Developers have turned their covetous eyes to the farmlands of the Happy Valley, where they foresee a future of subdivisions, cheap condos and mega-dollar signs. But farmland is protected by the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve, and there are lots of rules about taking farmland out of the reserve to build condos and other crap. (This is a good thing; otherwise we'd be importing all our food from Brazil.)
Because turning farmland into condos brings a fat windfall profit, the rules are very particular about making sure land-use decisions are fair and honest and accountable, in order to stop what prissy lawmakers in Victoria call "corruption and graft." But this is Langford, so HA! suckers.
First, Matthew Baldwin, the evil troll in charge of Langford's planning department, tried to reject citizens' letters about keeping farmland in the reserve. When confronted, Baldwin grudgingly admitted that yes, Langford does have a decision-making process of sorts, and perhaps people should be allowed to comment. That's all -- no apology, no making amends to the people he told to f$@# off. At any rate, Langford got about 70 letters about the farmland - 69 in favour of keeping it in the reserve. (Although some of those letters were "lost" and never made it to the public hearing. Oops!)
Then, alert council-watchers noticed a new agricultural advisory committee member sitting at the table and voting on the applications. Oddly enough, this advisor had the same last name and first initial as the owner of the parcel under consideration. Oh, um, strange coincidence?
Ha! No! Mr. Thomas Atherton, member of the advisory committee, just happens to own that parcel of land on Happy Valley Road. And yes, he voted to forward his own application to the province. And YES, Mayor Stew Young and Langford council know all this! And OF COURSE they think it's JUST FINE!
Are you done laughing yet? Because that's not the punchline. Langford's rules about the advisory committee state:
The membership of the Committee shall maintain strict confidentiality, particularly with respect to individual applications for ALR exclusion, and no member of the Agriculture Advisory Committee shall have an active application before the committee. (Emphasis in original.)OK -- still laughing? Last point: AFTER Atherton's conflict was pointed out at the public hearing, council STILL went ahead and voted to recommend the applications to the Agricultural Land Commission. Unfortunately for them, this application is headed straight for the round file. Why? Last month, a BC Supreme Court judge threw out a land-use decision because one of the land commissioners voted on an application about his neighbour's property. The judge gave the commission a very public spanking to teach them a lesson about conflict of interest.
So, anyone want to bet the commission will decide to turn a blind eye to this latest conflict of interest? Ha ha! We didn't think so!
Seriously, people - WTF will Langford do next? We don't know either! Stay tuned!