Inaugural Township meeting an exercise in civility

Mayor Jack Froese set the tone for the next three years, urging that differences be put aside for the greater good of the community.

In sharp contrast to the hostile atmosphere that dominated Langley Township politics for the past three years, Monday’s inaugural meeting of Township council was an exercise in civility.

Mayor Jack Froese set the tone for the next three years, urging in his inaugural address that differences be put aside for the greater good of the community.

That hope was reinforced by Pastor Brent Cantelon of Christian Life Assembly, who prayed for unity and peace, the safety of Langley’s citizens, and prosperity and wisdom.

Kwantlen First Nations people delivered a message in a song of a journey, and Froese and Councillors Michelle Sparrow, Charlie Fox, Steve Ferguson, Bev Dornan, Bob Long, Kim Richter, Grant Ward and David Davis effusively thanked their family, friends and volunteers who helped and supported them in their election campaigns.

But one expression of thanks stood out above the others. It was three years ago this month that Fox learned that he would undergo a life-saving kidney transplant operation in January, 2009. Fox fought back tears as he thanked the organ donor, his wife, Diane.

“I’m only here because of that lady there,” he said, nodding to his wife in the gallery.

There were thanks, too, for Mel Kositsky, the councillor who took a gamble to contest the mayor’s chair, and lost.

“It’s sad to be saying so long to a familiar face,” said Long, who predicted that it would not be long before Kositsky’s vast municipal government expertise would be put to good use.

Kositsky, Long noted, served 18 consecutive years on council after leaving a career in journalism which included several years as editor of The Times. Long estimated that Kositsky attended 720 council meetings, and likely 2,000 or more other meetings associated with his role as a council representative at FCM, UBCM, the Local Government Association (formerly the Lower Mainland Municipal Association), and Metro Vancouver.

Rick Green, the mayor who Froese upset in the Nov. 19 election, did not attend the inaugural, but was thanked by Froese for his service to the community.

Former mayor Kurt Alberts and several members of the newly-elected Langley City council were in attendance at the meeting.

On the advice of longtime council observer Gloria Doubleday, newly-elected councillor Davis underwent a sartorial transformation.

Doubleday, whose late husband Derek was the Township’s municipal clerk, had said to Davis that he “must wear trousers to council.”

For Monday’s inaugural, Davis shed his trademark rugby shorts for a dark suit, but promised there would be “a wardrobe change in the months to come.”