Langley Township has no immediate plans to join the Fraser Valley Regional District.
“If we can work within the regional district we have, and make them work better, we’ll be better off,” Township Mayor Jack Froese told The Progress Monday after meeting with Fraser Valley mayors Friday.
But talks with the FVRD aren’t over, he added, as the Township still has some tough issues to work out with the Metro Vancouver Regional District and with TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority.
“It’s not a simple thing to do (to change regional district governments),” he said, “and we want to focus on what we can do now.”
Froese and mayors from Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Mission met Friday in Abbotsford for more than two hours to talk about regional district matters.
Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who is also the FVRD chair, said there was “no interest” at the Friday meeting to create a new regional district comprised of Abbotsford, Mission and Langley Township.
But the three Fraser Valley communities do share “similar challenges with transportation” as Langley, she said.
“We’ve wanted a bus link to Abbotsford, and Abbotsford has wanted a link to Langley, our transportation issues are more common,” she said.
Froese said the Township is waiting for a B.C. government audit expected in August that will show whether TransLink has the funds to expand its rapid bus system to Langley. Residents there have been paying into the service, but TransLink recently announced a decision to hold off on the expansion.
The Township is also in a legal wrangle with Metro Vancouver that may decide whether a regional government can trump a local government’s autonomy in community planning.
Metro Vancouver filed a motion in May to “quash” a Township plan to establish a “university district” around Trinity University using property within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
It was this issue that sparked a special Township council meeting where leaving Metro Vancouver was first discussed.
Last year, Abbotsford city council was looking at leaving the FVRD, but that idea was quashed by B.C.’s Minister of Community Development. The FVRD also showed in a report that it was not in Abbotsford’s financial interest to leave the regional district.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman, who opposed the proposed FVRD move in his election campaign, was not available for comment Monday on why he called the Friday mayors’ meeting.
Gaetz said the FVRD has not had any formal “direction” from Abbotsford about any new proposal regarding that city’s regional district membership.
“We haven’t had (formal) direction from Abbotsford where they want to go,” she said.