Jackie Mandzak 20 Q for Langley Township (expanded only)

 

1. Should a new OCP allow increased density in Brookswood and Fernridge?

 No. I stand behind my statements that each area of the Township is unique and should grow according to its history and character.  Brookswood and Fernridge are suburban/semi-rural communities.  The reason that people want to live there is because of the current density. While it is not unreasonable to expect growth in the area, the way in which that growth occurs should be in line with the current character of Brookswood/Fernridge.  Each area of the Township does not have to be urbanized. The Township would be better served by embracing the diversity of all of the communities and working with them to enhance that diversity creating an overall plan that makes the Township of Langley stand out in the Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley area.  

 

2. Should Township council act to slow down development of Willoughby?

 Yes. The Willoughby Official Community Plan (OCP) needs to be revisited.  Until this is done and the overall future of the Willoughby area is determined, new development must be slowed.  We cannot continue to allow the unbridled growth to continue without addressing the deficiencies that have been created.  Before future development is approved, the OCP must be revisited in order to prevent overdensification in new neighbourhoods. 

 

3. Does the Township do enough to help ensure there are enough schools in developing areas?

 No. While this is an issue that is compounded by other levels of government, the Township must ensure that development proposals have realistic numbers for future children.  Our school board needs to take a look at the formula used, as it does not accurately reflect the number of children in a given area.  While the formula may work for areas such as Brookswood, in Willoughby it has failed.  Developers currently pay a fee that goes toward school land procurement. Given the provincial governments announcement that schools will have to be 50% funded by the requesting municipality, the Township is obligated to revisit the funding practices around new development in order to ensure we can also pay for buildings.  We need to be proactive and plan for the increase that comes with density.  Children do live in condos, as well as townhouses and single family homes. This must be reflected in how we collect fees from development.  There must also be better communication with the School Board so that the concerns of residents, regarding our schools, can be met.

 

4. Would you vote in favour of a tax increase?

 Don’t know. This one is a hard question for me to answer.  I don’t support tax increases in general – however, if residents have need and the only way to meet that need is to increase taxes, then it must be a consideration.  The Township has seen large tax increases in the recent past, and is wary of new ones.  All efforts should be made to ensure that the taxes currently collected are used in the most fiscally responsible manner and that properties are paying the appropriate amount of tax to ensure fairness.  Like the residents who live here do with their personal budgets, the Township has to find a way to decrease unnecessary costs in order to fund priority issues. 

 

5. Would you support tolling ALL Metro Vancouver bridges to fund transit?

 Yes. By putting a small toll on all bridges, rather than a large toll on the current two, we would share the burden with all areas that use bridges and tunnels to commute.  This is a fair and equitable way to pay for infrastructure, rather than putting the cost onto only a portion of the Metro Vancouver area.

 

6. Would you support road pricing to fund transit?

 No. We currently have large tolls on two of the major bridges our residents use. In the future we will see tolls on Highway 99 going to Richmond when the decision over revitalizing the tunnel or building a bridge is decided.  For those living south of the Fraser River, a large burden is already placed on commuters both through tolls, property taxes and gas taxes, without the benefit of good transit.  I do not support adding to it. 

 

7. Would you support increasing property taxes to fund transit.

 No. We currently do not receive an equal benefit for the input we give to Translink.  I do not feel that, at this time, we should be increasing our input to Translink when the Township is currently underserved in favour of other areas. 

 

8. Should a tree protection bylaw be applied to the entire Township?

 Yes. In keeping with current environmental protection and preservation protocols, the Township should create a bylaw that protects the natural assets that we have.  This bylaw should be created with input for both environmental partners and Township residents to ensure that it meets the needs of both tree protection and has a reasonable threshold for property owners.  At this time we are one of the only communities in the Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley that does not have such a bylaw. I support a tree bylaw in order to do our due diligence for future generations.

 

9. Should developers be required to provide more low-income housing in the Township?

 Yes. We talk about affordability and how increasing density will assist with housing affordability.  The reality is that in Metro Vancouver, affordable housing is an oxymoron.  Many people are priced out of the market in both owning and rentals by virtue of the fact we are an expensive place in the country to live. There are young families and people on fixed incomes that cannot afford a home. The building of more and more developments for home owners is not the answer. There should be a requirement for low-income housing so that people of all income levels can have a safe and affordable place to live. 

 

10. Should the Township create more bike lanes and public cycling infrastructure?

 Don’t know. The Township is a place of multiple communities, some of which would be more logical for the promotion of cycling.  If bike lanes are an amenity that an area would like to see, then the Township should consider then. I do not have enough information, though, about the need in order to give an informed answer.

 

11. Do you support the construction of high rise developments in Willoughby?

 No. While I do support density in Willoughby if the OCP is revisited and there are measures in place to ensure that the plan unfolds as it is supposed to do, I do not think that the Township of Langley is the place for high rises. Even if the projections of the township’s population come to fruition, I don’t believe that high rise developments are the answer. If we are to respect the character and history of each community in the township, they do not have a place here.  Well planned low rise developments are a better option.

 

12. Should the Township open sales of municipal lands to public scrutiny in advance?

 Yes. In my mind, municipal lands are assets of the citizens of the Township. While there can be good arguments for their sale, by allowing these lands to be disposed of behind closed doors the lack of transparency leaves open the possibility of misuse of a public asset.  

 

13. Should the Township commit to building the Aldergrove rec centre and pool regardless of land sales?

 Yes. Aldergrove no longers has its lake as an option for swimming in the summer. They current pool is an outdoor pool that does not have the capacity to support the population – as was seen this past summer with the numerous pool closures as it’s equipment is not able clean the pool properly.  A recreation centre that is built as community hub, with the possibility of meeting rooms, gyms, fitness centre and even the library housed within would give the entire community a place to go. A recreation centre that is built to provide more than just a pool gives the community a place to come together, a place for them to engage with one another and this is important for families, singles and seniors to put down roots. 

 

14. Should the Township ensure that roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks are in place prior to the completion of new developments?

 Yes. Basic infrastructure should be in place prior to the completion of new developments.  As a public safety issue, when we leave roads to be completed on the developers schedule we are left with piece-meal patches completed.  This causes safety issues for pedestrians and drivers alike. One only has to look at 208th and the length of time it is taking for that road to be completed to see that there are issues in allowing it to be done after development. 

 

15. Is the Township doing enough to protect agricultural land?

 No. We have seen ALR land removed for development and used for development while remaining in the ALR, despite the fact that it should be protected and it does not conform to the Metro Vancouver growth plans.  Once the land is removed, it is gone. No land is given back to the ALR in exchange.  We should be encouraging landowners to utilize the lands in the ALR to their full potential, as neighbouring municipalities do, rather than removing it to accommodate growth and the wishes of a few. 

 

16. Does the Township need more parks?

 Yes. Not all areas are deficient in parkland.  South Langley has access to numerous parks; however many other areas have minimal active and natural park areas.  In an urban area where yards are small, families need places to go.  If we are allowing suites, we are essentially asking two families to utilize a very small amount of outdoor space.  Parks are critical to urban areas – both for family enjoyment and for urban wildlife. 

 

17. Does the Township need more sports and recreation facilities?

 Yes. We have communities that are without recreation facilities and given the current state of transit in the Township of Langley, it is not always a possibility for them to travel to other areas.  Aldergrove has been waiting for a recreation centre.  They currently have an outdoor pool that cannot support the population and this past summer we saw closures because of that.  Recreation facilities should become the hub of the community, housing libraries, meeting rooms, gyms and fitness areas so that they can become a place for people to connect.  As we see growth in the township, this will become more important. 

 

18. Should more firefighters be hired, even if it means a tax increase?

 Yes. I will say this with the caveat that the money should be looked for elsewhere before any tax increase is considered.  If we are to have professional firefighters, and if we are to ensure that they uphold WCB regulations for four man crews, then we have to find a way to make this happen. Public safety is not something that we should be cutting corners on. Closer scrutiny of the budget to find savings in other ways must happen prior to any tax increase proposal.

 

19. Should more RCMP officers be hired, even if it means a tax increase?

 No. At this time the Langleys, which share the use of the RCMP, have a high ratio of police officers to residents.  What we should be doing is finding ways to work with community awareness so that residents are encouraged to have a greater measure of control over their safety. By looking at the possibilities of community program expansion, which is largely volunteer, we can educate to help reduce minor crimes, giving officers the ability to respond with greater capacity. When residents are encouraged to work together, to know their community, the petty crime rate goes down. 

 

20. Do you believe Langley Township and City should be amalgamated into one municipality?

 No. I don’t feel that this is something that the City is interested in.  I also do not believe that the residents of the Township feel the need for amalgamation at this time.  While the subject is often brought up, there has been no large citizen based push for the Township to consider it.

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