Organizers of the Langley Good Times Cruise-In have turned to the Township of Langley

Langley Good Times Cruise-In likely moving to Aldergrove

A charity car event that has been hosted in downtown Langley City for almost 20 years, will move to the Township or die.

Langley Good Times Cruise-In moves to Aldergrove this year, or it closes down for good.

Those are the choices facing the charity car show organizers this week, board chair Wayne Patterson told the Langley Advance.

He’s optimistic, thanks to keen interest by the Township of Langley – mayor, council, and staff alike – that the event can be moved to Aldergrove.

The next 30 days will determine if, logistically, it can happen, Patterson said, noting his team will map out a proposed site this weekend.

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Then, Township staff will be reaching out to the province about highway closures, the RCMP about potential issues, and merchants and area residents alike for overall feedback.

If all that comes together, as he expects it will, the Sept. 9 Cruise-In will happen in downtown Aldergrove – and the change, Patterson said would be long term.

“If this request doesn’t go through, the Cruise-In will be cancelled for good,” he added.

Langley Good Times Cruise-In was started in 1997 by a small group of Langley City merchants.

The annual charity show, held every September (except for one), grew from 430 vehicles and a few thousand spectators to attracting more than 1,500 registered car owners in peak years and drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the community.

Last year, however, the show was almost cancelled a month out from the date, when the City insisted the Cruise-In paying $12,000 for policing.

Given public outcry and the late notice, the City agreed to rescind the condition for the 2016 show, and the event went ahead, as planned, Patterson said.

However, the topic came up again soon after that show – in planning for 2017.

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After a few different meetings with council and administrators from the City, it became apparent an agreement could not be reached with the City, who argued it cost them $80,000 to host the event each year, Patterson said.

The City agreed to give Cruise-In a $13,000 grant towards the City’s  $80,000 in cost, but the organizers would have to still pay $18,000 to $25,000 for policing costs for the Friday night prior to the show, plus cover other expenses.

Patterson and his team have asked for an itemized list of those City expenses but never received them.

And as for paying for policing, Patterson said “there’s no way.”

The Cruise-In board continues to question why it should be expected to pay any policing costs for the Friday night “shenanigans,” considering their event is held Saturday and they’re not responsible any impromptu gatherings in the City where hot rodders speed down roads or do burn outs.

There is no other festival or community event held in either the City or the Township, where event organizers are asked to cover policing costs outside the event’s realm.

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Nevertheless, in recent years, show organizers have worked with police and the City to try to help mitigate the problem by offering a “citizen patrol” of the problem areas – where they ask drivers who misbehave to move on. But with no legal backing, that’s all they could do, and it didn’t really help, Patterson said.

As for the day of the event, Cruise-In has paid for or had sponsorships that cover the costs of everything from security and garbage pickup to port-a-potty rentals, street cleanup, and barricades.

He’s baffled at the City’s claims the event costs $80,000 a year to host.

In the recent meetings with the City, Patterson said he felt like Cruise-In was being asked to “go away,” because it was “too much of a burden.”

In contrast, he said, in discussions and meeting with the Township, Cruise-In has been lauded for all that it does to boost tourism in this community, and acknowledged for all the money it raises for Langley-area charities – some years close to $100,000.

The Township, Patterson said, seems willing to “eat” any extra dollars associated (and not already covered by the Cruise-In sponsorships) seeing them as the cost of bringing the community’s single-largest event to life in Langley.

Patterson clarified that those costs should actually be “very nominal,” covering some basic staffing and administrative costs and fees for highway permits.

After Thursday morning’s meeting with the Township, Patterson said he is optimistic.

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CAPTION: Langley Good Times Cruise-In is a charity car show that gives tens of thousands of dollars every year back to to community charities.

He’s confident, he said, a move to downtown Aldergrove would be a perfect fit for the car show, and likewise a good thing for the Langley neighbourhood.

“I can’t see how any local merchants would say no,” he added, noting that having tens of thousands of people coming into the community and spending money on the day of the event – many coming in for the entire weekend – must be good for the bottom line.

In preliminary discussions with the Township, the idea of moving to Fort Langley, Walnut Grove, and the airport were also bandied about.

But ultimately, Patterson said, Aldergrove was the best option with expectations they’ll have to close Fraser Highway between 264th and 272nd Streets, at least, to accommodate the car show.

Aldergrove’s downtown core would be ideal for keeping that open community feel alive at Cruise-In, he said.

It’s “sad it has come to this,” Patterson concluded, insisting he and the Cruise-In team are still grateful to the City for hosting them for close to 20 years.

Now, he said, is simply the time for a change. Patterson looks forward to knowing within the next 30 days if it’s a go.

• Read more: Langley Township Mayor eager to host Cruise-In

• Join in or follow the community reaction to this announcement

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