Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Letter To The Editor - May 29, 2007 - From Win Bromley - Out of Control Property Taxes

From: Win
To: Langley Times, Langley Advance, Aldergrove Star
Cc: mayorandcouncil@tol.bc.ca
Subject: Out of Control Property Taxes
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 15:29:31 -0600

Just received our 2007 property tax bill...we live in the Salmon River Uplands area with no sewers, water or fire hydrants - our 2007 net amount payable is up 17.4 % from 2006 and 29.3 !!!! % from 2005.
We will remember this come election time!!
Not a "jolly taxpayer",
Win Bromley

Letter To The Editor - May 27, 2007 - From Donna Passmore - Re: Opposition to Langley Township ALR Applications

To: ALR & List of Government Reps & Politicians (Township & BC) & Press which includes LFP

Attached please find a third opposition this month to multiple applications from Langley Township to sever and exclude farmland, bringing to 12 the number of individual oppositions we have had to file this month. Thus far in 2007, FVCC has opposed fifteen applications from Langley Township, affecting 358.63 acres of farmland, and most of that in environmentally sensitive areas.

I personally don’t know why Langley has an Agricultural Advisory Committee, since it is not permitted to function in an advisory capacity. Instead, Township Council routinely send along applications to AAC AFTER Council has approved that they be sent to the ALC.

Only by consistently rejecting these attacks on our future food security can we effectively communicate to local governments that agricultural irresponsibility will not be rewarded.

Attachment(s) - 2:
BC Food Self Reliance report.pdf
L- ALC - May 29 2007 - 6 Langley Applications.doc

Thank you for your kind consideration,

Donna Passmore
Agriculture Campaigner
Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Letter To The Editor - May 27, 2007 - From Mike & Pam Maneval - Re: School Trustees Closing Stafford Sec.

We are strong supporters of Keeping Stafford Secondary. This has been our kids school of choice, regardless of the fact that it is our catchments school. The school has great, involved and caring teachers. The students are nice to each other and individualism is respected. The learning that students receive there is top notch. So why is it, the school being considered for reconfiguration.

First, the board does not believe in standing true to its word. Three years ago, Stafford was told to get its numbers up, or suffer the consequences. Stafford acted by starting a football program that brought in cross boundary and cross district students. A fine arts program was started, and no other school has productions like this school does. The AVID program is proving a success, and is truly helping students. Stafford enrollment numbers have come up. So why is the board not being true to their word, the numbers came up the school should be safe. Why should our students have to pay the price of the boards failure to produce a long term plan?

This brings me to point number two. Peer pressure. We teach our kids to not give in to peer pressure. We have watched teachers, DARE programs, counselors and ourselves teach them to think for themselves. Don't listen to someone else, we tell them. But Allyson McVeigh has given in to peer pressure. She promised her student constituents that if Stafford were ever in risk of being closed or reconfigured she would support them. She gave in to the School Board's peer pressure. Shame on her for not sticking to her promise. Shame on us for believing in her at election time.

This problem is real, something has to be done, but not without more thought and planning. If middle schools are such a great idea as the School District likes to tell us, then why not change the entire district? Let's have some continuity. The board has also talked about Aldergrove becoming a grade 6 to 12 school. How does this make any sense when you put it in the same district as a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12? We need long term planning, not quick fix mess ups.

Letter To The Editor - May 26, 2007 - From Kelly Begg - Re: School Trustees Closing Stafford Sec.

I am just sick with the thought of my children having to walk in the dark to LSS, spending approx. 2 hours everyday walking to and from school. Unless of course they want to take transit, its only 2 buses, 2 overcrowded buses, oh and whats another $60.00 per student a month to pay for the bus, and such a nice area of Langley to have to transfer buses in the dark along with hundreds of others trying to get to school on time.

What incentive to go from a school that has offered so much, and been such a close knit community to a school that doesn't offer the Fine Arts Program, doesn't offer the AVID program, doesn't offer the football program.

A route to LSS will take the majority of the HD Stafford students thru vacant land (by the airport), bush area, no sidewalks, crossing over Fraser Highway, crossing over the By-Pass. A route with very few houses, a route where anything can happen to our kids. As a single mom, am I going to have to take time off work everyday to get my kids to and from school? Work a shorter day, hence a drop in pay - explain that to my boss! Are my kids going to have to give up after school activities because it will be dark by the time they are over? Because they need that extra 1 hr or 1.5 hr of commuting to do homework?

Is there going to be room for these kids from Stafford to participate on school teams at LSS, the grade 8 girls soccer team at LSS, had enough girls to field 2 teams? how much playing time will each girl get to play? Has LSS been seismically upgraded? will my kids be safe at this school? Stafford's enrollment is on a steady increase, next year my understanding is we will have a full football program. Have you looked in the local papers to see what these kids from Stafford are achieving academically and in sports???? Do you really think that by taking away our high school these kids are all going to automatically go to LSS? there are other schools. By closing Stafford you aren't necessarily going to solve the declining enrollment at LSS.

To save a few bucks you are risking these kids safety and their futures. Perhaps smaller salaries to the board would compensate for what we are supposedly short financially. Perhaps not wasting money on reports that were so inaccurate they weren't worth the paper they were written on would help save money.

Have you even listened to the options put out by the students and parents of HD Stafford? Have you heard anything that the students have said? Is your hope that if you have enough meetings, parents will start not attending and you can take that to mean we accept what you're trying to force upon us? You are so wrong and should be ashamed of yourselves. I thought education was about our kids. How can you even consider destroying a school, a community to save a few bucks. Reports show that a smaller school doesn't cost more than a large school to operate, reports show that there is less bullying in a smaller school, reports also show that Stafford is not lacking in options for our students. Take off your blinders, open your ears and listen! If Langley City doesn't have a high school will our taxes be adjusted accordingly?

Listen to the students, listen to the people of Langley City, remember you were "hired" by the people of Langley City and you can bet that we won't forget all our time you you have taken us away from our families to attend these meetings, the stress and anxiety you have caused our children and the parents of these students. You need to have some compassion for the students and their families of Langley City.

I was once proud to say I lived in Langley City, I'm not so proud these days because of the uncaring, unfeeling people we hired and trusted, what a big mistake!

Mayor Fassbender will obviously have to change his welcoming letter on the Langley City home page, “"The Place To Be” for everyone. The place to live and raise our families, the place to do business and ultimately the place to build our futures!"” that sure won't be the case if you get your way. Even your own home page "Working together for student success through excellence in education. Empowering all to make quality choices today for opportunities tomorrow" Its obvious you don't stand behind your promises if you push thru this horrible plan to turn HD Stafford into a UNWANTED middleschool.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tears, Tempers, and Disruption at Board Meeting - Langley School District Report by Susan Semonick

Wow, what a meeting!


There were 20 presenters. I didn’t get home till 3am. The meeting I think adjourned before 12:30 am. City TV and BCTV were there for the first two presenters and then left. So, the Simonds Elementary PAC President may be on TV.

Bradshaw Elementary wanted to commend Senior Staff and the Board for the manner in which they have addressed the concerns and questions the parents had in regards to the closure of their school.

One presenter withdrew; perhaps because the TV cameras were there or that the content of presentation was better presented in a closed meeting.

The LTA’s stance re French Immersion in South/Central is for the program to move to LSS. The problem with that suggestion is that the two French Immersion programs one at Brookswood and one at WGSS were surveyed in the past and given the choice of moving to another school for the FI program or dropping out of the program, a large majority would opt to drop the program. Since most of the FI students at both these schools are in-catchment students, unlike at LSS, moving the program would not solve the enrollment issue, as students would still be entitled to stay.

Most of the presentation was about the consultation process and what possible conclusion there should be. Some of the recommendations were:

1. Leave Stafford as is and do nothing.

2. Close DW Poppy

3. Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in extra curricular activities.

4. Make the Language Coordinator position full time to promote FI Program. Support the recruitment of more French language specialty teachers.

5. Make Blacklock’s Fine Arts program a K-7 or K-8 district program with guaranteed transition to Langley Fine Arts

6. LSS’s PAC Executive accepts the middle school concept according to their PAC president’s presentation.

The City population still thinks of themselves as having only one secondary school while in fact they have eight. It is one school district, a fact many seem to have problems understanding. The City council on their web site can state that the community of Langley has access to 7 or 8 secondary schools with a wide range of programs to choose from. Potential buyers will like that more than we only have one high school with limited programs.

APPROVAL OF LATE FI (french immersion) at NOEL BOOTH

A late French Immersion program for grades 6 and 7 was approved to begin at Noel Booth Elementary School for September 2007 to provide program stability in the Brookswood catchment area until review of program location is completed and a long-term decision is made.

The district Emergency processes for Fort Langley schools that may be subject to flooding was presented. See www.sd35.bc.ca


Many of the approved BAA courses for the coming year at various schools were interesting. They included 3D Game Programming and Design 11, Criminology 12, Gender Studies 11


Report from Senior Management Alternatives to Suspension Committee was received. Some very interesting initiatives for at risk, and drug-addicted youth were included in the report.


The motions to rescind recommendations #4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 from April 10th, were a waste of everyone’s time. Overall, everyone knew the outcome before it happened. It would have been better spent putting forward a new consultation process.

Although Trustee Paterson was showing emotion she got through all of the recommendations except #8 which Burton read out for her. All were defeated 3 for, and 4 against. I have to say I understand what the public wanted and I understand why the board stuck to their guns. One trustee stated the Board was being stubborn on these matters. It may have been for very good reasons. It remains to be seen why, when October rolls around. Out of all of the years I have attended board meetings these last few meetings have been the most volatile. Although it does not help when you have a past board member directing the audience or a parent using a bullhorn to show their dissatisfaction with an elected official. Other public officials have nurtured this climate as well since April, which unfortunately is disappointing to see. Do they believe that what they are doing is for the best? Possibly, but with the mantra that is being voiced I wonder if it is healthy or even productive.


Special school calendars for the follow schools were approved.

• Douglas Park Community Elementary School’s year round calendar for the 2007/2008 school year.
• Langley Fine Arts School’s varied school calendar for the 2007/2008 school year, which will reflect a reduction of four instructional days by increasing each day in session by seven minutes.
• A one-year extension of the H.D. Stafford Secondary School’s varied school calendar for the 2007/2008 school year, which will reflect a reduction of 10 instructional days by increasing each day in session by 16 minutes.

It amazes me that the school that is being placed on the pedestal is requesting 10 less days of instruction. Maybe all the schools should consider this since HDS is according to staff and parents doing so well. I am of the belief that in secondary schools the students are better in class than on the street.

BOARD MEETING SCHEDULE FOR 2007/2008 was approved.

September 18th is the first for the 2007/2008 school year, followed by October 9th and October 30th

The suggested plans for HD Stafford and LSS will be received for information and possible approval. At which October meeting is still to be determined.


One parent asked about the process for notification to the board or public about a shooting that occurred at an elementary school. Not sure of any of the details on this one.

Special note: There seems to be a lot of things going on behind closed doors. It will be very interesting to see what will happen in the next little while. There are volcanoes erupting and it will be left to public opinion on how exactly this all plays out.

Next board meeting is June 12th where they will make the decision whether to close Bradshaw or not.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tipping Point Revolt - by Declining Middle Class?

$2.00 a litre gas!
or an average $100+ for a regular gas fill up!
The tipping point is close on the horizon and the now almost non-existant middle class who are now essentially a part of the ballooning lower class. They are starting to warm up for action & change as reported in various media. Meanwhile our Langley MP Warawa will certainly go along with the cozy & questionable Alberta Oil Patch Harper Conservative allies.

Meanwhile GVRD transit uses climbed 11% as a result of climbing gas pump prices and still lousy transit in Langley with much needed Light rail Transit still a pipe dream in the Fraser Valley!

As one of the now largest oil producers in the world there should be no reason that there cannot be a 2nd lower tier of gas prices for Canadians whatsoever. In Saudi the locals pay just pennies for their gas which the world market exports subsidize. Canada is the largest world oil exporter to the USA! Politicians beware especially municipally. A tax revolt is brewing and will spill over to all government tax & spend incompetence.

Friday, May 18, 2007

'Langley Township Council Tax Borrow & Spend Addiction' Or 'What The Good Ole Boys Club Council Do To US'!

These Langley Township Annual Report Graphs Say It All!
Lets see, financial reserves down , taxes up, spending up & borrowing up. Oh how about Township Council salaries? You guessed it, up as well every new Council term! (Gee how far will $2.2 million go in a real emergency - like a Fraser River flood. )

Langley Township DEBT - UP, UP & Away they go! Climbing more in 2007 & 2008 TOO!

Langley Township Council 'Ole Boys Club' Tax - Spend - Borrow Philosophy!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Closed Door Spending Secrets Not So Secret Anymore

Ok, so the Mayor Alberts' Township council now admits that they did buy the Bedford House Restaurant/bar property last summer! And now suddenly two more Councillors (Bateman & Kositsky) have finally joined Councillor Richter's call for an open and full disclosure of all the matters around the Fort Langley property purchases. As the Advance New's Editor said, "
"Our View: Not quite a lie - What are they afraid of?"
Do you smell fear around this issue too? Why? What else is lurking around in the background. Maybe the real question to be asked is how much will it ultimately cost the taxpayers of Langley Township and why? What other complimentary deals are there in addition?

Meanwhile secrecy for almost a year since purchasing the Bedford House on the topic and just recently after the fact a snake oil salesman attempt by the Township to create a community visioning input process about the area! Obviously the community did not like the secret ideas floated nor the secrecy itself. Nor does this Editor. Suddenly we hear about a waterfront vision! More 'Snake Oil Promotions'! What vision, never heard of one before! What rubbish. It certainly wasn't budgeted for, not that this Editor can find. For that matter neither was the $3-4-5-6 million grandstand fiasco! Any vision must have either been created in secret or suddenly pulled out of a hat! Why?

Monday in response to Councillor Richter's notice of motion last week to provide full and open disclosure on the Fort Langley land purchases deals the Mayor Alberts' led Township issued a terse short two paragraph press release. Instead of providing answers it creates more questions.
Obviously much still remains in secret. Any Councillor who whether they agree or disagree with these closed doors purchase topics are forced to a cloak of secrecy as the Municipal act can result in any violating councillors being kicked off council if any Councillor reveals secret "in camera" discussions which has been voted so by the majority of council. Councillor Richter describes the brief and terse release as the, "Sanitized version" and still calls for more disclosure. As the Advance Editorial said,

"What are they afraid of"?
In today's Langley Times the longest ever Editorial title I have ever seen was,

"Questions raised The disclosure of the purchase of the Bedford House restaurant and waterfront property at Monday’s Township council meeting raises more questions than it answers"
Editor Bucholtz in the editorial also refers to, "some basic facts which are widely-known and confirmed were left out". Why? His final comment hits the nail directly on the nose, "Taxpayers deserve complete details about how their money is being spent."
Clearly what we need are no more boondoggles, secrecy & stupidity.
We need,

to prevent this from continuing (PS: see your tax bill yet?),

Friday, May 04, 2007

Today's Van Province Should Be Called 'The Langley Province'!

Today's Vancouver Province continues to have Langley content on 5 pages with 4 different focuses! And today the Mayor Alberts' township council have not secretly bought golf courses or restaurant/bars with our ballooning taxpayer tax dollars to get news coverage! Amazing.

Page A10 pictures KYLE MARUD the most recent tragic and unresolved Aldergrove murder. It further talks about concerned Aldergrove residents having a rally tomorrow to voice their concerns over violence in their community. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. at 273rd Street and Fraser Highway and end at 264th Street. The real story and problem in Aldergrove that no one is admitting yet is that there are now three (3) youth gangs apparently thriving in the community. One of them is even calling themselves the 856 gang. Yes these are the first organized gangs in Langley!

Sadly Aldergrove is more and more being viewed as the armpit of Langley even rivaling Langley City's crime and makes former Township problem child, Langley Meadows, look like a model affluent community! The almost always empty $1,000,000 community police substation building parking lot clearly proves this as just another useless Mayor Albert's Township Council boondoggle that was a waste of our money and then even located in a ridiculously remote part of town. The only action this Editor ever sees there is an occasional and rare police officer having a smoke in the quiet back alley besides his cruiser! Council instead should have used this money to provide more facilities & programs for the wayward Aldergrove youth as well as getting better and more frequent public transit for them to get out and about from this Aldergrove transit deprived secluded Alcatraz island environment! Instead of wandering the streets in gangs.

Both the editorial pages are full of the Langley Doctors press conference critical of funding in the crisis situation at Langley Hospital. Once again you can only hear the sound of crickets rather than any comments from our two MLA's in Langley on this issue. I thought that trying to get adequate or even better health care provision was an MLA's responsibility in their own ridings!

In fact the Editorial cartoon shows a Liberal MLA holding a bag of money (indicating their large pay hike) saying "Who do the Langley doctors think they are, MLAs!" I guess this is really like throwing rocks at a glass house. It certainly was not a comment from Langley MLAs who are still mysteriously mum on the topic.

Finally Page A28 talks to yesterday's tragic and serious car accident on 0 avenue. Coun. Kim Richter is quoted saying that "Zero Avenue should be upgraded to a major arterial road." This Editor just can't believe that this road is only designed and built for a ridiculously low speed limit of 50 to 60 km! Another Mayor Alberts' Township council boondoggle. It should be upgraded to be an arterial road. This Editor defies anyone to travel the length of 0 avenue and have the patience to stick to 50 or 60 km an hour. It should definitely be re designated and re designed to become an arterial road commensurate with it's full potential.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Township's Latest New Financial Fiasco? Shocked Township Taxpayers Now Own A Restaurant /Bar Too!

Today's Vancouver Province shockingly reports yet again another possible multi million Langley Township Council financial boondoggle! We the Township taxpayers, now seem to also own a restaurant, The Bedford House in Fort Langley! Not to mention that this same Mayor Alberts' led Township council also bought a multi million dollar Redwoods golf course that we the taxpayers can't use... for a decade or much more! In the tradition of the Golf course purchase this Editor wonders how long the existing restaurateur's have the use of the now taxpayer owned property? 10-20-25 years?! Add this now to the 56th Avenue street of financial horrors show of multi million dollar taxpayer funded Grandstand overruns, a million dollar leaking soccer field disaster and right across the street the bargain basement give away of our airport property leases. These all spell financial b-o-o-n-d-o-g-g-l-e-s.These all together point directly to why all this Township's Council gaggle of goofs/old boys club have honoured us with a historic tax increase last year, this year and for years to come, as long as they get re-elected!

Where is our local press and more importantly when will they investigate & report this latest fiasco because it sure looks like our Township council has got a hidden agenda that they won't come clean on in the near future. To be fair inklings were published weeks ago about it especially about prominent Fort Langleyians against any such rumoured purchase. The local rags should have followed up better and beat the Spencer story. I can hardly wait to see which Council members supported this deal and then how they each justify it just as they did on the other fiascos! I will go out on a limb and take a guess and take your bets that it was unanimous with one dissenting vote. LOL.

The Kent Spencer Province story also reports that the Langley Township purchase of "The Bedford House is currently assessed at $1.3 million -- $1.2 million less than Langley paid for it." Whatever the value why does this Council keep spending like drunken sailors.? Meanwhile the Province quoted Mayor Albert's latest vague baffle gab comments with this classic Alberts' statement quoted, "I was hoping to make an announcement. I may be able to confirm the purchase later. I'm not aware of those details. I leave it up to staff." Excuse me , wasn't there a community input process just recently on these issues in Fort Langley. Were these just window dressing exercises to provide a flight path for a secret purchase of this property? What's the real hidden agenda here? What else has this Mayor Alberts' council been buying in secret? It's time to bring this out into the open. Enough secret in-camera meetings that end up costing us millions of questionable expenditures! Will this be the final straw to break the voting taxpayer's back. This Editor sure thinks it should!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vecchiato's Voice - May 1, 2007 - Council Axes Tree Bylaw

The article in the Langley Times ("Council axes tree bylaw," Friday, April 27, 2007), reeked of veneer observations of the entire process.

As stated in the article, the incipient process of drafting a by-law was motivated by delegations from 1/4-lot owners. Their properties shared a large stand of trees, and when a new buyer purchased a lot, he cleared the parcel. Specialists were called in, and homeowners were advised of wind throw, weakening of root systems which know no property lines, and collapsed septic fields for older lines and roots become intertwined. The concerns were realistic and are constant problems when one property owner clears without consulting neighbors. This applies to treed lots that are adjacent to one another only.

The task forced appointed by the Township consisted of 3 1/4-acre lot residents, a Brookswood Secondary student, a Brookswood resident with 5 acres, and a Fernridge resident. Those of us with 1/4 acre lots opted for firmer restrictions; however, knowing the emotional climate of Brookswood, the following items were discussed and agreed upon:
--That a permit system would never work in Brookswood
--That the area subject to discussion was 10' from the property line and in accordance with the building code of 10' buffers
--That if a property owner wanted to clear all the way to the fence, then s/he must grind the stumps. Grinding, we felt, would act as a deterrent as it is more expensive than total removal.

Task Force members received a preliminary draft on March 5, 2007, and the last draft the week of the open house. During this time period, a permit requirement for any tree removal was added, and any protest was too late for Council or the Open House.

My concern is: How did our volunteer task force time get so convoluted by staff? Mr. Houlden and Councillor Vickberg were present at all the meetings, and I feel an issue of sacrificial lamb is lingering behind Township doors. My understanding is that legal opinion from Township said the by-law was only viable if a permit was in place. However, several by-laws in the Lower Mainland and on the Island do not demand permits for a limited amount of tree removal.

Our former planning director had every by-law in his office, so there was no shortage of research information. My feeling is that those whose salary we pay did not want any sort of by-law to pass, knowing the general sentiment of personal property rights, which stirs Canadian emotions as much as hockey games.

Township has wasted taxpayer dollars performing this silly and lengthy draft that did not conform at all to what was proposed. Over five years ago, I had proposed, via delegation, a bylaw that allowed 3 trees per year without a permit. I never received any response.

I think Council and staff should rethink what they have done to the public and to those of us who volunteered our time. If we paid staff members to pull this permit by-law out of it's magic but ever-so-slow hat, it should not be at our expense. Education was also mentioned, and perhaps if educational material was enclosed in tax statements, we can make a start at enlightening everyone about the need for wildlife habitat, the legal aspect of clearing when an active nest is present, carbon dioxide absorption, spiral pruning to prevent wind throw, and how root systems intertwine, thus preventing blow downs. In addition, the constant references to neighbor-against-neighbor can be demonstrated in the fact that the purchaser sold the property after clearing, that residents beside those who overkill clear cannot help but to groom an intense distaste for their inconsiderate neighbors. The animosity exists now; the task force recommendations were fair and based on compromise.

Should my summary of recommendations be off base, I ask that other task force members make clarifications. As for the observation, "it is a classic case of our inability to read the public," I think, instead, it was a classic case of staff's inability to read recommendations.

The favor of a reply is requested and reconsideration of our original recommendations should be made public and put to open house.
Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for the past 6 years. She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities. Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network.
Editor's note: Cathleen was one of the appointees to the Langley Township Brookswood tree bylaw task force.