Township shuts down communication

The Township finds it easier to deal with people in a singular fashion, and prefers to keep the communication channels constricted.

Editpr: I am neither a developer nor do I know anyone on a personal basis at the Township. However, I have been in fairly close contact with the Township over the past 11 years, while trying to follow along with the process in obtaining Central Gordon’s Neighbourhood Plan.

The aggressive political pursuit of diverting attention to the issue of when Mayor Rick Green had received information has apparently been more important than proceeding with Township’s normal business.  This information received by the mayor concerned him enough that he was compelled to question the ethical or unethical nature of it in a closed Township meeting.

It would be an unenviable position to be in, especially given the bitter environment of non-support and lack of trust that was prevalent from the start of his tenure. The situation required him to act upon what he felt would be in the best interests of the Township. The outrage that ensued and subsequent protests have led one to believe that perhaps all was not, and is not, as it should be. In any event, when there is even a remote notion of someone benefiting financially from insider knowledge it emits an unpleasant aroma, as it is an extremely serious issue.

If the subject matter was indeed fully investigated and the councillors concluded that it posed no threat to the taxpayer, that there was no reason to pursue it, why not simply, confidently, and politely announce this and move on?  Was the same investigating and reinvestigating afforded to this sensitive subject as it has been to Mayor Green’s method of enquiring about it?

Mayor Green was elected to serve for the good of the people of Langley and that is exactly what he has tried to do.  He brought current issues to our attention and allowed for more open, relaxed and candid public discussion with his monthly public forums (much to the chagrin of some councillors).

These forums dealt with important issues which would have otherwise been ‘quietly dispersed.’  Two examples of vital issues that the public did not approve of and which would have been endorsed were the 208 Street truck route and the Mufford overpass. When our grandfathered taxes had risen by excessive amounts, apparently due to ‘playing catch-up’ acclording to B.C. Assessment, Mayor Green tried to assist by facilitating meetings with Finance and B.C. Assessment.  He has provided valuable aid to the cause of community rail and many other initiatives.

If one wants to address the subjects of deception and lack of integrity, all that is needed is to look at council and staff since the year 2000.  Further, what has been relatively consistent overall is the manner of blatant arrogance.

We had two delegations to council under the previous administration as a result of our endorsed plan yielding no results, and later being completely shelved without our knowledge. Council seemed unaware of this as well.  All was complied with, according to the staff’s instructions. We were in their specified queue and totally ignored.

Patchwork development for Willoughby seemed to be the modus operandi.  A full record of the facts and ordeals was presented to council and is on file at the Township.  Shortly after that, their policy manual was updated with new changes.

We had been admonished at one of these delegation meetings to be careful what we wished for (e.g. a park or road could degrade your property value). When I commented that there was Township funding to buy floodplain but none to finally go forward with Central Gordon planning, the only response I received was a steely-eyed glare from a popular councillor.

At another council meeting where the agenda had information pertinent to Central Gordon, a prominent councillor, while praising the staff, excused any Township inaction by confidently stating: “We have some difficult decisions to make.”

How difficult is it to adhere to what was agreed to, and in a timely fashion?  At a community planning workshop when I commented to a Township planner that they had previously forthwith decided to discontinue work completely on Central Gordon, he advised that they could do as they like. The prospect of helping to create a beautiful village was exciting to me as it was to others; unfortunately, the community planning workshop charrette turned out to be more of a charade.

Progress enquiries made to the Township continue to attract an indecisive response from a long range planner.  It astounds me that we have not emerged beyond long range planning. The real value of our properties may never be realized since the pending outcome is resulting in more crime, obvious deterioration of the area and property owners passing on. Was this intentional?

At Mayor Green’s public forum where the 208 Street truck route was an issue, one of the councillors questioned a taxpayer’s reason for attending. When the taxpayer responded by indicating his interest in the 208 Street issue, he was asked if he had followed the proper channels. Did he talk to engineering and attend the open house, since that was the appropriate way of handling any concerns he had>

This clearly demonstrates that the Township finds it easier to deal with people in a singular fashion, and prefers to keep the communication channels constricted. In addition, how can prominent professional councillors not be aware that schools were overflowing when proceeding to approve a recent residential development request?  How is it that they could indicate that most were in favour of the Mufford overpass?  Lidstone (lawyers) noted that the Code of Ethics applies to staff and not to councillors. Why not?

As has been mentioned before, the Township was like an “old boy’s club.” It’s extremely difficult to infiltrate. That highly revered supreme oath of secrecy behind closed doors can be a double-edged sword.  They have emphasized the importance of all being in agreement regarding issues. Where is the independence in that?

Unanimity is an admirable goal when it is not coerced. if you are the odd man out in the Township, it could be quite intimidating.  The overall policy of secrecy also greatly limits public knowledge.  This is an apt example of slate politics and has gone on far too long.

Integrity, be damned!

Are we all sure that it was the mayor who needed investigating?

Peggy Weatherdon,

Langley