Monday’s telephone town hall on the proposed 0.5 per cent sales tax increase to fund transit and transportation projects proved two things. One is that Langley residents are remarkably patient and polite. The other is that the boost in sales tax will improve things modestly in the western part of Langley, and other than two road projects, do nothing for the areas east of Murrayville.
Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese made it clear that there will be no improvements to bus service to Aldergrove. There will be no service to Gloucester industrial estates. There will be no routes in rural areas. Fraser Highway will be widened and 16 Avenue will be improved.
The good news is that there will be a bus on 208 Street in Willoughby and significant improvements to service on 200 Street and Fraser Highway — north and west of Langley City. LRT is 12 years away, at a minimum. Brookswood and Fernridge will see some modest improvements.
In terms of patience and politeness, none of the people who got through the screeners to speak to Froese were rude or angry. Some do not favour the tax increase — but two said they’re voting ‘yes.’ They asked questions about the cost of the ‘yes’ campaign, the likelihood of the tax being increased and salaries paid to TransLink officials.
Whether those who were on the phone, or watched the town hall on YouTube, will be convinced to vote ‘yes’ remains to be seen. However, they did get a lot of additional information, which should at least help some of them make their minds up.
The boost in sales tax will hurt many Langley businesses. This issue did not come up. But it is a fact — and Aldergrove businesses are particularly vulnerable. Thus far, no one other than the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses seems willing to stand up for them.