Transportation top of mind at Langley City town hall

Langley MP Mark Warawa answers a question from an audience member at the Langley City town hall meeting on Saturday. - Miranda Gathercole/Langley Times
Langley MP Mark Warawa answers a question from an audience member at the Langley City town hall meeting on Saturday.
— image credit: Miranda Gathercole/Langley Times

Transportation issues are of high priority among City of Langley residents.

This was made clear on Saturday morning at the Langley City town hall meeting, when several questions on this topic were asked of representatives Mayor Peter Fassbender, MLA Mary Polak, MP Mark Warawa and Langley Board of Education chair Wendy Johnson.

The town hall is part of a series of public meetings that allow residents to raise concerns from their community to their government representatives. Questions submitted via Twitter are accepted as well.

Should the Interurban line resurface in Langley? Fassbender doesn’t think so.

The tracks do not run where people live, he said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Instead, people need to change their perceptions about busses and understand that bringing the SkyTrain or Interurban to Langley alone will not be enough. An entire network of transportation systems is needed, he said.

Part of the transportation problem is solving inefficiencies within TransLink. “It’s a long term issue,” Polak said.

“Everyone I think is aware that there are huge challenges with the government’s current model of TransLink. To make a change like that is a pretty significant undertaking,” she said.

The first short term steps are giving the Mayor’s Council greater responsibility in making the transit plans for Metro Vancouver and allowing them to choose the type of funding tools used to fund services, she said.

“The politics around the Mayor’s Council table drives me crazy sometimes,” Fassbender added. “We’ve been giving (funding) for a long time South of the Fraser. It’s our turn to start to see transportation needs that we have for now and in the future. And I’m going to hold my colleagues to account.”

Some suggest that creating a road pricing strategy could help make up for financial shortfalls.

Fassbender believes this is the right way to go. User pay will be a better solution for the long term than property taxes, he said, however “there’s no perfect system.”

Other topics raised by residents included the drug culture in Langley City and affordable housing. Although the City of Langley per capita has the highest amount of low income housing in all of Metro Vancouver, many are “becoming ghettos in our community,” Fassbender admitted.

Drug culture is embedded in social issues and legalizing certain narcotics such as marijuana will not take away gangs, he said, adding that not one council member would vote for its decriminalization.

Gangs are “in business to make money,” he said. “It’s about making money, it’s about being parasites and it’s about eliminating the competition. And the way they eliminate competition is not likely the free enterprise system. They just shoot them. Now is that the way it should be? Absolutely not.”

A key step for prevention is through education in schools, Johnson said. Strategies such as the big buddy program and project resiliency are already in place.

“One of the things that we try to do is create schools that are caring and supportive and inclusive,” she said. “It’s those kinds of relationships that tell children they are worthwhile and keep them out of the drug culture for the long haul.”

Other topics discussed included the role of government in combating bullying, a possible merger of fire departments by the Township and the City, and the carbon tax.

Warawa was asked questions on a number of federal issues, including trade with China and criminal sentencing.

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