Last Monday night’s evening council meeting appeared to be a precursor of the next 4 years, providing insight on how an independent proactive minority is putting significantly increased pressure on a “status quo” majority. Councillors Richter & Woodward are both already pushing well thought out & researched motions at a rate generally not seen in recent Township of Langley history. While I may not agree with all of the motions put forward, it certainly is refreshing to see fresh ideas being discussed. Due to the length of this review, I had intended on shooting a video instead, but due to illness and work priorities, I couldn’t get it done. In lieu of the view, here is a quick outline to help you get to specific issues you may be interested in:
- Council Priority Committee
- Obscure Bylaw Amendment
- Left Turn Lane at Shepherd at the Valley
- Monster homes & affordable housing motions
- Aldergrove core plan CACs
- Williams “Special Study Area”?
Council to keep Council Priority Committee alive
Technically this was part of the afternoon meeting, but it is worth noting Councillor Richter’s motion to abolish the Council Priority Committee was defeated. The reasoning she had provided was (1) that council now has annual priority-setting sessions, (2) that the perception is that the committee is where Council can kill off less desirable motions and (3) that the committee is not open and transparent.
Councillor Bob Long and Mayor Jack Froese offered the strongest rebuke to suggest that the priority committee meetings still have value and are, in fact, open to the public. I was not aware that the meetings are open to the public, so I’ll be verifying this. The motion was defeated in an 7-2 vote with only Councillors Richter and Woodward in support.
Obscure bylaw amendment shows interesting 5-4 split vote
Amidst a run-of-the-mill development application procedure and fees bylaw (that would later be approved in a unanimous vote), Councillor Woodward made a motion to give developers 12 months instead of 6 months of inactivity before triggering a re-application which would require new fees. CEO Mark Bakken explained that the intent of the 6 months was to “act as a catalyst to try to keep some of the longer standing applications moving forward”. While most of the debate was legitimate semantics, what I found more interesting was that this essentially “pro-developer” motion was carried with mostly “not-so-developer-friendly” Councillors Arnason, Richter and Davies joining Woodward and Ferguson in support with the usually “pro-developer” group of Froese, Kunst, Long and Whitmarsh being against this amendment. As this was just a minor procedural change, there wasn’t much reason for Councillors to give their reasoning, so I’m currently filing this one away in the “uneXplained files” for later thought & research.
Left turn lane review at Shepherd of the Valley defeated 6-3
Moving past some typical 9-0 and 8-1 votes to some interesting items, Council defeated Councillor Richter’s motion to review access to the new multi-building development at the current Shepherd of the Valley church in Willoughby (Richter, Arnason, Davies in support). Councillor Richter is convinced that there is enough room in the lanes to the boulevard, but the majority of Council is taking staff’s word that this left turn lane could create future safety and queuing problems due to proximity to 200th Street.
Comparisons to the Canadian Tire on 64th Avenue were brought up multiple times, despite not realizing the major differences between regular commercial traffic compared to residential apartment traffic, but, hey, what do I know – let’s trust the same people who have been designing Willoughby’s streets for a decade. Furthermore, it seems that the majority on council want it both ways – they say it’ll be too busy to put a left turn lane but then in the same breath they say there won’t be that much traffic going into the 87 new homes. It is also interesting to note that staff had not problem with the left turn lane on 68th Avenue going into the massive Park Hill development or the 84th Avenue left turn lane heading into McDonald’s (and future apartment buildings) nor the left turn lane going to the Gateway 200 corporate center.
My opinion is that staff may very well be right but the entire discussion continues to show that this was a very poor decision to have this development in this location right from the start.
Richter’s Censure motion passes 6-3 carried, but indemnification defeated
Following the drama of the past council, Councillor Richter proceeded with a motion to boost the threshold necessary to censure a fellow Councillor from a simply majority to a 2/3rds super-majority vote.
Councillor Whitmarsh was quick to point out that in fact only 8 Councillors vote in a censure motion since the individual in question cannot vote on the matter and therefore the majority of 5 of 8 is already very close to 2/3rds and he is quite happy with the status quo (being part of the 5 who censured Councillor Richter last term).
Councillor Long seemed offended by Councillor Richter’s inference that abuse of censure could happen and referred to the fact that the censure is a result of an investigator. He also went beyond the motion to start prying into the conditions of the censureship in the motion which forced a rebuke from Councillor Richter and Mayor Froese. This was just one moment of many over the course of the night where the theme of “new beginnings” seemed a bit hollow. Councillor Woodward pointed out the optics of censureship during the a campaign doesn’t look good, alluding to the politicalization of the censure tool.
After Councillor Arnason wisely split the amendment, the change to require 6 votes passed in a 6-3 vote with a predictable Mayor Froese and Councillors Whitmarsh and Long opposed. However, the responsibility of the legal costs part of the amendment was defeated in an 8-1 vote with only Councillor Richter supporting her motion. Councillor Arnason found this part problematic due to the language whereas Councillor Woodward felt that with the increased threshold it is less necessary and its really its up to the censured individual to attain legal counseling since the only real punishment is bad publicity. Read more in the Langley Advance.
Request for Reports on Monster Homes & Affordable Housing Passed
I’ll briefly mention that Councillor Davis’ request for a report on what’s going on in Richmond (and with Mayor Froeses’ addition of what the province is doing) in regards to “monster homes” on the ALR passed 9-0. As well, Councillor Arnason’s motion to receive a report and presentation to the Council Priority Committee on how to implement the BC Non Profit Housing Assocation’s Pledge to support affordable housing in the Township.
Read PART 2: Woodward’s Aldergrove Motion or skip to PART 3: Woodward’s Williams Plan Motion