A majority of Langley City council has decided to press Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen for a more detailed explanation of her comment saying the City is becoming a “ghost town.”
On Monday, by a 5-2 majority, council voted to have ”staff write a letter to MP Tamara Jansen requesting she provide a letter addressed to mayor and council clarifying what she meant by her comment that Langley City is becoming a ghost town.”
Coun. Rudy Storteboom, who voted no, doubted there will be a response to the letter concerning what he described as the “very offensive” statement by Jansen during a House of Commons debate.
“I think the damage has been done, and the conversation should be put behind us,” Storteboom remarked.
“Quite honestly, I think we’ve got about as much as were going to get,” Storteboom added.
Coun. Gayle Martin, who proposed sending a follow-up letter, said the problem was the MP’s initial response to a question about the comment, never mentioned the comment.
“We asked our MP a specific question,” Martin commented. “She did not answer the question.”
Martin pointed to recently published comments by Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako Van Popta, who she felt took a more positive approach about the challenges faced by small businesses during the pandemic.
“Seeing these small businesses not only adapt during difficult times, but thrive, is what makes so Canada great,” Van Popta remarked, encouraging shoppers to buy and support local.
“Its the total opposite of what our MP said,” Marttin commented.
Mayor Val van den Broek, who also voted against sending another letter, called it a “political ploy, and I’m kind of done with it.”
“We’re supposed to be making friends and kind of get along,” the mayor added.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace who voted yes, said there should be a “face-to-face” public meeting with Jansen, and Coun. Nathan Pachal backed the letter while making it clear he didn’t want to revisit the issue again.
“If something happens [in response to the letter], something happens,” Pachal said.
“If something doesn’t, it doesn’t. But after this, I don’t think it’s worth our council’s time, going any further.”
A vote on the letter had been scheduled for the Monday, Jan. 11 virtual session of council, but when Martin lost her connection to the video meeting, council decided to postpone the vote until the Jan. 25 meeting of council.
Jansen had warned “Langley City is becoming a ghost town” during a Dec. 7 debate on a Conservative proposal calling for the federal government to halt scheduled tax increases for small businesses.
“Small business owners are drowning in despair right now,” Jansen said.
A Dec. 14 letter from council to Jansen had asked for a “written explanation as to why she made the comment that Langley City is becoming a ghost town.”
Jansen released a copy of her Dec. 17 reply to the mayor that did not mention the “ghost town” comment in so many words, but defended her decision to speak out, saying businesses are struggling and Langley City council should “reach out” to them.
“Our small businesses are at high risk right now and badly need support,” Jansen said.
“I hope the council will consider reaching out to these entrepreneurs, as well, to see how they can support them through these tough times,” the MP added.
“While a few have seen increases in their sales or have successfully pivoted their business models, most have been severely impacted and face losing their establishments. Without those small businesses in our neighbourhoods we will lose a tremendous amount of diverse talent. The time to act is now.”