Community involvement a theme
A theme of community involvement, along with personal attacks, were part of the night at the mayors’ debate on Thursday, Nov. 10.
Hosted at Brookswood Secondary by Salmon River Enhancement Society, Fort Langley Community Association and Yorkson Community Association, the three Township mayor candidates Jack Froese, Mel Kositsky and Rick Green were questioned by the hosting panel and members of the public on local issues.
The evening opened with platform speeches from each candidate, followed by questions from the sponsoring groups and local residents.
On many of the issues at hand, responses from the candidates reflected a desire for the public to become more involved in Township council decisions.
In his opening remarks, Froese said he admires the community input given for the rebuilding of the IGA in Fort Langley, which burned down in January, and wants to develop a similar community involvement process in the Township government.
“As your mayor, I will immediately put together a community planning task force to explore how the Township of Langley is working with the development industry, the community and the government to involve all parties in the planning process and create a new model that everyone can be happy with,” he said.
Green proposed something of a similar nature in his opening speech. He wants to create community planning committees in each of the Township’s six communities plus one for the rural areas, with an additional separate community advisory planning committee.
“We want to see local community planning committees set up consisting of residents, business owners, school trustees and local organizations,” he said.
“The Township of Langley has practiced top down planning for far too long. It’s long past time that we put community back into community planning. It’s long past due that we go to a process of bottom up planning.”
On the other hand, in response to a question on soil deposition permits, Kositsky pointed to a new public involvement process recently put in place by council — something he says he wants to continue in the next term.
“The new process that has been adopted by council... gives lots of public opportunity for the people most affected in the area to come forward to council and state their concerns,” he said.
This community sentiment continued throughout the night, along with subjects of environmental protection, development and taxes.
Some personal attacks on the candidates were also heard.
Hank Der, president of the Yorkson Community Association, claims that candidate Mel Kositsky has been absent from “key votes” by council, particularly the final reading of a “key vote” in the Athenry development.
“Mr. Kositsky, can you please comment on your political record as pertains to community development in you term, that also includes your explanation for your noticeable absence at certain key votes. Do you feel that this is sustainable and thoughtful?” Der asked.
The night Der was referring to was the same night Kositsky’s landlady, Mae Barichello, died.
“She was at her last dying breath and I didn’t think I should come to the meeting that night on an important issue... I was holding her hand at her bedside while she was passing away, and she died within 24 hours,” Kositsky responded.