Mayoral hopefuls clash over Brookswood OCP’s start

Incumbent Jack Froese said his mayoral challenger Rick Green is spreading false claims about who started the controversial Brookswood community planning process.

The issue has arisen at local debates, but there was a longer exchange about it between Green and Froese during a recent Shaw TV debate.

On Friday, Froese passed out voting records from 2011, when the Brookswood Official Community Plan process was begun.

“It clearly shows that the Brookswood OCP was signed, sealed, and delivered during Rick Green’s term as mayor,” Froese said. Green served from 2008 to 2011.

At issue is the fact that 10 landowners in Brookswood, operating as the Griffith Neighbourhood Advisory Corporation, put up $500,000 to pay for the planning process.

“That did not come to us for a vote,” Green insisted when contacted for a response.

He said that what started under his term was that staff started to develop a plan. There had been many people in Brookswood calling for an update to the old OCP, which had not been substantially rewritten in decades.

Records, including those not provided by Froese, show that the Griffith Neighbourhood Advisory Corporation did offer to fund the process in the spring of 2011, when Green was still mayor.

In February of that year, staff reported that landowners had petitioned for a new plan. Council voted to ask for a staff report, including “the position of property owners regarding cost sharing if the Neighbourhood Community Plans were to proceed.” 

Green voted in favour of the referral.

On May 30, the council voted to update the Brookswood Fernride Community Plan, hiring a consultant for two years to oversee the process.

“These expenditures would be funded by the Griffith Neighbourhood Advisory Corporation,” said the report. Green was absent for that vote.

The landowners were kept at arms length from the actual planning process, with the long-term plan to refund their $500,000 from development cost charges if the plan went forward. When the Township council voted against the plan, their money was essentially lost.

Froese was not on council when the process began.

The planning process proceeded mostly quietly for two years, but in the last few months before the OCP was to be finalized, public anger about the scale and density of redevelopment proposed grew. The plan was defeated after a series of lengthy public hearing meetings.

Froese voted in favour of referring the plan for major changes, but against scrapping it altogether. He was outvoted seven to two.

He said Green’s “misinformation” is distracting.

“I’m not planning a legal action,” Froese said.

“I certainly would appreciate if my opponent would set the record straight on his website, but that’s up to him,” Froese said.

He also pledged that one of his top three priorities if re-elected will be to create a special committee that will revamp the planning process in the Township.

Green was critical of the promise.

“Where has Jack been?” he said. “He’s been in office for three years.”

The planning process in the Township has been flawed for years, Green said.

Green said he is running on his record of being open and listening to the community during his term as mayor.

He dismissed any concerns about the turmoil on council during his time in office, which included him being censured by his fellow councillors and investigated by the RCMP during his term.

A report suggested Green might have committed a breach of trust by lying to council, and also found he had lied to lawyers brought in to look into the matter. He was never charged.

“That’s old news,” Green said. “There was nothing to it,” he said, saying he was cleared in every way.

Election day is Nov. 15. Froese, Green, and Serena Oh are all running to become the next Langley Township mayor.

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