Development should benefit community, not foreign investors

Editor: Langley’s Development Challenge – who wins?

The Township of Langley’s various OCPs appear to contain ideals that would build a good community and protect the environment.

However, these plans fail to address two very big elephants: 1) Years of unprecedented low interest rates allows those with huge wealth to truly control real estate development. 2) The TOL uses an outdated Development Cost Charge (DCC) system that requires massive upfront payments the DCC essentially hands development to deep-pocketed corporations.

Free markets and capitalism is what built Langley and of course development is needed, but we also want the community where we live to truly benefit, not some hedge fund manager in Toronto or New York who needs yet another Bugatti.

To put it in perspective: The entire development value of Brookswood-Fernridge is a rounding error on the balance sheets of the “world one per cent” and much of this money is ultimately controlled in New York, London, the Far East and the Arabian Kingdoms.

Recent growth in Willoughby and Aldergrove prove the point: Willoughby has overcrowded schools, no parking, poor transit, and constant construction on gridlocked roads. Aldergrove has been waiting years for a proper indoor pool, and instead gets a glorified water park and the bonus of deforestation.

Overall, Langley in general battles with increasing homelessness and aging seniors that will create yet further stress. Common sense says that through development, Langley should be paying less taxes with more taxpayers, yet in the last 10 years of unprecedented growth, the TOL’s tax rates have increased on average at double the rate of inflation.

TOL taxpayers foot the bill of “community disruption” while the vast profits of development are siphoned off to fill the coffers of the ultra-wealthy and their minions, most of whom view our community simply as an asset line on a spreadsheet. The TOL’s outdated DCC “system” has failed.

The solution is simple: Discard the outdated TOL DCC policy and bring back the age-old system of municipal bonds to finance a Langley infrastructure development fund.

Bond purchase rules are created that give advantage to Langley property owners.

After all, we can already use our RRSPs to finance everything from Windmill Farms in Holland to Marijuana growers in Nanaimo, why can we not finance the needs of our own community? This fund would not be a tax, it is an investment.

The Langley development fund would raise money to finance the infrastructure before it is needed and costs are paid back to the fund as land develops.

Jobs will be created, growth won’t be so disruptive and much more profit will be retained in the community. Current landowners who have built and lived in the community will have better opportunity to continue to live in Langley and most important, there will more opportunity to help their kids live in Langley as well.

The fund setup is not hard to do, but will need a groundswell of support to force the levels of government to make the required changes. Think about it, think hard and debate.

Do not let the tidal wave of financial globalization continue to trump (pun intended) our great community.

Mike McPhee,