Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Willoughby Recreation Centre - Congratulations MLA Coleman

The web based Advance highlights Langley's MLA, Rich Coleman's picture on its cover page. Rightfully so, he has once again come through and delivered for Langley. He was able to orchestrate and bring in $15 million matching funds to the $15 million by the Township of Langley to build a $45 million new Willoughby Recreation Centre (WRC) to be hopefully completed by Nov 18 of 2008, the 150th birthday of BC. The remaining one third $15 million comes from an essentially P3 operating partner group, Langley Development Group, which is a joint venture of Jim Bond, president of Ventana Construction and Moray Keith, owner of Dueck GM. They also are owners of the BCHL Langley Chiefs and the WHL Chilliwack Bruins. So figure on a major priority single focus on sports and especially hockey at this new Rec Centre.

Some Township politicians will try to garner or cleave off some credit for the WRC, and will even behave in a giddy child like manner, but lets be clear the only hero and real hero to be congratulated here, sincerely, is the honourable Rich Coleman. Well done Rich!

We agree with Cllr, Kim Richter who is quoted saying "On the surface, it looks like a wonderful addition to the community," but she added "I'm very concerned about costs,".

She is right to worry because of the Township's financial abysmal track record . Most specifically, the concrete pig MAP Grandstand, which was also funded by a consortium of 4 parties including the Feds, the Province and Langley City. On that project everyone gushed long and hard as well about what a great deal that was for the Township at the time. Now you can't hear a peep from anyone on this fiasco as they try to bury and forget it. Fingers are classically pointed in every which way and a concerted effort at misdirecting the public on the overruns was floated to attempt to camouflage the real financial fiasco. Similar to the WRC, the Grandstand was a cost shared project with a township initial share cost budget planned to be only $800,000 of the total joint funded project's planned $3,000,000 estimate. In the final analysis the costs went out of control and the Township was left holding all of the financial baggage overruns. The so called wonderful grandstand deal's project total cost ballooned to almost double the cost and has cost the Township taxpayers just about $3 million to date compared to the initial planned $800k! Township taxpayers paid all the overruns and none of the other partners paid a cent more. The project is still not complete and the costs keep climbing. Therefore we echo Richter's opinions.

What guarantees does the Township have on cost control and on sharing of the WRC budget risks?
Obviously each and every one of Langleys' politicians is impressed and very praising of the project and no doubt will remain so if successfully built on time and on budget. The township taxpayers have essentially seen their taxes double in the last 10 or so years and the Township plan tragically is to increase our taxes by a further 77% over the next ten years! So either way we have, will and are paying for the WRC through our increased taxes. Don't believe any other doublespeak or otherwise. In fact if any Township Councilor ridiculously says it won't cost us a penny more in taxes or that we won't have to borrow, let's make sure to hold them personally responsible for any extra taxes as a result of this project!

The ongoing Township's published financial mis-management and chronic budget overruns along with this new project's costs and cost sharing arrangement outcomes will continue to be under a microscope and could lead to a significant fallout in the next municipal election predicts this editor even if this project's budget does come close to target which we sincerely hope it does.

Taxpayer fatigue is starting to snowball in Langley township especially by the longer term and mature residents. They vote! While this new project is a needed, desirable and a wonderful addition it may still be simply viewed at election time as another monument to the egos of Mayor & Township Council once again at the spiraling upward expense of Township taxpayer's taxes. The big question is what else is this Council going to spend our money on? What other costly surprise projects and acquisitions are in the pipeline? When will the taxpayers ever get a Township Council tax & spend breather. The Tax, Spend & Borrow money tree addiction habits will continue as long as our current Mayor & Council remain on Langley Township Council!

Otherwise thank you MLA Rich Coleman. A job well done.

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