Township council holding forest for ransom

This property is already owned by all of us — yet council wants citizens to buy it.

Editor: Over the past few months, Langley Township mayor and council have been attempting to ransom off a jewel of a property in Glen Valley called McLellan Park East, to raise funds to build a new leisure centre in Aldergrove.

This rare, 25-acre forest is over 80 years old and has gained the attention of residents, outside organizations and individuals. Renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman recently toured the park and offered his profile and name to the cause, to try to save this unique chunk of property that we all own.

My choice of the word “ransom” stems from the numerous comments that council has made to residents on why they are going to sell this rare non-ALR chunk of property.

For example, council had offered to save the park “if” local residents could come up with $3.5 million dollars, in a very short and unrealistic period of time. The fact that this property is already owned by all of us has made it difficult for the local supporters, Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF), to raise any funds.

The likely outcome at the next council meeting in January will be council saying to residents “Don’t say we never gave you a chance to save it.”

Councillor Charlie Fox has publicly entered into this hostage-taking by placing the responsibility and guilt back on the residents, who have been trying to save this park. Fox stated at the Dec. 10 council meeting, “this (saving McLellan) could mean selling one or two much larger wilderness properties in the same area owned by the Township, one of 110 acres and the other 120 acres to generate the needed funds for the Aldergrove project. As they say in the business, show me the money.”

So, let me get the math straight. We save 25 acres, yet give up 230 acres of comparable land in the same ecologically sensitive area. Well played.

Regarding a similar piece of property located a stone’s throw from McLellan Park East, Mayor Jack Froese commented publicly that once the Township agreed not to sell that particular piece,  concerned residents needed to come out and help raise funds to build the community centre. Given that residents work hard all year to pay their taxes for local services and amenities, I’m not sure where his “kind” offer came from, but it’s just another example of conditions that must be met by residents.

Combine the above with the fact that no “For Sale” signs were put up on this 25-acre parcel because, according to Township, “the land is located in a rural area, and does not receive enough traffic to warrant signage.” Considering the majority of  Township is rural, at what traffic count is a sign warranted?

Finally, I have no issue with selling off part of the multi-million dollar property portfolio that Township (we taxpayers) own. I do have an issue with the belittling, controlling, and outright mysterious manner in which mayor and council are dealing with the McLellan Park East property. If you share my concerns and those of the residents of Glen Valley, please contact mayor and council before the next council meeting in January.

Dave Stark,