Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 24th, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Hunter Park restoration plan approved, City staff member to attend 54th International Making Cities Livable Conference

On Tuesday, I posted about rezoning and development applications where members of the community had the opportunity to give their feedback to council. On Wednesday, I posted about the City’s year-end financials. Today, I will post about the remaining items that were on the agenda of Monday night’s council meeting.

Council gave final reading, and final approval, to a rezoning application for a 98-unit apartment located near 201 Street and Michaud Crescent. You can read more about this rezoning on a previous blog post.

Council also gave first and second reading to two different rezoning applications. This allows for public hearings to be scheduled for these applications where people can provide feedback. The first application was for a 4-storey, 54 unit apartment near Brydon Crescent and 200th Street. The second application was for rezoning a small section of land that was a former lane.

Proposed apartment building located at 19942 Brydon Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

A few weeks ago, I posted about the Hunter Park restoration plan that was put forward for council to consider by the citizen-lead Hunter Park Task Group. Council approved the recommendation of the task group, and work will now begin on restoring the park. It is expected that this restoration work will be completed by the end of this year. Work on building the new trails, installing the new benches, picnic tables, and fencing, plus planting the grass and native-species plants will begin this summer. New trees will be planted in the fall.

Finally, council approved a request for our Director of Development Service & Economic Development to attend the 54th International Making Cities Livable Conference. In my profession, it is extremely important to attend conferences as they are great forums to learn about new approaches to doing things. They facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best-practices. I believe it is important that our City staff attend conferences to further their professional development because it will lead to a better Langley City.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 24th, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Langley City receives clean bill of financial health

Every year Langley City, like other municipalities in BC, must have an independent auditor go through our financial records. The independent auditor checks for evidence of fraud, that the City has proper financial controls in place, and that accounting legal requirements and best-practices are adhered to.

At Monday night’s council meeting, we received a presentation from BDO Canada, our independent auditor. They found no significant issues with the City’s financial statements.

With this information, later during Monday’s meeting, council approved the City’s 2016 Consolidated Financial Statements.

Langley City's updated Financial Plan reflecting actual year-end results. Select table to enlarge.

I wanted to outline some differences between the original 2016 Financial Plan, and the actual year-end results.

Langley City had an modest operating budget surplus in 2016. The City received significantly more revenue than budgeted from the casino. Due to an increase in development activities in the City, there was also a significant increase in revenue from fees and permits.

All department operations were under-budget expect for the fire department, recreation services, and development services.

The fire department was $309,145 over-budget. This was due to increased overtime due to sick leave, and major fires such as the Paddington Station apartment fire.

Due to the new Timms Community Centre, Recreation Services was over-budget by $202,615. The increase in costs for operating the new centre is reflected in the 2017 budget.

Due to an increase in hotel tax revenue flow-thru, the development services department appeared to be over-budget by $53,048.

One of the important indicators of a City’s financial heath is the value of its tangible capital assets such as roads, water lines, sewer mains, and buildings. In 2016, the City increased its total tangible capital asset value by $9.5 million dollars. Langley City now has $239.8 million worth of tangible capital assets.

As I posted about earlier this year, City council approve the 2017 Financial Plan which required a 3.61% taxation revenue increase. On Monday, City council approved the 2017 tax rates bylaw to enable the collection of property tax.

Every year, there is a difference between the 2016 Financial Plan budget and the actual results. Council must approve a bylaw to reflect these differences. On Monday, council passed a bylaw to amend the original 2016 Financial Plan to reflect actual year-end results.

Tomorrow, I will post about the remaining items covered at Monday night’s council meeting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 24th, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Public feedback on rezoning and subdivision applications, residents concerned about 198th Street corridor

Yesterday’s Langley City council meeting saw two rezoning applications, and one development permit where residents of our community could provide feedback to council. It was a full council chamber with most people interested in the apartment building proposed for the corner of 54th Avenue and 198th Street.

A full council chamber last night. Select image to enlarge.

The first rezoning application was to accommodate a 4-storey, 62-unit apartment building at the corner of 54th Avenue and 198th Street.

Rendering of the proposed apartment building located at 198 Street and 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

One of the challenges along 198th Street is increased motor vehicle traffic. There was a Metro Vancouver construction project a year or so ago which required traffic to be detoured via 198th Street. After the competition of the 200th Street project, people continued to use 198th Street as a shortcut. Speeding is a concern along this street.

People are also parking in unsafe manners along 198th Street; people are parking too close to intersections, lanes, and building entrances.

Three people at the public hearing expressed concern about parking and traffic. The City will be adding traffic calming near Brydon Park at the corner of 198th Street and 53rd Avenue this year. In addition, the 54th Avenue/198th Street intersection will receive curb bulges which will reduce speeding, make walking safer, and reduce illegal parking in that area.

I believe that traffic calming including curb extensions and lane-narrowing will be required along all of 198th Street. A parking management plan will also need to be developed in my opinion.

One of the residents was concerned about development in general along 198th Street though that area has been zoned for high density for several decades. Another resident was concerned about light pollution from the proposed apartment building. It was noted that the type of lighting used should limit light pollution.

The second apartment building which people could provide feedback about was for a 5-storey, 88-unit building along 201 A Street at the site of the Carroll Court and Merton Court buildings which are currently being demolished.

Rendering of the proposed apartment building along 201A Street. Select image to enlarge.

This area has been a crime hot-spot in the past, and it was noted that the proposed apartment building should reduce crime in the area due to its design which will result in more eye-and-ears on the street.

In the past, there has been issues with construction workers using on-street parking which has concerned residents. The proponent of this project is looking to find off-site parking to reduce this issue.

Carroll Court and Merton Court were affordable rental buildings. The proponent of this project ensured that all residents were able to find new homes which is critically important in redevelopment projects such as this.

There were no residents at the council meeting that spoke to this rezoning application.

Some of the common features of these buildings include electrical vehicle charging stations, and both visitor and resident bike parking. Including electrical vehicle charging stations in apartments and townhouses is a regional priority, and I’m happy to see that developers in Langley City are doing their part to support this initiative.

The last feedback heard was for a proposed subdivision application and development permit along Grade Crescent and 46 A Avenue near 206th Street. One resident at the council meeting expressed concern about the proposed new lot frontage along 46 A Avenue, and the lack of continuous sidewalks along 46 A Avenue. I noted that the lot frontage created by the proposed subdivision would be like other nearby lots. City staff noted that building a continuous sidewalk along 46 A Avenue is part of this year’s capital improvement plan.

Subdivision of lots along 46 A Avenue and Grade Crescent near 206th Street. Select image to enlarge.

Of concern was the removal of 75 trees to accommodate the proposed development. The City is requiring that 25 trees be replanted, and that the developer pay the City for the 50 trees that won’t be replaced as per our current policy. This money will be used to plant other trees in the community.

Our tree canopy is important for a host of reasons including to provide water management, and cooling during the summer. Ensuring that we have a plan to maintain or grow our tree canopy is important.

This subdivision application and development permit were approved by council.

Tomorrow, I will be posting about other items that were on the agenda of last night’s council meeting.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Vignettes explore the history of Langley Prairie

This year is Canada’s 150th Birthday; it is a perfect time to learn about the history of our communities.

Langley City has been an important centre over the last century in the Fraser Valley. Langley Prairie, as its was known before it officially became an independent municipality in 1955, was the commercial centre and civic heart of Langley.

With the changing demographics and rapid rate of growth in our community today, many people are unaware of the history of this area. Knowing our history is important because its gives us a shared identity which is key to building a strong, health community.

The Langley Heritage Society maintains two historic houses in Langley City. The Michaud House which is located near Portage Park, and the Wark/Dumais House which is located on the Langley Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus.

The Heritage Society recently partnered with students from Brookswood Secondary School to put together vignettes about these houses, the family’s that lived in them, and their connections to Langley’s shared history.

Who was the first mayor of Langley? Why did St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church end up getting built in Langley Prairie? Why does Langley Prairie even exist in the first place?

The answers to these questions, and many other stories about our community are contained in these videos.

While these videos only cover a small period of Langley's history through a colonial lens, they reveal the history of our community which helps build a sense of identity and place.