Over the holidays (on January 1st to be exact) I reached out to our Mayor and Council for some quick comments about what their top priorities are for 2019 and what issues they expect might arise over the course of the year. Despite it being the holidays, most Council members wrote back pretty detailed responses or, alternatively, met with me shortly after my own vacation. I really appreciated the time Mayor and Council took with their responses so I’ll do my best to convey their intent over the next two posts.
Councillor Steve Ferguson
Comeback Councillor Ferguson’s priorities for 2019 are focused around financial stewardship and pushing forward with infrastructure. Number one on his list is keeping taxes affordable. Also in his top 3 is top prioritize major roadworks throughout the Township of Langley, including 208th Street. The way he sees accomplishing these will be by finding new sources of revenues such as partnerships with other governments and the private sector. Another top priority for Councillor Ferguson will be working with the public consultation teams for the Brookswood Fernridge neighbourhood plans and making sure the time is taken to do it right.
Less specific, but also important priorities that Councillor Ferguson mentioned is getting items accomplished through more co-operation with fellow Councillors, giving applications full scrutiny and making sure he is prepared for day to day operations and upcoming items – or, basically, getting on top of stuff.
Councillor Kim Richter
Long-time Councillor Kim Richter provided 5 top priorities to get done for 2019. Top of her list is a Township-wide Tree Protection Bylaw. This is something that has had some trouble getting traction, but with rapid growth in Willoughby and the upcoming Brookswood plans, not having a mechanism to protect our trees and their eco-systems is pretty irresponsible in this day and age.
Councillor Richter also mentioned a fixed for 208th Street (I assume in Willoughby) is also long overdue. Since I believe most councillors mentioned this as a top priority, it will be interesting to see what solutions are discussed. Kim Richter also showed interest in new dedicated municipal revenue streams in the Township, especially relating to the emerging cannabis industry and homelessness initiatives, among others.
Related to a municipal-wide Tree bylaw, Councillor Richter is also looking forward to the development of a comprehensive local Climate Change Action/Response Plan. Finally, she hopes for more open and transparent communication between Council and public, including but not limited to “red tape”.
Councillor Margaret Kunst
Newcomer Margaret Kunst is admittedly the “greenest” (as in lacking political experience) council member, so while she may not have yet shown a lot of strong opinions as of yet, she did highlight three priorities to me that she is looking forward to for 2019.
The first of Councillor Kunst’s priorities is working together with the public on the 3 concurrent Brookswood neighbourhood plans. The second priority for Kunst is cannabis regulation in the Township of Langley and the third is to a more generic priority of various public safety and social issues. Writing to me in the first week of January, she did point out that Council will be finishing up with their priority sessions later in the month and she looks forward to dealing with specific infrastructure issues.
Speculating on what will likely come up throughout the year that will be of importance to the public, she acknowledges that roads and other transportation issues will be significant topics, especially throughout Willoughby and Highway #1. She is also alerted to how new federal and provincial taxes are being downloaded to the municipalities and is watching how this may affect businesses and property owners in the Township.
Councillor David Davis
As the Councillor who came out on top with the most votes in the 2018 election, David Davis’ priorties should be of importance to a lot of residents. While pointing out that he looks forward to working with the rest of council on their long list of Council priorities to be established later in January, he continues to look forward to being a strong advocate for farmland. He specifically pointed out the controversy throughout the province and especially in Richmond in regards to “monster houses” and is considering whether the Township of Langley should follow suit. He is also looking at the region in regards to encouraging farm production through property tax reform.
Councillor Davis is also passionately advocating for affordable housing throughout the Township, stating that it shouldn’t just in in certain pockets or neighbourhoods. He is also looking forward to working on a Township-wide tree bylaw that will also fit the “very different needs” of our various communities (esp. farmland, etc). Echoing the priorities of other Councillors, Davis is also focused on 208th Street in Willoughby, stating that we should have a better sense of direction by the end of January.