Jack Froese took the oath of office as Langley Township’s new mayor on Monday night, called for council members to focus their energies on the good of the community, and urged more community consultation for development.
Justice John Lenaghan presided over the swearing in of Froese and his new council, while Victor Hsu sang O Canada and Pastor Brent Cantelon of Christian Life Assembly offered the prayer to guide council over the next three years.
Froese defeated the incumbent mayor, Rick Green, in a three-way race on Nov. 19. The other contestant was incumbent Mel Kositsky.
The defeat of Green and Kositsky made way for two new faces: David Davis and Michelle Sparrow. They join incumbent councillors Grant Ward, Charlie Fox, Bob Long, Kim Richter, Bev Dornan and Steve Ferguson.
Green’s term as mayor was punctuated by hostility and volatility, and in his inaugural speech, Froese commented that “people will always have different ideas, opinions, and personalities.”
He added: “It is imperative that we put those personal differences aside and work together as a team for the greater good, the good of this community. Respect and integrity are of the utmost importance for this council to truly serve our residents; we will listen and hear what each other and the community has to say so that sound decisions can move this community forward.”
Froese thanked volunteers and the families of candidates for their hard work “in making this election truly democratic and giving our voters choice.”
Among the guests were former mayor Kurt Alberts and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender. Several City council members also attended the swearing-in ceremony.
Froese acknowledged that he faces a “steep learning curve.”
He said that the wisdom, experience, and fresh ideas from a mix of veteran councillors and novices “will serve our residents well and set a productive course for the next three years.”
He said: “During this term, I expect to see great things happening for the Township of Langley as we assume our proper place as a thriving residential and business destination in the Lower Mainland. I have lived in, raised a family, and run a business in the Township for more than 30 years, and know that our community has all the elements required to provide an exceptional quality of life for those who live and work here.”
He predicted that the Township will soon embark on a number of advancements.
“We are in an exciting position right now,” Froese said. “Our business climate is healthy and we will work to bring new jobs to the community. In the decades to come, thousands of new residents will be moving to the Township making Langley their home.”
He said that balancing urban growth with respect for Langley’s heritage and rural lands “is a challenge we cannot take for granted. We must work hard now to ensure current residents and newcomers alike continue to receive the amenities and services they need, and enjoy the lifestyle they have come to expect from our community.”
Froese pledged “to build on the open and co-operative relationship we have with our neighbouring municipalities, especially the City of Langley, our school board, TransLink and the regional boards, as we work towards the common goal of making the entire region more liveable and sustainable for future generations.”
Noting that the provincial government has appointed an Auditor General to help municipalities be more transparent and fiscally responsible, Froese said that he wants to work with council and staff “to provide budgets that respect our future infrastructure needs, provide the services our residents have come to expect, and meet the needs of our growing community, all the while respecting the need to keep property taxes in check.”Froese said the Township needs to be more proactive in providing for a better mechanism that allows input from the community in new developments before they come to council for approval.
He said that a new community planning task force will look at how the Township can be more responsive to community and industry needs by providing meaningful input and cooperation when new developments are proposed.