Vote Langley Now wants public hearing on Mufford proposal
The Vote Langley Now slate wants a public hearing-style meeting on the new proposal for a Mufford railway overpass.
The political team backing Mayor Rick Green said they want to see a staff report including the questionnaires submitted by residents at an open house, and then send the issue to council "to determine their level of support of this initiative."
The Mufford Crescent overpass has been controversial since the last election, says Vote Langley Now, whose seven council candidates are Tyler de Boer, Dorothy McKim, Tony Malyk, Ben Penner, Carla Robin, Dave Stark and Glen Tomblin.
"This project had received conditional approval without any public knowledge or process," they wrote in a press release issued on Tuesday.
"There was a will, prior to the last election, to deny public input and any process of transparency, something we collectively are opposed to," Green said, adding that he brought what he calls "a pre-determined approval of the proposal" to residents through two open houses.
He also made representations to the Agricultural Land Commission, which later held a special public meeting on the issue. Approximately 1,350 people attended all four events. and he estimates that 98 per cent were opposed.
"It is essential that the community is made a part of this process with an opportunity to be heard," he said.
Green said this position is consistent with his team's four core values.
"We fully understand that the Ministry of Transportation has taken the lead on this initiative (and) it is also a fact that we had been told that it wasn’t a done deal leading up to the open house," he added.
He believes that the provincial government could override Township council and impose this on its residents.
He said that residents deserve the right to have their say as to what they want to see in the community and ensure that the provincial government hears their wishes and those of their elected municipal officials.
Councillor Charlie Fox points out that council has already endorsed a public meeting on the overpass proposal. However, the council decision called for the ministry of transportation to host the meeting, not council.
Although they handed over responsibility for the Mufford Crescent railway overpass to the provincial government several years ago, a majority of Township council agreed in September to a meeting along the lines of a public hearing.
When it decided at its Sept. 19 meeting to seek the meeting, council also asked the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to provide copies of the comments made by the public at an open house.
Council disagreed with Green that the Township should host a public forum, and decided instead that the MoT should hold it.
Green said that because of the controversial nature of the issue, and how explosive it had been in the community, "two open houses do not meet the standard" for community participation.
The Mufford Crescent railway overpass design, unveiled at two open houses on Sept. 13 and 14, will cost an estimated $52 million, necessitate the widening of a portion of Glover Road to four lanes, absorb far less farmland than the most recent plan, and prompt major improvements to 64 Avenue from 204 Street (at the Willowbrook Connector) to 216 Street.
Called the West T Intersection, the overpass will take traffic over the railway tracks at Mufford Crescent, leaving the Langley Bypass/railway crossing untouched.
The overpass will contain a loop north of the existing Mufford/Glover junction that will funnel traffic to south and northbound Glover Road.
The overpass and related road works will add several new traffic lights. These include one on Mufford Crescent where 62 Avenue will be extended to form a junction; at the loop, at Glover Road and 64 Avenue, and at 64 Avenue at 216 Street.
Information on the West T plan, the J Loop and others that were rejected, environmental and agricultural impacts, and a schedule for design, tender and construction, is available at www.robertsbankrailcorridor.ca.
The overpass is part of $360 million program to improve rail connections to Roberts Bank in Delta.
Candidate Sonya Paterson also informed The Times that she has called for a public meeting on the new overpass design.