I want to give a sincere thank you to all my readers in this record breaking year for Better Langley. Although I’ve been writing about Langley politics since around 2011, mostly on Facebook, this site launched for the 2018 election. For a little local blog with no advertising, I thought it did pretty well with just under 3,000 unique visitors viewing over 7,000 pages. The most popular post that year came AFTER the election, when I wrote about then Councillors Eric Woodward and Bob Long debating parking requirements in Aldergrove. In 2019, the most popular post was obvious, as I showed that despite the NDP’s new contribution rules, developers had still dominated Langley’s election funding. My first full year writing garnered almost 5,700 unique visitors, which I didn’t think was too bad considering the lack of advertising and inconsistent posting.
This year this site saw over 11,000 unique visitors visiting 31,000 pages. Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. Very little of these visits came from advertising spending (of which I do very little). Obviously much of this interest came due the 2022 election. Not including the two top “pages” (which are simply informational sections of this site – in this case, the list of 2022 ToL candidates and the pre-campaign election poll I conducted), here are the top 10 posts this year:
Part of my 10 Questions for a Better Langley series for candidates, it isn’t surprising that this was one of the more popular ones. With several towers already being built in the Township and Vesta Properties proposing to scrap a 6-storey midrise for a 45-storey tower in an already-approved master plan community, many people wanted to know what candidates side were on this question. For the most part, almost every candidate came out against the 45 storey tower. However, my question wasn’t a simple “yes” or “no” about one high-rise. While I knew many of my Willoughby neighbours were concerned about the one tower, I knew the overarching question of towers in general was a bit less one-sided. Many candidates who opposed Vesta’s 45 storey proposal were still open to towers in other locations.
I’m surprised this one had more views than the high rise question, but it could simply be because it came out earlier – there were only 15 views difference. Despite indicating a commitment to urban-style density in Willoughby and suggesting that we might have a walkable community somewhere in many of the NCPs, Council has continued to approve auto-based strip malls that are inherently antithetical to pedestrianism.
While the question of growth often turns into a good vs bad debate, it rarely comes down to my concern: it’s not about how much, it’s the how we do it. Many voters believe local government has the ability to turn on and off the development tap, but it isn’t quite that simple. The question given to candidates allowed for a wide range of responses. Being a standard buzzword, this question received the most eyes during the election.
I personally believe that non-indigenous Langley politics and politicians have irresponsibly interfered with Kwantlen issues for personal gain,. Due to this, I felt it was time to write about a topic I had previously avoided out of sensitivity and personal ignorance. It is unsurprising, of course, that writing about such a historic event hit my top 10, even this late into the year.
Already mentioned above, this continues to be a contentious issue in our growing community. This post was actually written in 2021 and was the most popular post of that year and is the most view post on this website. This was more of a “matter of fact” value-neutral article where I just covered what had been approved and what towers were likely to come, based on Willoughby’s NCPs. This article was written well before Vesta Properties proposed their 45-storey tower so it makes no reference to that failed project, which was later thrown out by Council. At the time I still sat on the fence about towers in general, although being a dedicated “urbanist”, I admit to leaning somewhat in favour. However, more recently I’ve taken a more “incremental development” position and further questioned the true sustainable and livability of high rises – but more on that in the future.
I post a lot about walkability – it’s sort of the theme of this site – yet I waited years before actually writing a “top 5” article about both Langleys (Township and City) most walkable streets. This wasn’t really easy to do, considering the Township has let the most walkable streets falter in favour of sprawl basically since the two communities separated. Instead of advocating for incremental growth in the historical Fort Langley, Murray’s Corner, Aldergrove/Shortreed communities, we’ve built outward, eating up land and forcing car-use for even the most basic amenities (and we wonder why traffic in Langley is so bad).
The ALR is always a controversial subject despite having an aura of “sacred cow-ism” in most circles. Yet the Township of Langley council has always found some excuse to allow for various exclusions. While this was more or less later (kind of) revisited in the new council term, the third reading approve by the previous council was disappointing. One of the oddest stories on this one, for me anyway, was that although I wrote approvingly of then-Councillor Woodward’s staunch defence of the ALR and future councillor Misty van Popta’s position in the article, Woodward’s first known ally, future councillor Rob Rindt, came out attacking me for my defence of the agricultural land. Although he later deleted the comments, it was apparent that he was more concerned with attacking me simply because I am not an active farmer, than defending farmland. Future online comments by Rindt showed that this level of often unwarranted hostility was a typical trait in his electioneering. Not surprisingly, Rindt only showed up to one all candidates meeting and has been relatively mute at council meetings.
Prior to the closing of the nomination period, I decided to conduct my own poll here at Better Langley. Although some people would end up not declaring and some that I missed did declare, it was interesting to see the early results. There was very little public awareness of the election, with no signs yet being up and no real press coverage. I had suspected that Woodward would be in the 40-45% range, which ended up being the end result. I had originally planned on continuing the poll for several more weeks, but after experiencing abuse by at least one campaign, I decided it wasn’t really worth it. Still, the fact that it hit my top 3 for the year shows how interested people are in polls, regardless of how unimportant they are.
As I did in my 2011, 2014, and 2018 endorsements, I once again went for the underdogs, endorsing those I felt truly represented the principles I’ve written about. I’ve never been in favour of hedging my bets or hoping for some political favour. However, unlike in 2018, my selections had as much a moral component as they did about planning and principles. Although there were candidates that I agreed with in many development and environmental aspects, I could not morally support some due to my perception that they did not show independence from their respective slate leader. I did endorse two slate members who were connected to a leader I did not agree with and whose campaign personally attacked me, but I felt that these two members showed authentic independence and integrity in spite of their campaign connections. Unfortunately, by selecting many independent candidates that had very little financial support, especially in comparison to the eventual winners, only one of my endorsed candidates was elected (down from 3 in 2018).
The most popular post of 2022 was, by far, the research article that I wrote about a seemingly innocuous farmgate request to boost their hours of operation (which, funny enough, I support). However, the decision making process would actually show the danger of conflict of interest and what happens when political leadership favours a friend over their previously declared principles. It also showed evidence of the dangers of slate politics, especially when a wealthy individual owns a significant, even majority, amount of commercial properties in one area. Post-election, the residents of Langley, and especially in Fort Langley, will have to rely on the fragile forbearance of a couple slate members and their moral compass to keep power in check.
What the Future Holds for 2023
This will be my last post of the year. I’m not going to write about my thoughts for Langley in 2023. I have my guesses on where things are going, but making speculative predictions rarely ages well. What also didn’t age well was my “what to expect” interviews in early 2019 with the recently elected council (see here, here, and here). While I think my earlier post about the results of that election didn’t do too poorly, I think it rather obvious what I think about Langley’s newest slate-based council. What I do want to briefly write about here is the future of Better Langley for 2023.
There were two council meetings in December that I decided not to cover, although I will likely touch back on some of the topics in the future. However, as I have launched a new business and am in the process of a career transition, I must greatly reduce my coverage of Langley politics. While I will still visit the most significant council happenings, I will not be writing council reviews in the near future. In the future, I will review time and financial commitments and see if I can allot more back to Better Langley.
For those who are truly passionate about the issues of walkability and sustainable development, please feel free to contact me directly, as my new business is directly related to my advocacy on this website on a much larger scale and greater impact (at least in my opinion).
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas y’all – see you next year!