Developer Dollars Dominate 2018 Langley Election Campaigns

The NDP’s new campaign financing rules proved only to hide corporate interests in the 2018 municipal elections rather than hinder them. Due to the new rules that banned union and corporate contributions, corporation owners and executives themselves simply donated campaign money in their own name, thus making the process less transparent than before (by law). Although the maximum individual donation was $1,200 per candidate, the top contributors generally spent even more on the 2018 campaign than they did in 2014 via multiple members of their family and/or executive team.

By using these loopholes, the top 8 campaign contributors in the Township of Langley account for roughly $138,981 – or 29.1% – of all contributions. Additionally, 18 individuals, families, or executive groups contributed to 3 or more candidates for a total of 35.4% of the Township of Langley’s $476,971 total campaign contributions. 88% of these contributions went to 7 of the 26 candidates: Mayor Jack Froese, current Councillors Blair Whitmarsh, Steve Ferguson, Bob Long, Margaret Kunst and former Councillors Angie Quaale and Bev Dornan. The other 12% is shared between 9 other candidates: Michael Pratt, Eric Woodward, Kim Richter, Petrina Arnason, Harold Whittell, Anna Remenik, Phyllis Heppner, Gail Chaddock-Costello and Kerri Ross.

The reason that I focus mainly on these 18 “multiple-candidate” campaign contributors is simple. Donating to one candidate, even a significant amount, doesn’t involve much influence. I have donated to Langley City candidate Nathan Pachal several times – I have no financial interest in Langley City, I just consider him a good friend and believe in his principles. Donating to two candidates as well, is also very limited in potential influence. However, when you donate to three or more candidates, especially when you have a financial interest (even more so when you don’t live in the Township) I think it’s fair that the public should be made aware of this potential influence that may or may not be in the best interest of the community. A cynic may argue that if a development permit is in the best interest of the community, why is such influence needed? The counter argument could be the similar reason that I donated to Councillor Pachal: the contributor simply believes in the paradigm of those candidates and hope to defeat those with a different paradigm.

I will be posting a number of campaign finance articles as I continue to analyze the campaign disclosures, but since developer donations are my favourite topic, here is a review of the top 8 campaign contributors with a link to a table with the top 18. All of this information is publicly available on the B.C. Elections website and/or through a little Google search.

(Revised edit) Note that Eric Woodward’s Statewood Properties was not included in the top campaign contributors below (but it is on the data grid attached on the link below). This is primarily because Woodward won his council seat and therefore would need to declare conflict of interest if his development company made any applications.

Top 8 Campaign Contributors

1. Martini ($62,100)

By donating 13% of all 2018 campaign contributions in the Township of Langley, the Martini/Vipond family raised a few eyebrows. Ron and Maria Martini are known Langley Memorial Hospital philanthropists, most recently donating $5 million to the hospital for a new emergency room. The Martini family owns Starline Windows & Martini Film Studios (opened in North Langley in 2017). Back in 2008, their purchase of a portion of Derby Reach’s 92 acre Dickson Pit raised controversy. In 2014, the Martini family donated a total of $11,500 to various candidates, including candidates Jack Froese, Bob Long, Dave Stark, Mel Kositsky, Angie Quaale, Charlie Fox, Grant Ward, Blair Whitmarsh, and Bev Dornan. There are no current applications pending connected to the Martinis (that I’m aware of).

2018 Contributions: Margaret Kunst ($8,400), Jack Froese ($8,100), Blair Whitmarsh ($7,200), Bev Dornan ($7,200), Bob Long ($7,200), Michael Pratt ($7,200), Eric Woodward ($7,200), Steve Ferguson ($6,000), Angie Quaale ($3,600)

Individual Contributors: Dennis Martini, Gemme Martini, Maria Martini, Phoabi Martini, Renato Martini, Starline Windows (2015 donation), Terry Martini, Thomas Martini, Terry Vipond

2. Mitchell Group ($20,900)

The Mitchell Group is a Surrey-based real estate company that was also represented by a number of individuals to bring their total to $20,900, or about 4.4% of all Township campaign contributions. Well known property management and developers, the Mitchell Group and it’s residential subsidiary Miracon is responsible for the Langley 200 Business Centre at the interchange and will be developing the business park and residential homes at the 216th interchange. The group was heavily involved with the Williams NCP planning as they own the majority of the commercial land adjacent to the new interchange. The group doesn’t have a substantial history of contributing to Township campaigns.

2018 Contributions: Blair Whitmarsh ($4,200), Angie Quaale ($4,200), Steve Ferguson ($4,200), Jack Froese ($3,800), Bev Dornan ($3,500), Margarent Kunst ($1,000)

Individual Contributors: Cam Mitchell, Diane Mitchell, Dorothy Mitchell, Ken Mitchell, Simon Mitchell, Jacilyn O’Shea, Ryan O’Shea

3. Vesta Properties ($16,001)

Long time Langley-based developer Vesta Properties is an expected name on this list. Responsible for the ongoing Milner Heights community, they have a small development coming soon to Brookswood and a massive master-plan community in Willoughby called Latimer Heights – you won’t be able to miss it. With a long history in Langley, they also have a long history in campaign contributions. In 2014, they donated $10,000 to their favourites: Jack Froese, Blair Whitmarsh, Angie Quaale, Bev Dornan, Grant Ward, Charlie Fox and Steve Ferguson. They didn’t steer too far in 2018 either.

2018 Contributions: Bob Long ($3,700), Bev Dornan ($3,400), Jack Frose ($2,501), Blair Whitmarsh ($1,700), Angie Quaale ($1,700), Steve Ferguson ($1,500), Margaret Kunst ($1,500)

Individual Contributors: Braeden Sillars, Jule Sillars, Kent Sillars, Dennis Wiemken

4. Beedie Group ($12,000)

Vancouver-based industrial development giant (and to a lesser extent, residential) has big plans for Langley and a lot of development still coming to Gloucester Estates. Beedie is no stranger to donating to Langley’s more “development-friendly” candidates. In 2014, they donated a total of $3,000 to both Mayoral candidates Jack Froese and Rick Green as well as council candidates Angie Quaale, Charlie Fox, and Grant Ward.

2018 Contributions: Jack Froese ($2,400), Blair Whitmarsh ($2,400), Bev Dornan ($2,400), Steve Ferguson ($2,400), Angie Quaale ($1,200), Bob Long ($1,200)

Individual Contributors: Ryan Beedie, Todd Yuen

5. Hayer Builders Group ($9,600)

The Hayer Builders Group of Surrey has been quite active in Langley for sometime – I recall Vantage townhomes being one of their first Willoughby projects. More recently, they completed a small collection of single family homes in Murrayville called “Radius” and the unique collection of Yorkson townhomes, “Exchange” (with the rooftop patios). They are currently working on “Frame”, which became the center of some Council critique about tandem parking (motion by Councillor Woodward, defeated by Mayor Froese and Councillors Ferguson, Kunst, Long, and Whitmarsh) & it’s “barrack” like style (motion also by Woodward, “barracks” termed by Councillor Richter). It was sent back to staff on a referral based on the latter.

2018 Contributions: Jack Froese ($2,400), Blair Whitmarsh ($2,400), Angie Quaale ($2,400), Steve Ferguson ($2,400)

Individual Contributors: Michael Hayer, Ravinder Hayer

6. Marcon ($7,000)

The longtime Langley-based developer has really expanded far beyond the borders of Langley, so much so that I don’t believe they have done anything in the Langley’s since Cornerstone. Whether or not there are immediate plans for new development in the Township, there is no doubt that Marcon and the Paolella family are the definitive Langley builders. Marcon’s long list of projects in Langley is far too long to mention here (just go here and select “Langley”). Marcon has followed a trend of donating to a particular group of candidates, donating to Froese, Dornan, Long, Kositsky, Quaale, Ferguson, Fox, Ward in 2014, which totalled $4,500 then.

2018 Contributions: Jack Froese ($1,200), Angie Quaale ($1,200), Bev Dornan ($1,200), Steve Ferguson ($1,200), Bob Long ($1,200), Margaret Kunst ($500), Michael Pratt ($500)

Individual Contributors: Marco Paolella

7. Quadra Developments ($5,700)

Abbotsford-based Quadra Developments are best known in Langley for its massive collection of completed and ongoing Yorkson townhomes and apartments. In the 2014 elections, they actually contributed much more than 2018: $9,750. While their donations to Froese, Dornan, Fox, Long and Ward were expected, they interestingly also contributed to Kim Richter’s campaign, who isn’t known to take many developer donations. The Warkentin’s compilation of support got even stranger in 2018, dropping most of the “developer-friendly” group of candidates, keeping Richter but also adding Petrina Arnason (interestingly, Judi Warkentin donated to Richter & Arnason, but Peter Warkentin did not).

2018 Contributions: Jack Froese ($2,100), Bev Dornan ($1,200), Kim Richter ($1,200), Bev Dornan ($1,200)

Individual Contributors: Peter Warkentin, Judi Warkentin

8. Infinity Properties ($5,650)

Another born and bred Langley builder, Infinity Properties popped up on my radar with a series of Willoughby projects constructed by RAB Homes (“Kingsbury”) and Benchmark (“Ascot”). Afterward, I started seeing their boutique-style homes everywhere. However, one of their projects, Hyde Canyon, was built on the controversial Tuscan Farms ALR exclusion, which prompted much debate in the Salmon River area and throughout Langley. During his campaign, Woodward actually used Hyde Canyon as an example of what NOT to do.

2018 Contributions: Steve Ferguson ($2,000), Jack Froese ($1,150), Margaret Kunst ($1,000), Blair Whitmarsh ($500), Angie Quaale ($500), Bev Dornan ($500),

Individual Contributors: Tim Bontkes


Click to view table of the top contributors for the 2018 municipal elections: http://bit.ly/2018langley


Disclosure 1: I was a registered third party sponsor. I spent under $500, so I did not have to disclose any details beyond this. My endorsements were posted publicly here with some conciliatory comments about those I didn’t endorse here.

Disclosure 2: I was a co-founder of the Live Langley electoral association in 2014, which constitutionally opposed developer and union donations. I was no longer part of the association by the campaign period.

Disclosure 3: I do the best to be as accurate as possible. If you see any inaccuracies, please feel free to contact me for corrections.

Disclosure 4: The spreadsheet in the link above has been adjusted to include donations by candidates to multiple candidates, but the article has not yet been revised to reflect the change.

Disclosure 5: The data is based on last name connections only, which will lead to some inconsistencies. The analysis is subject to revision as additional family connections are made.

 

P.S. I do find it interesting that so many past significant contributors of developer-friendly candidates (ie Bains, Walls) disappear from Langley campaigns after their permits are approved.

5 comments

  1. So important to have people like you looking into this for us! Developers have an out-sized influence on our municipal governments and it’s clear why.

    Like

    • Hey Chris, thanks for the comment! It is true that this is all public information – if it was private information, the post would probably be illegal.
      The full donor lists are available on the BC Elections website. My spreadsheet (included in the post) is merely a compilation of every donor (group/individual/family) who contributed to three or more candidates – there is no bias against developers, it’s merely a fact that they donated more than anyone else. If you feel that’s a bad thing, then that is your own opinion, not mine.

      My day job, in fact, often involves selling the product of developers, thanks!

      Like

  2. I see what you’re trying to get at but what about other business owners and who they donated to? I’m sure there’s preference there too. That’s how voting/donating works 😊. Not in real estate but seems unfair to single out one business group. Everyone’s got an opinion I guess.

    Like

    • Hey Emily, thanks for the comment!
      Actually my analysis didn’t focus on developers at all.
      I’ve included a spreadsheet of every donor (group/individual/family) who contributed to three or more candidates. This is certainly not limited to developers!
      It is a result of the analysis, not my opinion, that developers were shown to contribute more than anyone else.

      Like

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