Some residents who objected to a proposed water service connection have learned a tie vote means yes in the Township of Langley — and every other B.C. municipality.
Even though the Township sent out letters saying more than 50 per cent of property owners would have to vote for a costly hookup to a new municipal water line to approve it, it turns out the provincial laws say something else.
It was the second poll of the residents of 52 Avenue between 237 and 240 Streets about connecting to the under-construction East Langley Water Supply line.
The first vote was more than 50 per cent in favour, but it was thrown out after residents Shelley Murphy and Ray Murphy pointed out five of the responses were filed on or after the deadline date.
The written Township notice said the voting forms must be filed “before June 12, 2013,” not “on or before,” the usual wording used in Township documents.
The Murphys said the proposal should be considered defeated.
Township staff did not agree.
On their recommendation, council ordered another vote.
Before the second vote in August, the Township sent out a July 17 notice that “more than” 50 per cent of property owners would have to vote yes for the hookup to be approved.
The vote was a tie, with 20 owners voting for and 20 voting against.
A Sept. 13 Township letter said that was actually a win for the hookup because the Community Charter, the provincial regulation that governs such votes, says “at least” 50 per cent must vote yes for approval.
“That’s not fair,” Shelley Murphy told council. “It should have been a failed vote the first time and it should be a failed vote this time.”
She said her family doesn’t need the hookup because it has a well.
Murphy said the decision will saddle them with a taxes-included bill of about $30,000 that will have to be repaid over 20 years.
Another resident, Mike Parker, supported the Murphys, calling the cost of the water connection “unbelievable.”
A third speaker, Ken Kostiuk, expressed support for the hookup, saying the cost will be balanced out by savings on electricity and maintenance for his well pump.
Resident Bob Sangha said having grown up in a village with no water, he supports the improvement.
“We can’t stop progress,” Sangha said.
Mayor Jack Froese said while it was “unfortunate” that letters had been sent out suggesting it would take more than 50 per cent, the regulations are clear.
“The charter is the law of the land,” Froese said.
The hookup was approved by council by a 7-2 margin, with Councillors Kim Richter and Michelle Sparrow opposed.
Shelley Murphy was indignant.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves” she said as she walked out of council chambers.
The $33.5 million East Langley Water Supply project to bring Metro Vancouver water to Aldergrove and Gloucester is the biggest project ever undertaken by the Township of Langley’s engineering department, with 14 kilometres of water main and a booster pump station.
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