Kevin Mitchell has decided to run for one of the eight councillor seats on Langley Township council.
A professional engineer, Mitchell ran as an independent in the 2013 provincial election in the Fort Langley-Aldergrove riding. He received 672 votes.
His goals are to stem rising legal costs; fix the Official Community Plan process; stop spot zoning in the Agricultural Land Reserve; apply lessons learned from Willoughby development and reduce capital spending.
“During the period 2009– 2013, council approved more than $5.8 million in legal bills, defending actions including Athenry Gate and Coulter Berry,” he say.
He condemned council for advancing the Brookswood-Fernridge community plan by accepting a $500,000 “loan” from land owners in the area, to pay for the completion of the Griffith Neighbourhood Plan.
“The plan drafted (proposed) more than tripling the current population of the area. After a marathon public hearing and subsequent 1,000-plus person turnout to a council vote, fortunately this amendment was rejected. Despite this, Mayor Jack Froese and Councillor Grant Ward remain in support of the potentially devastating changes proposed in the OCP,” he says.
“The solution here is a community-based process where residents are actively involved in the OCP amendment process, not simply a developer and/or staff initiative.”
Mitchell is opposed to the planned 67-home subdivision on ALR land on the Wall farm.
“The subdivision is in the middle of a 160-acre farm in a flood plain, miles from town and services. Along with the university district, the Township is facing a second trip back to Supreme Court as they ignore the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy supported by many members of this same council.”
As for what he calls “the Willoughby experiment,” Mitchell notes that “Hundreds of condominiums sit empty while developers continue to plow ahead with hundreds of new units. Parking is out of control and brand new schools open with portables. Traffic congestion along 208 Street and other feeder routes is at a standstill and yet this council continues to approve every development permit submitted.
“If it is the will of the citizens of the Township to support unbridled development, then what continues to worsen in Willoughby will soon spread throughout the area. We must change course before we destroy the very character we sought when we moved here.”
He questions Langley Township capital spending, pointing to Langley Events Centre, which started out as a public-private partnership with the Township, developer and the province each contributing one-third of the cost, approximately $45 million shared equally. The Township terminated its agreement with the private partner, wrote a cheque for more than $7 million and is now out of pocket more than $50 million.
“Is there any reasonable explanation for a more than 300 per cent increase in this local government’s contribution?
“As a businessman, I have learned that every problem has a solution, budgets are finite and legal costs should be kept to a minimum. As a resident, I understand the need to maintain affordable fees and taxes. As a father, I understand the need for good schools and community services. As a farmer, I understand the need for preservation of farmland with effective boundaries between rural and urban areas. I will ask the tough questions and have the experience to evaluate the answers. I will hold staff accountable and vote based on facts, not out of personal bias or to reward corporate campaign donors.
“The bias of the majority of council is a clear sign of what the Township will become. Condos galore, inadequate or non-existent services and destruction of the true character of what once was a jewel in the Fraser Valley. We must reverse this trend. Soon our community will be filled by “spot zoned” developments with no connection to transit or other community infrastructure, overloaded road networks and gridlock. It is time to elect a Council that is representative, responsible and listens to the taxpayers,” he says.
Mitchell is a 10-year Township resident who lives with his family on a small acreage in South Langley.
He can be contacted at 778-871-3759, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.kevinmitchell.ca.