Editor: I urge everybody to get engaged in the municipal elections. In particular, if you are a new voter, get registered and get involved.
Local government has the most direct effect on our daily lives. I am not endorsing any specific candidates here, but there are values that I will be looking for in the candidates that I vote for. I am focused on three areas: affordable living, environmental integrity and social inclusion.
Affordability is the single most important issue facing people in Langley — in particular, young people who are just starting their careers and families. We have heard much about the increasing difficulty in finding affordable housing, but tied closely to that is the high cost of transportation.
It is a sad reality that single detached homes on generous lots are no longer affordable for residents with average incomes. Condos and townhomes are the affordable option for most young families today. I advocate for sensible planning of compact, densely populated neighbourhoods, serviced by public transit. Ideally, people should be within walking or cycling distance of many goods and services required for daily living and have convenient access to public transit for further requirements. The household that is able to eliminate the need for one car can save $10,000 per year.
The above development model must be planned within strict boundaries to protect the farmland, forested areas and the watersheds that make Langley uniquely livable. There is no need for Langley to encroach on those areas to provide affordable living. There is already sufficient land allocated for development, provided it is planned and developed wisely. My vote will go to candidates who will fight to protect the unique interface between urban and natural environments that makes Langley special.
There are many people in Langley who are outside the margins of society. The most obvious is our large and growing homeless population. Local governments need to partner with higher level governments to solve these problems and we need local leaders who will commit to a comprehensive social strategy. We need local leaders who will stand up for those threatened with marginalization. My Langley would ensure that all those who choose to live here – long timers and newcomers, young and old, able and disabled – can feel safe and welcome regardless of religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. I also want leaders who will help us achieve true reconciliation with local First Nations.
These are the issues I will be raising with candidates in making my decision.