Friday, February 23, 2007

Langley School District Special Report by Susan Semonick - Boards To Share Dinosaur Fate?


Aldergrove Elementary PAC – Kathy Suek requested that the Board vote NO to the recommendation for closure of Aldergrove Elementary stating that doing so would not work towards what the parents want. She asked that they turn around and immediately approve a new recommendation which would facilitate the AMALGAMATION of the two elementary schools, Aldergove and Shortreed, and allow for implementation of the other considerations re staffing, programs, etc. that the Aldergrove Elem. parents are concerned about.

LTA – Special Education – there is still a shortage of staff to meet the needs of students with learning differences

DPAC made a presentation re school fees. A summary of their recent parent survey indicates that the parents were willing to pay for instruments and field trips, although there was mention that parents who can afford to pay won’t and those that can’t afford to, will.


Band instruments, choice academies, apprenticeship programs are covered in the Throne speech.

The news release is available on the government website .

Boards will likely seek clarification on Field Trips and non-instructional materials, and a lot more still not covered.

School Board Chair Burton commented on School Planning Councils (SPC) and the parent representation on them that got the IRE up of more than a few at the meeting. The following are the two points in the Throne Speech, which I surmise may be of concern to Chair Burton.
Amendments to the School Act will also be introduced to enable boards to offer "special academies" upon the approval of school planning councils and consultation with parents.

Boards will be authorized to charge fees approved by school planning councils to defray non-instructional costs or additional costs incurred in offering special academies, trades programs, and band instruments.
He expressed some concerns that the Board could be at the whim of a small un-elected group, referring to SPC parents in particular. For instance some could have had their arms twisted to participate. The Chair of a School Board should know that parents on SPCs ARE elected. There was a comparison made that the Board is elected by 125,000 people while parent representatives are not. The only correction to that is that only 5,000 voted for some trustees and for two of them on the Board less than 2,000 some odd elected them in - not 125,000 unless the election results are wrong. Therefore the SPC members, in my comparison have been elected into their positions with the same representation that the Board members have. Interesting to note also that it is the Board that is responsible for having a functioning SPC at each school and yet there are some schools in Langley that do not have full parent representation and are not functioning as they should. I wonder what the Chair is doing about that?

The Board voted to send a letter to the Minister of Education to voice their concern about the power of SPCs to “approve” rather than to be “consulted”. I guess they see the writing on the wall in that school boards may go way of the dinosaur. Perhaps regional boards or area superintendents are in the works…and sooner than they think.

The elimination of the district school boards will save millions maybe billions of tax dollars. The annual fee of 50,000.00 plus for BCSTA fees for each district alone will realize at least 3,000,000. These monies can be redirected straight to the students. Having a Provincial Superintendent will set the groundwork to enable this transition to become a reality within the next few years with authority being given more directly to schools through the SPCs and district Superintendents. The professionals and parents at the local grassroots level will have the decision-making ability instead of elected volunteers. We will finally have those educated about curriculum making the close to home decisions about educating our children. This is a good thing even though I am sure many will not have the futuristic outlook to see it now.


Next meeting is on February 22nd at Langley Secondary School. This is when Mr. McAvoy will provide his recommendations. I wonder if the suggestion of secondary school closures will be considered. At the consultation meetings I heard suggestions of closing RE Mountain and HD Stafford and building a new one in Willoughby by year 2008 to accommodate the growth in the area. LSS and DW Poppy were also mentioned as options for closure by a few parents. Some people suggested that HD Stafford could be turned into an Arts centre for the City community or RE Mountain as an Arts centre for the Township. One guess what those parents’ interests were? An Arts centre seems to also be a focus for Township council.


Approved this policy revision. Very little public input received on this policy, which now frees up the Board to consider options that they could not previously, as they were required to go to public tender. It gives them a wiggle room to wheel and deal…will have to wait and see if and how this will benefit students.

There was question put to the Board in regards to the properties the district holds and whether the district would receive the full revenue or not from those acquired prior to certain Ministry regulations. The District retains, as capital funds, 50% of revenue generated by the disposal of sites, but some older school sites may not be subject to this revenue split with the Ministry. The chair advised they did not know and were looking into it.

2006/2007 AMENDED ANNUAL BUDGET BYLAW - Approved in the amount of $148,880,631

2007/2008 OPERATING BUDGET UPDATE – received for information approved

FACILITIES - Construction and upgrades at various sites are within budget and on schedule.


Trustee Bech appears to this writer to be in agreement with this writer in regards to the School District Business Company as reported last month. I understand that the SDBC Annual Report and financial statements will be presented at the next school board meeting.


The LTA questioned why the Ministry’s stats on class composition/size received, did not jive with some provided by the district earlier in the year. District staff will be reviewing the data to determine where the differences occur and why.

School Communities Connection Ad Hoc Committee report by Mr. Collins will be forth coming hopefully by next meeting. The committee seems to be having problems proposing a project that the Township and City council are willing to back. From what little I know of any of the proposals, the only one I am aware of that Township should be considering is the maintenance and improvement of the WGSS track. The school already has a third party backer, willing to match funds. This is one-time grant money from the ministry that I hope that the politicos will seriously consider accessing for enhancements for our communities considering they have seen fit to increase our taxes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

VALTAC Public Forum Today

VALTAC (Valley Transportation Advisory Committee) is hosting a Public Forum .

This is YOUR CHANCE to let your transportation concerns be heard...

Langley Township Civic Centre

Fraser River Presentation Centre, 4th Floor,

20368 65 Ave, Langley, BC

Saturday - February 17, 2007

1 PM to 4 PM


Friday, February 16, 2007

Municipal Finances Are Conducted As Tax increases Into Infinity

The above headline refers to the City of Vancouver as written about today in the Vancouver Sun. The Sun Columnist Harvey Enchin suggests Zero based budgeting and that continual tax increases have got to stop in Vancouver. He could just as easily have written in Langley Township instead of Vancouver and it would have equally applied to here! Deja vu as only one cllr on Township argues the same points. Cllr. Richter.

Al Qaeda Misinformation Campaign

The Jawa Report and Laura Mansfield decipher the latest al-Zawahiri video reported in the Globe & Mail today. The 24 minute video is a fascinating look at their PR campaign and how they plan an offensive against the southern Afghanistan NATO troops.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Warawa Says Kyoto Bill Just A Mischief Bill

The Liberals, along with all the other opposition parties, managed to pass a private member's bill requiring the Canadian government to meet Kyoto targets. " MPs voted 161-113 in favour of the Liberal bill Wednesday in a battle pitting the minority Tories against the opposition, the Senate, and the country's legal community."(Globe & Mail)

“It's just a mischief bill,” said Mark Warawa, parliamentary secretary to the environment minister( & Langley MP).
“It shows what the Liberals have always done: just empty rhetoric, empty bills that won't actually achieve anything.
“We're not going back to that. This government is moving forward with real concrete action to clean up the environment.”

Real concrete action on the environment by the Conservatives? Pigs fly too!

The Conservative government lost a last-ditch effort to kill the opposition bill. The Tories appealed to the Speaker of the House of Commons to declare it invalid, arguing that it would illegitimately force the government to spend money against its will. They now say they will in any case ignore this House of Commons passed bill!

However, Speaker Peter Milliken cited two previous rulings that the bill contains no government spending measures. In addition, he can’t speculate on what impact the bill could potentially have. Again citing past rulings, Milliken said the Commons can vote later on any money-related provisions as they come up. Parliamentary procedures specifically prohibit such appeals.

Constitutional experts have said the government has no choice but to respect laws passed in Parliament, and they’ve warned that lawsuits lie ahead if it fails to do so. In interviews last week, university law professors Ned Franks, Patrick Monahan and Stewart Elgie all agreed that the government has no choice but to follow the law. Adding his voice to the list Wednesday was Errol Mendes of the University of Ottawa. “If the bill passes. . . it will be a binding legal obligation on the part of the government,” Mendes told CTV. “There could be very serious legal consequences.”

So the Conservatives will arrogantly ignore the newly passed bill & essentially arrogantly ignore the democracy of the majority of the House of commons and there will no doubt be a confidence motion within 60 days. The Conservatives will lose the no confidence motion again by 161-113 and we will all be in an election this spring that LFP predicts will produce a Liberal minority this time based on their carrying Quebec and Ontario. Unless they all want to go to court of course or maybe resign as the ruling government and ask the Governor General to either call an election or hand the reins of government over to the Liberals! It's been done before!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

GM & Chrysler Merger ?

Wow talk about a lot of down & right sizing if this happens. Tons more auto industry workers will be canned if this happens. As DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said yesterday they are considering ''all options'' for the money-losing U.S. subsidiary. Now what shares of which company should I drop and buy immediately? GM's US. sales fell 8.7 percent last year, and Chrysler dropped 7 percent. Toyota gained 12.5 percent. Both GM & Chrysler ignored the market and wrongly kept focused on gas guzzlers. Can you just see the new red white and blue buy REAL all american ads for the new GMC (General Motors Chrylser, your all american gas -guzzler companion)? Don't count on any more Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche funny Chrylser ads either considering his glum appearance in his financial video announcement. Meanwhile 13,000 jobs will be cut asap in North America to make it even more attractive to GM or others!...

SNL Alumni, Al Franken Vies For Dem. Senator - Really!

No joke Al Franken ( detractors) the former Saturday Night Live News editorialist comic pundit is really running for the 2008 Minnesota Senate race! He is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge the incumbent Republican. See news here, here & here. This is no joke this time. Wonder if Minnesotans are ready for another celebrity-turned-politician, after the 1999-2003 governorship of former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura. Good luck Al, if goofs like G.W. Bush can be President, you sure can be a Senator!...

America, The Most Hated Country On Earth

Britain's Jan Morris of The Guardian recites the American delima. Some long for 1940's -50s when a, " GI was not then a sort of goggled monster in padded armour, but a cheerful fellow chatting up the girls and distributing candy not as a matter of policy, but out of plain goodwill - everyone's friendly guy next door." Can this be reversed and by which new American President? How tragic a lesson of a country so widely hated for Canada to glean lessons from.

Hotel Tax Election Process Flawed Again!

Today's Langley Times reports on last week's so called formal Hotel tax vote as also reported earlier herein. However, once again it was anything but formal this time around! This was supposed to be a properly held election as a result of the previous so-called lacking informal vote! How could a democratic election of only 9 votes be so screwed up a 2nd time? Well in LFP's opinion it certainly was.

No formal accurate standard election rules and procedures for the vote were set and distributed beforehand. But indeed a letter was sent out 3 times to the voters loosely talking about an "information meeting"and it only suggested that a vote would be held after the meeting. It certainly did not clearly specify that it definitely would be held at any specific time or date or even how long the voting poll would be open or what the implications of not attending were. Normal practice for any other election call. To be fair it did ask for a proxy to be filled in if the designated voter could not appear at the vote implying a voting time.

Meanwhile the actual "information meeting" was apparently much better than any time share sales presentation. This Editor was told that not only were there essentially sales brochures plastered throughout the room but that food & beverages were served as well at this info (sales presentation) meeting just prior to the so-called vote. Elections Canada would have loved this!

So out of 9 voters only 7 showed up and 4 voted for and 3 voted against. The two that did not show at the info(sales) meeting/vote did however send letters immediately saying they were clearly against the tax.

So what did the Township council do? Yup , you got it, they voted for the new hotel tax despite the clear concerns of the inept and very questionable election process as also strongly argued to the council by hotelier Wally Martin at the prior council meeting. All this despite the fact that clearly in total 5 out of the 9 hotels voted no to the hotel tax either at the info meeting" or by letter that same week.

Cllr. Richter put forward a motion that another re-vote be held and the rules be made very clear this time. Only Cllr. Ferguson and Mayor Alberts agreed with Richter's motion and the motion was defeated by the rest of council. Then the Council passed the tax with only Richter & Ferguson opposed. Curiously, Mayor Albert's voted for passing the hotel tax and was quoted to say by the Langley Times, "that while he had disagreed with the majority of council on the hotel vote issue, as mayor, he would support the decision to move forward."

One has to wonder how Mayor Alberts & Councillors Bateman, Fox, Ward, Vickberg & Long would feel if these voting irregularities occur at their own election next time around?
Only in Langley you say!

B.C. the continent's greenest spot - Campbell's Throne Speech

Kudos to Gordon Campbell who "even upstaged California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger" as reported in the Globe. "By 2020, the provincial government plans to reduce B.C.'s greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 33 per cent below current levels..". LFP also credits Campbell for preempting any possible greener platform or indeed criticism from the BC NDP or even the BC Green party. P.S. Between the Feds and BC home owner green renovation incentives on the horizon we should all hold off on any more home improvements until they are announced, "Existing homes and buildings will be offered incentives to retrofit them, while a new B.C. Green Building Code will be developed."! Meanwhile Schwarzenegger plans to visit B.C. this spring & endorses the BC green plan.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tories Stacking Right Wing Judges For Neo-Conservative Agenda?

UPDATE: Feb 15 :Harper admits he's picking judges to advance Tory law-and-order aims. No surprise here first take care of your supporters and then take care of your agenda. Focus on the family and their ilk should be thrilled with these judge announcements. So are the Conservatives really any different than the Liberals were when it comes to doling out favoritism & appointments right off of the back of the truck? But isn't it much more dangerous when it comes to judges? Should not those appointments be especially more balanced? At issue are the nominees Harper wants on the Judge advisory committes, "failed Tory election candidate, three Quebecers who served as cabinet aides in Brian Mulroney's government, an Ontario academic who has criticized the current judiciary for excessive activism, and a Manitoba social studies teacher and former Roman Catholic youth worker."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

24 Cent Airport Lease Subsidy Confirmed?

As per Cllr. Richter's Report previous in LFP, this ad (as shown) was posted on the Township page of Sunday's local newspaper. Does this ad mean that the Township now admits (per the Community Charter section 24) the 24 cent lease is indeed subsidized?

Why does this ad seem so unclear/murky to the viewing public? Why does it not mention clearly that the lease is "for less than market value"? Why else would they have run this ad?

The charter's intent is to ensure municipalities are transparent in their activities especially around the disposition of municipal lands for less than market value. This ad does not do so. Also isn't this Section 24 ad being done after the cows left the barn? Why? The council already voted on it to go ahead! Note the ad states that the 40 year long lease with CPI increases starts off at $34,650.71 a year or $2888.00 a month for 2.75 acres effective February 15, 2007. I wonder if the fine print in the Council report said this as well. Heck of a deal because a lot of average Langley taxpayers pay more than that for their mortgages and even most 2500 sq. ft. houses are rented out for more than that! This is for 2.75 acres over 40 years at CPI annual increases!

Section 24 (1) of the Community Charter says a Council must give notice in accordance with Section 94 of its intention to provide any of the following forms of assistance to a person or an organization: a) disposing of land or improvements for less than market value

Friday, February 09, 2007

Australian athletes competing in next year's Olympics are to be banned from blogging!

Talk about democracy and free speech! This is the first censoring attempt of blogs this Editor has ever heard about.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Vancouver Sun Reports On $0.24 Airport Lease

Page B3 Westcoast News in today's Sun carries an abridged version of Mathew Claxton's Advance article with airport aerial picture and 2 headlines. Actually this version is more hitting and concise than the long Advance version!

Did Sex Play Role in Queen of the North Ferry Crash?

"The Transportation Safety Board confirmed yesterday it has investigated the possibility that sex was taking place on the bridge of B.C. ferry, Queen of the North, when it sank last year." reported in The Star and is the current blogosphere fodder! Believe it or not!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rick Mercer's Video Weekly Highs

Newest Conservative Ad targeting Liberal leaders?
Rick's Front Page. Rick's Rant. (Videos load in Explorer WMP)

LFP Views On The News

The Langley Times Feb 7th edition writes about the Fort Langley BIA renewal of the BIA bylaw which was first established in 1997. The sad thing is that this Editor thinks that Fort Langley is losing the business survivability battle and indeed may lose the war after the Maple Ridge bridge is completed and the Maple Ridge/Ft. Langley ferry comes to a stop. It's just terrible how business after business constantly shuts it's doors in Fort Langley.

The revolving business door in Fort Langley is very sad. It seems
that only restaurants can barely succeed there and probably only because essentially it's been simply the Walnut Grove resident's nearby cafeteria! With the advent of the many new name brand restaurants near colossus such as Mario's and the Old Spaghetti Factory and others this probably will affect the restaurant business in Ft, Langley as well. The only profitable business generating event in Fort Langley is the annual cranberry festival. Alas this one day revenue boon combined with the virtually completely dead tourism winters still makes business survivability there very tough.

Downtown main street Langley City on the other hand has done
everything right. No longer a ghost town but indeed it seems to be vibrant and flourishing with a diverse business mix. You can hardly even find a parking spot any more downtown. And the City does not even have the quaintness and historic charm and museums that Fort Langley has to offer. They do seem to have many more annual events that are much better advertised and attended though than in Fort Langley. Clearly a success story for the City and an embarrassment for the Township council even after having spendt a lot on Ft. Langley's street scape improvement. This is not unusual as the Township also did street scape improvements in Aldergrove that essentially has not helped the downtown business core there either. In whole a tragic testament to this Council's attention to Fort Langley.

Langley City is finally trying to be pro-active regarding tagging and graffiti. Instead of just
counting on their graffiti gestapo they are now soliciting graffiti to brighten up their garbage & recycle bins. Kudos. And instead of jailing and fining these kids perhaps they are now encouraging them to do focused public art pieces. Brilliant. Maybe Township & City should rotate councils to help Township taxpayers out!

Constant articles about the scarcity and very high cost of industrial land in Langley. Hey this
Editor knows a great location for the Township to help out our taxpayers. Just to the south across the street from Langley Secondary School and that pink elephant grandstand there is a great big piece of land that contributes $0 to the Township coffers right now and even requires Township taxpayers to provide loans to keep up the $0 contributions!

Enough of the hippopotamus, Hazina articles please! Hazina gets more coverage than the historic Township Tax hikes, pink elephant grandstands and Township subsidized

Another happy Township taxpaying taxpayer quoted in the Times letters, "people
deserve reasonable value for their tax dollars......Township citizens are not council’s pet fire hydrant"

The Langley Advance Feb 6th edition wades in on the Langley
airport 24 cent lease deal. Interestingly enough they show an accompanying picture of intensive contracting work to ready for the new aforementioned lease. Yet the Township insists they have not yet signed a contract. Curious. Is this realistic and good business sense to start work then? If no contract is in place is there a letter of understanding or a letter of intent in place instead? Also former Township council candidate Glen Tomblin is quoted in the Advance saying, "Maybe it's time to have a full-scale investigation ....why are we subsidizing private businesses?". Meanwhile Cllr. Richter's letter to the editor on the subject is buried in the far back two pages.

Finally community activist Cathleen Vecchiato, asks interesting questions about the new arena plan.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Province Reports Langley Airport 'Sweetheart Lease Deal' Should Be $1.25 Not $0.24 - Independent Appraiser

Kent Spencer of the Vancouver Province reports today that, "A real-estate appraiser believes Langley Township may have broken the law by approving a 'sweetheart lease deal' at its airport." by undercharging an air industry company for space.

The preeminent independent appraiser who advises Vancouver and Abbotsford airports as well as the smaller municipal airports Larry Dybvig, says that Langley Township council's recent lease approval of an air industry company's 24 cents a square foot should be more like $1.25 a square foot. The province's Community Charter has a legal requirement that states businesses can't be subsidized as also reported in Councillor Kim Richter's report and as most recently reported in the Feb 4th Langley Times.
Dybvig says that, "the community charter law requirement is there to protect taxpayers' assets from being given away". He continued to say that, "Langley doesn't appear to be doing what the Community Charter requires,".

Richter at the January 8th Township council meeting asked for an independent opinion on the 24 cent lease with no seconder or discussions at all saying at the time that a 40 year long 24 cents a square foot lease seemed too low to her. Despite her serious concerns Council ignored her motion to request an independent 2nd opinion on the lease. At the same council meeting all the members of Township council later voted in favour of the 24 cent 40 year long lease except for Richter with not even any discussion on her concern at all. The Province reports that work has already started at the airport site on the new lease. LFP has commented on the 24 cent lease before here, here and here.

Richter raised the following questions in her LFP posting and in her letters to the local paper editors. They still need answers.
Richter asks, "This is what the Act says and based on the Act, I think these are the questions:

  1. Was an independent arms-length appraisal of the airport land based on fair market value obtained prior to Council voting to give a 40 year lease to an air industry corporation at 24 cents a square foot? (Section 25)
  2. Is 24 cents a square foot fair market value for industrial land in Langley? (Section 25)
  3. Is Langley subsidizing the air industry? (Section 25)
  4. Why? (Section 25)
  5. Is there a partnering agreement? Between who? (Section 24)
  6. If Langley is subsidizing the air industry, did it publicize its intent to do so prior to Council’s decision to approve the 40 year lease? (Section 24 and Section 94)
  7. Was the publication of Council’s leasing decision in accordance with the Community Charter Act? (Section 24 and Section 94)
  8. Was the community charter act violated? (Sections 24, 25, 26 & 94)
  9. Are Councillors who voted for this decision personally liable for the difference in lease rates over the life of the contract? How much is this liability? (Section 191)
  10. Are these Councillors now disqualified from holding office? (Section 191)"

Monday, February 05, 2007

What Has Translink & Our Director, Mayor Alberts Done For Langley?

Have you noticed that the Langley center bus terminus has no walls on the shelters at all. Users tell me that is just wonderful in rain, snow and the extreme cold recently. Especially when they wait hours for canceled buses in Langley that never show up!

Does Translink and our Langley Translink Director Mayor Alberts, really care as much about Langley transit users? Obviously they do in Vancouver for main streeters!

Also on Fraser Hwy there are absolutely no bus shelters at all. And if you miss a bus by minutes you have to wait another hour in the elements for the next one. This on the highest traffic volume and most traveled road in Langley! In Vancouver buses sometimes come as often as every 5 minutes! And they even often times get bus shelters for the very few minutes they have to wait.This Editor happened to drive by the 248th street & Fraser Hwy. bus stop (near Otter Co-op) that Mr. Leake wrote about previously. We noted that the eastbound bus stop at this stop is quite a scary remote distance east of the intersection with no lighting and no sidewalks! Absolutely not safe for solitary females getting off the bus to go home from especially at night time. Hey, but that solves the Translink problem. They just won't take the bus!

Translink directors like our Mayor Alberts, are all appointed (not even Elected!) municipal politicians and are handsomely paid I might add, to attend their Translink meetings. They should make it mandatory that all the Translink Directors to collect their big stipends have to take public transit to their monthly meetings in Burnaby. Then maybe they will first hand see what fun it is to wait in the cold outside and take sometimes hours to get anywhere especially from Langley! Wanna bet the Mayor would give up his stipend to one of his Council slate lieutenants then!

Obviously it seems to LFP that Translink and its directors including Mayor Alberts don't seem to want to encourage growth of transit in Langley. Heck Alberts and the rest of council even argued strongly against councillor Kim Richter's suggestion on getting more Translink subsidized bus passes for langleyites. When is our Translink board member, Mayor Alberts, going to help out its transit users in Langley? What has he done for them so far? Maybe like me he has a car, doesn't use transit and should care more about transit users! Obviously he is no former Langley City mayor Marlene Grinnell. She was Mayor Albert's predecessor on Translink and she even got Translink to help pay for their 204th Street overpass and it's not even a Translink road! She also got lots of Translink paid road improvements and bus service improvements for Langley city. Has Mayor Alberts even tried to get Translink to get us another overpass at all? Alberts better hurry up and get something for Langley because bets are that Grinnell's report now submitted to the province may drastically change the board configuration.

There is a local activist group named VALTAC that is promoting light rail transit through Langley. They don't have a chance in this half century says this Editor given the low priority already given us for even simple bus service. Maybe this VALTAC group should consider taking some baby steps first and show that they really care about Langley transit users and start advocating cheaper, better, more and safer bus service! If they got the people behind them they could get much more done perhaps. Unfortunately right now the rumour is that they are predominantly made up only of ole railroad buffs who are myopically focused only on trying to bring back some historic old tram system. I stand to be corrected though. Maybe someone can clarify who they are and what they want as there is no website to get info from. Bet they don't take the transit system either! We need more than a group of basement model railroad buffs advocating for our transit users. But that's probably another story and the point the Editor is making is that there is no effective if any taxpayer public transit user advocate group in Langley. There should be.

Now Translink today in the Province is even talking about changing the zone based fare system with a so-called fairer cost distance-based fare system. Wanna bet we at the outskirts get screwed again, big time. Aldergrovians who use transit now may have to reconsider going back to cars again because they are at the far outskirts of the Translink system. We wonder what Alberts says to this if anything at the Translink meetings. Lately at Township Council it seems he just keeps his head down low and lets his other minions on his Township council slate lead the controversial charges and take the heat. Who of his council slate minions will be anointed to front these transit issues? Perhaps the newest lieutenant again, Councillor Bateman ? He did after all do a stellar job leading and advocating the two consecutive historic ~5% Langley Township tax hikes. Whoever takes this issue on could become the equivalent of the new adroit environmental minister, conservative Baird!

Given all the talk of global warming and possible dramatic draconian government action plans being considered maybe all of us car users better start caring more about public transit before we are taxed out of our cars or worse and then forced to use transit! You too may be waiting for an hour in an unacceptable transit shelter or worse no shelter at all before too long to take your hour or two transit ride. Maybe we should all be using transit more now anyway. Irrespective lets get better transit facilities and services and pricing in Langley. Then at least the option to use transit would be easier and more enticing even to car bound LFP Editors. We certainly pay enough for it now.

And consider this, Translink Director/Mayor Alberts! When you are at the Translink board meetings, that there are about only two years to election countdown.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Unacceptable Transit Options for Langley Residents

-----Original Message-----
From: AC Leake
To: ; ; ; Mayor and Council
Sent: Thu Feb 01 16:34:31 2007
Subject: Unacceptable Transit Options for Langley Residents

I live in Township of Langley and use transit to commute between the Surrey Central skytrain bus stop (Bay 11) and Fraser Hwy at 248th. The 502 to Aldergrove is the only bus that services this route and it is operated once per hour during the day. I am issuing a complaint of this service and to highlight the inadequate service on this route to avoid the 3.5 hour commute I went through last Friday.

On Friday, January 26th 2007 the 502 to Aldergrove did no pick up at Surrey Central between 4pm and 6pm resulting in a 3-hour delay for commuters on Friday evening. I arrived at Bay 11 for the 4:57pm pick up to head east, and when the Aldergrove bus did not arrive, I took the 502 to Langley Centre, where I called the service line to see what the issue was (~6pm). They indicated that the 4:57 and 5:57 buses had mechanical problems, but that a replacement was en route - it was going to arrive before 7pm. No replacement came by 7:30 and I called again, and they indicated that no replacement was sent (that the original call was an error), and that the 7:00 bus had left Surrey Central and would be in Langley at 7:42. Some people had been waiting at that bus stop for over 3 hours! It was below freezing outside, and there is no shelter except stores near the Langley Centre bus stop. Several people were very upset and a couple of elderly people were forced to pay for a cabride
(expected to be > $20 each) to avoid affecting their health.

I am calling on your office and my provincial, federal and municipal offices to improve our transit options to the Fraser Valley. It is ridiculous that on this route there is only 1 bus per hour. It is ridiculous that when there is a mechanical issue on the bus, there is no replacement. It is unacceptable that there have been no improvements to this route in the last 5 years, and yet the population base of the Fraser Valley has grown steadily throughout this period. I wish to see the 502 operated on the 1/2 hour. I wish to see CMBC put a priority on replacing buses that cannot run their routes, so that riders can be assured their bus WILL arrive, albeit late at times. I'm sure others in Langley would like to see a BUS ON HWY 1 OVER THE PORT MANN BRIDGE (can you believe there are NONE right now?).

In recognizing this country's interest in reducing the impact on our environment, we should be attracting riders to this route that are currently driving on Highway 1. However it is not meeting the needs of daily commuters through it's in-frequent service and lack of alternative bus support. Addressing these concerns should be of immediate importance to your groups.

Please respond with your plans to address these concerns.

Alf Leake
Saddlehorn Crescent
Township of Langley

Friday, February 02, 2007

Should Hotel Tax Be Approved?

Langley Advance Matthew Claxton reports that after much confusion the hotel tax was considered approved. Yet posted herein is a letter from one of the 9 hotel owners who says he was unable to attend but registered his vote against the tax. If he was one of the two not counted in the vote that would mean a tie vote. So why is a tie vote a defeat vote everywhere else except on this issue? Even if the township council has a tie vote it is a defeat vote. Why not here?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Richter Report - Feb 1, 2007 - Airport Questions, Questions and More Questions

The BC Community Charter is the piece of provincial legislation that defines and determines the powers of municipal government. Just as I did, you can find a complete copy of this Act by googling ‘Community Charter in BC’.

Section 25 of this Act defines a “General prohibition against assistance to business”. This section says that a council must not provide a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business including any form of assistance referred to in section 24 (1) or an exemption from a tax or fee. It goes on to say that assistance may be provided for history or heritage purposes.

Section 24 (1) of the Community Charter says a Council must give notice in accordance with Section 94 of its intention to provide any of the following forms of assistance to a person or an organization:

a) disposing of land or improvements for less than market value
b) lending money
c) guaranteeing repayment of borrowing or providing security for borrowing
d) assistance under a partnering program.

Section 94 of the Charter says public notice must be given in public posting places at least once a week for 2 consecutive weeks.

Section 26(1) of the Charter says that before a council disposes of land or improvements, it must publish notice of the proposed disposition in accordance with section 94.

Section 191 (1) of the Charter says that a council member who votes for a bylaw or resolution authorizing the expenditure, investment or other use of money contrary to this Act is personally liable to the municipality for the amount.

This is what the Act says and based on the Act, I think these are the questions:

  1. Was an independent arms-length appraisal of the airport land based on fair market value obtained prior to Council voting to give a 40 year lease to an air industry corporation at 24 cents a square foot? (Section 25)
  2. Is 24 cents a square foot fair market value for industrial land in Langley? (Section 25)
  3. Is Langley subsidizing the air industry? (Section 25)
  4. Why? (Section 25)
  5. Is there a partnering agreement? Between who? (Section 24)
  6. If Langley is subsidizing the air industry, did it publicize its intent to do so prior to Council’s decision to approve the 40 year lease? (Section 24 and Section 94)
  7. Was the publication of Council’s leasing decision in accordance with the Community Charter Act? (Section 24 and Section 94)
  8. Was the community charter act violated? (Sections 24, 25, 26 & 94)
  9. Are Councillors who voted for this decision personally liable for the difference in lease rates over the life of the contract? How much is this liability? (Section 191)
  10. Are these Councillors now disqualified from holding office? (Section 191)

I guess I’ll have to ask these questions at the next meeting (and I will). In the interim, I wonder if we’ll see any municipal ads in the local papers about this property – mitigation perhaps?

LFP Views On The News

Cllr. Richter simply asks if 24 cents a sq ft is too cheap and suggests an outside independent 2nd opinion and then the wagons form a protective circle around the Langley airport in the form of letters to the editor and most recently this very defensive article. Methinks they doth protest too much! Do you think maybe that there
might be some fire behind this smoky screen? Maybe Richter should spearhead a Sheila Fraser on the airport.

Langley City rubs it in by announcing a very reasonable 2.74% tax hike - half of the Township's! Heck they should have been able to go at 0% given their casino
windfall! Peter please move to the Township! We need you.
Meanwhile there is a flurry of tax help articles in the local papers to assist those who may have difficulties with the dramatic township tax hikes. While well meaning, they are a sad commentary on the Township's financial state of affairs created by our current Mayor Albert's council slate. I particularly liked press icon Rudy Langmann's recent letter to the editor (2nd one down) about increased property taxes.

Kudos again to Langley Times Editor, Frank Bucholtz - he really gets it now! In this recent editorial, he says: "council (Township) does have some explaining to do about its own spending decisions." Bucky, when are you going to ask the Councillors why they are the only people left in Langley who still maintain that they don't have a spending problem except of course Cllr. Richter who was the first
whistler blower of record years ago? Not to mention their equally pathetic tax & borrow problems. Bucky also says that he senses "stirrings of a tax revolt in Langley Township" and that there are "many angry people". You think!

Meanwhile rookie Cllr. Bateman seems to more and more be taking exception to (and even trying to correct) Bucholtz's editorials. Who wouldn't if you were the main author of the motions for two consecutive annual historic tax increases as well as a motion to pour another $1.2 Million into Langley's grand 'cement blob'?

In the same Editorial Bucholtz appears to this Editor to be almost pleading for a "credible individual and organization" to lead the tax revolt charge. Right on Bucky! LFP implores and suggests that Cllr. Richter and local political activist Glen Tomblin shake hands and make up, then tag team to take up this challenge and provide the necessary leadership to kick the tax, borrow and spend Mayor & Councillors out of office. Taxpayers can no longer afford this spendthrift bunch.

Meanwhile another great editorial on tax hikes in Langley by Advance Editor Bob Groeneveld. 'Bounding Bob' is the King of the Editorial Understatement - his editorial style should win more awards. He always keeps you guessing and on your toes as to whether he's tongue in cheek or serious or supportive or not. I especially love this recent line: "They don't get into detail about how those $91 (in 2007 tax increases) will still be compounded and added to subsequent years' tax increases" in response to the Councillors who repeatedly say "it's ONLY a $91 tax increase". (You know who you are!)

Councillor Kim Richter's rebuttal letter to 'Bounding Bob' says annual 10% Township spending increases are not sustainable. You think? In the same paper, Langley politico critic Glen Tomblin finds 24 cents per square foot on a 40-year lease at the airport hard to digest.

Meanwhile another Langley school is about to bite the dust again. Expect more of this. LFP suspects another bunch of happy parents who will probably work for just about anybody but the present school trustees in the next election. Meanwhile Cllr. Charlie Fox can devote more
quality time to Township Council. Hey Charlie thanks for your comment on our site. If you want an editorial, we would be pleased to give you a posting anytime.

Our beloved Translink continues to get warm and fuzzies from Langley citizens , Councillor Richter and the local press!
Mary Polak, one of our Langley MLA's, vainly tries to get anybody's attention on her ill fated PR exercise: 'Conversation on Health'. The crickets at night are getting more attention than the "C-on-H" and it ain't even summer yet! Can't really blame her though. She has to go along with Liberal party caucus on this useless, redundant and expensive exercise. And Mary's boss has bigger problems like board chairs and deputy ministers. Maybe the money spent on "C-on-H" would have been better spent on keeping hospital beds open! That's LFP's "C-on-H" contribution, Mary. Stop talking about health care and start doing something about it!

In the Duchy of Grand Fenwick (Langley City), they continue to maintain their singular
focus on the two always major and really only issues that count in City Hall. Yes, you are right if you guessed communities in bloom as their No 1 priority. The close 2nd is their phobia about graffiti. Most other communities have police units and task forces for urgent things like muggings, murder, burglaries, etc. But no, not Langley City. Here, it is graffiti! Meanwhile, Township taxpayers continue to subsidize the city's graffiti gestapo!

And press boys, enough about the damn HIPPO already. Newsmaker of the year, come on! It should have been overtaxed seniors putting distress-for-sale signs on their homes!
The good ole boys continue trying to justify Cllr. Richter's censorship saying "if it's a good idea, I'll support it"! Gee wonder what a good idea is then? Got it! Council pay and benefits increases!

Behind the scenes local political powerhouse and Langley Lawyer Rebecca Darnell gets another influential appointment. Watch her. The local rumour is that she is considering replacing previous candidates Richter and Brooks as the next upcoming Langley Liberal candidate against Wawa. Rebecca, tell us you will!

In closing, the most terrifying & chilling news report of all. "Arena features still not set in
stone" in the recent Langley Advance story! Cllr.'s Fox, Long & rookie Bateman all want changes and enhancements to the $45 million new arena. Who knows, maybe council might even be convinced into spending millions more than budgeted to try to incorporate a crystal palace like church into the new arena as well, just as they now do in the new city hall building council chambers! This Editor smells another Grandstand financial fiasco in the making. Any smart developer/contractor will pounce on these "cost plus" suggestions. If you're not scared about these Cllr's suggestions, you should be. Be very scared. Next year, it will probably be a 10% tax increase (just for the cost over-runs especially as the jeniuses on council are the only oversight committee)! Remember they did not second, even for discussion Richter's motion for a new citizen's construction budget oversight committee for the arena. One Cllr. even proudly said that was their job to do. So was the grandstand cement blob! Be very, very scared....

Rich Coleman Wants Mobile Home Protection

Kudos once again to Rich. All you Langley Township rural land owners, especially seniors, take heart. As you are being driven out of your homes by Township Council's historic tax increases there may be more opportunities to get in on a lower cost mobile home. Today's Vancouver Sun reports that Minister Coleman hopes to announce strategies to halt the disappearance of mobile homes parks in BC.

This is as a result of two more parks giving their tenants one years notice to vacate. Hopefully he will include as well some initiatives for more growth of mobile home parks as an alternative to home rich, cash poor seniors. This would be a breath of fresh air considering municipalities like Langley have seen the same problems recently. This Editor wonders why our Council hasn't taken any initiatives what so ever to protect these park residents and try to look creatively to more importantly encourage more low cost park alternatives.

Hey, I got it! Why not shut down the airport and make it a senior's mobile home park. We can double the current rental rates of $0.24 to maybe $0.50 or so to get more much needed revenues in to the township and provide a very low cost alternative to the seniors hit hardest by tax increases! A win win situation unless your a local private plane owner. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, airport groupies!