Monday, September 1, 2008

The City of Langley - The Place to be for Opportunity

Last week I had a private meeting with City of Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender. For some time now I have been attending meetings and watching Langley City's redevelopment Master Plan with excitement and enthusiasm. I watch such events as a person that is interested in smart development, a transit and density advocate, a long-time real estate investor, a property owner (both City and Township), and engaged citizen.

The face of our Langleys are in the midst of change and progressive leadership is vital to ensuring that our communities grow properly and smartly. I am personally encouraged and excited by the vision for a new City of Langley and the political leaders that have gone out on a limb to bring that vision forward. Its bold and its the right thing to do. While South Fraser OnTrax is a non-partisan society, we can acknowledge, appreciate and respect the initiatives of our current elected officials. South Fraser OnTrax therefore wishes to thank Mayor Fassbender, Francis Cheung, Chief Administrative Officer, the sitting City Council, Gerald Minchuk, Director of Development Services & Economic Development and City Staff for their efforts.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of good smart growth strategies and creation of walkable neighbourhoods to the building of communities around people, and for the ultimate provision of transportation solutions that serve the people. I’m pleased to report what I already knew and that is that Mayor Fassbender understands these concepts. International travel goes a long way in educating people and opening new schools of thought. I’ve always said that my many years of living and working overseas have allowed me a perspective and vision that is not always apparent to my North American friends and family. Mayor Fassbender is well-traveled and I was excited to hear about his take on Transit Oriented Development, densification, mixed-use and creative mixed-use. He mentioned that mixed-use need not always be a storefront per say, but could be a London style townhouse unit with what could be a public access workroom on the ground floor with an internal staircase to living accommodations above. In Asia they would be known as shop houses. The point is that the mayor has traveled extensively Europe and Asia, and is allowing himself to be open to these possibilities in Langley City. This adds a whole new dimension to the City of Langley’s Master Plan.

Is this plan all roses? Of course not. There are significant challenges to overcome. Things like aging infrastructure, willingness of landowners to sell or redevelop, developer will to invest in the city, and the list goes on. But the mayor and his staff are proactively engaging in meetings and calls to developers and land owners every week. I like that. We like that as a group! This is progressive leadership.

I encourage each and every one of you to look at the City of Langley brochure and full Master Plan. Read it, get excited about it, and most importantly please let these local leaders know that you fully support their efforts. For our part at South Fraser OnTrax, we will keep you updated on all the happenings with these plans. We will also continue o write letters and encourage the city to keep the mixed-use, TOD strategies in the forefront of all that they do. I invited Mayor Fassbender to speak at the South Fraser OnTrax October 9th meeting that will take place in the Township’s Nicomekl River Meeting Room (4th Floor). The mayor will speak on his view and vision for Langley and Langley transportation, with an eye on the region and how Langley fits into that region. I very much look forward to the mayor’s wit and wisdom.

Lastly, our municipalities are full of many unsung heroes that work diligently each day for our benefit. One such trooper is Debra Joyal, Administrative Assistant in the Mayor’s Office at the City of Langley. I am in regular contact with Debra as she helps me distribute research reports to mayor and council. I enjoy the same ultra-professional assistance from Cindy Savoy over that Mayor Kurt Alberts office in the Township of Langley. Exceptional people like Debra Joyal and Cindy Savoy will rise to the top of any organization they work in, as their skills and professionalism shine bright. On this Labour Day I'd like to thank you ladies for all that you do for us and our community.

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