Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Rezoning west of 200 Street, new build proposed at Langley Mall.

The area west of 198 Street between 53 Avenue and 56 Avenue has seen a significant amount of redevelopment over the last few years. At last night’s Langley City council meeting, there was a public hearing for a bylaw to rezone property located at the end of 55A Avenue to accommodate a 33 unit, 3-storey townhouse development as shown in the following rendering.

Proposed townhouse development at the end of 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

There were no comments from the public provided during the public hearing. After the public hearing, council asked some questions about the proposed site plan to the project proponent. One of the requirements of the City is the inclusion of a connection between 55A Avenue and the parallel lane north of 55A Avenue at 196 Street. This new connection will include a 2-metre sidewalk as well as a 6-metre roadway. The sound-wall along 196 Street will remain. All vehicle access to the proposed development will be via the lane.

Council gave third reading to the rezoning to accommodate this project.

Later during the meeting, Council gave first and second reading for two additional bylaws to accommodate rezoning for other townhouse projects in the area. One rezoning application was at 56 Avenue and 196 Street. The other was along the south-side of 55 Avenue near 198 Street. A public hearing for these bylaws will now be scheduled.

Proposed townhouse project at 56 Avenue and 196 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Proposed townhouse project at 55 Avenue and 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Back in the fall of 2012, the owner of Langley Mall proposed adding a new retail building at the northwest corner of their property. Because this is in Downtown, it required a development permit. It was never built. 6 years later, the owner of Langley Mall proposed a slightly modified version of the 2012 building. This required that council approve issuing a new development permit.

Rendering of proposed building located along Douglas Crescent at Langley Mall. Select image to enlarge.

One of the basic tenets of creating a walkable, vibrant downtown is that retail businesses must have their primary entrance directly from a street. One of my primary concerns was that the building would turn its back to the street, providing primary access via the parking lot. During the meeting, the proponent of the building stated that it is designed in such a way that primary pedestrian access could be provided from Douglas Crescent. I tried to impress upon the proponent the importance of ensuring that pedestrian access is provided directly off Douglas Crescent. This building will not include a drive thru.

There was a resident at the meeting who spoke against the proposed retail building, citing concerns about noise, drug-use, and homelessness. The resident was also concern about increased traffic. Council also had concerns about the traffic patterns in the mall creating a hazard for both people driving and walking.

Council approved issuing a development permit, but required that the proponent complete a traffic engineering assessment as a condition of its issuance.

Council also gave final reading to a bylaw to allow the reconfiguration of the cul-de-sac on 199A Street.

There were many other items that were addressed at Monday night’s council meeting which I will be posting about throughout this week.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Metro Conversations: The Future of Transportation

Metro Conversations - Conversation 5: February 27

Metro Conversations is back in New Westminster as part of Innovation Week which runs from February 23 to March 3.

Elon Musk’s bold vision of electric autonomous vehicles, cargo missions to Mars, and a network of high-speed underground Hyperloop tunnels promises a future free of traffic, free of drivers, and cities on Mars. Yet, what infrastructural and ethical considerations do cities and policymakers need to make to ensure that this transition is not only possible, but that nobody is left behind in this race to the future? Join us for the fifth conversation on the future of transportation.

Metro Conversations offers a unique format that bringing experts in the field together with citizens for two-way dialogue and discourse within a strict 1-hour time limit. Beyond a lecture, it is a sharing of ideas.

The free event will take place on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00pm in room 417 at the Anvil Centre located at 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster. Doors open at 6:30pm and everyone is welcome.

Seating is limited, and it is recommended to register at the event’s Eventbrite page to help us manage seating.

For more information on Innovation Week, please check out: https://www.newwestcity.ca/innovation-week.

These on-going conversations are organized by Patrick Johnstone from New Westminster, Nathan Pachal from the City of Langley, Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge, and Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver. These conversations are made possible with the generous support of SFU Public Square. This conversation would not be possible without the support of the City of New Westminster.

Reserve your seat at Eventbrite

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Development proposal to add more land into the Agricultural Land Reserve

When Agricultural Land Reserve and development application are used in the same paragraph, the word exclusion is almost always present. Over the years that I’ve been following the state of the ALR in the South of Fraser, land has been either taken out of the land reserve for urban development, or been used in such a way as to remove the potential for farming. An example of this would be the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

Development proposal located near 0 Avenue and 184th Street. Select image to enlarge.

A proposal by Hazelmere Golf & Tennis Club recently came before the Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee. The proposed plan would see the following:

  • 41.9 acres of existing ALR land brought into agricultural production
  • 3.9 acres of land under BC Hydro Right of Way be included into the ALR
  • 20 acres of preserved and enhanced natural habitat and open space
  • 3 acres of new parks
  • 19.5 acres of existing golf course
  • 39.2 acre, 145-lot suburban single-family houses

The single-family housing area would be outside of the ALR, but would still require Surrey to rezone that area from “Agricultural” to “Suburban”. It would also require Metro Vancouver to change the regional zoning from “Rural” to “General Urban” in that area.

An argument could be make that this is essentially sprawl. What really set this proposal apart from other similar proposals —which have been approved in this part of our region in the past— is that ALR land will be expanded, enhanced, and brought into production.

The 41.9 acres of farmland, which is a significant parcel, is proposed to be transformed into a farming co-operative. The proponent is proposing to work with the Young Agrarians and their Land Matching Program to find suitable farmers. For the land that is outside of the ALR, about 30% will be preserved from development.

As development projects occurs at the edge of the ALR in our region, these projects should be required to contribute to making adjacent farmlands viable and productive. This proposed plan may be a good example of how these types of developments should occur.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Transit ridership growing faster than population in Metro Vancouver

Back in October, TransLink posted that they were seeing record-level growth in transit ridership in Metro Vancouver during the first half of 2017. With 2017 now a distant memory, full-year data has been released by the agency. The following table shows more detail on transit ridership in our region.

Year Boardings (Million) Percent Change
2017 406.84 5.7%
2016 384.3 -
2017 Boardings by Mode
Bus 247 3.2%
Expo/Millennium Lines 105 12%
Canada Line 46 6.3%
West Coast Express 2.32 -5.5%
SeaBus 5.84 7.3%

Not surprisingly, Expo and Millennium Line ridership saw double digit growth with the opening of the Evergreen Extension to Coquitlam. It was expected that some West Coast Express riders would switch to using SkyTrain as a result. West Coast Express ridership was down 5.5%.

Canada Line also saw strong ridership increases; TransLink increased peak hours service on the Canada Line in 2017.

SeaBus ridership peaked in 2010, and started a steady decline. In 2017, TransLink increased service frequent on the SeaBus. At the same time, there was strong growth in SeaBus ridership.

While bus service doesn’t capture the imagination of politicians, the media, or the general public as much as other modes of transit, over 60% of all transit ridership in our region is from bus service. Because of investments made due to the 10-Year Vision, and a strong economy, bus ridership also saw a strong increase in ridership.

Between 2016 and 2017, the population of Metro Vancouver grew about 1.1%. Transit ridership in our region grew 5.7%. This means that more people in our region are choosing to take transit to get around than over forms of travel. To put this into perspective, 14.3% of commuters used transit in 1996 in Metro Vancouver. In 2016, that number grew to 20.4%.