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Froese to meet with Fraser Valley mayors to discuss regional districts
The mayors of Langley Township, Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack are meeting Friday to hash out difficulties involving relationships with their regional districts.
Mayor Jack Froese told a radio station last week that the Township “will have an open mind” when he heads into the meeting.
He said that on a scale of one to 10, Township council “is about a five” in favour of leaving Metro Vancouver.
Mission, Chilliwack and Abbotsford belong to the Fraser Valley Regional District.
Among the options Froese will discuss is forming a new regional district, abandoning Metro Vancouver, and jumping to the FVRD.
Froese said that “there is nothing wrong” with taking a look at the relationship the four municipalities have with their regional districts “to see if we can do a better job. And if we can’t, then just leave things well alone.”
Last month, Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said he would welcome a chance to discuss a partnership with Langley.
However, Abbotsford has been told by the province that it cannot leave the Fraser Valley Regional District, as it has asked. Instead, the city was given the option to stay with the FVRD or find other communities willing to join them to create a new regional district.
Some members of Township council are upset that taxpayers are not getting value for money with Metro Vancouver, nor TransLink, the regional transportation authority.
The tipping point came when TransLink announced it would postpone expansion plans south of the Fraser River, sounding for now the death knell of a rapid bus service from the new park and ride at 200 Street and 86 Avenue to the Lougheed SkyTrain station.
“Langley Township and other communities on this side of the river support TransLink by paying for services that benefit all other areas of the Lower Mainland. But when it comes to our turn, we have the rug pulled out from under us,” he said.
Froese is a member of the newly-formed South of the Fraser Mayors’ Committee, which is working to obtain the transportation infrastructure needed by its member municipalities to focus attention on the area’s unique transportation needs. He was one of three mayors from south of the Fraser River to oppose the vote to postpone expansion plans.
Banman feels it is his job to examine all the options available to Abbotsford.
But joining Metro Vancouver “is not going to happen while I’m sitting in the chair.”
Another option, according to Banman, could be to make the FVRD bigger by adding Langley.
He wants to have a discussion, confirm the data and then hold a public forum to see what the communities want.
“I’m sure that the residents of Langley would be thrilled to reduce their gas tax by 17 cents a litre,” said Banman.
On Monday, Township council will debate a motion from Councillor Kim Richter that calls for staff to update a 2001 report on the costs and benefits of membership in Metro Vancouver.
— with files from Kevin Mills, Abbotsford News