As the murmurs gain substance

Every time a municipal election is in the offing, we start to hear murmurs of amalgamation. Some would like to see the two Langleys melded back to one civic government and many express opinions regarding cost savings.

It may be that this time, the murmurs will have more substance. Unbeknown to most, there is a group of local people, some elected to the City or Township council, which is actively meeting  with the intent of introducing  a valid amalgamation business case to the community.

They have polled individuals, service clubs, civic organizations and businesses. They have floated some of their ideas to the public to gauge reaction and determine which ideas would be openly received and which would be rejected outright.

At this point, their proposal is based on a five-point plan that still needs refining but will initially form the framework of their newly redesigned, reunited community.

1. Identity: It will be important that any and all references to the former Township of Langley or City of Langley be discouraged. The new area will be called Langley. To further reinforce this, any reference to sub-areas such as Brookswood, Murrayville, Aldergrove, or Fort Langley will also be dropped. To be successful, the community must buy into the name Langley, move forward and leave the past to the history books.

2. Civic buildings: The current Township hall will become the civic hub. The City hall will be either sold or converted to space for non-profit groups to use as offices, charging a user fee for custodial upkeep and to offset taxes. The committee recognizes that gaming funds are going to be somewhat restored to non-profits and this will be a method to get those funds back into the general revenue.

3. Emergency Services: Regionalization of the emergency services is an important cost saving measure. By not renewing the RCMP contract; the new Langley can develop Public Safety Officers. These first responders would be a combination of police/firefighters/bylaw enforcement officers. By having regional control, the community would receive more direct, personal protection. By buying out the older members and replacing them with younger ones trained as police/firefighters, the cost saving alone would be a tax break. In addition, most of the first response will be done in smaller vehicles which will reduce the cost of replacing expensive apparatus.

4. The number of councillors would be reduced to 10 from the 14 we now have and of course only one mayor would be required. The councillors would be chosen to represent wards that have replaced the aforementioned historic areas. With Langley split into 10 wards, each having its own representative, people with business acumen would be elected in business areas and those with agricultural backgrounds would represent the rural farming community.

5. The wards would be established on an Equitable Ward System. Those areas, such as the current City residents, would pay a higher tax than those that have little. For instance, if a resident has street lights, sidewalks, municipal water and sewer he would pay considerably more than someone having a septic tank, no sidewalks or sparse street lighting. Casino funding would eventually bring all areas to standard. The new Langley will also receive more federal and provincial grant money.

You can believe these ideas are positive or you can believe they are negative. Personally, I don’t believe anything written on April Fool’s day. At least that’s what McGregor says.