1- What is the most important issue facing the Township, and how would you propose to deal with it?
The Township of Langley is truly a community of communities. What seems to be one issue in one community is completely different in another. For example, Aldergrove residents are discussing the proposed new Recreation Centre and what form it should take, whether it incorporates a pool and ice arena, a library, recreation centre and how large it should be. Aldergrove residents would also like to see the downtown area revitalized with more services and shopping options. Brookswood residents are concerned about bringing the 1987 Official Community Plan up to date; some residents say leave it alone, others agree that addressing the lack of protection for the environment, aquifer, trees is important while still retaining the look and feel of what Brookswood is. Willoughby is going through the growing pains that Walnut Grove did 30 years ago; incomplete road network, schools bursting at the seams, insufficient transit options and constant construction. Fort Langley is currently in a construction boom with four projects underway. Walnut Grove and Murrayville have stabilized most of the growth in those areas, but still some infill projects cause concern around increased traffic and pressures on existing infrastructure.
So which issue is the “most important?” I believe it depends on where in the Township you live. The key to working with our community is keeping lines of communication open. Having a mayor and council who are open and approachable is paramount to working with our community. Overall, the biggest issue would be how local government engages with their residents to work towards solutions. We continue to learn from our past and look forward into the future. The way we communicate is going through a massive transformation. With people’s busy lifestyles nowadays, open houses and public meetings aren’t as effective as they once were. Every municipality in B.C. is going to have to change their processes to engage their residents and improve the dialogue around important issues. I want the Township of Langley to take the lead in this area. Langley is home to many recognized experts in social media and digital marketing.
One of my first priorities will be to bring our own residents together with local, leading communication experts and challenge them to find better ways for us to engage and communicate. In this way, moving forward, we can connect and engage with residents who have busy lives.
2 – Should there be restrictions on development in Willoughby until the situation regarding funding for new schools has been resolved?
Over the last three years, three new schools with 1,760 new seats for Willoughby students have been built. More will come. All levels of government are looking for ways to best manage our tax dollars. The situation in Langley is that the board of education is working with the province and the Township collaboratively to get the schools we need. On Oct. 28 of this year I, along with Trustee Rob McFarlane, and both organizations’ senior staff, met in Victoria with Education Minister Peter Fassbender, ministry staff and our MLA, Mary Polak, to discuss the building of a new high school. We received a very warm reception and moved much closer to getting that school. The proposal that School District 35 had to come up with 50 per cent of the capital was clarified to be “up to 50 per cent.” The key here is that as a municipality we can’t sit back and point to the school district and say it’s their problem, we must continue to work together. Managing the growth to two to three per cent, which has been the rate for many years, is accomplished by working together with our partners to continue to bring the schools, roads, parks and other infrastructure to our growing community.
3 – Do you support a pool and recreation centre complex in Aldergrove, and if so, when should construction begin? If not, why not?
Yes, I support a pool and recreation complex in Aldergrove. I lived in rural Aldergrove for 32 years, before moving to Fort Langley. While raising my family in Aldergrove I always felt there was a need for an indoor pool. We need to provide facilities and resources to support our youth, growing families and our seniors.
Council has been moving towards construction by purchasing the land, conducting technical engineering reports on the site and working towards accumulating the necessary funding. Early in my term I established a task force of members of council and the community to discuss the form the recreation centre should take.
Construction should begin once funding sources are established through reallocation of assets, obtaining provincial and federal grants, borrowing and taxation as a last resort. It is a priority of mine to work with council to see construction begin within the next four-year term and, if all goes well, completion.
4 – What type of development, if any, should be encouraged in a new community plan for Brookswood and Fernridge?
Before any further work on the update of the 1987 Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan is undertaken. I will establish a more robust engagement and consultation process. It is important to retain what is good about Brookswood/Fernridge and not change it into something our residents do not want.
A mix of housing types with jobs and shopping close to home has been done successfully throughout Langley and B.C. But new ideas and solutions are always emerging. What worked in the past may not work today, and all options need to be fully discussed with the community.