Langley Reunification Association members Rian Martin (left) and Janet Ingram-Johnson

Committee gauges public appetite for reunification of the Langleys

Group seeks public support for an independent study of amalgamation issue

A citizens’ group will be seeking signatures from residents of Langley City and Langley Township this summer, as part of a drive to convince the two councils to jointly commission an independent study on the feasibility of reuniting the two Langleys.

Langley Reunification Association formed as a result of several people from Langley City and Langley Township beginning a conversation about the two Langleys last fall.

“Why were there two?  Had it always been this way?

“Were there advantages to bringing the two together? Were there disadvantages?,” the society’s website (www.onelangley.ca) says.

“As we learned more, we agreed that the issues required further study. We also agreed that the role of the Langley Reunification Association, which was officially incorporated under the Societies Act of B.C. on May 30, 2011, should remain neutral and act on behalf of all citizens.”

The association has 10 directors, five each from the City and Township. The website provides detailed information about the association’s plans and lists places where petitions will be available for signing.

There will be a booth set up at the Langley Canada Days celebration, which takes place next Thursday and Friday at McLeod Park. Langley City became an independent municipality in 1955, after several years of agitation, primarily by Langley Prairie (now Langley City) business owners.

Among their major concerns was the Township’s inability to provide urban services such as water, sewer and street lights. Prior to the formation of the City, there was one Langley municipality, known formally as the Township of Langley.

Association president Rian Martin, a seven-year Township resident, says his group is not advocating anything other than an objective study of whether or not reunification is feasible.

It wants both councils to be part of that process so there are no accusations of built-in bias. Separate petitions are being circulated for City and Township residents, so that each council can assess the degree of support for a study from its own citizens.

“I am confident we will be able to present the results of our petitions to the new councils after the fall elections,” Martin said.

Most of the 10 directors have been active in various aspects of Langley community affairs. Only one has held elected office — Hattie Hogeterp served two terms on the Langley Board of Education, which has elected trustees from both the City and Township.

Other Township members of the association’s board are Martin, Shane Dyson, Sukhi Dhami and Janet Ingram-Johnson.

Vice-president of the association is Matt Offer of the City. Other City directors are 2006 NDP federal candidate Angel Claypool, Eric Bysouth, Kathryn Vea and Jacob de Raadt.

When this subject has come up in recent years, there has been some mild interest in reunification from some Langley Township officials. City officials, however, have been almost universally opposed.

The last time the issue was discussed in the City was during the municipal election of 2002, when Township resident Glen Tomblin ran against incumbent mayor Marlene Grinnell on a platform of looking into reunification. Grinnell received 3,083 votes to Tomblin’s 997.

In late February, The Times asked readers via a website poll if they favoured amalgamation of the City and Township. The question promoted 292 responses, with 235 (80 per cent) in favour, and 57 opposed. There was no breakdown of where the respondents lived.

Martin said the association will be letting both municipalities and other regional governments know of its intentions.

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