Leadership is vital for Langley City

The celebration of Craig Davies’ life on Thursday was a fitting tribute to a larger-than-life figure several speakers called a “Renaissance man.”

In addition to being an exacting graphic designer and owner of the successful Design One business for 35 years, he was a hockey coach, father, husband, grandfather, photographer, historian, community activist and a treasured friend to many.

His former coaching colleague Jim McDonald said said “he packed more into his life than most people would in five lifetimes.”  That’s something few people are likely to say of another.

From a Langley point of view, Davies was a successful businessman and a member of the business community for 40 years. In addition to operating his business, which produced high quality graphic design to government, political campaigns, trade organizations, businesses and individuals, he was a very active member of the business community.

In particular, he was involved in and passionate about the revitalization of Langley City’s downtown. As Downtown Langley Business Association executive director Teri James said Thursday, she first talked to him on the phone 13 years ago for about one minute.

“I remember thinking, after this cold turkey call, that he was so intelligent. He was by far one of the most intelligent and professional people I’ve ever known,” she said.

James, who is also a City councillor, knows firsthand just how much he did for the City and the DLBA. Like departed mayor Peter Fassbender, who as an MLA and cabinet minister is officially on a leave of absence but will not be directly involved in Langley City’s future development any more, he was a visionary. Both could see a bright future for Langley City — in particular the downtown.

The downtown is the heart of Langley City, even though it isn’t the biggest contributor in tax revenue. The City’s industrial tax base, casino revenues, and property taxes from its share of Willowbrook Shopping Centre and Langley Bypass businesses bring far more into its coffers.

However, the downtown is the historical heart of Langley as a whole. There are prospering businesses there, but there are also vacant storefronts. The downtown has found it hard to attract a broad base of shoppers, in competition with malls and big box stores, but continues to have some resolute business operators and unique attractions.

Both Davies and Fassbender saw a future downtown with more people living right in the centre of things. That vision has started to become reality, but it has a long way to go.

The City has adopted an ambitious downtown master plan which sets out specific  objectives for different areas of the downtown. Some property owners have bought into it — others remain stubbornly resistant.

What Langley City needs is leadership to make sure that the vision of the downtown, and by extension the rest of the City and the Langley region, is fulfilled. It will be very hard for it to proceed without enthusiastic leadership of the type that both Davies and Fassbender have provided.

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