Langley's year in review, July to October
Editor’s note — This is a look back at the second half 2011.
• RCMP officers raided the Langley Medical Marijuana Dispensary July 19 after receiving a warrant from the Chilliwack provincial court to search for evidence of “possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.”Approximately five to 10 pounds of different strains of marijuana were seized and an assortment of “edible products” as well. Owner Randy Caine had been operating the dispensary for three-and-a-half months in an office located on the second floor of a new Langley City office building.
• Members of the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team and police dog services cordoned off the area around the 27100 block of 16 Avenue after receiving a call from a male claiming he’d killed several people and was holding several more hostage inside a house in that area. The call was a hoax, and an investigation was launched to see if the household’s family computer, which had been hacked, was done so by the same person who made the prank call.
• Brett Loftus, 25, was one of two men killed July 5 when the Cessna they were flying crashed in the mountainous terrain north of Harrison Lake after taking off on a training flight from Boundary Bay Airport. Loftus’ 23-year-old student Joel Norteman of Vancouver also died in the accident. Both were members of South Delta-based Pacific Flying Club. About 200 people squeezed inside the Boundary Bay airport Terminal July 12 to remember the friend, brother, son and beloved flight instructor.
• The BC River Forecast Centre issued a “high streamflow advisory” for the Lower Fraser River July 11. The higher than usual river levels were blamed on heavier than normal rainfall through the upper portions of the Fraser River watershed and North Thompson River earlier in July. Township of Langley municipal crews began making daily checks of river levels at three dikes in Glen Valley, Fort Langley and near the Golden Ears Bridge.
• Only seven people attended a rally against former Langley Township mayor Rick Green on July 15, which was organized by Joe Zaccaria and Sukhi Dhami. The two were joined by Bert Chen, Al Peterson, Patricia Revill, one other supporter who would not reveal his name and a man in a wheelchair.
The rally was organized to encourage Rick Green to step down while a special prosecutor reviewed an RCMP probe into the mayor’s conduct. Dhami and Zaccaria urged the mayor to step aside at a Township Council meeting earlier in July. Green later stated that he would not step down and that he planned to run for office in the municipal election in November.
• The family of Langley resident Alvin Wright, who died after he was shot by an RCMP officer during an August 2010 confrontation inside his home, filed a lawsuit against six RCMP officers. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation from the RCMP officers and their superiors for the alleged wrongful death of Wright, the false imprisonment of his spouse Heather Hannon and the infliction of mental distress on her following the shooting.
• Jeff Malmgren presented to the Metro Vancouver regional planning committee his plan for a Fraser River Bus Society to connect commuters from Langley to Richmond via the Fraser River. He proposed that four vessels with a projected capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 passengers per day could run up and down the river. The committee asked the regional district’s staff to investigate the proposal.
• Two-term Langley Township council member Jordan Bateman stepped down from his position to become the communications director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in B.C. Bateman cancelled his membership in the BC Liberal Party and ended his business association with his friend, Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is not affiliated with any political party, advocates for lower taxes and smaller government and fights government waste.
• A 90-minute police standoff ended peacefully after 33-year-old Christopher Warren Nohr stepped out of a house near 209A Crescent and 210 Street with his hands in the air. Nohr was wanted for breaching his court ordered terms of release, following an incident in March where he was charged with driving while prohibited, robbery, use of an imitation firearm and forcible confinement.
• Five months after it opened in Langley, Vancouver’s Ultimate Dance Club for teens shut down due to declining attendance. When the club for 14-18-year-olds first opened in March it drew overflow crowds, with many kids turned away at the door because the club had reached its 500-person legal limit.
The club also drew noise complaints from nearby townhouse and apartment building residents, whose grievances included vandalism, pot smoking and public drunkenness among the club’s under-age patrons.
• Less than a month after stepping out of the public eye, the federal leader of the Opposition Jack Layton died, shocking Canadians.
After an initial battle against prostate cancer in 2010 had gone into remission, Layton announced on July 25 that he was again battling cancer. Layton had served as the leader of the federal NDP for eight years, and in the May 2 election helped the party gain official opposition status for the first time, winning 103 seats.
• Four Langley teenagers and one from Surrey were charged with brutally beating a Crescent Beach resident who tried to protect his home from vandalism on Aug. 12. Eric Seiz, 46, received serious facial injuries after the male teens, ages 14 to 16, attacked him with sticks. Five of the youths faced charges of assault with a weapon and one was charged with assault causing bodily harm.
• The B.C HST was defeated by voters Aug. 26 in a province-wide referendum to decide the fate of the controversial tax. Elections B.C. announced that 54.73 per cent of the 1.6 million British Columbians who voted wanted the tax eliminated. In Fort Langley-Aldergrove, 54.16 per cent of residents were in favour of axing the tax, while 51.16 per cent in the Langley riding voted to keep it.
• Langley College closed Aug. 31 after operating in Langley for 28 years. Despite being recently given an excellent rating by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency, the Langley School Board decided to close the school as part of budget cuts needed to pay back a $13.5 million deficit. School district spokesperson Craig Spence said funding for the college adult education program was cut because it was outside the central focus of “K-to-12” programs.
• Special prosecutor David Crossin, Q.C. concluded that no charges should be laid against former Langley Township mayor Rick Green.
The Crossin ruling followed an RCMP investigation into an accusation that Green violated privacy laws in September 2010 after he was censured by Langley Township council.
The police investigation of Green was prompted by an anonymous letter alleging breaches of the Privacy Act and Community Charter when Green made a public statement on Sept. 14, 2010, the day after he was publicly censured by council, over his conduct in the Brownshak affair. Green was thrilled with the outcome, saying “I’ve maintained since day one that I did nothing wrong.”
• Brent Parent pleaded not guilty to five road rage related charges against him in the 2008 death of 21-year-old Silas O’Brien, including criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to stop at an accident with a vehicle. The latter charge has since been dropped.
The prosecution argued that Parent became enraged when he thought that the truck O’Brien was riding in had deliberately flashed its high beams at him. Parent is accused of pushing O’Brien’s truck into a ditch after their vehicles made contact, returning to the scene and running him down.
Parent testified that he had no idea his vehicle had struck anyone. He will learn his fate on Jan. 6, 2012.
• Robinderpal Singh Rathor, the former owner of a Langley currency exchange, pleaded guilty to multiple criminal counts of gang-related money laundering at a Langley currency exchange.
Over a six-month period from April 16 to May 26, Rathor exchanged $560,000 U.S. in four transactions for two men he believed were drug dealers. They were actually an undercover RCMP sergeant and corporal.
He was sentenced to two years, less a day, of house arrest at a hearing in October.
• After taking a one-year hiatus in 2010, the Langley Good Times Cruise-In returned to downtown Langley on Sept. 10 a huge success. Crowds of nearly 100,000 braced the hot late summer weather to admire the 1,200 classic cars registered in the event.
Unlike the mass burnouts and street racing seen at the 2009 show, the 2011 show was significantly quieter with only a handful of tickets issued.
• The new Mufford Crescent railway overpass West T plan was unveiled at two public open houses.
The overpass will cost an estimated $52 million and will absorb far less farmland than the last plan proposed.
It will also necessitate the widening of a portion of Glover Road to four lanes and prompt major improvements to 64 Avenue from 204 Street (at the Willowbrook Connector) to 216 Street.
• Two months after it was closed down by a police raid, the Langley Medical Marijuana Dispensary reopened in the same location under its original management. Immediately following the July 19 visit by Langley RCMP officers, dispensary founder Randy Caine said someone else would have to take on the task of distributing medicinal marijuana. But since then, Caine said there had been encouraging signs of support in the community, enough for him to reopen. He said he didn’t expect another police raid.
• Missing helicopter pilot Rod Phillipson was found dead after he crashed near Coquihalla Mountain. Phillipson was planning to open his own flying school at the Langley Regional Airport, where he’d owned his own hangar for about 10 years.
• The Langley RCMP oficers who arrested Mark Marohn for animal abuse in 2008 repeatedly violated and “trampled upon” his rights, a Surrey Provincial Court judge ruled Oct. 11. The judge did not dismiss the charges, ruling there was enough evidence remaining to continue the trial. Marohn and his estranged wife Carol Schoyen-Marohn were each charged with causing an animal to be in distress and failing to provide “necessaries” for an animal.
The charges were laid after an ailing and underweight former racehorse named “Buddy” was allegedly used to try and tow a car out of a ditch, a charge Marohn heatedly denied when he testified during a lengthy hearing on admissibility of evidence known as a voir dire or trial within a trial.
• An H.D. Stafford Grade 8 student was struck by a pickup while in a crosswalk at 48 Avenue and 208 Street on his way to school. Township firefighter Scott Brewer was one of the first on the scene, rushing to the stricken boy’s side to give him first aid until paramedics arrived. The boy suffered head injuries and a broken femur and was airlifted to Children’s Hospital with his mother.
• Roy Michael Thielen, one of three people charged with first degree murder in the March 2009 slaying of two Langley residents, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder Oct. 6 in a B.C. Supreme Court hearing. Thielen was 30 when he was arrested and charged in July of last year with killing 36-year-old Laura Lynne Lamoureux on March 14, 2009, and the related murder of 33-year-old Marc Bontkes on March 19, 2009, at a location seven blocks east of the Lamoureux slaying.
• Township Council released the Lidstone Report on Oct. 17, giving details of The Lidstone and Co. legal firm’s probe of the inconsistencies in Rick Green’s story about the discovery of anonymous documents in a brown envelope concerning the company Brownshak. The report concluded that Green misled lawyers, his staff and his own council when he called the sudden in-camera meeting on Oct. 29, 2009 to share what he claimed was new information he had just received in an anonymous envelope. Green had actually received it two months prior to the meeting. Green’s reaction to the report was that there was “nothing new” released.
• Service to thousands of Shaw Cable television, internet and phone customers in Langley was disrupted when wire thieves cut a major cable line running through a heavily-wooded mini-park near the intersection of Eastleigh Cres. and 56 Avenue. The company estimated 20,000 homes lost cable, 14,000 lost internet service and 8,000 lost telephone service. The affected area stretched from Langley City to Aldergrove.
• Langley City mayor Peter Fassbender revealed council unanimously voted against a medical marijuana dispensary during a closed-door meeting “four or five months” earlier.
The vote was taken after the City obtained legal advice about the controversial dispensary operated by marijuana activist Randy Caine. Fassbender said the law firm which reviewed the issue told council the dispensary, as it is currently operated, violates federal government laws, and a municipal government such as Langley City does not have the legal power to approve one.
• The day after Langley City council rejected a request for support from the medical marijuana dispensary operated by Randy Caine, Caine was charged with one count of “possession for the purpose of trafficking.” Caine, a candidate for City council, closed the dispensary after being warned if he continued to operate, he ran the risk of imprisonment.
• A 24-year-old Langley man died when a small hatchback car hit a semi trailer truck in the 6900 block of Glover Road. The hatchback was traveling northbound on Glover Road when it crossed the centre line and collided with a southbound truck. The car ended up in a ditch.
• A group of Willoughby residents who launched a court challenge over Athenry Development’s project for condos and a cultural centre in Willoughby agreed with the Township to drop the case. The Supreme Court of B.C. ordered the residents and the Township to pay their own costs, leaving taxpayers on the hook for a case that went nowhere.