Letter: No conspiracy, only concerned citizens in Langley community associations

A community association president responds to a letter.

Dear Editor,

(Opinions are my own, not the Willoughby Residents Association as a whole)

Mr. Roland Seguin [“Langley resident wary of community associations and grant request,” Feb. 8, Langley Advance] claims that residents associations are banding together to have some political agenda. Mr. Seguin also makes a series of other generalizations and perhaps was misinformed in his research. To begin with, we have not seen him at our WRA meetings and nor has he made any attempt to contact us as far as we know.

Mr. Seguin says “How does a community issue in Aldergrove, make it necessary for a Brookswood group 15 kilometres away to be connected?” No man is an island. Even something that happens in Coquitlam or New Westminster can have an impact on Langley as a whole. In my experience, the removal of tolls on the Port Mann have proven that point.

I’m a 3rd generation Vancouverite and between me and my family of origin I have lived in almost every area of Metro Vancouver. There is not an area I’ve lived in that the local volunteers in various community organizations haven’t improved. I’ve been a volunteer on the McBride-Sapperton Residents Association (MSRA) and I was on the executive of the Burquitlam Community Association (BCA). I am, again, on the executive, this time for the Willoughby Residents Association (WRA). Community associations often act as part of the checks and balances of local government, it is true. But more importantly, according to a 2016 study through the Haskayne School of business, Community Associations (CAs) are important to the fabric of any city.

To say we are “structuring to have power in numbers for political influence” is erroneous.

And to give a generalization that we are all just trying to save trees is laughable. Come see the house in which I live. What trees am I going to save? Developers have already been allowed to cut them all down in our neighbourhood.

You think we’re after money for some sort of political agenda. I can assure you that while some people may have that agenda, the vast majority of the people I’ve met through volunteering with my CA just want their home to be a stable, safe environment to raise their families and live their lives. And many of them don’t have the time to move toward this goal. I am fortunate that I do. You question the statistic of how many people we represent. You are correct, we don’t have an exact number. We get our numbers from the metrics of people who do the surveys, or provide social or public media platforms, or those who are technologically savvy enough to find the website and/or go to the membership link. Granted, the services may be counting the apathetic, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that they are also counting the people who moved to Langley because they can afford to have a decent life here. But, sir, if you have a better way of estimating our numbers, why don’t you come to our February or May meeting and enlighten us all. And that would be the fortunate us who can spend some time to help invest in their community.

You say that the information on our website is misleading. Please go to www.willoughbyresidents.org and tell us specifically what is misleading. You are correct. We aren’t professional website developers. But having been paid sometimes for the various websites we produce, we’re more than non-professionals, since it seems to matter.

You give a blanket statement saying that there is “no question their underlying motives are political and could be to create an anti-development advocacy power group. Many of these CAs have been asking for elaborate or unnecessary amenities which drives up the costs of housing and our taxes.” I guess I missed it when you came to the last meeting and heard our mandate. Oh wait. You didn’t come. And you know nothing about us. You say we have been asking for unnecessary amenities. Well here’s the deal. If the TOL wants my tax dollars, they need to entice me to stay. And yes, those pesky amenities like sidewalks and crosswalks and bike lanes are costly. We believe the safety of the people who walk in our burgeoning neighbourhood to be paramount, as is planned development.

And Councilors’ [David] Davis and [Kim] Richter have never attended our meetings, but we will certainly be inviting them to the WRA hosted all candidate’s meeting in October 2018.

And one more thing. Canadian history provides a structure of counter-balancing those charged with governance. We see this form of opposition in legislature and parliament, but also by respectful debate in various other forums. But when we’re told we should provide more, then someone will have to pay for that “more.” That’s just logic.

I’ll close with this. I’ve been involved in a variety of organizations since my children were little. That’s what I modeled. And I quickly discovered that, without exception, in any and every organization, 10% of the people do 80% of the work; 10% of the people can be cajoled into doing another 10% of the work. And 80% of the people just sit around criticizing how much better it would be if it were done their way or if they were doing it. But they never do it. Maybe we all need to ask which pot we fall in.

Cynthia Hamilton

President, Willoughby Residents Association

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