Langley City is anything but a ghost town, according to council members who are unhappy with comments made by Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen.
Jansen warned “Langley City is becoming a ghost town” during a debate early last month on a Conservative proposal calling for the federal government to halt scheduled tax increases for small businesses.
“Small business owners are drowning in despair right now,” Jansen said.
A week later, during the Langley City council, the MP’s remarks were condemned as ill-informed by every member of council, with the exception of Mayor Val van den Broek, who said Jansen had been meeting with Langley City businesses prior to her statement.
The mayor said she would like Jansen to explain her remarks.
Coun. Gayle Martin opened the discussion by saying “several of the business owners were appalled,” and so was she.
“We are not becoming a ghost town,” Martin declared.
Coun. Nathan Pachal concurred, saying he was “a little bit shocked” by the remarks and described what he recently saw.
“There were line-ups at every business on the one-way,” Pachal said. “I don’t know what community she was referring to, but our community is thriving and successful.”
Coun. Rudy Storteboom suggested Jansen was “out of touch.”
“Langley is a happening place, even in these times,” Storteboom said.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace called the remark “ridiculous,” adding she was “amazed at how well they (the business community) are doing.”
Coun. Paul Albrecht said council should seek a meeting with the MP.
“It’s something that needs to be sorted out quickly, and in person,” Albrecht said.
Mayor van den Broek preferred a meeting, to a letter.
“I would love to have a chat with her, first,’” van den Broek said.
Coun. Teri James, who is also head of the Downtown Langley Business Association, said businesses were ‘absolutely outraged” by the comment.
Many are doing better than last year, despite the pandemic, James observed.
She called the comment “completely, and totally, and horrifyingly inappropriate.”
Council agreed to send a letter and leave the door open to a face-to-face meeting.
On Friday, Dec. 18, Jansen released a copy of her reply to van den Broek that did not directly refer to the “ghost town” comment, but maintained small businesses in particular are struggling and Langley City council should “reach out” to them.
“Our small businesses are at high risk right now and badly need support,” Jansen said.
“I hope the council will consider reaching out to these entrepreneurs, as well, to see how they can support them through these tough times,” the MP added.
“While a few have seen increases in their sales or have successfully pivoted their business models, most have been severely impacted and face losing their establishments. Without those small businesses in our neighbourhoods we will lose a tremendous amount of diverse talent. The time to act is now.”