Torrential rains didn’t stop residents of a south Willoughby neighbourhood from voicing their concerns during Langley’s first-out-of-the-gate all-candidates meeting held late Sunday afternoon in a playground.
Yes, a playground. As many candidates pointed out, it was a “unique” and “different” forum for such an event.
Residents of the Milner Heights development off 208 Street up to 72 Avenue voiced their upset about a few key issues impacting their relatively new development, and not surprising to the 19 Township of Langley candidates in attendance – the location of the meeting was of key significance to many.
The lack of a kid-friendly playgrounds in the Alder section of the Milner Heights development is drawing the ire of several residents, explained event organizer and speaker Dean Duggan.
“Look around. Where is the playground?” Duggan queried, noting there were a number of playground items recently donated “by a guardian angel” for the younger kids.
But otherwise, the playground consists of a slide and two “heavy metal objects” provided by the Township, that he said “were probably expensive, but the money should have been spent on more child-friendly equipment.”
Another key areas of concern was a development-specific sanitary sewer pump that is being paid for by residents.
“The citizens of the Township of Langley don’t provide police protection, the Township provides police protection. The citizens do not provide a fire department. The Township provide the fire department. The citizens do not provide schools and a hospital or the supply of drinking water,” Duggan pointed out.
But he and his neighbours have “inherited” the responsibilities for a sanitary sewage system that should fall to the Township, and they are further saddled with that cost – on top of their municipal taxes.
It should be the Township’s responsibility, Duggan said, drawing considerable applause as he presented his arguments on this matter.
Another of the neighbours’ grievances was the existence of overhead power lines on 210th Street. It’s unacceptable in a new enough project where developers should be required – in accordance with the municipal bylaws – to run the lines underground, Duggan said.
With more development imminent along the Willoughby slope, Duggan fears even more lines and consequently more power will be running overhead.
“And these power lines negatively impact property values and raise health and safety concerns… We must move from the 1950s level of acceptance and attain acceptable levels for the 21st Century. The lines must not be expanded. They must be underground.”
In the case of the two latter questions, Duggan asked candidates if they would support or introduce a motion to have the sewage and power issues dealt with.
“We were disappointed by the weatherman’s accurate forecast, and the fact that fewer residents were there to voice their support for our three main concerns,” Duggan shared with the Langley Advance.
But he expressed gratitude that 10 candidates did turn out “and the majority have responded positively to our requests for support of these three major issues, which are serious concerns to our neighbourhood,” he added Monday.
Meanwhile, another Milner Heights resident brought up general concerns about the municipality giving occupancy permits on another Township project that was not actually completed. And another was critical of a road being added through the Milner Heights development that was not in the original design plans, noting rat rodders are now using the area as a race track to circumvent the gridlock along 208th Street.
Each candidate was given just shy of two minutes to introduce themselves and their platform. That was followed by a question period, and ultimately wrapped up with residents being able to speak one-on-one with the candidates about their concerns.
A sea of umbrellas and a few tents helped keep the 19 declared candidates and the few dozen Milner Heights (and area) residents somewhat dry during the two-hour event.
Those aspiring politicians in attendance were mayoralty candidates Jack Froese and Alex Joehl. And as for those running for council, the following were present: Petrina Arnason, Michelle Connerty, Blair Whitmarsh, Bob Long, Angie Quaale, Kim Richter, Michael Pratt, Gary Hee, Eric Woodward, Gail Chaddock-Costello, Jonathan Houweling, Steve Ferguson, Bev Dornan, Craig Teichrieb, Terry Sheldon, Kerri Ross, and David Davis.
All nominations must be filed before 4 p.m. on Sept. 14, with the advance polls being held Oct. 10 to 18, and election day on Oct. 20.
• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance for more about the upcoming election