Tuesday, 7 October 2014

OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL

An Open Letter to Mayor and Council
October 7,2014
Dear Mayor and Council,
On March 20, the Langley Times reported that Township staff were preparing a report for Township Council identifying Township-owned properties that could be sold to pay for future infrastructure in Langley Township. We the undersigned, are concerned about the implications  of this article. Six months have passed without this staff report being made public. We write to you with the assumption that it has not yet been presented to Council.
As the article acknowledges, past and present policy with regard to the sale of what the Township has identified as “surplus property” has generated much controversy. The approach that the Township has taken appears to many to be secretive and reactive. There is an obvious need for a process with greater transparency, one grounded in sound planning.
The lands belonging to the Township are the collective property of the community of Langley. Decisions regarding the management of 'surplus properties' greatly impact the public good and will affect the patterns of future development in the neighbourhoods in which they are located. Decisions regarding the sale or retention of these lands  must take a long-term view. We are particularly concerned that the ecological value of  'surplus properties'  be given greater consideration.
Under the current approach, it appears that the Township has proceeded without adequately considering or  informing itself about the ecology of parcels placed on the market. It has therefore been left to individual citizens and community groups to bring these issues to the attention of Council and Staff. In response to protest Township has made ad hoc corrections that have failed to address the larger problem. The danger that significant ecosystems could be lost remains. 
Although heartened by the implication that the above mentioned staff report will be released to the public upon receipt by Council, there are a number of additional steps that we feel Mayor and Council can undertake.
1) Council should direct Staff to undertake consultations with stewardship groups and other environmental and community groups to assist in the preparation of the staff report. Upon completion of the staff report, it should be presented to Council and released to the public at the same time. We urge Council to authorize this action in a timely manner and to see that the completion of the report is not delayed.
2) Develop a comprehensive inventory of Township lands that would be publicly accessible on the web. In time this could include the results of ecological surveys of individual properties that have been prepared by public or private entities.
3)  Prepare a comprehensive plan for the sale and retention of Township lands that takes into account the ecological value of particular parcels. The impact on Langley aquifers from any resulting destruction of forests and wetlands must be considered. The Township should  commit itself to the principle that our natural heritage should not be sacrificed in the development of modern amenities.
 4) Council has made it a uniform practice to invoke Section 90 of the Community Charter as a way of closing meetings of Council to the public when land sales are under consideration. The resulting lack of transparency compounds the difficulties in the issues already discussed. When a sale is well-advised, this practice hinders maximum advertising to prospective buyers, and when a sale is ill-advised it prevents the public from seeing their elected representatives debate the proposal. The public interest is thus served by greater transparency in both instances.Only exceptional circumstances can justify invoking Section 90 in the circumstance  of land sales. We strongly urge Council to invoke Section 90 sparingly in the case of land sales and on a case by case basis.
5)The comprehensive plan should recognize that although a policy of selling off real estate to generate capital can have merit in some circumstances care must be taken that land worth more monetarily in the future could be lost through poor planning. Holding on to 'surplus properties' may also provide a much needed source of income in the future.

Finally, we urge Council to take these steps in a timely manner so that the ensuing discussion and debate on Council and amongst the public can begin before, and not after, the upcoming municipal election this November. We would encourage Council and staff to begin the  process by meeting with community groups prior to November 1st. We would be pleased to participate in such a meeting.  
Respectfully,
Watchers of Langley Forests

Salmon River Enhancement Society
*Both groups have reviewed this letter and being convinced that the issue  is an important one that should be addressed they have joined together to send this letter.


Saturday, 31 May 2014

THE DAY IS HERE

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow Saturday May 31(technically today) will be an opportunity to get a free guided tour of Creekside Forest in Aldergrove. Details here.

Here is a quick summary.

The tours  will be from 10 am to 3 pm at 274th and 28th Avenue.

Also between 10 am and 3pm there will be from a Community Event at Aldergrove Athletic Park. There will be crafts,games and facepainting and Harriet the Owl will bet there from 10 am to 11 am.
The address is 29th Avenue 267B Street.

So to recap Harriet the Owl and facepainting at Aldergrove Athletic Park. You can  have your picture taken with her for five dollars.
HARRIET the OWL



and at the same time you can get a FREE tour of Creekside Forest.

I hope you can make it.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

Here is another view of the forest. This one has some trees  that have seen better days.But there are others still standing proud in the background.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

CREEKSIDE FOREST PHOTO

This is what people will be able to see at the free guided tours this Saturday May 24 and next Saturday May 31. See this blog post for details.

 Inside Creekside Forest May 2014
Here is a link to the latest  Langley Advance story
And here is a link to the latest Langley Times/Aldergrove Star  story.

EFFORT TO SAVE ALDERGROVE FOREST


In the spirit of working together to keep natural places in urban spaces a group of Aldergrove residents,with some help from Watchers of Langley Forests(WOLF)  are putting on some events to raise public awareness about  the Creekside Forest in Aldergrove. This urban forest,owned by the Township of Langley, has been slated for development by the municipality. Township Council recently voted to rezone the property to allow a sixty-one lot subdivision. SEE THESE STORIES FOR BACKGROUND
On Saturday May 24 and Saturday May 31 10 am to 3pm members of WOLF will be giving free guided tours of the Creekside Forest located between Shortreed Elementary/Creekside Park and the Abbotsford border. This forest runs along Bertrand Creek on a Township owned property approximately between  26th and 28th Avenue. The tours will be an opportunity for the public to see for themselves this bit of wilderness so near to Aldergrove but so different than the urban spaces that mostly surround it.
The tours will start at Creekside Park (28th Ave and 274th St) just by the bridge that crosses Bertrand Creek.

Also on May 31  a  family friendly event will run from 10am until 3pm at the Aldergrove Athletic Park under the covered picnic area.There will be an information station informing residents of Langley Township about the proposed development into our local forest. Residents can sign a petition in favour of stopping the development into the forest.  There will be a craft, games,and facepainting  stations for kids. Harriet the Owl will make an appearance for about an hour in the morning.  Visitors can have their picture taken with the owl for $5. All  money raised will be donated to WOLF.

Hotdogs and beverages will be served at lunch time for free or by donation.

Should the Township plans go through most of the forest will be cut down to make way for houses. The streamside setbacks required by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will not allow this forest to survive as an intact ecosystem. Some trees will remain but this bit of natural space will be no longer be much of a forest.
For more information contact Jessica Horst at ecological-footprint@outlook.com


Saturday, 17 May 2014

TWO OLD FRIENDS

Check out what poet Susan McCaslin and artist Susan Falk are up to this month.

Susan Falk's art exhibition(in collaboration with Kristin Krimmel) The French Connection runs from May 9-25 at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley. Tonight May 17 at 7pm Susan McCaslin and fellow poet Lee Johnson will join the exhibition for a joint poetry book launch. Susan McCaslin  for her book "The Disarmed Heart" and Lee Johnson for his book "Poetria Nova"
  

Susan McCaslin and Susan Falk were instrumental in helping  Watchers of Langley Forest save Mclellan Forest East(now the Blaauw Eco Forest) and ensuring that WOLF was well funded. Susan McCaslin's launching of The Han Shan Poetry Initiative brought great publicity to the cause of the forest and truly became a global happening. Susan Falk's generous donation of the proceeds from sale of her art show in May 2013 are the reason that WOLF has insurance. The continuing news coverage that these and other events garnered are what brought the forest's plight to the attention of Mrs. Blaauw and family. These are just the practical prosaic contributions that they have made. By allowing the forest to inspire themselves and each other they made an artistic gift to the world that would have survived even if the forest had not . WOLF is  enormously grateful that we have both around to appreciate. I myself have fond memories of the mad chaos of those times that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Susan McCaslin has emailed me to say that nature will be a theme for the night and that she will be reading from some poems she wrote for the Han Shan project. 

Kirk Robertson
WOLF Chair

Poetic Form and the Mystical Muse:
A Collaboration of Poetry and the Visual Arts

Saturday May 17
7-9 pm

You are cordially invited to attend a free poetry book launch with

Susan McCaslin & Lee Johnson

in collaboration with local visual artists

Kristin Krimmel & and Susan J. Falk

at their exhibition, The French Connection

The Fort Gallery
9048 Glover Road, Fort Langley, BC