of the Township must be kept informed,” he said, adding that Langley in Progress “by far presents the citizens of the Township of Langley with the most comprehensive view of all development activities occurring in our community.”
Zaccaria said that because Langley in Progress is published only once every three months, the public can miss out on prior knowledge of any changes in a development application.
“A matter could reach the council table, catching residents off guard,” he said, noting that most council members ran on a political platform that supported “some form of open and transparent government.”
“We have all experienced public hearings in which residents have accused council or staff of announcing development activity ‘out of the blue,’” he added.
Zaccaria said that despite a government’s good intentions, this situation will continue when there is a shortage of information available to the public.
“Eric and I believe your wish for open and transparent government are heartfelt and sincere,” Zaccaria said, explaining that he and Woodward simply wanted to emphasize that a monthly publication of Langley In Progress is in the best interest of the residents of the Township.
“As this data is collected routinely anyway, no additional burden will be placed on staff. We see this as an easy decision, and one that will not require staff referral,” Zaccaria said.
Council made no decision on the request to increase publication of Langley in Progress, which appears in print, and online on the Township’s website.
Zaccaria said later that Township staff have been in touch with him and Woodward since their presentation to council.