Kim Richter 20 Q for Langley Township (expanded only)

 

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

DON’T KNOW. The residents of Brookswood/Fernridge need to have a much more active and open role in the development of a new OCP for the area. Brookswood/Fernridge is a unique community and its uniqueness should not be sacrificed to Willoughby-type densities unless the existing community predominantly agrees with it. Only 3% of all of the land in Langley Township is home to coniferous forests. Approximately 50% of these important forests are located in Brookswood/Fernridge. If we allow clear-cutting in Brookswood/Fernridge in order to accommodate high density Willoughby-type development, then our community will lose half of the coniferous forests that we currently have and enjoy for natural beauty, wildlife and air quality. Loss of this habitat will also have a significant and negative impact on the shallow, unconfined Brookswood aquifer. In my opinion, the loss of these forests will permanently and irrevocably change the character of Brookswood/Fernridge. I think we “need to leave the ‘wood’ in Brookswood” but all the area residents deserve the final say on this.

 

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

YES. 4400 new housing units in Willoughby in three years and almost 10,000 new units in 6 years are just not sustainable. There are not enough schools for all the new children, not enough primary health care for all the new families, not enough parking for all the new high density developments and definitely not enough transit. This Willoughby experiment is currently failing and needs to be fixed. We need to slow down and revisit what has been done to date, and more importantly, figure out how to proceed without further damaging the fabric of what makes Langley special.

 

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

NO. Both Township and the School District used to plan communities around neighbourhood schools which are the heart of any new community in terms of building communities and family connections. We have lost this in Willoughby and need to get it back.

 

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

NO. However, a lot will depend on the collective priorities of the new Council. My preference is to decrease taxes like Port Coquitlam did this past year but at minimum to hold taxes to no more than cost of living increases. I think there are efficiencies in the system that we could find if we used zero-based budgeting and better tracking of service usage.

 

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

YES. It’s time for the rest of Metro Vancouver to support us – not the other way around. We already pay our own fair share and then some.

 

6. Would you support road pricing to fund transit?

NO. Road pricing is unfair to Langley Township residents as our transit services are so minimal here that we have little choice other than to use our vehicles for work, school and business. If adopted, Langley Township residents will have to pay 10 years of this additional tax before seeing any significant improvement in transit in Langley. We already pay enough in additional gas taxes because we use more gas due to lack of transit. I think this model represents double-taxation on Langley.

 

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

YES. We have significant stands of trees throughout the Township that need to be protected. We cannot protect trees on ALR lands because of the provincial Right-to-Farm legislation. ALR lands represent 78% of the total land mass in the Township. So if we don’t protect trees on the 22% of the land mass where we can protect them, then (worst case scenario) we may have a future Langley with no trees other than the spindly street trees in new developments.

 

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

YES. Our population is rapidly aging and our young residents need more affordable housing options to keep them in the community. Integration of low-income housing into all developments creates more balanced neighbourhoods and sustainable long term development.

 

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

YES. However we need safer bike lanes on less vehicle intensive roads. I disagree with putting all the bike lanes on major arterial and collector roads. This is not safe and not conducive to increased bike use especially with regard to all the young children and seniors in our community.

 

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

DON’T KNOW. Much has been said about the need for density to accommodate Metro-Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy but no one has ever explained exactly why we need one million more residents in this region over the next 20 years (other than to support the economic engine of the development community). I fear that high rises in Willoughby will do nothing more than create even more parking, school and health care problems mainly because we are not trading density well for green space and livability. If we have to wait for another 10-20 years to get more viable transit in Langley because we are at the bottom of the transit priority list, then I think we are just going to create another 10-20 years of unlivable and poor quality of life problems in the Township. I do not want to see this happen as it does not make for a better future for Langley. We should not have to live through one entire generation in Langley just to get more effective transit. This is a very false economy in my opinion.

 

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

YES. These are publicly owned lands bought by taxpayer dollars and the public has a right to know if they are up for sale and what they are being sold for.

 

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

YES. This new pool and recreation center has been needed for the last decade in order to support the youth and seniors in Aldergrove. I think it has been very sad and unfortunate that the current Council has used this pool as a political football over the last 3 years. They keep punting it back to staff with no real political will to make it happen yet the majority on the current Council made sure that an $8 Million expansion to the Langley Events Center occurred which was not budgeted for or publically vetted. How interesting that this LEC expansion was built and the ribbon cut in less than a year. Meanwhile, Aldergrove continues to be subjected to study after study on a new pool. This past summer, the Aldergrove outdoor pool was closed several times during peak usage periods to the detriment of all the youth in Aldergrove. The current Mayor used land sales as the excuse for not building a new pool yet this Council has not set up a savings account for a new pool and seems intent on pursuing their own personal ‘hobby horses’ which includes a new arena on the proposed pool site that many Aldergrove residents have made clear they do not want. They like their existing arena. Where there is a political will, there is a political way. It’s clear to me that neither political will nor way has existed on the part of the current Township Council relative to this pool. So Aldergrove’s youth and seniors continue to suffer without adequate and needed recreation and health care facilities.

 

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

YES. This business of waiting for development to finance road and sidewalk improvements is nonsense and a reflection of poor planning. If neighbourhoods have to wait for development to get proper sidewalks, crosswalks and roads, then Township Council should be limiting development to very small areas before agreeing to open other areas. Safe and complete infrastructure to support a development area needs to be in place by the time that people move into these developments.

 

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

NO. There is too much ‘spot-zoning’ for residential development happening in the heart of Township agriculture lands (i.e. Tuscan Farms, Wall Development in the University District, Salmon River Uplands). I have opposed this and will continue to oppose this.

 

16. Does the Township need more parks?

YES. We especially need more “Dog-Off-Leash” parks in high density neighbourhoods.

 

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

YES. Aldergrove definitely needs a new pool this term. This pool is especially needed for Aldergrove youth and seniors. I think a new pool and recreation center should be centrally located in Aldergrove and should at minimum include a pool, fitness facilities, and a library. I am not convinced that we should include a new arena on the proposed site as the existing arena and its current location is valued by Aldergrove residents.

 

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

YES. In my opinion, the number one reason why any community has a municipal government is to ensure public safety. If more firefighters are needed to keep this community safe, then we should be hiring more firefighters. I especially want to see our firefighters get advanced EMS training to better serve the “first responder” needs in Langley Township.

 

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

YES. As in my response to Question #18 above, the number one reason (my opinion) why any community has a municipal government is to ensure public safety. If more RCMP officers are needed to keep this community safe, then we should be hiring more RCMP officers. However, I think we need our RCMP officers to focus more on Langley rather than on regional priorities especially if Langley taxpayers are footing the bill. It costs more than $120,000 per year to put one police officer on the roads in Langley. Police costs are the largest single slice of the revenue pie in Langley amounting to 30+% of every municipal tax dollar.

 

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

YES. Amalgamation could result in significant economies of scale and reduce municipal service redundancies. However, the City of Langley has to agree on holding a referendum in order to make this happen. To date the City of Langley has shown zero interest in an amalgamation referendum. No referendum means no amalgamation.

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