Editor: The following is an open letter to the mayor and councillors of Langley Township.
I viewed with rapt attention the debate for amendments to the Draft OCP for Brookswood Fernridge at third reading. I was encouraged to see debate taking place and the resulting inclusion of some amendments for this plan. I found the end result, however, to be most discouraging
The Brookswood-Fernridge community has spoken loudly and clearly that they will not accept another Willoughby. The community has no faith whatsoever that loose language in the OCP will be dialed back and controlled at the neighbourhood plan stage.
This is why there was an outpouring of sentiment at the public hearing in which I participated. To put it simply, the Brookswood-Fernridge community does not trust mayor and council to uphold the intent of the OCP if it is not written into it.
There have been too many instances where this mayor and council (majority) have given the go-ahead to development proposals because they meet the requirements of the bylaws.
How does this happen? It happens because the OCPs and associated NPs have not been structured with sufficient parameter-based language that enable them to be used and effectively referenced when it comes time to vote.
There have been two opportunities to stay on track with the much promoted public engagement strategy recently. First, with Councillor Richter’s attempt to delay the public hearing until an open house could be held to clear up the confusion. Second, (on July 10) when Coun. Sparrow moved to hold another public hearing with the amended OCP for one final consultative check mark to ensure we are getting it right. Both of these motions were voted down 5-4.
I watched the shock in Mayor Froese, as he mistakenly reported the final question result as “passes,” then quickly recanted with “fails.”
Another 5-4 vote. So how did this fail? How do councillors like Fox and Quaale, who have been steadfast and consistent in approving everything that comes across their laps, vote against this plan? There is obviously no better trust within council than there is for council.
How do the nine of you fix this mess you’ve created?
There is now a plan for Mayor Froese to call for reconsideration. How will this implicate on other third read decisions? Where is the credibility of the vote? I feel it is an utter disgrace that the work done, the time dedicated and the money spent has been thrown into upheaval by the careless and incomplete actions you collectively participated in during third reading.
I spoke at the public hearing, saying that I feel we can get to where we want to be. This can only happen if there is trust. The time it would have taken to have an additional open house and public hearing would have been mere weeks.
Has this entire project been deemed unworthy of this additional consideration?
If it is deemed appropriate to reconsider the third reading vote, it is most assuredly as appropriate to go to one final public hearing on the amended OCP as motioned by Coun. Sparrow and supported by Councillors Richter, Arnason and Davis.