Froese calls on Township to boost economic activity

What is needed are strategies that will increase economic activity to reduce the tax burden on taxpayers, said Jack Froese.

Jack Froese

Jack Froese

The business run by mayoral candidate Jack Froese and his wife Debbie was recognized as one of the top eight small businesses in B.C. at a luncheon in Victoria last week.

Now Froese, who runs JD Turkey Farms, wants the Township to capitalize on the award.

“Wouldn’t it be great for Langley Township to be recognized for our vision for business and job creation?” he told small gathering of supporters outside the Township civic facility on Tuesday, minutes after he filed his nomination papers.

“My goal is to get us there.”

Froese said that during last spring’s budget deliberations, the Township argued that it would have to increase property taxes because of “less than expected economic activity.”

What is needed, he said, are strategies that will increase economic activity to reduce the tax burden on taxpayers. He proposes to achieve this, in part, by supporting the Township’s economic development department and the economic development advisory board as they work to boost employment.

He will look to Langley’s neighbours, such as Surrey, “and learn from them how incentives can bring good employers with high paying jobs.”

Froese champions cutting regulatory barriers, giving incentives to attract new employers, such as those in the high-tech industry that are environmentally sustainable, and giving recognition to businesses that make an impact in the community and create an environment that supports their initiatives.

He outlined some of his platform at the JD Farms customer appreciation day on Sept. 10.

Froese stressed the importance of independent thinking among councillors. Several incumbent councillors were there, including Kim Richter, Bev Dornan, Charlie Fox and Steve Ferguson, but Froese also drew attention to four new candidates in the crowd, Bert Chen, Sukhi Dhami, Michelle Sparrow and Misty Van Popta.

“To the best of my knowledge they’re not aligned with any slate,” said Froese. “Having new young innovative people on council will be good for Langley.”

He said leadership comes from the mayor, but “the mayor’s team is made up of individual councillors, elected by you, the voters. This is more suited to local government. Federal and provincial politics is typically adversarial but municipal politics is consensus building by nature.”

Froese says there are tough issues, foremost among them taxes.

“I’d love to promise you a zero per cent increase but the reality is we want better roads, clean water and parks,” said Froese. “These are financial challenges that impact taxes. But the Township has pared the budget to the bone, $1.4 million in cuts were found in the last budget. I will continue to look for more efficiencies, but I don’t think there is as much fat as others would have us believe.

“Rick Green’s political games and the obvious disconnect between the mayor and council has been unfortunate, because taxpayers are losing out.”

Pointing to a current petition campaign asking that reunification of the Langleys be studied, Froese said he would “welcome the City back, but the City is not interested. We don’t want their taxes and they don’t want our debt.”

Froese said that, if elected, he “will initiate a yearly strategic planning session involving decision-makers and leaders of our Langleys. I will bring the spirit of Langley into one room. There will be no room for political games or blame.”

He said such a meeting would involve elected officials from all three local governments.

Froese cited the example of his master of ceremonies, Gary Johnson, who spearheaded the construction of the Gateway of Hope shelter for the Salvation Army.

“Gary doesn’t give up. For years he shared his dream. Then he met with leaders — MLA Mary Polak, mayors Peter Fassbender and Kurt Alberts, MLA Rich Coleman’s staff — and in one hour it was a done deal, the dream turned into reality.”

As mayor, Froese said he would seek to “bring the same spirit into one room” at yearly strategic planning sessions.

“Leaders take responsibility for actions and outcomes. If it didn’t work, own it, without blaming council and staff,” said Froese.

“As mayor, I will carry out the will of council and be accountable to voters. It’s about respect, and the buck stops here.”

– with files from Kurt Langmann