Letter: Room to improve in public engagement process

Editor: Like many residents I have been dissatisfied by the process and outcomes for development planning in the Langley Township.

Fortunately, the mayor and council responded to this widespread dissatisfaction by striking a mayor’s standing committee on public engagement to improve how citizens are engaged in planning and development processes that affect them.

Those of you who missed the three open house events can still participate through the Township public engagement web page.

In addition to the opportunity to submit your ideas on effective public engagement, you can also review the excellent background information that was presented in the open houses (click on the display boards link).

This information includes themes from interviews of councillors and citizens as well as best practices in engagement and planning arising from experience in other municipalities and jurisdictions.

It is instructive to read these best practices and reflect on whether our Township’s existing policies, procedures and practices measure up. The only conclusion can be that there is a lot of room for improvement.

I am heartened by the mayor and council’s willingness to acknowledge this fact and to take concrete steps towards improvement. Many of us in the Township will be watching closely to ensure that substantive changes are made.

Coincidentally, the day after I attended an open house there was an article in the Langley Times (Fort developer seeks input on new project, Oct. 21)

I read the article with mixed emotions. On the one hand I was encouraged by the developer’s efforts to pro-actively engage the community in a planning and design process for a proposed commercial development in Fort Langley.

On the other hand, my heart sank as it became clear that the process was flawed and will not lead to a shared vision of the future of Fort Langley.

Clinching this conclusion was the fact that the developer has taken the position that this new development should be three storeys high. Those familiar with the Coulter Berry building issue know this will be a lightning rod for conflict in Fort Langley.

I am not condemning the developer for pursuing its commercial enterprises.

I am not trying to pull up the drawbridge and stop any further development.

I am, however, tired and frustrated with the lack of leadership and citizen participation in planning my community’s future. I do not want to endure another round of community conflict and division like we experienced with the Coulter Berry development.

There is an opportunity to do things differently in the Township. Why not start with Fort Langley? I challenge the mayor and council to take the recommendations from the standing committee on public engagement and apply them to a community planning process for Fort Langley.

I challenge myself and the other citizens of Fort Langley to collaborate with the Township, businesses and developers to create a shared vision of the future of Fort Langley — a vision that gives Fort Langley citizens a sense of pride, ownership and security.

A vision that gives developers clear rules for engagement and clear parameters for development. Together, we can do better.

Ken Moore,

Fort Langley