Election 2014: Dave Hall seeks final term on Langley City council
Dave Hall announced on Friday that he is seeking a final four-year term as a member of Langley City council.
Hall is running on a 2014 platform which suggests a need for progressive change and a strong push toward a “sustainable future” for the City of Langley.
Hall, who has served two terms on council, suggests that $55 million-plus in casino revenues has allowed the City to reduce debt, deliver on major capital projects, and to generously contribute to community grants. However, he cautions that the introduction of online gambling and increased competition from neighbouring casino expansions has seen those revenues decline by more than $1 million annually.
Hall says “the City can’t afford to continue spending this capital on projects more driven by regional or provincial promotion than local need, or on projects that are more “cosmetic” than “functional.”
“There needs to be greater scrutiny of re-bricking projects, $9,000 wayfinding stick street signs, $30,000 for six downtown benches and $95,000 curb bulges at one pedestrian crossing on Fraser Highway.”
At the same time, Hall is asking voters to elect a council majority more receptive to ideas and budget amendments intended to curb the compounding annual tax burden on City residents.
“It took four years to bring around both staff and council to the establishment of an operating reserve from surpluses generated from over-taxation. This year, the City was able to reduce overestimated expense budgets and that should have resulted in many thousands of dollars in reductions,” he says.
But his frustration continues, as the council majority continues to routinely reject his proposals, including investigating the use of traffic fine revenues, targeting mayor and council annual pay increments tied to other Metro municipalities, reconsidering the magnitude of the recently-introduced infrastructure levy, and considering a rebate on overcharged garbage and recycling fees.
Hall welcomes fresh ideas that new candidates might bring to the table and looks forward to mentoring some of them.
He says a sustainable future necessitates not only securing major capital funding, but as importantly, standing up against the significant downloading of costs from senior levels of government. Hall, politically independent and completely self-funded in his campaign, cites such examples as the costs of reduced ambulance service and the impact on medical service calls attended by local fire rescue and the unfair application of new school site acquisition fees on the City.
He says these serve to inhibit rather than promote residential growth.
While the surrounding Township grows at a remarkable rate, the population of the City remains relatively static and continues to age. Recent competition in the condominium market has resulted in a slow-down of multi-family projects in the City and there is little unoccupied land in the City’s four square miles to allow new single family homes to be built.
For the City to be sustainable, Hall believes that there needs to be a renewed energy devoted to refreshing the housing market — affordable townhouses to attract young families and seniors wishing to downsize and incentives to renovate existing housing stock.
To attract this growth, Hall says the City must have some clear priorities.
He wants to see the $14.3 Timms Community Centre to completion. Following the three-year delay and failure of the “community hub” concept, Hall has actively participated on the build/design committee.
“This project has now been adequately scoped to include the gym/fitness and community arts components that have been sorely lacking in this community for generations,” he says.
Another priority has to be a genuine recognition that feelings of concern about safety and security downtown must be addressed.
“It’s not simply hiring more police — the City already has one of the highest police to population ratios in the Lower Mainland. It’s about deployment of these officers with an effective street presence, it’s about effective use of regional integrated teams, and it’s about the province addressing issues of poverty, addiction, and mental illness.”
Citizens of Langley City need to be better served by a transportation system that recognizes the needs of South of the Fraser communities, he says.
"It needs to be far more than the token fast buses offered in the past by an unelected TransLink Board and co-opted Mayor’s Council representatives. Leadership needs to be taken to endorse light rapid transit and establish sustainable funding for operating costs."
Hall envisions funds coming from a carbon tax and comprehensive and equitable reduced road and bridge tolling.
He also wants a revisiting of Master Transportation Plan recommendations that provide little resolution to 200 Street gridlock that is only going to get worse.
He also wants the cultivation of a healthier environment, to promote “green” sustainable building initiatives, to aspire to the conservation of environmentally sensitive areas, and to acquire parkland and cycling/pedestrian enhancements.
Hall, a 32-year resident of the City, has served 19 years on the Advisory Planning Committee, 16 years on Parks, Recreation and Environment and nine years on the Langley School Board, with three as board chair.