Q1 for a Better Langley: GROWTH

BETTER LANGLEY: Do you believe growth pays for growth in the Township of Langley? Explain.


BETTER LANGLEY FAVOURITE ANSWERS HIGHLIGHTED IN GREEN

A note about highlighted answers: Better Langley favourites are selected based on progressive principles of economic and environmental sustainability as researched through the works of Jeff Speck, Charles Marohn, Charles Montgomery, Donald Shoup, Melissa & Chris Bruntley, Charles Schwartz, Ken Greenberg and many others. Additionally, my academic background in political science, philosophy, religious studies, and real estate all provide both knowledge base, process of critical thought, and, yes, biases. In order to reduce personal bias, answers were read anonymously, separate from the candidate before selecting a “favourite” to highlight. Non-highlighted answers are not necessarily “bad” answers – sometimes more explanation was desired.


MAYORAL CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)

SPARROW (Independent): No, we have for decades been leaving money on the table when it comes to our growth and the funding of our essential needs that accompany it. We have been relying on tax increases to fund these types of projects and have seen general taxes increase year over year.

In 2016 I put forward a motion to develop a comprehensive Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) policy. CACs can take several forms including community amenities, affordable housing and financial contributions towards infrastructure that cannot be obtained through DCCs, such as recreation facilities or fire halls. Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) are amenity contributions agreed to by the developer and local government as part of a rezoning process initiated by the developer. The Township did not fully utilize Community Amenity Contributions to its full potential throughout the entire Township and it relied more heavily on the limiting DCC program or general tax revenue. In contrast, neighbouring communities such as the city of Coquitlam and the city of Surrey successfully use CAC’s to fund projects such as new recreation facilities, the completion of parks and new fire halls.

I was disappointed to see when my CAC motion finally made it into policy two years later that this council chose a more limited scope. No mention of collecting funds for much of the essential social infrastructure our community needs as well as the critically required funding needed by our fire department. There have been millions missed out on as we have grown our community over the last decades. As we look to the continued growth in Willoughby and the development process starting in the Brookswood-Fernridge area; I believe it is imperative we have the conversation again about how we can better ensure our growth helps pay for the essentials which are needed to provide a safe and enjoyable way of life.

WHITMARSH (Independent): The Township of Langley is one of the fastest growing communities in BC. Our growth over the past decade has put significant pressure on current infrastructure and created a strong demand for new infrastructure. Many communities in Metro Vancouver experienced their significant growth period decades ago but the Township of Langley is feeling the pressures of growth now. Growth does pay for a significant portion of the growth but may not be able to cover the full cost of major infrastructure and/or operating expenses associated with the speed or size of growth across the entire Township

WOODWARD (Contract With Langley): No it doesn’t. Residents deserve a fair deal from development and we are the only team that will get it done.

COLEMAN (Elevate Langley): In some cases yes, in some cases no. Going forward an Elevate Langley council will ensure that growth does pay for growth.

Tha can mean a number of different things from housing that is affordable or housing affordability for our vulnerable citizens, all the way to more parks and recreation amenities to improved infrastructure.

The Township of Langley is a community of unique communities and the people will need to be involved to discover the best path forward for their area. What is right for Willoughby isn’t necessarily right for Brookswood.

It is important to mention that growth is not something we get to choose as a municipality.

The population of Metro Vancouver and Canada are increasing. There is a Regional Growth Strategy that sets out the expectations for population growth in each of Metro Vancouver’s local municipalities.


COUNCILLOR CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)

GARDNER (Independent): No. It should, but it very clearly has not. Despite record growth in the Township of Langley, we are facing critical deficits in our infrastructure, amenities, public recreation, and emergency services. This is due to decades of money being left on the table that should have gone towards funding these necessities, and us now being in a position of trying to catch up.

ELEVATE LANGLEY (Group Response): In some cases yes, in some cases no.

Going forward an Elevate Langley council will ensure that growth does pay for growth.

Tha can mean a number of different things from housing that is affordable or housing affordability for our vulnerable citizens, all the way to more parks and recreation amenities to improved infrastructure.

The Township of Langley is a community of unique communities and the people will need to be involved to discover the best path forward for their area. What is right for Willoughby isn’t necessarily right for Brookswood.

It is important to mention that growth is not something we get to choose as a municipality.

The population of Metro Vancouver and Canada are increasing. There is a Regional Growth Strategy that sets out the expectations for population growth in each of Metro Vancouver’s local municipalities.

WARD (Independent): Although I appreciate the question, it is, in my view, lacking enough detail to know precisely what is being asked. Having said that, if the question is about Development Cost Charges (DCCs) and Community Ammenity Charges (CACs) being levied on developers to pay for infrastructure elements (and in the case of CACs to pay for various other amenities like pools, sport facilities etc.) to accompany adjacent projects then, yes, clearly this practice should continue for the Township of Langley. Furthermore, DCC should be increased to accurately account for the costs of these amenities when they are actually installed; inflation has to be anticipated to capture ‘true costs’. Additionally, DCCs and CACs should be updated (tied to construction indexes) annually.

ARNASON (Independent): No. I believe that the rate of growth in the Township of Langley has outstripped our ability to pay for the necessary infrastructure that are required for existing and future residents as we continue to densify and build out. By contrast, communities that are already developed and are in the process of re-developing have the requisite infrastructure such as roadways, sidewalks, and other improvements which do not generally have to be redone when new development or infill takes place. Greenfield development requires extraordinary funding which has not historically been calculated into our formulas that support urban expansion. In order to address this deficit, theTownship of Langley has belatedly developed community amenity charges which provides funding for such things as recreation facilities, fire halls, as well as earmarked monies for an affordable housing reserve fund. The Township has the authority to update the existing CAC program target contribution amounts. If re-elected, I would support a review of the current rate and categories in order to address the growing gap between the true cost of development and the revenues required to pay for these services in real time.

CHANG (Independent): Yes. If the growth is in new home owners with additional new housing. This is because new home owners pay “new” taxes. This is increased funding for the township. The same effect comes with growth in business and commercial enterprises.

PRATT (Independent): We have seen over the years, especially the last 10-15, that growth is not paying for itself in the Township of Langley. There has been a prioritization of simply building homes, which is necessary, without appropriate investment in the community amenities such as parks, rec centres, libraries, and transportation infrastructure because of the idea that “development would pay for itself in the long run”. The reality is that we have higher property taxes across the board than many of our neighbours for less in return. We have not done a good enough job of charging the appropriate fees from builders to pay for these amenities, but we have also not been proactive enough in securing sites or even pursuing funding from higher levels of government for the types of projects that matter. These are the small but crucial nature parks that people who live in high-density areas need, or the sports fields we require for a growing population of kids, or the schools that are bursting at the seems the moment they open. In so many ways, growth has not been paying for itself. While this does not mean that growth needs to stop, it means that we desperately need a vision for how we can grow but grow properly, and with all the pieces that make communities actually work for the people who live in them.

MORAES (Independent): Yes, it leads to lower property taxes, more schools and more protection (firefighters and RCMP) in Langley. But we must monitor what kind of growth happens and stay within our set limitations.

CONTRACT WITH LANGLEY (Group Response): No it doesn’t. Residents deserve a fair deal from development and we are the only team that will get it done.

RESPONDEK (Independent): Growth should pay for growth provided that Initial investments and capital outlays are allocated effectively and appropriately. Decisions should be made with foundational thinking. The effects need to be measured in years and decades and not only immediate benefits or costs. If resources are allocated poorly then growth will not pay for growth.

RICHTER (Independent): No. Growth in Langley Township is being significantly subsidized by existing property owners particularly in the suburban areas. Their property taxes increase annually by much more than the stated property tax increase. 

The whole property tax system based on assessed property values needs to change. New categories of property tax assessment are needed to cover high density residential development. 

However, this is a provincial decision NOT a municipal decision. And the Province is not listening.

TOWNSLEY (Independent): No, especially with the amount of ALR land we have in the Township. Poor planning has put us in a position where we are relying on growth to fund aging infrastructure repair. With new development subsidizing infrastructure repair and replacement as the current model, we have relied on growth as a funding source to the extent that we are now at risk of bankrupting our future to pay for ongoing costs. With mortgage rates on the increase and economic crisis driving the costs of development up yes putting downward pressure on housing sales, this method of funding is about to come to a crashing halt as new development is put on hold until prices rise again. It’s a relic of the past that must change with the future and we need to become proactive to prevent downloading and plan for infrastructure responsibly. We need to plan for the future, not the next election.

SUARÉZ RUBIO (Independent): I do believe that we need to focus on the needs for development and to increase social and economic diversity in our municipality. However, I am running with the interest of those that follow after me. With this, I mean to say: it is my intention to plant trees, to keep green spaces and recognize them legally as heritage for the Township of Langley, to promote transition from an automotive society into a society that relies more on green transportation methods.

POITRAS (Independent): New development needs to pay for itself, this will ensure that the infrastructure that is required to support the growth will be in place with out placing an unreasonable tax burden on residents. By ensuring growth is paying for growth we can build sustainable livable neighborhoods with improved parks and completed roads. This can be, and should be done. Apart of this would be to make sure the DCC program is reviewed and updated with the budget process. With the rate of inflation and volatility in resources related to building this is an integral aspect of making sure we keep the balance.

DARNELL (Independent): In a perfect World, yes. However, this is not a perfect world. Change is inevitable. It cannot be stopped but can and must be managed in a fiscally responsible way. The populations growth in Langley since I have arrived, 27 years ago, is in excess of 40$. While concentrated in Walnut Grove and now Willoughby the growth spread is upon us. Growth ha to be managed by an experienced engaged Mayor and Council so that we can not only preserve what we have but provide a foundation that looks to the future we envision for our children and grandchildren. We need to plan properly so that growth can and will pay for itself. We need to realize that population is increasing and we have to shift and change our expectations and policies to accommodate the growth. We need affordable housing, much improved infrastructure and growth that is economically and physically sustainable. There is non single solution to this dilemma. As a resident of the Brookswood, Cedar Ridge Fernridge community growth in my personal neighbourhood is f great concern to me. We need to get this one right.

JOEHL (Independent): Short answer, yes, but there is more than one way to determine this. On pure, upfront costs, no, the DCCs and CACs collected don’t completely cover the costs associated with residential growth. There are many ways that new development benefits from the infrastructure that already exists in the ToL. DCCs and CACs contribute some funds to new roads, parks, schools, and utility hook ups, but new residents add to the costs of policing, fire-safety, and increase vehicle congestion on the existing roads. However, we need more housing for our growing population to make up for housing-start deficits over the last 20 years. The new residents also come to the ToL to potentially work, play, and shop here in our city, which adds economic growth, and that is why I feel that the growth pays for itself, though it is tricky (if not impossible) to completely measure.

VAN POPTA (Contract with Langley): Absolutely not. Not having DCC’s reviewed or readjusted for 10 years means we are severely behind in building basic infrastructure that was required during those 10 years, let alone be able to build current needs. Now we must catch up. We also don’t capture enough CAC’s in Langley. The Contract with Langley team will address this.

KUNST (Independent): I think growth has not paid for growth. With DCC’s charged to developers to pay for roads and infrastructure and CAC’s to help pay for amenities the rate of inflation outpaced what the TOL was charging developers. Increasing our DCC’s in 2019 was a start but we need to make sure our rates keep up with inflation with an annual review to ensure we can keep pace in the future.


Do you believe in a more economically and environmentally sustainable Langley? Do you believe in the work being done here? Do you want to support the work of Better Langley?

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