The Township of Langley's race for mayor has a new candidate.
Former BC Liberal deputy premier Rich Coleman, who served as a Langley MLA between 1996 and 2020, says he will “will bring a much-needed breath of fresh air into Township politics.”
In announcing his bid, Coleman says he will run a team of candidates under the Elevate Langley political slate.
Coleman says on his website he will focus on affordable home ownership, affordable housing, a “new plan for public safety,” resolving traffic issues, smart development and smart planning.
He notes he's raised two children in Langley with his wife of 37 years, Michele, and now has seven grandchildren. He says he’s a good manager who can bring people together.
Locally, Coleman states he “delivered on a long list of projects within the Township of Langley that have come to define Langley including the Langley Events Center, the new $60 Million High School in Willoughby, plus numerous other schools, two Langley Memorial Hospital expansions, and the Langley Hospice.”
However, given his prominence in the BC Liberal cabinet, Coleman's political legacy is largely provincial.
He claims several political ventures he undertook — and deems successful — while serving stints as: Deputy Premier, Solicitor General, Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas, Minister Responsible for Housing and Social Development, Minister of Public Safety, and Minister of Forests and Range.
He first credits himself with furthering LNG development in northern B.C.
In doing so, Coleman and former Premier Christy Clark led controversial international campaigns, namely in Malaysia and China, to strike deals for the province's natural gas. LNG plants are now being built overseas and delivered to the region for installation.
Coleman takes credit for his work on law enforcement as well: “He concluded a successful Softwood Lumber Agreement, reformed policing in BC, and set up an Organized Crime Task Force that was so successful he received death threats from Hell’s Angels [sic].”
Coleman also helped establish the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) for the BC RCMP, which functions as a provincial police force.
Coleman was among those who testified at the Cullen Commission; the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. found Coleman failed to adequately stop the problem, although it found no evidence of corruption (personal or political gain) on his part.
Coleman also states on his website, he is “credited with having the most successful affordable housing program in North America, working in partnership with the private sector.”
On housing, Vancouver witnessed the largest spike of real estate prices in its modern history, between 2008 and 2016, as prices more than doubled for detached homes. Coleman’s government eventually implemented a foreign buyers’ tax on residential real estate in 2016.
Meanwhile, Coleman’s desire to let the private sector handle housing initiatives led to significant criticism. Critics, such as from former NDP housing minister (2020-2022) David Eby, blame Coleman for the standstill at Vancouver's Little Mountain housing complex, which saw Coleman ink a taxpayer-funded loan with Malaysian developers, who have since largely abandoned the bulldozed development previously run by BC Housing.
The coming retirement of Mayor Jack Froese, the head of council since 2011, has left the mayor’s chair open to a non-incumbent on election day (Oct. 15).
Township councillors Eric Woodward and Blair Whitmarsh have already announced they will be running for mayor, as has former councillor Michelle Sparrow, making Coleman the fourth candidate to step forward to govern the municipality of roughly 145,000 residents.