In the recent past, letter writer Debbie Atkinson has been vocal about the fact she feels Aldergrove has been left out and not given due consideration by the recent Council(s). As someone who has dedicated the majority of my professional career and a lifetime of volunteer time in the Aldergrove area, and an elected Council member, I feel it is time to let the people of Aldergrove know exactly what projects and initiatives have actually been dedicated to your community.
Firstly, let me point out that the Township does not own Aldergrove Lake Park and has absolutely no jurisdiction over its management, operation or infrastructure upgrades. Councillor M. Kositsky is on the Metro Vancouver Parks Committee and as such he will be involved in reviewing the input from the recently held input session and preparing the report to come forward to the Metro Vancouver Directors. Therefore, any thoughts or questions must be directed his way.
In her recent letter Debbie Atkinson stated, “I believe our council (like many others) have stated that they intend to be transparent, so they should be open to being held accountable for where our money is going. It would be nice to see that breakdown before the next municipal election, as it would help us taxpayers make an informed decision when we elect our next Council.”
So here is a breakdown of the recent past.
1. Infrastructure upgrades. In the previous term (’05 to ’10) Council voted to devote $32.8 million to capital infrastructure upgrades focused on sewer. Further, the same Council began the discussion and decision-making regarding moving water in to the community – a $48.3 million commitment. This term we made the decision regarding three line alignment options. This totals over $80 million dollars dedicated to upgrade the infrastructure to secure a long-term sustainability plan for both sewer and water for many years to come in Aldergrove. These are not glitzy, glamorous or visible projects but they are critically important for Aldergrove to grow and simply had to be done.
Abbotsford, where Aldergrove and Gloucester’s sewage was once pumped to the James Plant, doubled the rates and were only willing to give us a short term-limited dumping contract. The sewer system in Aldergrove was full to capacity and if growth were to occur the upgrade was critical. As for the water system, Aldergrove is dependent for water on the aquifers. The local aquifers are stressed as far as usage (one can see this by the severe watering restrictions in place during the summer months) and again a secure future supply had to be obtained without reliance on the aquifers to allow for the future growth of our community.
2. This term the Township has over seen the completion of the Aldergrove Athletic Park with the following projects:
-completion of the Bike Park. This is a professionally-designed and constructed park for all ages and abilities at a cost of $247,600.
-completion of the batting cage for our baseball players at a cost of $102,000
-completion of a community garden with a contribution of $13,300
-a commitment to complete a $1.8 million all-weather turf athletic field. An interesting fact about this project is the turf field project was approved by Council April 11, 2011, however, the Draft Five Year Financial Plan which included this project in it was not approved by Mayor Green on April 11, 2011.
*This comprises a commitment of over 82 million dollars, a sum far greater than any other area of our community. It might be pointed out that Mayor Green did not support the financial plan to pay for these items, this was a Council decision.
3. The hanging baskets: this Council reinstituted these and supported the initiative of the Aldergrove Business Association in completing this by way of a grant. I again note that Mayor Green voted against the budget which included this project, it was a majority decision of Council that passed the money budget to make this happen.
4. The Aldergrove Core Plan was redone this term. Although a commitment of the Mayor at election time he again voted against the budget funding this project. It was completed by Township staff, a professional consulting group, and a dedicated group of local citizens and councillors. This is critically important as it defines a template for the redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown core. It is important to realize this could not have happened had not the commitment to sewer and water been in place – foresight and an financial commitment again voted for by Council.
5. The Aldergrove Core Plan defines the old Aldergrove Elementary site as ‘Community Recreational’. This is important as this, if the Township can obtain ownership and I and others on Council are working hard for this to happen, this will potentially be the cornerstone for a future recreational complex to serve the community.
There are many other projects which the Township has put in place to benefit your community. Some of these include the Community Safety Officers, a unique program that has benefitted the community and is unique to our community. Also the Township was the lead contact for the now underway filming project in town to name but two of these initiatives.
As you will note this Mayor may have supported the projects in Aldergrove this term, but he has voted against every budget to date. How are we supposed to move ahead with that kind of leadership and commitment?
Mayor Green loves to select off the menu but does not want to pay the bill. Proof of this is that is Mayor Green voted against each Financial Plan brought forward to Council on May 9, 2011; April 12, 2010; and April 20, 2009 in which these projects were embedded.
Charlie Fox, Councillor, Langley Township