Council can’t resist certain lobbyists

Horse-related businesses pay little in taxes compared with other businesses.

Editor: Langley Township’s debt per person rose 175 per cent over last year, from $275 per person to a whopping $759 per person. It’s time to pull in the reins. So do we really need to spend $500,000 on an “extension” to a horse trail that very few use?

Three lobby groups have considerable influence on the majority of Township council — the horse industry, developers and unions. They are great at lobbying and get their votes counted, unlike the silent majority. The definition of a “lobby” is to attempt to influence or sway, as a public official toward a desired action. If we don’t get out and vote we will end up with the same as we have now. It will never change and may get worse. Taxes keep going up, but our real needs are put on the back burner.

As a result of my letter to the editor (published March 27), regarding budget deliberations, along comes lobbyist Peter Thiessen, as a delegation to council from the Back Country Horsemen. This was on April 11. He now added joggers, recreational cyclists and dog walkers to the trail. All this lobbying is for $500,000, which has been approved by council to extend a trail from 256 Street to Aldergrove Lake.

Thiessen claims the existing trail from Campbell Park to 256 Street is a well-used recreational corridor, popular with dog walkers, joggers, recreational cyclists and equestrians. I have viewed the South Langley trail at least eight times at different times of the week, including weekends. Each time the weather was excellent, and combined I saw only four horses, two joggers, seven recreational cyclists and three dog walkers.

So what’s with the misinformation given by Thiessen? I guess the taxpayer-funded 1,322-acre Campbell Valley Park just isn’t big enough for these horse owners, who make up less five per cent of the approximate 106,000 residents in the Township of Langley.

The horse industry claims to generate a huge amount of tax dollars. Not so, when compared to others.

For example: Thunderbird Show Park is on 84 acres and pays property tax of $15,694, of which $3,810 goes towards protection services, and $5,488 towards schools. Thunderbird Show Stables is on 156 acres and pays $10,570 in property tax, with $2,840 towards protection services and $3,389 towards schools. Not far away, at Gloucester Industrial Park, a business on 23 acres, which by the way employs 600 people, and has no transit services, pays $589,849 in property taxes, of which $160,357 goes towards protection services and $104,703 goes towards schools. This business also pays $6,000 for water.

In reviewing the Township’s businesses by industry, horse-related businesses would be among those at the bottom. The source is the Township’s business licence database. Most of the horse-related businesses would be considered small business and most small businesses pay very little tax.

Horses do not give us sustenance like cows, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats etc., and it takes huge tracts of land just to produce enough food to feed a horse. There are two and one half times as many dogs as there are horses in the Township. Over $350,000 is collected in dog licence fees yearly. So why not licence the horse and use that income towards the trail and towards picking up horse poop. After all, horses are covered by the same bylaws as dogs.

I like horses and see more horses and riders on my front street, almost every day — more than I’ve seen using the South Langley trail. But their owners should be more responsible and less demanding.

Dennis Townsend,