A 50-50 split among residents means that a new water project will go ahead near D.W. Poppy Secondary.
The local area service project is one of dozens that are being proposed or planned through Langley as municipal water pipes are extended through the middle of rural and suburban Langley.
This project is centred along 52nd Avenue from 237th to 240th Streets and will affect 40 properties, mostly homes, acreages, and D.W. Poppy.
Residents both in favour of and opposed to the plan made their case to the Township council Sept. 30 after the very close vote.
Shelley and Ray Murphy were particularly upset because letters from the Township said that approval required more than half of residents to be in favour.
Suddenly, after exactly 20 properties voted yes and 20 no, they were told it was to go ahead anyway.
"That's not fair, that's not what we were told," said Shelley Murphy.
The Murphys are worried about the costs of the system, which they say will mean almost $23,000 for them. The cost is to be spread out over 20 years and paid through a bill with their annual property taxes.
That cost is just for the water pipe that will run near their house; actually connecting their home to the service would cost more.
It's too much money for their neighbour, Michael Parker.
"I'm going to have to move if this goes through," he said.
He lives in his family home and has lived there for more than 40 years, he told the council.
Half the residents in the area voted in favour.
"It's only a sign of progress," said Ken Kostiuk.
He said that since he moved to the area, he's been worried about minerals in the water and has been drinking bottled water.
With a municipal water system, he won't have to rely on well water and will continue to be able to run his taps and flush his toilets even when the power fails. Rural residents on wells lose water pressure when their electricitydependent pumps shut down.
Bob Sangha, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 18 years, said he is in favour of the project, but suggested there could be a compromise for those who don't want the project, to make the costs easier on them.
Councillors spent some time discussing the fact that their own Township staff's letters to residents were unclear about how many people were needed to pass the measure.
"If approved by more than 50 per cent of the property owners..." reads one letter, sent April 25.
"It's unfortunate the wording is like that," said Mayor Jack Froese.
However, he said the Community Charter regulations are clear. If exactly half of the residents, comprising half of the assessed land values in the area voted in favour, that is enough for the measure to pass.
"I actually think we have to have a lawyer look at it," said Councillor Kim Richter.
"Have we created a liability? And I think we have," she said.
Not voting either way is counted as a no-vote for the purposes of local polls such as this one.
Coun. Bob Long was curious about the school district's involvement in the project.
According to Langley School District spokesperson Ken Hoff, the district's costs will be $75,000 for its share of the water project.
Hoff said the district expects to save money on well maintenance and fire protection work in the long run.
Ultimately, the council approved the project in a seven to two vote, with Richter and Coun. Michelle Sparrow opposed.
Local area servicing votes are frequently contentious because every resident in the area is billed for the water or sewer extension if it passes.
If the council is ever deadlocked on an issue and ties on a vote, the vote fails.
@ Copyright 2013