Something smells in the Township

Editor:

I read the article about sprucing up our local McDonald’s Restaurant in The Aldergrove Star, and I find the comments of Township Council somewhat ironic, to say the least.

To quote Councillor Long: “We are being overly critical of a business that’s trying to do what it can and we need to attract those kinds of people to Aldergrove,” said Long, who lives and runs a business in the town. Being critical “sends the wrong message” when what the town and council should do is be positive and encouraging “and show that we are open to new ideas.”

“I think we have to continue with the message that Aldergrove is the place to invest,” he added.

We recently heard suggestions from the Township that money could be saved by removing the hanging flower baskets from Aldergrove’s main street. That would certainly make the streets pretty and make a company want to move here. The same with the dismal condition of many of the downtown buildings. The old Burger King/Mohawk Station property certainly isn’t the only piece of property in need of new life. McDonald’s has always been a strong community supporter; if they want to update the restaurant’s look, and it falls within the old Aldergrove Revitalization Committee development guidelines, what is the problem?

This Township is anything but welcoming and open to new ideas. I personally tried to open a new business in this town several years ago. A business that would have sparked creative interest and perhaps a few careers in our young people, assisted the computer-illiterate in becoming more computer savvy, and offered a new retail choice. I was turned down. Why? Because the majority of Council did not understand the nature of the business and deemed it an arcade because it involved video games. Councillors Richter, Fox and Bateman understood what I was trying to do, and Councillor Richter even suggested revisiting the bylaws to lessen the overly-strict wording, but that was to no avail. Another Councillor very firmly stated at the time that “the computer industry is very competitive and the Township must protect itself.” What?

Never mind that I was ready to use the latest in technology to ensure that ESRB rating requirements and laws were adhered to, or that I wanted to partner with local schools to assist in improving technology for them and their students. Never mind that I have access to some of the brightest and most artistic minds in B.C.’s digital media industry who were willing to come out from Vancouver and make presentations or give workshops to interested young people about careers in digital media. Never mind that a career in digital media means more than just making video games. It’s visual effects, it’s computer science, it’s research in product design and it doesn’t stop there. Never mind that this would be another option of employment for local young people not involving fast food, a thrift or grocery store, and it was going to be downtown. It’s new, it’s high-tech, we don’t understand it, it must be an arcade. Licence denied.

Councillor Long, et al., seem to forget that Aldergrove once had an incredibly viable downtown core. The mall was full of stores, not the sad run-down eyesore it is now. I wonder, did Mr. Long even live here then? Did any of the Councillors? Probably not. There aren’t many left who can remember what stores used to be in this town but have long since moved on or when the sub-division east of the high school was mostly swamp or when the Navy Base was full of Armed Forces families. Look at it now, all the residences gone or soon to be gone, when they could have become housing for low income families. What a waste.

Oh, going back to welcoming new business in Aldergrove, if I had wanted to build computers instead of teach people how to use them, the licensing department would have gladly sold me a business licence for a plant up in Gloucester. Where there is no bus service despite the $1.4 million paid to Translink by the businesses located there. Translink “guess-timated” the cost of running a proper bus service with a community bus (like the ones we see all over the western part of the Township) to be $350,000. Examine that – $1.4 million paid to Translink. Cost of bus service $350,000 (Aldergrove Star – Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011).

Yes, I could have opened the business in Abbotsford or Langley City. That wasn’t the point. The point was opening a business in this town, my hometown, that would benefit the youth, because not every child wants to (or can afford to) play hockey or soccer or football, not every child has a farm animal for 4-H. Not every child’s family can afford computers or knows how to use them. All it takes is one open door to change a child’s life for the better, and I wanted to give something back to my community, and it was not permitted because Council and Administration are too close-minded to look and learn.

Something smells in this Township, and I don’t think it’s just the sewer plant.

Tami Quiring, Aldergrove