Monday, November 20, 2017

An update on Langley City Crime Prevention Task Group initiatives moving forward

Last Thursday, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group met for the last time this year. The task group has a set of eight objectives to accomplish. The group was able to complete many of these objectives over the last eight months, but some remain incomplete. The task group will be asking council to extend the group’s mandate into 2018 to allow the group to finish off the remaining tasks.

One of the initiatives of the task group is to provide stickers for residents which would include RCMP non-emergency contact information, and a space for people to write their own address. These stickers would be targeted for distribution to seniors in our community. The stickers would help people remember their address in a pinch, and would remind people to call the RCMP to report all suspicious activity. City staff are working on the final details for these stickers, and I expect a final design to come to council for possible approval early in the new year.

On the topic of reporting suspicious activity to the RCMP, I’ve heard from some people in our community that they don’t feel their information is used, or that it is worthwhile to call in. One of the questions from the task group to the RCMP was how does the police let people know that information provided is useful. Inspector Shawn Boudreau noted that RCMP members will get back to people if more information is needed after they call in suspicious activity. Even if the information doesn't appear to be used, it is used to plot crime trends in neighbourhoods. If a crime analysts does notice a trend, the RCMP can adjust policing accordingly.

Boudreau did note that a recent phone call by a resident, reporting suspicious activity, led to the arrest of robbery suspects. More information about this can be found in a recent RCMP press release.

One of the mandates of the task group is to partner with the Downtown Langley Business Association and Chamber of Commerce to introduce an incentive program for property owners to implement crime prevention strategies. The task group has representatives from the Downtown Langley Business Association and Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce. These representatives were able to secure a discount for businesses that want to install a monitored alarm system and/or motion sensor lights. The representatives will now be working on promoting this incentive program though the local business community.

On November 6, Langley City council was informed that a brochure will be included as part of the business license renewal process, informing business owners about the free crime prevention assessment available through the RCMP. This brochure was an initiative of the task group, and the group was informed that the brochures have now be distributed.

New crime prevention brochure for businesses - outside. Select image to enlarge.

Another initiative of the task group was to have the City launch “a crime prevention campaign to encourage residents and businesses to share information and reduce crime by signing up for existing RCMP community programs such as Block Watch, Business Link and Crime-Free Multi-Housing.” This campaign launched on November 1 for Crime Prevention Week.

The task group will not be meeting in December, but if council approves an extended term, will be meeting in the new year.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

TransLink looking at building better B-Lines

TransLink uses the B-Line brand for its limited stop, high frequency bus service in our region. This service is successful. The 99 B-Line, which operates along the Broadway corridor, has higher ridership than many rail rapid transit systems in North America.

Unfortunate, on-street customer amenities are non-existent. Things like on-street fare validation and all-door boarding become critical to ensuring that these routes remain reliable as they become busier. Better amenities also attract new customers to transit service.

A 99 B-Line stop. Select image to enlarge. Source: Wikimedia Commons

As our streets become more congested, bus priority measures must be implemented to ensure that bus service stays on schedule and travel times don’t increase for riders. For example, Surrey recently added queue jumper lanes on King George Boulevard to speed bus service through major intersections. On Broadway in Vancouver, the parking lanes are converted to bus lanes during peak travel periods.

As part of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit & Transportation, 11 new B-Line routes are in the works. The current customer amenities and bus priority measure planned for these routes were to be similar to the 96 B-Line which is to say, limited. This might be changing.

As TransLink has been planning for the implementation of these new B-Line routes, they’ve heard from the public and other stakeholders (like local government) that bare-bones B-Line won't cut it for a quality, speedy, frequent bus service. The Mayors’ Council will now be discussing making new B-Line service better. The following slide is from the latest Mayors’ Council agenda package.

Options for making a better B-Line. Select image to enlarge.

The consensus is that people want to see “Better 2” service across all B-Line routes. This includes all door boarding, information kiosks, shelters, read-time info, and bus lanes and/or other priority measures along major corridors.

In order to help fund these improvements, TransLink is proposing to match municipal contributions for “Better 2”. This of course needs to be confirmed, and it is expected that there will be a final discussion on whether to build better B-Line service in early 2018.

This is what better B-Line service could look like. The examples are of RapidRide bus service in Seattle.

A RapidRide information kiosk with real-time information and off-bus fare payment. Select image to enlarge. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sounderbruce/

A RapidRide bus stop which includes enhanced customer amenities. Select image to enlarge. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sounderbruce/

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Metro Conversations presents “Nasty Women”: Gender in Politics

Trump’s now infamous remark calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” has become a rallying cry for women across the political spectrum to take a stand against the sexism and misogyny they face in politics because of their gender.

On Wednesday November 22nd, the fourth Metro Conversations will be addressing this topic. Metro Conversations was started by a group of four like-minded elected officials from across Metro Vancouver. Rather than a lecture format, panelists will speak about their experiences and audience members will be encouraged to add their voice to help shape the conversation.

“Most people outside of politics aren’t aware of the blatant misogyny women have to contend with in their role as elected officials” says Councillor Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge who is the main organizer of this event. “It creates an unsafe working environment which inherently discourages women from getting involved in politics”. Councillor Duncan credits her colleagues Councillors Nathan Pachal from the City of Langley, Patrick Johnstone of New Westminster, and Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver for coming up with the idea.

“It’s surprising how normalized misogyny is, many people don’t even realize they’re being inappropriate,” says Councillor Pachal.

“What was acceptable 20 years ago isn’t acceptable today, times have changed,” notes Councillor Johnstone. “Many older elected officials have a hard time adjusting to this.”

Councillor Bond hopes that women interested in running in next fall’s municipal elections will consider attending, hoping that this event will give them insight into some of the challenges they will face. Panelists include Councillors Laura Dupont and Glenn Pollock from the City of Port Coquitlam, Bonita Zarillo from the City of Coquitlam, and Mayor Nicole Read from the City of Maple Ridge.

This free event will take place:
November 22nd at 7:00pm (Doors open at 6:30p)
M. Wright Art Gallery Room at the Gathering Place
200 - 2253 Leigh Square Place, Port Coquitlam

Everyone is welcome. Seating is limited, and it is recommended to register to reserve your seat.

Reserve your seat at Eventbrite

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Metro Vancouver looking to study single-use coffee cup deposit system

Would you be willing to pay a small deposit on single-use cups or food containers? Most single-use cups and containers are recyclable, but they still end up in the garbage or discarded onto the street.

Light-weight foodware which includes cups and containers make up 10.7% of the material that ends up in street bins by weight in Metro Vancouver based on 2016 data. The City of Vancouver found that this translates into 50% of material by volume in their street bins. This is significant.

In contrast, containers with a deposit make up 4.4% of the material that ends up in street bins by weight. 2.4% of that is glass which is heavy. Our deposit system is helping to effectively recover certain types of containers. Our region has a binners community whose members collect containers that have deposits from our street bins and other public spaces.

Tides Canada is a national charity which supports initiatives across the country that support positive environmental and social change. In our region, one of their initiatives is the Coffee Cup Revolution where a pop-up coffee cup recycling depot at Victory Square is setup for a few hours.

Slide from Binners’ Project presentation delivered to Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee. Select image to enlarge.

In 2016, 175 binners collected 50,000 coffee cups to receive 5 cents per cup in a few hours. 210 binners collected 53,783 coffee cups within three hours on October 16, 2017.

One of the major goals in the Metro Vancouver Regional District Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan is to reduce waste. As such, the regional district is looking to support the Coffee Cup Revolution initiative with $6,000 annually for three years. This funding would be used to improved data collection, develop a waste characterization study, support round-table discussions, and provide a portion of the coffee cup refunds and pop-up recycling depot costs.

63% of waste was diverted from going to a landfill, or ending up in a waste-to-energy facility in our region in 2016. The street bin diversion rate was only 40% in 2016. There is still much more work to be done.

Considering the contribution of single-use cups and containers to our region’s waste, I could see the regional district advocating to the provincial government for an expanded deposit refund system for containers in Metro Vancouver.