Happy new year! 2009 sucked like a wind tunnel, and 2010 will probably suck like a black hole ripping open the fabric of the space-time continuum. Welcome to the future -- misery, confusion, and public policy scandal, with running commentary from the wise-asses here at WTF Langford? (Our motto: "Sorry we're so darn right all the time.") Enjoy our eight worst predictions, and don't say we didn't warn you.
8) Drugs, death, and violent crime
It's not much of a guess, with all the cocaine-related arrests, beatings, and so forth in the past year. But hold on -- who buys coke these days? Everyone knows cheap homemade meth is the thrifty maniac's new drug of choice. Watch for this trend to take off in the coming year!
7) The Brotherstons: Guilty, or really guilty?
On January 29, we find out if the judge accepts the lone-killer-acting-in-self-defense argument offered by former Highlands councilor Ken Brotherston to explain how a Colwood crack user wound up dead at the hands of Ken and his two sons. Our verdict: Nope, they all should have pleaded insanity.
6) Parkland for sale
Langford has committed to selling two parcels of parkland between Florence Lake and Bear Mountain. No one knows why, since the parks were originally designated as a buffer for the new development. We don't expect the counter-petition to succeed in bringing the issue to a vote, but the BC Supreme Court could certainly settle the question of whether Langford can legally sell a neighbourhood amenity.
5) Roundabout to NowhereLangford has committed something like a million dollars for a traffic roundabout in the middle of Goldstream Avenue in front of Western Foods. No one knows why, since the roundabout will be a huge pain in the ass. Worse, the traffic island is supposed to include a bizarre assortment of faux-Western kitsch -- a fake train, a fake watertower, and a fake steam clock. Yes, really! We predict the funding for this vanity project will dry up before it's finished. If not, at least folks will be laughing too hard to make snarky comments.
4) Interchange to Nowhere
Apparently the developers misplaced the money to pay back the $9.75 million borrowed for the half-built Bear Mountain interchange. So the city will continue to beg federal and provincial agencies for a bailout. Of course, they will continue to fail,
If the developers default, council can legally seize the properties pledged as collateral for the loan -- including Bear Mountain Resort and the South Skirt Mountain properties. But then what? Looks like the good people of Langford will still end up paying back the loan. Oh, what a tangled web ...
3) Bear Mountain's new owners
Sorry kids, no rich Arab investors will be riding up to rescue Bear Mountain Resort. Watch as pieces of Len Barrie's crumbling empire get snatched up by HSBC, Revenue Canada, Palace Sports and Entertainment, and the city of Langford by default. But cheer up -- things could get worse! Barrie and the resort could be facing bankruptcy, more tax foreclosures, even allegations of fraud. Ouch! Remember, the harder they come ...
2) Langford's financial crisis
This turn of events won't surprise folks who noticed that Langford's Fudge-It Budget counted $50 million in federal and provincial grants as revenue. No one knows why, since the grants were only hoped-for, and most of that money did not materialize. Adding to the pain: lost development fees, ill-advised tax deferrals, interest on the unpaid Bear Mountain Interchange loan, and a bad case of hubris.
But never mind all that. Langford will continue to beg for grants, the city will authorize a loan to cover the shortfall (plus more interest), and anyone who questions the mayor and council will get told to STFU, as usual.
Don't expect to hear much from Mayor Stew Young and the rest of the crew in 2010. They will be too busy meeting with finance ministers, provincial officials, regional directors, accountants, and lawyers, trying desperately to sort out the mess they made. We hope they succeed. Nobody wants a forensic audit, right?
1) Market Crash 2010
Forget the hype about the economy "recovering" -- this bubble is about to burst. Despite the artificial inflation of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending, bailouts, and low-interest loans from CMHC in 2009, collapse is looming for Vancouver Island. Once the bill from the Olympics comes due and oil prices rise again, there will be a great levelling of fortunes across the region. So buckle up, buttercup! Enjoy the good times if you can, and brace for impact.