We asked, they answered: Township council candidates talk about development, transit, more

Q: Development of a rapidly growing community such as the Township of Langley and the issues related to that growth are top of mind for many Township voters.

Among their concerns are: housing affordability, development density, infrastructure (schools, hospital) that is capable of supporting population growth, tree preservation, public green space and protection of ALR land.

As a member of Langley Township council, which of these issues would you treat as top priorities and how would you work to strike a balance among them?

Jack Froese

(incumbent mayoral candidate):

The concerns of housing affordability, development, infrastructure, tree preservation, green space and ALR protection are very closely linked and all are top priorities.

To assist in ensuring a supply of affordable housing, densifying the areas designated for population growth is directly related to providing affordable housing. The mix of all types of housing support complete communities by providing a mix of single family, townhouse and condo housing. Planning communities is vital to protect green spaces and tree preservation. By clustering housing in areas away from sensitive ecological areas helps in providing for green spaces of all types. Infrastructure such as roads, parks, schools and community centres need to be planned for and funding put aside through development cost charges, community amenity charges and budgets that plan for the future by building up reserve funds. Hospitals and schools are not built by municipalities. We need to advocate and support our school district and hospital to ensure that they can keep up to the growth. Partnerships with our provincial counterparts are vital to ensure we get the schools and hospital space needed.

By ensuring that the growth occurs in the designated urban containment boundaries, pressure to develop in the ALR land is reduced. Supporting agriculture in our community is vital to ensure that agricultural land is used for agriculture.

All the above issues are closely related. One cannot occur without the other. We need to protect our agricultural land, create complete communities with density along the major transportation routes to allow for more transit and keep cost of housing down.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Providing transportation choices are vital to reducing congestion, reducing GHG, reducing poverty and allowing for the efficient movement of goods and services. Steps to reduce congestion include ensuring development pays for the road infrastructure needed as a result of new projects. Working with TransLink to ensure the planned rail to Langley is built. More bus routes and increasing frequency of buses are needed to help provide transit options. I will continue to advocate with TransLink to get the transit Langley Township deserves.

Alex Joehl

(mayoral candidate):

Building a community is more than building houses. The Township already has attempted to plan out our future, including the struggle to update the Brookswood OCP.

Sadly, there are some residents that really do not want to share Langley with others. But I feel that the main reason for opposition to higher-density development is that it is easy to find examples of ways it hasn’t worked out. Willoughby was an area ripe for growth, so it has been developed piecemeal over the last decade. If Township residents could see that development didn’t need to come with all the headaches of 208 Street congestion and portables in brand new schools, then I feel the great people of Langley will be more willing to share our city with those that want to move here.

My top priority is housing affordability and livability. We need to drive down the costs of housing by building more homes and do what we can to decrease the financial burden that the Township puts on home buyers. Currently our infrastructure is funded by Development Cost Charges. DCCs are charged to developers to pay for things like roads, schools, parks, and sewer upgrades. But that cost is just passed on to the home buyer. Roads and schools benefit all of Langley, not just the new residents, so should be budgeted for as capital projects. Decreasing those fees by thousands of dollars, as well as speeding up the time to have building permits approved, will instantly make buying a home more affordable.

Our communities need to be given a fair chance for success and have parks, roads, and schools planned out before we let developers do their thing. They want to build someone’s dream home. But it doesn’t have to be at the expense and inconvenience of their neighbours.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Perhaps the greatest crime that government commits is to throw more money at a problem in hopes of fixing it.

Policing and crime is one such concern. While the Township last year budgeted for four new police officers to be hired by the Langley RCMP, there are those that feel it isn’t enough to keep Langley safe.

It’s time to ask the question: Should the Township of Langley make the switch to a municipal police force?

In defence of the RCMP, we’ve come a long way since the first decade of the 2000s, when Langley trailed only Surrey in auto theft.

But in 2017 we saw that Langley City was one of the most “dangerous” in Canada, ranked sixth by Maclean’s magazine. The City, of course, has many different challenges that our Township doesn’t have to worry about. They have a much more dense population, for starters.

However, this should still prick the ear of Township residents. First and foremost, the City is our neighbour and border some key areas that have historically been crime-laden.

But also factor in that the Langley RCMP is shared by both the City and the Township. Yes, there are many community police stations that serve specific areas. But last year when the Township budgeted to add four more police officers, one councillor asked if there was a way that they could only serve the Township. The answer? They go to wherever the call is.

In March the Globe and Mail newspaper asked the question, “is contract policing unsustainable.” The verdict was this: municipal police departments were at least a little better in almost every statistic except one. Cost.

The RCMP is subsidized by federal taxpayer money, so right off the bat there is a 10 per cent “savings,” that may not be on the municipality’s books but it still is paid by tax dollars. Also, RCMP officers are paid less than their counter parts, and do not work in pairs as much as unionized municipal police forces do.

The argument is that RCMP officers are just more efficient, getting the job done with fewer bodies.

Usually I’m all in favour of the best value. Best bang for your buck.

But in some cases results are more important.

Abbotsford and Vancouver both have their own municipal police force. I choose Abbotsford as a comparison because they are our neighbour to the east. Vancouver shares all the same issue Langley City has, and more.

When comparing Weighted Clearance Rates, the story writes itself.

“It’s among the fairest ways to assess policing performance,” the Globe and Mail wrote.

The Township finished third-last in this metric and the City second-to-last. Only White Rock RCMP was lower.

How much would it cost to start up a Township of Langley Police Department? One estimate gave the City of Surrey a $3 million price tag.

So the question is this: Is it at least worth a getting a task force to look at the option?

Yes.

Anna Remenik (mayoral candidate):

Let’s look at what we’re achieving in this rush to densify. What exactly are we doing here? Years of council approved zoning/variances for increased density have resulted in strain on community resources, hospitals, schools, emergency services, as well as gridlock on roads, because they have not been financed to keep up with this rapid growth.

Frenzied development has resulted in significant loss of biodiversity and tree canopy. Development plans are being approved without providing enough public green space. We’ve been asked to accept that a swing set, sand box, and a small patch of grass, somehow qualifies as a park. There’s even a new name for it – a “pocket park.”

Developers success at targeting ALR land for exclusion, encourages additional applications. For example, Tara Farms.

The common denominator to the issues provided in your list, is the push to develop and densify, and lack of funding to keep up with services to meet the needs of the community.

We need to focus on the quality of life for the people who are already here, and look at what we’re leaving for future generations.

We should apply more emphasis to the community we are creating, rather than have numbers guide us. We have focus groups, and information sessions, but residents don’t see their feedback reflected in the plans.

The market is shifting. Will developers pull out leaving half completed projects and roads? We can do better by actually applying various Township charters, and the environmental considerations within the growth strategy. We need to ensure finances are available to increase services as the population grows.

As your new mayor I have the will to be creative, and ensure all the elements of a sustainable community, and your input, are actually consistently incorporated into our planning in a meaningful way.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Crime and its association to homelessness is a major concern, as well as the influx of drugs such as fentanyl, and the number of first responders available with training to handle those calls. In order to curb crime you need to look at the root cause. If you address mental illness, drug addiction, and homelessness, and provide a job with a good working wage, you empower people to create their own paths to a better future.

Without these supports you see increased crime and a downstream effect of needing more prisons and requiring more policing, as well as a draw on the medical system.

Educators have come to know that early intervention, and providing supports at the early childhood level, will far outweigh the costs with the various cost savings and benefits to the community, that are seen down the road. Proper intervention, and care and education, from the start of life are essential.

However, funding for our schools and medical treatment and social services comes mainly from the provincial government. So the root causes and issues that need addressing require not just local will to fix, but the provincial will. It’s not all in our hands, and we need a cooperative and combined effort

Direct suggestions/steps at this time include:

• Partnering with Langley City, to explore the Community Safety Officer (CSO) program that the Vancouver police have implemented within their city. They are cheaper and exploring the training and the granting of power to well-vetted, dedicated and less expensive security personnel may go a long way towards lightening the load and freeing up police assets.

These CSOs can primarily patrol areas and act as lookouts, work directly with and communicate with the police, actively track homeless people, show thieves there is an extra set of eyes watching, and be more on the ground getting to know people in the neighbourhoods and help ‘show the flag’ to reassure the community they care about them. People become police officers to help the community; it’s just they are just spread too thin to do so effectively

• Technology such as Automated Licence Plate Readers (ALPRs), Thermal Imaging, time and work flow management such as connected tablets, and other types of technology can be explored. If you can’t increase human resources fast enough, then technology will help.

Petrina Arnason:

I believe that all these items are important and “top of mind” for residents all across Metro. The issues of housing affordability, density, social and physical infrastructure, tree preservation, public green space and the protection of the ALR are ones that I have proactively been addressing during my recent council term.

They are all “top priorities,” as I believe they are intertwined and necessary components of maintaining, and enhancing, a great quality of life for current and future Township residents. With respect to housing, I have been a progressive advocate on council to build upon the framework of the Housing Action Plan (2013), which identified short-, medium- and long-term strategies to advance our housing continuum.

My efforts have resulted in a number of motions and policy directives to review and amend current practices to substantially enhance our local government’s responsiveness to the critical need to develop affordable, and below market housing.

Most recently, council passed a motion regarding a proposed initiative I have championed related to the creation of below market housing in our newly developing Brookswood area. By partnering with senior levels of government to leverage the economic value in lands we own, I believe that we can create the necessary housing to address this critical need. Secondly, density and the creation of more compact communities are components of smart urban planning, requiring a balancing of interests through sensitivity to the values of the existing community along with on-going engagement to ensure that we are finding the right balance regarding growth and the perspective of existing residents. I have always been a strong proponent of community engagement, which I believe has been the hallmark of my last term, and that would be a continuing theme if I am re-elected.

The creation of new social and physical infrastructure is also a challenge for local government, and most particularly for the Township, which is growing at an exponential rate. I have, and will continue to work hard, towards ensuring that our new Community Amenity Contributions and existing DCC’s are used strategically to provide the necessary infrastructure for our expanding population, in a timely manner. I have also been a staunch advocate for the completion of critical roadway infrastructure to include the completion of the vital 208 Street corridor through Willoughby.

With respect to environmental amenities, I have been, and will continue to be, actively involved with respect to important policy initiatives related to tree preservation and the protection and enhancement of the urban canopy. I have also been a tireless advocate to ensure that we are providing adequate green space for current residents and that our vision includes future generations that will benefit from our foresight.

And finally, I have always endorsed the protection of lands in the ALR as I believe that this will help to safeguard local and regional food security and provide opportunities for young agrarians. If re-elected, I pledge to continue to protect our agricultural land base and also to advance policies to enhance farmgate and other opportunities.

Gail Chaddock-Costello

These six issues are all top priorities and are all inter-related. Increasing housing density was assumed to increase the affordability of housing units. However, they are still out of reach for many who can’t afford to purchase. Incorporating affordable rental housing as part of our development plans is part of the answer. It could be accomplished as a requirement to add a percentage of rental units to all new developments and/or in collaboration with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association whose goal is developing and maintaining safe, secure, and affordable housing. Mixed housing developments that blend market and rental units avoid stigmatizing populations who cannot afford market prices.

In Willoughby, density has exceeded and preceded infrastructure supports.

Supports are being continually added but most residents anticipated they would accompany their housing, not arrive years later. Learning from the Willoughby development, the vision for existing and new residents in any area pending development needs to provide assurances they can fully live and play in their community. Infrastructure should ideally be planned and built simultaneously with housing.

Infrastructure includes community amenities such as parks, recreation facilities, green spaces, waterways, schools and protection of existing ALR lands. The creation of a tree bylaw would reduce ‘clear cut’ development areas and encourage more retention of ‘old growth’ trees. Land for schools is set aside by the Township as part of the development permit process however, acquiring the funds from the Provincial government to build new schools is a long process. Once an area has been designated under their Official Community Plan for growth, anticipating the requirements for schools and working with the School Board to submit plans should commence as soon as feasible to reduce overcrowding.

Development produces growing pains. These can be mitigated by securing funding, commencing infrastructure earlier and through continued community consultations.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

I have lived in Fort Langley for 23 years, before the housing boom and building expansion. Transit has always been a problem for anyone wanting to reduce vehicle travel and especially for those without vehicles or unable to drive themselves. Transportation for those with disabilities, via HandyDart or wheelchair equipped taxis service, is costly and limited.

Langley Township is included in the area referred to as ‘South of the Fraser’ by TransLink. Our transportation needs are directly governed by the TransLink Board of Directors which “is responsible for preparing the investment plan, and providing it to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation for approval”. Mayor Froese, has been our representative on this council.

Many new projects have been accomplished in Phase 1 and are planned and funded for Phase 2, including new bus lines and increased buses on busy lines. My concern is that planning for rapid transit begins in Phase 2 which runs from 2020 to 2021. Construction of any type of SOFRT (South of the Fraser Rapid Transit) would not commence until Phase 3, beginning in 2022 with projects slated for completion in 2026. That is a long time to wait for growing communities to see access to significantly improved transit options. Causing additional concern is the fact our rapid transit portion to Langley City is currently unfunded.

How can Council address this? Whoever sits on the Mayor’s Council has a vote and represents all Langley Township residents when they attend on our behalf. Many new taxes have been approved to meet the regional share of costs adding $30 million per year to TransLink’s budget. How can we move some of those funds South of the Fraser? Considering all the pending new development and influx of residents, transit seems to be a place to be visionary and lobby for infrastructure to be implemented ahead of the growth curve, not afterwards.

What do we do while waiting? I think establishing a connection site to link those travelling out of Langley for any reason with others who are willing to ride share, is one option. These vehicles are then not ‘lone driver’ occupied and allows them to use the HOV – if travelling to Vancouver area.

Michelle Connerty:

Whether I am elected to the Langley Township Council, my top priorities are and will continue to be:

1. Planning and funding for infrastructure prior to development taking place – what has happened in Willoughby is hugely problematic for me and not fair to the long-time residents of Langley, nor the new additions. Schools, hospitals, roads, parks, parking, recreational facilities, sidewalks and lighting all need to be planned and funded (if not built) prior to building. We cannot continue to keep making the same mistakes.

2. Environmental Stewardship — including creating new parks, green spaces, wildlife protection, a comprehensive Township-wide tree bylaw and protection for our rivers, streams and aquifers are also a very important issue for me – these need to be addressed immediately, there is no time to wait.

3. Community building — as development occurs I believe that walkable/livable neighbourhoods need to be planned so that communities come together regularly and connect. Bicycle routes, walking paths, town centres, restaurants, parks, local shopping opportunities, etc. all create an attractive and vibrant community that residents become invested in.

4. ALR land needs to be protected for perpetuity. Land that is unfarmable (poor fill, grade, etc.) should be considered for greenhouses for food/flower growing. Cannabis should be not be grown in the ALR — it should be grown in industrial zoned areas for many reasons including: taxation options, environmental considerations (odours, paving, etc.), and displaced food growing opportunities.

5. Crime – a huge issue for the entire Township – working together to support the group of people in our community that don’t feel safe, considered or supported. Getting programs and housing in place for them to rejoin us and work towards a future that they are afraid they don’t have, needs to be a priority now, not later!

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

The single greatest challenge that I see facing the TOL currently is the crime and homeless problem. I believe that this issue is not going to go away, and it needs to be addressed immediately. All levels of government (including the City of Langley) need to work together to provide housing, medical assistance (emotional and physical) and an opportunity to rejoin our Community in a functional way, for these people. I honestly believe the drugs and alcohol are just a symptom of the bigger problem – that this portion of our society does not believe they are worth being seen, heard or considered and that has to change right now.

I would advocate for an initial survey of how many residents we have in the Township that require assistance and then work on getting the Provincial and Federal Governments involved for planning and funding. This Mayor and Council seem to have had no appetite for temporary or modular housing to home the homeless in our Community – I believe this is wrong, it’s inhumane and it’s a step we need to take. The City of Vancouver announced this week that they are going to be moving forward with this type of solution, Surrey has embraced it, the Township of Langley needs to start taking care of all of their citizens.

For the Crime component I believe the following are important key points:

– BlockWatch needs to implemented and employed in all neighbourhoods with a small municipal tax credit if you are enrolled and active

– More community policing stations opened, complete with police on bicycles (more visibility and interface)

– More Community face to face meetings with RCMP and citizens to allow regular conversations between the two Stakeholders to ensure that each are understanding the current situation and their parts in affecting good outcomes.

I believe if we take care of our Communities and the people within them, we can solve this problem, it won’t be easy AND it’s the right thing to do.

David Davis:

To me, all of these issues are top priorities as they are all connected. Each of these issues represents an integral part of the balanced growth that we must achieve in Langley Township.

Following Victoria’s model, I have just put fourth a motion to council which would see 15 per cent of all new developments of townhouses and condos be affordable within the Township.

Development and density should be carefully considered and should not be developed piecemeal throughout the Township where no infrastructure is in place.

As for schools and hospitals, the provincial government dictates where and when they will be built. The Township of Langley does provide a five-acre piece of land beside the school for the playground. We, as a community, must continue to lobby the provincial government for more schools to meet the needs of our growing community. Langley Hospital Foundation continues to raise funds for the new emergency ward as we are one of the fastest growing communities but, again, we must continue to apply pressure to the provincial government to provide us a hospital that will meet the needs of our community.

The issue of trees and public green space is a vital and recurring theme. I think we need to look at what other municipalities have done in the way of tree protection. I would support a tree bylaw within the Township which takes into considerations our ALR lands, while being very clear and enforcing consequences of clear-cutting ALR land with no intentions of farming. For green space, I put fourth a motion to add another park in the Williams Neighborhood. Green space benefits everybody and makes our community more livable. My record stands, I do not support the removal of ALR land for development and I will not support subdividing viable farmland.

To me the greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley is the preservation of our valuable and irreplaceable farmland.

Bev Dornan:

Planning and affordable housing: Growth is top of mind in our community and concerns such as housing affordability,density, infrastructure, preservation of agriculture, green spaces.

Sound planning, between the municipality and the citizens, planning that will serve us 10, 20, or 30 years into the future, is the key to making sure we allow for the needs of our citizens today and tomorrow, while preserving our lifestyle with mix of rural and urban.

Langley is the jewel of Metro Vancouver with a lifestyle that is the envy of others.

We have to plan for housing choices for all our citizens and affordable housing is a very important part of these choices. Affordable housing, housing that our young adults, first time home buyers and others desire, can take different forms such as towers, multi-level condos and townhomes.

These need to be situated where rapid transportation such as fast buses will be running to take the residents to work. Affordable housing can also be non-market housing that is built in conjunction with partners such as churches or others that want to work together with government to offer affordable housing. Township can partner with cost reducing solutions such as relief from DCCs. Affordable housing choices in a mixture of other housing choices will give us the lifestyle we all desire.

The sound planning of neighbourhoods with housing choices, also then have the parks, the land set aside for schools, green space and the transportation network that serves the neighborhoods.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

The transportation issue is a multi-faceted issue and one that we cannot solve on our own. Transportation issues include planning our road networks, maintaining our local roads, working with our neighbouring communities in the regional transportation network, and working with TransLink and the other levels of government to plan for rapid transit.

High priority is to lobby to get our share of rapid transportation funding to have the fast buses and eventually rail or SkyTrain to Langley. As Langley is one of the fastest growing areas of Metro Vancouver, this is very important.

Highway 1 is also a very important congestion problem, as citizens are moving farther out into the Valley. Working with Surrey, Abbotsford , and Chilliwack to pressure the provincial and federal governments to move their widening plans forward in time, to help alleviate the congestion and the amount of accidents happening daily on the highway is also a priority.

Movement throughout our community and making better connections will always be top of mind. Connections such as the 216th overpass will help spread the congestion on other routes leading to the freeway and also help change some of our traffic choices as we move throughout the community.

Steve Ferguson:

I believe as the Township of Langley faces the future huge demands will be placed on our community to make sure neighbourhoods are planned, developed, and built in a sustainable, livable, and walkable way. In order for opportunities for housing projects to be shovel-ready for market housing, co-op/co-housing, or subsidized housing, Langley must have the following in place:

1. Roads and infrastructure, including 208 Street construction of four lanes, Highway 1 should be six lanes to Abbotsford, collector roads, and arterial roads all need to be secured.

2. Sanitary sewer and water services in place.

3. School and park sites acquired prior to any neighbourhood development.

4. Transit for residents a must!

5. A hospital care provider master plan. A new emergency ward is underway, however the next step needs to be in place to build a new Langley hospital.

I have followed the planning process for Brookswood/Fernridge, Smith, and Williams sitting in on the community workshops, public hearings, and council decisions. Now that the plans have been approved by council, as applications are processed details regarding complete neighbourhoods with parks, school sites, road networks, and mixed use housing must be of the highest quality and sustainable.

I also believe that in order for Langley to have walkable neighbourhoods, we must ensure that professional services, business and grocery conveniences are nearby as well as libraries, parks and recreational facilities.

Township council needs to create opportunities and open new doors for Langley residents.

Create opportunities for affordable mixed use housing for families and seniors, co-op housing, co-housing, rental inventory, and subsidized housing. We also need to support those that are homeless and less fortunate by partnering with BC Housing, Metro Vancouver, the federal government, and other stakeholders. I am also working with Langley residents regarding a proposed neighbourhood house that would focus around food security for residents of all ages.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Taxes and the budget:

We cannot always go to the general tax payer for more and more tax increases

Some examples of where we can grow the tax base:

• Business and commercial growth, luring head offices to Langley, securing good jobs close to home

• Clean industry and manufacturing Langley has many shovel ready industrial parks (Gloucester, Northeast Langley) where companies can start construction on clean industry and manufacturing that again would grow Langley’s tax base and provide family wage jobs.

• Grants and partnerships with regional, provincial, and federal government. This can work well to help build major road networks, safety measures, and Transit requirements.

• Private sector partnerships with municipal projects that can be negotiated to work well for all parties.

• Dedications from our own Langley residents in the way of gifts of property, projects, or other donations.

• Efficiencies within our community and region to cost share services where relevant (auto fleets, supplies, etc.)

• Other opportunities in situations that arise or ideas that come forward as we continually strive to reduce tax increases

Gary Hee:

Each of the mentioned item has been integrated into the municipality’s overall community planning strategy, but a generation of B.C. residents still have been priced out of the home ownership opportunities. Previous grants to first time home buyers have exhausted. Solutions are limited.

Unlike UBC, the Township of Langley does not have special land banks setup as residential endowment land reserve, which I believe is needed as much as Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). I have a vision to combine the formal with several surface type garden plots added to modular built homes on leased lots and rented out to established cooperative societies using parts of the ALR areas.

The planning of infrastructure is managed by the local and provincial governments and the co-operative societies more effectively.

The land is not controlled by private interest for expensive home construction nor is the land for speculation investment by real estate developers.

Mortgage funding is shared by credit unions and provincial government via bond certificates-type instruments. Special financial resources such a BC Lottery Corporation advertises huge million dollar prizes frequently. And casinos issue out large prizes also.

Obviously, those dollar resources should be utilized for infrastructure cost, not just for the use in community sports industry.

Since mortgage rates are in the three per cent level, the new council would be in a suitable position to acquire additional land around TWU or KPU for growth over a seven-year period for job training facilities on leased out parcels of new endowment land.

Hospitals are expensive to erect but modular constructed clinics are not and can serve a local treatment centres in any community, as seen in Whistler Village.

And existing hospital can be expanded.

In schools building with extra vacant times after school hours, such locations are under-utilized.

However, the rooms can be used for training of nurses in the medical profession for future supply as the Township of Langley progresses.

Needless-to-say real estate sales for expensive homes over $600,000 range will still continue to soar upwards because migration from Greater Vancouver will not stop in 2018 to 2020.

Migration of large numbers of new residents has occurred at an accelerated paces. Unity is a key concern because of language and custom differences. Hence, the subject of human and personal attitude to new neighbours in a growing community is one issue of attention. Let us build our community together in a welcome environment to achieve a safe and progressive municipality.

Phyllis Heppner:

This is the precise reason that I am running for Township Council: to consider and solve the issues listed here. When we look closely at these concerns, we see that they are connected. Let’s look at the opportunity as a whole.

Opportunity? I thought it was a problem. Actually, this is an opportunity. If we see Langley as a canvas where we are painting a landscape, we can be creative and, thus, optimistic. We can envision a Township with very distinct neighbourhoods — from historic and quaint Fort Langley through bustling Willoughby to the tall trees of Brookswood as examples. Of course, the art project is not complete, so we have a few eyesores here and there. In fact, this project will never be completed, but we can make something beautiful that we can be proud of, a place where people will love to live. Now is the right time to plan the rest of the painting.

If we do not allow for density, we automatically lose our affordability and much of our green space. But if we do allow for high density in appropriate places we accommodate the growing population and give multiple options for our citizens.

In the past, we have been conditioned to value the single family detached home as a sign of having ‘arrived,’ but now it is time to change our thinking, to realize that other options should be added to the landscape. Higher density in strategic locations allows:

1) my kids to own property in the town where they grew up

2) me to downsize and stay in Langley when I retire

3) a feeling of close community if we are smart and build outdoor gathering places in each community centre.

4) walkability, so we can leave our car parked to go to the coffee shop.

5) decrease of traffic because many people live close to amenities.

The principal benefit of ‘painting in’ high density hubs is that we take the population pressure away from the outlying areas. This has the beneficial effect of protecting farmland by reducing the potential of ALR encroachment. The managed concentration of population allows the township to preserve and create public green space and to save large natural park areas that exist.

Trying to stop growth is like holding up your hand to stop a train. Not smart! But putting an engineer in control of the train – who is looking down the track – is smart. Let’s be in control and let’s look down the track to see what is coming up. Let’s have Smart Growth.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

People I talk with are concerned about safety. The township must keep up with growth by increasing our firefighting force and our RCMP detachment in sync with population numbers. The budget must provide for public safety. Keep our forces manned and equipped and trained. Another important aspect of public safety is having good accessible medical care. I am happy that Langley Memorial Hospital is adding a new emergency facility, but we should not fall behind in providing all of the hospital care needed. As we keep government spending in check and as we protect tax payers from paying for waste, we cannot abandon our primary role. The primary role of government is to do collectively what we cannot do individually. So we should not skimp on these essential services.

I support the Smart Growth of our medical care, our police department and our fire department.

Jonathan Houweling:

My priorities are advocating the development of our infrastructure, particularly in relation to road networks, education centres, and medical services. Langley is a great place to live as many thousands of new residents have discovered. Our growth spurt will slow down as the data is already indicating. Therefore, I want to use this great opportunity to promote and invest in sectors that struggle to keep up, particularly our roads and transportation, health services, and educational institutions.Other priorities include sharing my experiences and background in agriculture to promote small business and farming, and in particular, to further utilize the great potential of our ALR lands. I want to get creative in becoming more self sufficient through growing and producing local, quality foods and products.

Further, I offer myself as a voice for young families. I am a husband, and father of a five-year-old and a newborn just four days old (as of writing this). I understand first hand the issues of crowded schools, poor sidewalks, crime, and budgeting for childcare, property tax and a mortgage, all from a parent’s perspective. Young families who represent the future of Langley deserve advocacy at the council table.

This October, I am looking for the great responsibility and privilege of serving the people of Langley with balance, principle, and integrity. I am honoured by your consideration and even more so with your vote.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

I see productivity as being a significant challenge particularly in the medium to long term. It’s not often talked about, however, land prices, labour shortages, legislation, and greater taxation are just some factors working against our ability to remain competitive. Therefore, I want to give our businesses, farms, and manufacturers every opportunity to bring value to the local products and services they offer to us and the world around us.

To do so, we must ensure government serves in a supportive and communicative role. We must ensure competition is fair and even, and that all people can be encouraged, motivated, and able to pursue and achieve their economic dreams.

To further address this challenge, we would need a highly collaborative effort involving community stakeholders, educators, economic professionals, and others. My hope would be the creation of a practical and realistic long term “productivity action plan” that will ensure good jobs, security and stability, and the framework for a prosperous community.

Sunny Hundal:

I’m running for Township of Langley to make sure we remain a great place to raise your family, that’s why I have put forward a plan that addresses Langley’s growing population and ensures there is no trade-off between a growing population and our quality of life.

My priority would be to make investments in our infrastructure so that residents are able to access amenities and receive services that make living in Langley so great.

As a start we need to make investments in our roads and transit so that people can get to where they belong.

That’s why I believe we need to expand 208 Street, and we need to sure Brookswood has a full-time fire hall, I also believe we need to plan for an art gallery, so that we can support our strong arts community.

These are just some of my ideas to make sure Langley’s future remains bright.

Margaret Kunst:

I have four children – all of them hardworking Millennials trying to figure out how they will afford a house in the community they call home.

We are experiencing congestion on our roads, schools bursting at the seams and a hospital trying to meet the needs of a growing population. These are my top priorities.

Currently I sit on two committees; Immigration and Refugee Advisory Committee and TOL Housing Coordination Committee, affordable and available housing is always a hot topic.

As older buildings come down a more expensive one goes up and the impact is felt by our most vulnerable; seniors, young people and hardworking families.

Let’s develop neighborhoods and include homes people can afford to buy and/or rent.

I realize “affordable housing” is a complex issue with multiple layers to consider.

We need to work together with all levels of business and government, consider all populations that make up our community to try to address this most basic need.

There are TOL policies in place that I support:

• Work with other levels of government and the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation to increase the number of affordable housing units

• Establish a Township of Langley Affordable Housing Reserve Fund and budget for annual municipal contributions

• Create incentives to encourage developers to include affordable market rental housing/non-market housing in new developments using parking relaxations for non-market units; density bonusing; and community amenity contributions that include affordable housing as a community benefit (new units or cash)

Striking the proper balance with all the issues listed in your question is so important; each one deserves council’s attention and priority as they are all connected in some way and contribute to the amazing quality of life we are used to in Langley.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

The single greatest challenge facing Langley is our growing population, which is also our greatest opportunity. Families are choosing to make their home here because of the great infrastructure we have, strong economy, and above all our community.

We need to make sure all of these things are maintained so that our future remains bright and families continue to want to move here. That’s why I believe we need to make sure our infrastructure keeps up with our growing population, our taxes remain low and support small businesses, while expanding our roads and transit.

Bob Long:

The Township is the most desirable municipality in the Fraser Valley in which to live. Residents love it because of our unique blend of rural and urban lands.

I live in Aldergrove where the town is finally seeing revitalization, in part due to market conditions but also because of the investment council has made in sewer, water and recreation facilities. Now with the OCPs passed for Brookswood and Willoughby council needs to finish these neighbourhoods in a complete, walkable, sustainable and timely manner, for the new residents who want to live here, many of whom are our very own young families.

As much as it is argued, infrastructure comes with development and waiting or slowing is not the answer. By following through with developing our community plans, the Township will be addressing many of the current concerns. When neighbourhoods are complete, we see a reduction of crime and homelessness.

Our six unique communities provide a mix of lifestyles and housing choices. Density is shown in all our OCPs in areas where walkability and other transportation options are viable.

I agree that ALR lands must be protected and any proposals involving farmland must benefit agriculture.

The council elect should work closely with the province on homelessness, expansion of medical services and, of course, transportation. These are not issues that we can spend large amounts of local tax dollars on, our hands are full with providing local services and we cannot take on responsibilities of other governments.

Council needs to hold on to the principles it has proudly upheld and resist the temptation to take shortcuts. We must keep pace with the regions growth and keep Langley the best place to live, work and play.

It is my hope that a decade from now we can still say that with pride.

Michael Pratt:

It is difficult to prioritize one or two of these issues because they are all interconnected. Importantly, because they are all so dependent on each other, if members of council were to focus on just one, they would not be seeing the big picture and consequently would fail to ensure that Langley grows properly.

That being said, it it is extremely important to me that the pace and form of the growth in the Township is managed properly. By ‘form’, I mean the type of development, whether low, medium, or high density. First, by giving priority to managing the pace of growth, we can ensure that the infrastructure and services residents need are developed in tandem with the development. We can also ensure that our ALR land is not threatened by over-development by the wrong type of growth. Secondly, by prioritizing the right type of development, we’ll ensure we’re creating the right kinds of neighbourhoods. If we develop the right type of housing, we can avoid the urban sprawl that takes away public green space, that forces us to cut down trees and that encroaches on the ALR. Smart density in the right areas of the Township would enable us to preserve more land for parks, would provide a buffer between urban lands and farmland, and would enable us to build more affordable housing by including purpose-built rental in mixed-use projects. By prioritizing both the pace of growth and the type of development, we can ensure that all of the issues – as interconnected as they are – are being addressed. Best of all, there should be no reason to take land out of the ALR and there would be plenty of natural and wild green space available if we encourage measured development and build with intelligence and creativity.

Angie Quaale:

None are a single top priority, it is the mayor and council’s job to offer the best results in all of those areas. They are all critical components in a thriving, livable community and we shouldn’t consider one without the other.

We can’t preserve our ALR if we allow complete urban sprawl, density is destined for each neighborhood based on the established community plans, if we don’t maximize our ability to use the land designated for housing to its highest and best use, we risk creating unnecessary pressure on the lands we have identified for farming. We need to work with the people that own the farm land to find creative ways of putting that land into production, to actually start to farm the farmland. When we are considering affordability, density and housing mix is critical.

We need to offer a variety of housing types for all segments of our population; empty-nesters, young families, low- income, single people, seniors, etc. Building good neighbourhoods, creating community — not just building houses — means all of those demographics can live in harmony, not in isolation. Tree preservation and the planting of new trees is critically important as are our parks, trails and play areas, they must always be considered in every step of the development process and try to maximize the retention, re-planting and improvement of our green spaces, they are all vitally important to the quality of life we enjoy here in the TOL.

A balance can be struck as we have seen in the successful, well established neighborhoods that already exist in Langley, it comes if there is a mayor and council that can work together for the best result for our community.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Transportation and Public Safety remain high priorities for me. We enjoy an incredibly high quality of life here in the Township, that is why we all live here. Maintaining that lifestyle means that our residents need to feel safe. Supporting the growth of our RCMP & Fire Department to keep up with the needs of our residents is important, we cannot fall behind. Supporting our first responders also means supporting community based programs like Block Watch, Community Policing and the Education our Fire Department provides.

The maintenance and improvement of our transportation corridors, advocating for better more consistent service from Translink and keeping the pressure on the Province to complete the long overdue widening of Highway one is critical.

Kim Richter:

The number one issue facing Langley Township right now is development density. Furthermore, this issue is driving/feeding most of the other problems we are experiencing including loss of trees/green space/wildlife corridors, erosion of ALR lands, traffic congestion, not enough infrastructure, and rising property taxes. New development does not pay for itself. It never has. That’s one of the reasons why our property taxes have gone up an average 14 per cent since 2014.

I disagreed with the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy and did not support it. I don’t think we should have signed onto it because I think it is placing unfair expectations and demands on communities like ours and is essentially doing nothing more than supporting the construction industry.

We all know that Metro Vancouver can’t grow much further north, south or west due to natural and geopolitical boundaries. This only leaves us with two directions: east or up, which puts Langley squarely on the target map. This is also helping to inflate property values and creating unaffordability, especially for younger people. The average house value in Langley Township is $942,948. We have been rushing to build new units at the expense of the environment and culture of our community.

If we focused on slowing down growth, and making sure that growth comes with proper community amenities and infrastructure, then we might have a better chance of protecting our quality of life and other attributes that make Langley a great place to put down roots, raise a family and grow old in. Just because a development application is placed in front of council doesn’t mean it has to be approved. We need to think more holistically about what we want Langley to look like going forward. The people who live here count.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

I am very concerned about property crime.

Local residents and business owners are clearly not happy with the increasing property crime in their neighbourhoods. This concern needs to be addressed.

First, I’m not sure just adding more police officers will solve the problem. I think we need to change the way we police.

The biggest slice of the municipal budget is already policing. In past budgets when we add more police positions, we don’t always get people to fill those positions. So the money for these unfilled positions rolls back into budget surpluses for the next year.

Before adding more officers, we should review what and how we are policing, and put more money into key local priorities such as property crime rather than Ottawa-directed policing initiatives.

I think the idea of a municipal police force is worth exploring. While on the surface it appears that the RCMP are a good deal because we get a 10 per cent rebate on them from Ottawa, I question whether our local priorities are taking precedent or are second place to Ottawa’s priorities. As there is much concern here about property crime, I think more emphasis needs to be placed on it. A municipal police force may give us more flexibility in dealing with our local policing concerns like property crime and homelessness.

Second, we need to do more to foster “community”. We need to make it easier for more people to get to know each other and to get involved in community programs like “Block Watch”. I think Council should be supporting community by fostering opportunities for neighbourhoods to get to know each other better through community grants. Allocating some monies to annual street BBQ’s would go a long way towards people getting to know each other on their streets and in their neighbourhoods.

Third, we should be spending more time and effort on public education about property crime: “Lock your cars”, “Don’t leave valuables in your cars”, “Leave your lights on at night”, and “Dial first (to the police), then post on Crime Watch sites”. These basic initiatives will help our neighbourhoods stay safe.

Finally, the rapid increase in homelessness needs to be addressed. I understand that there are roughly 200 homeless people in Langley Township. Roughly 75 per cent of these people suffer from addictions and/or mental health diseases. They need treatment centers and programs where they don’t have to wait 6-plus months to get help. If they decide they want help, they should be able to access help within a week. Langley

Township needs to push to get more treatment programs from provincial government in place and needs to encourage people to volunteer to help with homeless and addicted people.

Furthermore, I think some of the recent job programs run in the US where homeless people are employed by municipalities to keep the streets and parks clean could go a long way towards helping these people regain their sense of pride, purpose and hope. We should seriously consider supporting such initiatives here.

Kerri Ross:

My family and I love Langley and that’s why we chose it as a place to raise our family. Having grown up in and around the community I have seen changes and since moving to Willoughby 11 years ago, I think one of the biggest challenges facing us surrounds the density in our most developed areas. Focusing on smart development that is consistent and brings residents peace of mind would help streamline the process and result in fewer issues and delays. Official Community Plans (OCP) need to be worded and adhered to in a way that builds consistency and support for original, current and new residents. With just over 25 per cent of Langley’s area open to development (approx. 75 per cent is in the ALR) we need to be mindful of how we use it and look to eliminate any encroachment into ALR land. With every development not in balance we put additional and unplanned strain on our schools, hospitals and emergency services. If we were to develop in a more balanced way, amenities such as schools, parks and parking we would see greater resident satisfaction and additional commercial/retail business would soon follow.

Ultimately, that means more employment opportunities at home, less demand on transportation networks and more spending within the community. We need to be creative in how we look at our resources as well. Agritourism and Ecotourism are rapidly growing sectors and we often do not look at our parks, forest and treed space as the valuable eco-capital it is. I will use my background in science, planning, resource management, and business, to bring a balanced and impactful perspective to Township Council.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

One of the greatest challenges faced in the Township of Langley would be ensuring the sustainability of our agricultural land, agri-tourism, agri-business, and while promoting the concept of modern agriculture as a whole.

I would work to partner further with educational outreach and co-op programs to tie in students and young people who are interested and looking for an opportunity to contribute. I know we need to support not only our existing farmers but younger farmers as well. We need to look at flexible ways in which we can work to make farming more, attractive, sustainable, profitable and welcoming in an increasingly urban Langley.

I want to make sure that we create a dialogue between residents and our farming community so that there is understanding and collaboration in working for our future success. We need to take a leading role in protecting our agriculture land and not downgrade the responsibility onto the Agricultural Land Commission who are only there to support us when we need them and not act as the primary protector of our agriculture base. When elected I will use every opportunity to advocate and further our agricultural interests.

Michelle Sparrow:

Seventy-five per cent of the land in our community is agricultural. There has been an alarming trend of urban development on our agricultural lands. Whether the lands still remain in the ALR with the the Agricultural Land Commission’s approval for urban development or it is removed outright, is really just semantics and an indicator of a large loophole in the process.

The fact that our agricultural lands are being allowed to be developed with these large urban developments is in my opinion, one of the biggest threats to our community and to what makes Langley Township such a unique place to live.

These are not situations where farmers are dividing off a part of their land for their children to farm, this is not a farmer creating a smaller parcel allowing a new up and coming farmer to afford to own their first parcel of land, these are large market home developments which are being placed on our agricultural lands.

There has been several examples in just the seven years which I have been on council, which were passed and then received approved from the ALC.

We are continually sending the message that if you try hard enough and spend enough money that the agricultural lands in our community are open to development.

This creates more land speculators than farmers and only drives up the price of farmlands. This must stop and our council must stand strong against this.

I have been a strong voice against urban developments on our agricultural lands and I will continue to do so, if given the opportunity to serve another term.

I ask for your support on Oct. 20 to allow my voice and my perspective to have a seat at the decision making table of our community.

Craig Teichrieb:

I believe all of these, if development is planned properly, can be addressed at the same time. We need to take the time to come up with a proper OCP that fits with the Townships needs and core values. As an example, the OCP for Brookswood, I would like to see the development start with the preservation of the trees in that area.

We need to first identify areas to be preserved as forested parks and trails that we can continue to enjoy forever in our neighbourhood. I’m a big advocate for preserving what we can never get back, like the trees and ALR. We then need to identify around that, where we see schools, recreational facilities, and sports fields.

Once we identify those, we can work on creating a neighbourhood core, that is easily accessible to all these amenities and parks making our neighbourhoods walkable. Within this core, we build mixed-use and high-density housing, with affordability at mind.

The Township needs to include rental and senior housing within that core, so all amenities are at their door step. From there we move outward, to low-rise type housing, townhomes four-storey walk-ups. As you continue to move outward from the core, you start to see row homes, and larger and larger single family home lots.

Once the sprawl reaches ALR land we must be cognizant of its preservation. Again keeping in mind walkability and access to schools and parks.

To start the development you identify the starting point in the neighbourhood, to minimize the disruption to existing neighbourhoods, adding infrastructure in conjunction with development, that way as we occupy these new neighbourhoods, the services required to live in these areas are accessible.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

In the months and weeks leading up to this election, I’ve had fantastic opportunities to meet with parents and organizations that really care about our community but seem to hit road blocks in services. Whether its ice rink time for hockey season, or field time for soccer. Everyone has the same problem, the kids want to play sports, but there is not enough facilities to accommodate it. And that needs to change. If on council, I would like to work with mayor and council to reach out to these interest groups to come up with a viable solution. We should be doing what we can to encourage the youth to get involved in recreational activities.

Another road block is before- and after-school programs, for the youth. Parents require these programs to allow them to maintain their jobs, and give their kids a positive place to learn and develop outside of school. This doesn’t seem to be so much a facility issue, but a funding issue for staff and ECE workers. We have some great organizations within our community that care about the development of our youth, and we need to empower these groups to keep doing the work they do.

Stacey Wakelin:

Infrastructure — I would like to see this be a focal part of the conversation going forward. I am not against development, but I am against irresponsible development.

If we don’t have the resources to support the growth that is going to take place, that is unacceptable. Let’s fight to create the community we all deserve, we shouldn’t settle for less. We cannot create a safe, livable and vibrant community if residents cannot efficiently move throughout the Township, have a hospital and schools with the capacity to meet the needs of the population or have the resources to meet the needs of an evolving population.

I believe if every decision is made with the people of the Township in mind that will be a step in the right direction. Let’s support growth that respects the environment, strives to meet the needs of all residents — including those with complex needs ,including our seniors, homeless neighbours, etc. The Township will need to face some growth, let’s guide that growth while respecting the heart of our community.

Our farming community is a special part of what makes the Township so unique and is also an important part of our local economy.

If elected, I will support increasing much needed infrastructure and addressing affordability in the Township. If we do not take action to address the challenges facing many individuals and families in the Township, we will see growth between the “haves” and the “have nots”. That is not the community I want to live in or the legacy I want to leave our children.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Personally, I view the growing homeless community as a great challenge facing our communities. This is an issue that both the Langleys are facing and I would like to see both municipalities take action. Homelessness and poverty are issues that require action and not merely discussion.

We need a council that will make this a priority and, if elected, I would make addressing homelessness a priority. We are very fortunate to have many stakeholders in the community that do front line work with this community and Council needs to ensure that they are being as supportive, as possible. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, there are many initiatives that have been successful in other communities.

Let’s find a location for a temporary camp, not a permanent solution, but a chance to offer some human dignity (toilets, running water, visits from social service providers, etc). As a municipality, we need to be a strong advocate and collaborate with all levels of government. The actions taken or not taken, have brought us to this place—let’s do better and remember we are talking about human beings. If human dignity isn’t enough to encourage action, there are stats that indicate housing the homeless is cheaper than sticking our head in the sand.

Blair Whitmarsh:

It is true that the Township of Langley is one of the fastest growing communities in British Columbia and we must do our best to manage that growth in a sustainable way.

As I step forward seeking re-election to the Township of Langley council, I do so with the promise of keeping safe and affordable housing as a top priority. As a member of the Township Council, I can actively participate in developing future housing action strategies as we meet this growing need by working with other levels of government, partnering with community groups, and by creating incentives for developers. Creating affordable rental options and affordable homes for purchase will move our community forward in a good direction.

We should strive to create more walkable communities so people can live, work, and play in their communities without the need to drive their vehicle for every activity. Strategic development can create communities that all members of the community can enjoy equally. Managed density in strategic locations will create more green space and preserve more trees that all residents can enjoy.

The ALR occupies 75 per cent of the land base in the Township of Langley and we must manage development in the remaining 25 per cent to accommodate growth without losing the unique qualities of each community. I support the protection of ALR land, but with less than 40 per cent of the ALR land being used for farming it is essential that we find creative ways to enhance the use of ALR land for agricultural purposes.

I do believe we can create a community of respect and diversity that we can all enjoy. Walkable communities that allow people to enjoy the natural beauty of Langley, working with other levels of government to enhance infrastructure (hospitals and schools), and creating an environment for all people to flourish in the Township of Langley.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

I truly believe that most of our challenges are related to housing and growth. Specifically, I see transportation and homelessness as two challenges that we must work to address.

Transportation can be improved by building the appropriate roadways and expanding current ones with 208 Street being a priority for Council. Continuing to work with TransLink for more service to Langley and making sure that the 10-Year Investment Plan is realized.

Homelessness is a complex, multi-faceted challenge that we must work collectively with other levels of government, social agencies, and community associations to resolve. The cost of housing, the increase in mental illness and substance abuse have made the issue very challenging indeed. We must continue to support places like the Gateway of Hope and look for other solutions that will address the challenge of homelessness

Harold Whittell:

I would prioritize these in the light of what a municipal council can have the most direct impact on. Development density decisions. Housing affordability is mostly market driven. Schools and hospitals are for the most part a provincial matter.

Development density decisions have trickle-down effects to housing affordability, infrastructure (schools and hospitals) tree preservation, public green space and the protection of ALR Lands.

The Township of Langley is comprised of 11 “sub communities” and each of them has their own unique needs and issues. There is one Official Community Plan for Langley Township, there are 11 NCPs, one for each community.

Willoughby alone has nine NCPs. These OCP/NCP documents have been crafted over the years with community input, hundreds of hours of staff time and under the requirements of the Local Government Act. Once the plans are adopted, it is critical to respect the plan and be consistent in decisions made affecting the plan. I have seen far too many “amendments” to our OCP/NCPs from each and every community. These amendments may seem innocuous one at a time, but when considered in the collective, they can completely change the original intent of the document.

Consistency in supporting and respecting these plans is important for residents, developers and also for TOL planning staff.

It is critical that the various OCP/NCP documents work in harmony with each other to bring the complete picture together. If we get these development decisions right, follow the plans, implement DCCs that are reflective of the infrastructure required, we may well solve concerns about affordability, the ALR, green spaces and population growth.

Eric Woodward:

All of these issues are important. I am running to help fix the big issues: we have to fix 208 Street and the major roads crisis in Willoughby, Aldergrove needs an advocate with a real plan to get private investment, and Brookswood/Fernridge is on a path to losing much of its unique character.

We have residents in Walnut Grove that are driving to Maple Ridge and Surrey to shop because they can’t get through Willoughby. Kids can’t walk or bike to school safely.

We are opening a new high school next year, but haven’t planned for 202 Street. This problem will occur in Brookswood as well.

If a municipality can’t even get roads right, we have to fix it.

I have proposed a real plan to solve the problem by spreading the burden amongst all developers to get it done.

We have take to time with the planning process in Brookswood to get it right, and save character-defining trees as a community amenity resource. We have to protect property rights for construction and renovation, but it is time to protect trees in Brookswood too, with common sense and flexibility, but an understanding they are a communal resource that defines Brookswood.

We need to pace development properly while solving these real issues.

We need to make better decisions if we add more density, such as larger towers, ensuring we get more green space within development, especially next to apartments, which we are not doing well enough.

We need to find a better balance.

I support the preservation of farmland, without question. I also don’t support small lot, urban-style subdivisions within the ALR, such as Hyde Cannon (“Tuscan Farms”) in Salmon River.

We need someone on council with applicable business experience to help with these complex development issues. Let’s fix it.

Not including the complex issue of housing/growth, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the Township of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

While there are many challenges, such as crime, some poor decision-making regarding development, and affordability, the biggest challenge we are facing today in Langley is the major roads crisis in Willoughby, and eventually in Brookswood/Fernridge as well. We simply have to solve it.

We have almost 30,000 people living in Willoughby now, with another 25,000 in Walnut Grove, in addition to our tens of thousands of other residents that need to simply access Highway 1.

Many of us need to get through Willoughby to reach our shopping districts, sports facilities, and community recreation, and to travel throughout the region and Langley.

We are all losing hours of our lives because we simply can’t get around. Kids can’t even walk or bike to school safely.

For example, we are opening a new high school next year in Willoughby, which is long overdue. Yet we have not even planned for 202nd Street, which is already a mess accessing R.E. Mountain.

If a municipality can’t even get roads right, we need to fix it.

At my Facebook Live event at Langley Events Centre on Sept. 26, I presented a real plan to solve it.

Currently, only a small number of developers and investors have to provide the major road network when they develop their properties. This leads to a patchwork of half-built roads, an incentive to hold out and wait for the taxpayer to have to buy it.

We need to replace this broken model with a new one, where we shift the burden to all developers, not just the unlucky few, and get it done now. It is possible.

We start now filling in the most significant gaps in the network now.

The status quo model we are sticking with, where we wait and wait and wait for our major roads to be finished far off in the future, is just not working.

We simply need to have a real path solve this problem before we can expect to proceed with further significant development. The problem is already at a crisis point. It has to be solved.

Our municipality is growing, and development decisions are constant. We need someone at the council who has built a building before and understands the process to bring real solutions to the table. We need someone on council with my business experience, vision, commitment, and determination, not just words, to help solve our community’s very real problems.

We can fix these problems, rather than just accepting the status quo, while they go on and on for years. We can do better. Let’s do better. Let’s Fix It.

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