A hearing at the end of this month will put the issue of removing Langley Township’s mayor and two sitting councillors before a judge.
In December 2019, a group of Township residents petitioned the courts to have Mayor Jack Froese, Councillor Bob Long, and Coun. Blair Whitmarsh removed from their seats, alleging they had violated conflict of interest rules by taking campaign donations from developers who had projects before the council at that time.
The legal petition also names former councillor Angie Quaale, who was not re-elected in 2018.
The hearing is to be held starting on the morning of Nov. 30 at the British Columbia Superior Courts in Vancouver, and is expected to take four days.
At issue are campaign donations made by senior employees of a number of B.C. development companies during the last municipal election.
Froese, Long, and Whitmarsh all received money from employees for at least one, and in some cases several developers. The firms had projects that were under consideration for rezoning and development permits before council when the donations were made.
The information was revealed in an anonymously-authored report released in 2019 and publicized by former Township mayor Rick Green.
According to the petition to the court, Froese, Whitmarsh, Quaale, and Long “failed to disclose a directed or indirect pecuniary conflict of interest” contrary to the Community Charter.
It asks for an order that the mayor and councillors be disqualified from holding public office until the next election.
The Township of Langley is fighting the petition.
In its response, filed with the courts last year, the Township argued that all the development applications in question had been reviewed by Township staff, and that council generally votes on applications in line with staff’s recommendations.
“The majority of all development applications made both before and after the Oct. 20, 2018 municipal elections have been approved by council, usually either unanimously or with only a few votes in opposition,” said the legal response.