Sunday, December 30, 2007

LFP Is Two Years Old & Year End Open Mic Time

Two years ago on December 17, 2005 Langley Free Press was born. We are still here and thriving with great columnists like Cathleen Vecchiato, Township Councillor Kim Richter and soon to be Langley School Trustee ( If we can have anything to do with it that is!) Susan Semonick! We also very sadly mourn the most recent loss of Freewoman Muriel Arnason who had also joined us on December 31, 2005 as our second Contributing LFP Columnist. All in all it's been 2 great years of providing the only real fresh alternative public forum for political & editorial opinions, discussion and news about the community with you, the community. Thank you all. Feel free to give us your comments/predictions about any topic on this posting string. YEAR END OPEN MIC TIME! If anyone is even home or sober enough at this time of year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

LFP Columnist Kim Richter, Celebrates 25 year Anniversary with Husband Bob On New Year's Eve

In today's Vancouver Sun (Dec 29) on page B9 celebrating section, an ad re the Richter's 25th anniversary! Why do we publish it? Kim is our publisher after all and LFP is graciously hosted by her. Congratulations, Kim and Bob! Best wishes over the next 25 years. We look forward to posting your golden anniversary here on LFP too!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - Education TIDBITS

Ministry of Education CLASS SIZE REPORT
More than 95% of classes in BC school districts had 30 or fewer students. According to the report, classes with more than 30 students have decreased by close to 66% throughout the province since 2005-06.

Other highlights of the report are:
· The number of classes in the province increased by 28 over last year, even though enrolment has declined by an estimated 7,000 students this year.
· There have been 278 new teaching assistants hired this year, up almost 3.5 per cent from 8,062 last year.
· There are 6,049 classes with 15 or fewer students, up from 5,963 last year, and over 600 more than in 2005-06

Lets hope the large classes that currently exist at LSS and the other secondary schools can be reduced for next year. We should all hope that the classes at least at LSS will range between 22 - 29 instead of 33-45.

Langley Teachers’ Association will be releasing “The Report on the Inquiry into Special Education” Mark your calendars.
Official release date for the report of the Inquiry into Special Education in Langley is:
Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 4:00 p.m.
Ft. LangleyCommunity Hall

For Parents living with Special Needs Children
Please join BC Association for Community Living for a dynamic and informative retreat weekend. The Ripple Effect II: Exploring the power of advocacy and community development, Tamagawa Centre, Nanaimo, February 15-17, 2008. This is the second of a series of weekend retreats for family members who have a child or family member with a developmental disability.

All expenses will be covered including accommodation, food, transportation and respite.

Application deadline: January 11, 2008

For more information please contact Mitch Loreth at or Laney Bryenton at or by tel: 604-777-9100.

Susan Semonick On Schools - Dec 11, 2007 Board Of Education Report

I was unable to actually attend the Board of Education meeting of December 11, 2007. What I gather from information I received is that it was business as usual. There were about 30 in attendance, excluding people who were there for the music presentation.
The LSS bands performed and their music director spoke about the Jazz band program at the school, which is quite unique by what was said.

The SummerLAND (Summer Literacy and Numeracy Days) program was reported on. SummerLAND is the new name for Rec N’ Reading, Numbers Til’ Noon, and Rhyme Time programs that are offered during the summer at local schools to assist primary and intermediate students who would benefit from extra support in these areas. There was an article in the Langley Advance about it on July 27 entitled “Struggling Students Get Boost in Math.” The cost for this program is approximately $6,000.00 per school. The fees are varied at each school depending upon local sponsorship and this issue is being looked to better ensure equity across the district.

Secondary Literacy
There are now Literacy Facilitators in each of the secondary schools who work with school staff to improve literacy skills in all curricular areas. This new initiative provides support to teachers in teaching literacy skills, not only English, Social Studies, Humanities classes, but also in a variety of classes.

Superintendent Beaumont provided an update on two areas of the Strategic Plan, Early Learning and Drug and Alcohol Education.

Early Learning (Pre-K) is now a part of each school district’s responsibility and the goal is to support and enhance services in the community. There is an Early Learning Steering Committee with representatives from many community organizations serving young families. There are several programs already in place to support parents in developing foundational skills.

Strong Start is funded by the Ministry of Education and is a parent participation program available at Nicomekl and Parkside. The Ministry plans to expand this program.

Ready, Set, Learn is a school readiness program for 3 – 4 yr olds available at all Langley elementary schools. The budget was $82,500

Daycares - There are now 22 Langley elementary schools with day cares and preschool programs offered in them. The district is currently trying to align all the contracts to be similar.

Mother Goose program for children up to 6 yrs. old is available at 4 schools and engages them in songs, rhymes, and stories.

A pamphlet for new mothers outlining the various programs available at local schools for early learners will be included in every Public Health Newborn Kit.

Not sure how much all of this costs but I’m sure it will be shown at the in the proposed budget documents. For Further information go to:

A newly implemented Day Treatment Program is one of the initiatives the district has taken in its three-tiered approach to Drug and Alcohol Education. The district focus is on education and prevention, intervention, and treatment, Ms. Beaumont said.
Project Resiliency is a curriculum implemented in grade 7 and provides 8 to 10 hours of drug-awareness and resistance education.
Project Resiliency Day Program is an intervention program for students who are referred to the 3-day intensive program. It is considered an alternative to suspension and students are automatically referred if they break school rules regarding drugs and alcohol.
D.E.W.Y. – Day, Evening, Weekend Youth program is an intensive 10-12 week program for youth with substance abuse problems. They had 3 modules last year and have one this year with the introduction of the PR day program. They may add another module if needed.

They are looking for public input to name the Anderson site, which currently houses the PASS (Pathfinder Alternative Secondary School) program. I have heard that they have already named the site but are going through the motions of renaming the school to better relate to the location and purpose of the school. I wonder if they will give the community an opportunity of renaming the two new fundamental schools. I also wonder when the Otter Elementary site will be renamed to better describe the APEX program there. According to the Naming of Schools policy #4004, they would also fall within this policy. They all come under the same reason they are using to rename the Anderson site. Does it surprise me they only do one at a time instead of looking at the whole picture? I will leave that to you the public to answer.

Ministry is still working the numbers and the district is still revising and providing additional information to them. It looks like the 1.6 million estimated deficit might go down to 1.3 million. We will find out in January.

The district signed an agreement with TWU to work together in teacher education utilizing RC Garnett Demonstration School and the opportunities it is able to provide for student teachers going through practicums.

Question Period:

The question of their raises was brought up the board was unaware of how much they were getting.

Respectfully submitted

Susan Semonick

Susan Semonick On Schools - Dec 27 NEWS FLASH - School Board Gives Itself 9% Raise

EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 1, 2007, the Board received a 9 % raise - not a bad percentage. They in effect have gone from $15,419 to $16,886 of which some of it is tax free - that’s right folks TAX FREE - with Burton receiving $2,000 more as Chair and McVeigh $1,000 more annually as Vice-Chair. Sad to think that the cost of the raise covers the cost savings of closing South Carvolth. McVeigh has stated in the past that it is not for the money they are trustees. Then I ask, why do they keep taking the raises when it certainly would help the students if they didn’t? That goes for every one of them.

Here is a bit of history:

Trustee Indemnity (Base)
Cost Saving Measures

Before June 2006 the base indemnity was $11,508.00, and they closed South Carvolth at the end of June 2006. Trustees receive raises twice in 2006 and by December 2006 their base indemnity was $15,419.00, which is a 34% raise.

In June 2007, they closed Aldergrove and Bradshaw elementary schools and promptly received an increase of 9.5% effective December 1, 2007. How much of an increase will they get if they close Murrayville Elementary effective June 2008 as is predicted?

On the savings side, the trustees who do receive medical coverage are now only getting 50 per cent of their premiums covered and this will soon decline to zero by December 2008.

Trustees attend around 77 meetings per year or less so every time they show up they are getting at least $219.00. If they were paid hourly their cost would be around 44.00 per hour. At least one of our trustees does the minimum 37 formal meetings and a few foundation meetings that is what is reported to the public so that works out to approximately 75 dollars an hour. Not so bad a gig I guess that is why we have some that continue one election after another and do not expand to other political areas. Chair Burton receives an additional $2,000.00, and McVeigh receives an additional $1,000.00 annually to be chair and vice-chair. They do not appear to do any more than the other trustees do. Remember now they say they are “not in it for the money.” they are there “for the students.” You make your decision at the ballot box. If you believe the above statement is true then vote for them. In 2004, only Trustee Bech asked for a reduction in their pay and her motion was defeated.

Trustees have reduced the amount of meetings they are required to attend and shortened the time they have to spend at them. With the changes to policy 1204, they have also effectively reduced the opportunity for public input as delegations to almost nothing and effectively eliminated question period at many of the recent meetings. This is a time for change.

In regards to these raises, one might be able to argue that the Board has breached their code of ethics where it states:
“They will recognize that the expenditure of school funds is a public trust, and will endeavour to see that ALL such funds shall be expended efficiently, economically, and for the best interest of the students.”

How can they say they have not breached this when the raises will be funded by the money acquired from the closure of schools? The funds will not be used in the classrooms but will be placed in their pockets.

We are looking at a 1.3 million deficit. Where else do they expect this money to come from? Especially since they still intend to continue to donate money to the Foundation, extend a line of credit to the School District Business Company, and accept increases to their own remuneration’s, which happen to be a higher rate of increase than what any of the staff who actually do the work and teach our students are receiving.

We need people who can be unbiased in their decisions with no conflicts of interest, who are able to put time into doing what they are elected to do - to be accountable to the students then the constituents; to keep open minds till all information is collected; to be aware of all the facts and financial costs; and to not be lead but to be leaders.

As an elected officer of the Board of Education policy # 0001 Code of Ethics should be read by all. Some additional excerpts are.

1. They will devote time, thought and study to their duties and responsibilities so that they may render effective and creditable service.

2. They will endeavor to work with each other in a spirit of harmony and cooperation in spite of differences of opinion that may arise during debate. They will observe proper decorum and behaviour: encourage full and open discussions in all matters with their fellow trustees; treat them with respect and consideration; and will not withhold or conceal from them any information or matter with which they should be concerned.

3. They will base their personal decision upon ALL available facts in each situation; vote their honest conviction in every case, unswayed by partisan bias and thereafter, abide by and uphold the final majority decision of the Board.

There has been talk recently of conflict of interest. There is a 130-page document on closure of schools recently presented at the BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) conference, which addresses this area. If you read the document and the guidelines it discusses, it looks like at least two trustees should not have participated in the HDS vote according to public statements they made prior to it. It seems this Board constantly turns a blind eye to the public concept of what is seen as a conflict and what is not. Even the definition of ‘at arms length’ is straightforward yet this board seems to have a problem understanding the public perception or for that matter the CRA interpretation. When have they listened to the public? Since 2005 election I cannot cite one situation where they have, except when their decision only prolongs an inevitable decision that should have been made in the first place – South Carvolth and Aldergrove are examples....

Friday, December 21, 2007

LFP's Take On Water Meters and Quacking Ducks

How ludicrous are Councillor Charlie Fox's statements in Wednesday's Langley Times? Fox was quoted to say: "he didn’t know where the idea came from that the water meters have been considered" and he even further put his foot in his mouth when he also said: "he has never voted for water metering, and has never had the opportunity to say what his stand on the matter is". Sad isn't it? And we had such great hopes for Charlie when he was first elected too!

So Charlie and LFP readers let's refresh the facts as they really are and as they occurred.

As Cllr. Kim Richter was quoted in the same article: “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck”. Charlie, you were an observer to the task force on the draft Water Management plan development and worse still you voted to send the draft water management plan to the two public open houses with, in my opinion, obviously the full intent to comply with the ministerial order to essentially rubber stamp the report for the Minister prior to December 31st 2007 in compliance with the time lines set out for the final report submission by the Minister.

Charlie, why did you not question it before sending it to the public? Charlie, the water meter implementation in the report that calls for installation for EVERYBODY in Langley including every private well was a "core recommendation" in the water plan that you sent to two public open houses without any discussion at all on it! How could you and his Eminence, Mayor Alberts, ever have sent this piece of vague slop to the public in its present format without any discussion whatsoever? You Sir, did have the opportunity to question it! In fact the water meter requirement was the only item that was NOT vague, except for the part of who was to pay for it! You did not even ask that question Charlie, before sending it to the two open houses!

Did you even listen at the meetings you attended? Correction Charlie, you did have an opportunity to give your opinions on the water meter core recommendation in the water plan that YOU voted to OK and send to the two public open houses. Did you even read the final draft water management report? Charlie, face it, Richter is right, it is a duck! Are your comments now intended to be a duck as well?

Readers, let's be clear about it. If Cllr. Richter had not rung the alarm bells on this issue, the attendance at the two open houses on the water management plan would have gone unnoticed and this current Mayor Alberts' majority slate on Township council would have simply rubber stamped the report and sent it back to the Minister for implementation!

To further demonstrate the tunnel vision of this "good ole boys club" on Township council, they did not even second Richter's two motions on the water management plan for discussion that were quoted in the same Langley Times article. Specifically, "Later at Monday’s meeting, Richter’s notice of motion, for a referendum on metering private wells, got no seconder. Richter wanted two referendum questions, on well metering and a separate water management board with taxation authority, included in the 2008 civic election." The "boys" did not even want to discuss it at all!

This Editor specifically loved the Langley Times reporter, Al Irwin's closing comment: "Richter told council she hopes some members of council make a New Year’s resolution, 'to start seconding some motions, at least for discussion.' "
Journalistic KUDOS to Al Irwin and the Langley Times on excellent, insightful, relevant, and publicly informative reporting!

LFP's Take On Fort Langley's New Seniors Threshold of 45 Year Olds! Only in Langley Township You Say!

What Ever Happened to the Initial Bedford Landing design Concept?

This Editor remembers the initial and even then very controversial design concept of the Fort Langley Bedford Landing community design that would enhance Fort Langley on the old Interfor lands. It was just a few years ago that I got the impression that the overall design called for a mini village of mixed use that I remember would provide crafts and artists to live above their retail/design units along with a new quaint boutique hotel and patioed bar/grill with a broad spectrum of livability of new families to seniors in a complimentary heritage style Fort Langley setting and wonderful river frontage use.

Well I now see a highly densified bedroom community only, no artists lofts, no quaint mini village boutique hotel, no complimentary Fort Langley heritage setting and now not even a place for Langley seniors unless you are of course the "new age" senior of 45 years old and can afford the high priced units! And now we have also opened the barn doors to 4 story buildings in Fort Langley!

The developer(s) are certainly not to blame because they rightly will do as much as possible to maximize their profit margins and sales to satisfy their shareholders. That is private enterprise and totally correct and proper (within quality controlled limits).

The Langley Township Council on the other hand is totally at fault here in this case. Their job is balance and control. Their job is also to create a vision of the community together ccooperatively with the community (who are their shareholders by the way) and balance out the needs and wishes of the community along with the private profit motivated developers. This Mayor Albert's tired and arrogant council has lost touch with this requirement and more importantly with the community and it's shareholders, we the Taxpayers. When something's tired, it needs to be replaced.

If the developer's shareholders requirements are not met, their senior executives will be voted out and fired at their shareholder's meeting. November 2008 will be this Township Council's public taxpayer's shareholder meeting!

The present Langley Township council led by Mayor Alberts has failed miserably in regards to listening and especially taking care of their shareholder's interest. The clear signs of evidence of this are when they now very often begin to insist that they and their hired professionals and staff know MUCH better than the taxpayer's (their shareholders)!

When you have Township Taxpayers (shareholders) who have not been given proper opportunity to give input and in fact then try to even sneak things by them (in fact or perceived) in total disregard to their wishes, the taxpayers will obviously be angry and vocal. Frustration sets in and is demonstrated by the only thing the public shareholders can do such as interrupt in a council meeting to share their frustration. This is a clear sign of failure on the Mayor's council of poor process reminiscent of the LLT final days in power in the Council chambers. This is not what Cllr. Vickberg says when he calls these people not a good reflection of their community. This Mr. Vickberg is a reflection of your council's arrogance and closed minds. Two council meetings ago Cllr. Vickberg said he considered the new Bedford landing community as one with the upper existing Fort Langley community. Yet he in this Editor's opinion by his actions on this so called Seniors residence essentially ignores the pleas of in excess of 250 long term residents and sides with the ~25 new Bedford Landing residents and the developers. Why?

To make matters worse both Mayor Alberts and Cllr. Vickberg severely and publicly chastised these frustrated resident's pleas for a more public hearing and due process on the matter. The pleas from over 250 Fort Langley residents did not ask for a cancellation of the project. It simply asked for a delay to have more community input and a say in the decision. As one letter writer says this could have become a win-win situation. The Council's arrogance on this matter and others like the 248th street intersection demonstrates that the Mayor Alberts' majority slate on council is tired and in need of serious replacement in the upcoming November 2008 municipal election. The same arrogant decision makjing process is evident on Langley School Board as well.

In the meantime Langley & Fort Langley, in this Editor's opinion have lost a wonderful opportunity to create a unique Whistler type of complete community in the new Fort Langley in lieu of a highly densified bedroom commuting community. Sad, so very sad.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ft. Langley angry at ‘seniors’ deal (The Province, 20 Dec 2007, Page A9)

The 3 veteran Councilors Kim Richter, Bob Long & Mel Kositsky were the only 3 on Township Council to vote against the project.

Ft. Langley angry at ‘seniors’ deal
The Province
20 Dec 2007

People over 45 may be surprised to find out Langley will classify them as seniors if they move into a particular apartment complex. Township council has applied its new definition of old folks — most often 65 and up — to Parklane’s proposed new condos... read more...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Letter To The Editor - Dec 18, 2007 - From Dale Hughes - RE: Council Xmas Finger Gift To Fort Langley

------- Original Message Follows -------
To: Kim Richter & Langley FreePress

From: Dale Hughes
Subject: Thank you for writing to my friend Myrna, she deserved that for her courage to speak out.
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 10:08:08 -0800

I was personally very heartened to see you have integrity and did your level best to make some valid points in our favour last night.
Many thanks to you and your two fellow members of council who saw the angst of the community and made an effort to support us.

Personally I was stunned to see the whitewash by other council members on this issue.
If 25 people (unnamed) are found to agree with a plan that is kept under~wraps and then sprung upon the community who responds with a force of 10 times plus that number in letter and email protest and it is ignored, then there is something terribly wrong with the system.

This process is new to me, that is the first council meeting I have attended.
I am just getting involved in community matters beyond what I could accomplish in my few spare hours of volunteer for artistic and community hall pursuits. I became involved in this protest out of disbelief that such an important new feature for our landscape was being slipped into place by a passing of by~law due to lack of knowledge and input from our community.

The Mayor/council handled our concerns poorly with the exception of the three of you who took a stand on our behalf.

The deferral of this program to January would have been possibly a win win situation for them and for us of the community.

Yes, the Mayor is right in his passionate lecture to the converted on council and his attempt to sway/inform those of us in the audience.

It will not be the downfall of the Fort. Other phases of time have made an imprint upon the Fort in the past and still have been integrated into the community. And then there was a general agreement that this sort of erratic behaviour would be halted and we would begin building on our heritage and reflect the gems in our village to draw others of like mind to our doorstep in the future. Is money the only concern of a council? Why do we elect and pay them? It is our concerns and directives that are supposed to be upheld, not the wealthy corporate interests.

Erosion of public support in a tight community such as ours is a very sad misuse of power and will not be easily forgotten.

Such disrespect for our intelligence and our time was not easily swallowed and dismissal of the resulting frustration as rude was unacceptable to me. The apology should not have come from Myrna but rather from the council members using their platform of power given to them, by the public they were now misrepresenting, for our time wasted in airing their opinions instead of devoting their attention to our concerns.

Again, I commend you for your moral stand and valiant efforts to assist us.
I see you recognize it was not easy to garner the level of support and emails and letters that were received by council in this excessively busy time of the year within one week. Perhaps council should take another look at the force of will and number of dedicated persons involved in rallying that amount of support.
I will personally be very aware of the slippery slope of December's use for sliding unfavourable projects under the doorway of our community in the future.

I do hope you and all others in our community will have a restful and happy holiday season.
You three wiser ones well deserve it.

Best regards
Dale Hughes.

Letter To The Editor - Dec 17, 2008 - From Myrna Pfeifer - RE: Council Xmas Finger Gift To Fort Langley

------- Original Message Follows -------
From: Myrna
To: Kim Richter & Langley Free Press
Subject: Bedford Building Development Permit
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2007 21:40:21 -0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

Thanks for speaking out as you did. It is curious to me how 250 letters received by Mayor and Council, in the busiest week of the year, can be ignored.

It does not give me a lot of hope where the wishes of the people are concerned. 'Bottom Lines' continue to wag the dog!!

Myrna Pfeifer
Concerned Citizen

Subject: Bedford Building Development Permit

The Township Mayor & Council has lost its ears!!

Despite receiving 250 letters from the residents of Fort Langley, Mayor Alberts and his council majority railroaded through Parklane's building approval permit tonight at the regular council meeting.

A large contingency from The Fort sat and endured lectures by Mayor Alberts, Councilors Ward and Vickberg. " history has proven how developments I once lived in were once considered ill-suited to Fort Langley". Mayor Alberts said this to reassure us that whatever he approves must be okay.

Councilor Richter stated that 250 letters were received by Mayor and Council this week, raising serious concerns about the lack of public input into this stage of the development.

No comments were allowed by the gallery at this meeting so when I could no longer sit quietly, I interrupted Mr. Vickberg stating that .."council was not listening to the people it represents."

Sorry, Mayor and Township Council, but when you turn a deaf ear or eye to 250 residents, it is my humble opinion you are not doing your duty and speaking out was my only option.

Merry Christmas.
M.L. Pfeifer

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

250+ Fort Langley Residents Given Township Council Xmas Finger Gift!

Well, no surprise, the Langley Township council except for Cllr's Richter, Long & Kositsky voted to go ahead with the waterfront 4 story Seniors (the good ole boys define seniors as age 45 & up!) condo complex! See previous posting.

Since last week the Fort Langley residents rallied in meetings and actually sent well over 250 letters asking the 'good ole boys' to reconsider approving this condo/apartment complex. This is outstanding participation, considering that it is the busiest time of year and I believe that the whole community only has 500 mail boxes! What the 'good ole boys' seem to forget is that these 250+ signatures could well represent upwards of a 400 to 500 vote count in the upcoming November 2008 election. This can make or break many of these councillors and even Mayor Alberts who it is expected and rumoured will be running against Councillor Kim Richter this time out! By the way Richter's opposition to the plan elicited the only rousing audience applause.

Heck quite a few residents even braved going to the council meeting last night only to be lectured to ad nauseum from the likes of Steve Ferguson, Charlie Fox, Grant Ward, Howie Vickberg and especially Mayor Kurt Alberts. I am told Alberts had a prepared multi page presentation. Under the guise of debate amongst themselves on council, these Cllrs. essentially droned on and on, pontificating clearly only for the TV audience and the chambers audience. Finally an audience member who had enough of this redundant and pathetic self serving lecturing spoke out that they should stop their lectures. Both Mayor Alberts and Cllr. Vickberg severely and vocally chastised the female audience member. Par for the course says this Editor!

On today's CBC radio news at 6:15am Mayor Alberts again droned on about how well and good this decision was. What he failed to state was that there was no adequate warning or even attempt to inform the residents of Fort Langley about the major changes to this complex. He completely ignored the wishes of the in excess of 250+ people. He never even mentioned them at all. He did however say that they got the approval of 24 residents in the Bedford Landing area. So he listened and quoted the 24 people who have lived there for only maybe 6 months or more and ignored the in excess of 250 residents that have lived there for countless many years!

So that is how the "good ole boys" on Township council listen and work for you, the community!
(Visit here again as this Editor will be adding more news and pertinent info to this posting within the next few days.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fort Langley Xmas Surprise: Waterfront 4 Story Building For Seniors If You're 45 Years Old and Up!

The old Fort Langley Interfor lands mill site has a well renowned developer building beautiful homes in what is now known as Bedford landing. They are also now seeking Township council's final approval to build a so-called Seniors apartment building by the river in Fort Langley just west of the Fort Pub on Glover road. This was always planned and envisioned years ago as a place for Langley and especially Fort Langley seniors to retire to and still remain in Langley/Fort Langley.

The issue from this Editor's point of view as well as some other now very surprised long time Fort Langley residents at this past council meeting on Monday is that suddenly just a week or two before Christmas the proposed Seniors residence has sprouted a couple of astounding and unforeseen surprises that were not originally planned or indeed intended!

What changes? First of all it will now be a 4 story building not 3 as originally planned! Secondly the building will be for so called senior adults only and specifically for those 45 and older! Gee, I guess a lot of 45 year olds will now be surprised to find out the new definition of seniors. When asked what the price per unit was, the answer given was a very early qualified guesstimate in the range of ~$300,000 a unit (In the attached rendering one has to wonder what the waterfront/mountain 4th level units will sell for to the 45 year old seniors!) . Now keep in mind that this building will be located right on the Fraser River channel with the Fort Pub building to its east. Also have a look at the architectural renderings of the building. Does this look like Fort Langley style and structure to you? That's what it was supposed to always be. All in all a lot of surprises about the structure and new criteria for tenants.

One cannot blame the developer for maximizing the quantity of units but as one of the opponents to the proposal indicated he called for council to say no and to remain within the 3 story original guidelines. He also said that this was the wedge to perhaps build even more 4 story buildings in Fort Langley.

What concerned the small group of local surprised Fort Langley residents in attendance was that it sure sounded like it would be rushed through just before Christmas on December 10 and now on December 17th by Township council without the vast majority of local residents being aware of these dramatic changes . Councillor Richter moved to table it till at least January with again, no surprise, no seconder. Her intention was to at least give all the Fort Langley community some better notice and to let them know about the new changes to the original plan.

So in a nutshell the issues beside the dramatic new changes are also the facts that the vast majority of Fort Langley as well as all of Langley residents were not apprised of or indeed aware of these significant changes to the original plan and that it now appears at least to this Editor that it will probably be rammed through 7 days before Christmas! The old "ram it through before Xmas trick"! I hope not because even this Editor is not yet convinced that these changes are in keeping with the original form and character of the community. Not to mention that this editor is surprised to learn the new Bedford definition of senior is 45 years old!

This Editor thinks that the whole decision should be put off a month or two at least so as to let the community and taxpayers know what the changes contemplated are. Think about it, a 4 level building in Fort Langley by the river! This Editor does not live any where near Fort Langley but I as well as all of the Langley taxpayers covet the unique Fort Langley ambiance and design criteria. All of us should seriously expect this Council to get all of our opinions on this structure first before rushing ahead with it 7 days before Xmas. The busiest time of the year! But then again, what's so different between this and the proposed ground water management plan? The timing matches! Both need much more public input before Council's rubber stamp is put on them. If you are at all concerned about this, email before Monday December 17th 2007. Merry Christmas from your Langley Township council "good ole boys club" !?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

How To Honour Muriel Arnason?

Our poll posted earlier while still open for votes, declares the following final results of what to name after former Township Councillor & Freewoman Muriel Arnason;
44% - Council chambers meeting room/presentation center
18% - Langley Events Center
9% - Township Civic Building/City Hall
5% - New Aldergrove Pool
17% - Other with No Suggestions
2% - A street -like 'Arnason Way'
2% - Museum
2% - Spoiled
The above is what YOU suggest and want. What this Council finally decides is another story that I'm sure you will find is altogether different and that I surely will comment on as well! Hopefully because it will exceed my and your expectations!
ALSO Don't forget to Honour Muriel Arnason by attending her services!

Susan Semonick On Schools - Nov 26 HD Stafford Parent Meeting

November 26th HD Stafford Secondary Parent information meeting

To start, there were about 60 people present. By the end of the meeting, about 100 people, inclusive of students, were in attendance. I believe the weather may have been a major factor in the attendance. Being from Manitoba this bit of snow is nothing.

There were no real answers given to the parents. Until the district gets the numbers regarding who is staying and who is going where, for all grades, it seems no firm decisions will be made.

What was stated was that all the courses currently offered at HDSS and all the courses currently offered at LSS would be offered at LSS. I also understood Ms. Wright to say that all the courses currently at HDS will be offered at HDS during the regular course planning in January and February. What classes each school ends up having will be dependent upon the enrolment. Parents and students need to understand that ‘offer’ does NOT mean ‘will have’. If there is not sufficient enrolment in classes at either LSS or HDSS, or they cannot find a way to combine classes, then those classes will not happen. No numbers were given in regards to minimum requirement(s) to teach or have a class.

They will offer curriculum at both schools but until the numbers are in, they cannot assure the curriculum will be delivered in September. They will try to have a finalized course selection catalogue before the end of January. Mary Wright, who is the retired past principal for WGSS, has been contracted to do this.

One parent did state that according to the IEP process that a child that has one should be allowed at least a year to transition, with the littlest of disruption of staff as possible. So I guess we will not be following that? I suppose they can argue that this is an ‘unexpected transition.’ Regardless, let us hope that they do everything possible to ensure what is best for these students.

There were questions about catchment areas but there were no clear answers. I guess that having two schools offering grade 12 within the same catchment area is a first for the district. Does this mean that LSS students can now take advantage of lower class size in grade 12 at HDS? If having a Grade 12 offered in a middle school is educationally sound, why would it not be offered to the whole district? Would any student in the district be able to take advantage of this? The School Act does state that if it is offered and there is space available, a student will not be denied. WOW, what an opportunity. A letter from Cheryle Beaumont herself states,

“All students in grade 11 at HDSS may attend Langley Secondary School next year. This includes grade 11 students who are attending HDSS but do not live in the catchment area. These students may register in grade 12 at LSS without requesting a new cross-boundary permit. The LSS facility will be able to accommodate all the current HDSS 11 students.”

There was no mention of the grade 8, 9 and 10 students, who would be in grades 9-10-11 next year. So, do they have to file for cross-boundary if they do not live in the catchment area?

How many Grade 12 students will they accept at HD?

Transportation has been guaranteed between HDS and LSS at no cost to students or parents so the 12’s from LSS could easily be transported to HDS.

By November 30th, students are expected to hand in the orange form “School Preference for September 2008” to Mr. Kozlovic in the office so that the staff can start plans in regards to class configuration at LSS and HDS. Or, to at least see what may work with the numbers estimated to enable them to advise students what may be feasible for them to offer or NOT. The form actually states due November 22, but I understand this has been extended to the 30th. Hopefully all the forms have been handed in by now. This form is not going to Ms. Beaumont but will remain in the hands of Mr. Kozlovic.

There was discussion around the LEC program and the four portables that are ordered. In regards to the numbers of students and classrooms for this program, people were told that because some of the classes are in the evening the actual number of students would not affect LSS’s capacity of 1025. It was stated that the 9-12 students would not be housed in those portables; they are for LEC students.

According to the information given at this meeting, it appears that to run a middle school the teachers do not require any special training at all. However, the district will offer a summer training program that the teachers can choose to take if they are interested in this area. This is not what the people involved in the consultation meetings were told.

Human resources will be working with LTA to iron out the staffing requirements once numbers have been determined. About 40 percent of the audience was undecided about what they were going to do. An estimated10 percent had already decided to leave the district, and have taken steps to do so.

I understand that the district will have a problem if they hire a teacher now to teach a class and it does not materialize. I expect that there will be more lay-offs than perhaps necessary in June and that some teachers will find jobs in September. This is all part of the upheaval for the district. It is not only students who are affected.

It is interesting to note that all the changes surrounding middle schools and teachers is happening when the district is in the midst of negotiating with the LTA regarding contractual language about middle school teachers. Right now, it seems that a grade 6 or 7 teacher is an intermediate teacher and a grade 8 teacher is a secondary teacher regardless if they are teaching in a “middle school”.

I requested that the letters, other correspondence, and updates regarding the transition be posted on the School District website so that the whole district can be kept up-to-date on what is happening, as the district has a tendency to directly notify only parents they believe will be affected. There are, however, parents and students who are watching what is happening in the South Central area and are considering it as an option for their children. I do not think there are many but there has been expressed interest.

There was talk of the BC Sports regulations. Apparently, parents have discussed this with BC Sports and they are in discussion with them on how to best handle this. Mr. Kozlovic will be assisting them. I hope that this part of the transition can be handled with the least bit of stress for the students involved. This issue is best left to the people directly affected so that there is less chance of misinformation. I do not think Trustee Ross’s comments at the last board meeting, of limiting their request letter to only students going to LSS, was thinking of the students and the programs they are in. This is making judgement of what is needed without knowing the facts - surprised? NOT. Hopefully the politics can be left out of this situation completely. Let BC Sports, coaches and the parents of the athletes handle it.

There was a handout about Graduation requirements provided by the school administration.

Yes, that is right - I was left with many more questions than answers, folks. Sorry about that. I will keep you updated as information is forth coming. Although, if you will remember my request for financial numbers on the facilities report on completed projects, I am still waiting on that even though the board chair told me they had them almost two months ago. So my question is did they have them or not?

Respectfully submitted:

Susan Semonick

Thursday, December 06, 2007

‘Sweet’ deal has neighbours riled (The Province, 06 Dec 2007, Page A9)

"Good Ole Boys" On Langley Township Council looking after your Tax Dollars ! But they are good at tax increases !

‘Sweet’ deal has neighbours riled
The Province
06 Dec 2007

Langley Township has sold threequarters of an acre for just $12,000 — in an area where an acre can command up to $400,000. The sale of the township’s right-ofway to local resident David Gilroy was called “ridiculously low” yesterday by neighbour... read more...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Muriel Arnason Service Details

A public funeral service for Muriel Arnason will be held at Christian Life Assembly at 21277-56th Ave (across from the Langley airport) on;

Thursday December 13th at 1 PM.
A visitation can also be attended by the public at Henderson Funeral Home at 20786 Fraser Highway Langley on;
Wednesday December 12th between 6 PM and 8 PM.
The public is invited to both events by her family.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Muriel Arnason Passes Away December 1st 2007 - Passing of a Langley Legend

Muriel Arnason, Langley's longest serving Township Councillor, first female Councillor and first Township Freewoman died suddenly last night. It is with sadness that we report the passing of a legend who will long be remembered for sticking up for the "little guy" and for always fighting the good fight on behalf of the residents and taxpayers in this community. Thank you so very much Muriel. You will always be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers go to her daughter Petrina and to her other family members.