Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 15, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Project updates, events, and activities

Over the last few days, I’ve posted some highlights about the operating budget and capital works program from the 2018 Langley City Financial Plan that was presented at Monday night’s council meeting. Today, I will cover the other remaining significant items that were on the council agenda.

Because of the mild climate in Metro Vancouver, City crews can continue working on renewing infrastructure, and enhancing our parks. Rick Bomhof provided an update on some of the projects that the departments he leads are working on.

Work continues on enhancements to Penzer Park. A new picnic shelter was recently completed.


New Penzer Park Picnic Shelter. Select image to enlarge.

Phase 1 of traffic calming has also been completed around Linwood Park, including the installation of temporary measures to make the intersection of 201 A Street & Michaud Crescent safer. Phase 2 will see a polka dot painted design added to the temporary traffic islands, as well as painted triangles on the speed tables. This will be done when the weather is dry and above 10° Celsius.

Michaud Crescent Traffic Calming. Select image to enlarge.

Other projects recently completed where water connections along 56 Avenue and 200 Street to the recently renewed watermain in the area. Also, new playground features were added to Rotary Centennial Park.

Other projects on the go include:

  • New Penzer Park washroom
  • Spray park expansion at City Park
  • 48 Avenue sewer replacement near 210 Street
  • Relining culverts along Fraser Highway, under the rail tracks at Production Way
  • Relining culverts along the Langley Bypass
  • Launch of a concept design for a renewed Fraser Highway One-Way
  • Water booster pump station decommission on 200 Street
  • Upgrade to City utilities control and monitoring system

Afterwards, Kim Hilton provided an overview of the recreation programs and events from the departments that she leads. There are a variety of activities for people of all ages in our community, please visit the City’s website for a list of recreation options, community events, and youth events & programs.

I wanted to highlight that on Family Day, there will be special events at Timms Community Centre between 11:30am and 2:30pm.

Council also gave first and second reading to a proposed apartment project located at Brydon Crescent and 199 A Street. This will allow a public hearing to be scheduled.

Rendering of proposed apartment project from the south-west corner of Brydon Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

Council also received reports on the activities completed by the Community Day Committee, Magic of Christmas Parade Committee, and Youth Committee. Council authorized the Deputy Director of Development Services & Economic Development to attend the Canadian Institute of Planners Annual Conference.

Council also passed a motion asking for 50% of the provincial share of the cannabis tax to be provided to local governments as we are responsible for local policing, and bylaw enforcement.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Langley City 2018 Proposed Budget Part 2: Capital Works

Yesterday, I posted about the operating budget component of Langley City’s proposed 2018 Financial Plan which was introduced at Monday night’s council meeting. Today, I will be highlighting certain aspects of the proposed capital works portion of the 2018 Financial Plan.

This year, the City is proposing to invest $11.8 million back into the community. The focus areas of the capital works program are enhancing the parks and recreation system, and renewing infrastructure.

Summary of 2018 Capital Improvement Plan. Select table to enlarge.

Some of the major projects proposed for funding this year include:

Parks

  • $1 million for City Park to start implementing its master plan which was adopted in 2016
  • $620,000 to upgrade playground equipment at various parks throughout the community
  • $300,000 for renewing pedestrian bridges in the floodplain

Renewing Infrastructure

  • $1.5 million to restore the Logan Creek culverts under the Langley Bypass
  • $1.3 million to replace water and sewer lines, enhance lighting, and resurface Douglas Crescent between 206 Street and 208 Street
  • $250,000 for erosion control along the Nicomekl River
  • $640,000 to resurface 56 Avenue between Production Way and 200 Street
  • $300,000 to start the process of renewing the Fraser Highway one-way section
  • $600,000 for traffic signal replacement
  • $510,000 for a new multi-use pathway along Duncan Way
  • $300,000 for street light replacement and LED lighting upgrades
  • $250,000 for a sidewalk along 46A Avenue
  • $100,000 for traffic calming

The capital works program is funded through a combination of casino revenue, property tax, developer-paid charges, and with the help of other orders of government.

While the majority of casino revenue is invested into capital works, a small portion of it is set aside to invest into building the social capital of our community. The proposed 2018 budget includes $608,565 in community funding. The following are some of the major initiatives funded:

  • $206,140 for ice user subsidy at Twin Rinks
  • $50,000 for LEPS Summer Youth Employment program
  • $30,000 for Grade 5 swim program
  • $30,000 for parks cleanup program
  • $44,425 for McBurney Summer Series events
  • $80,000 for other special events

For a full list of projects that are proposed to be funded in 2018, please visit the City’s website. An open house on the 2018 Financial Plan is scheduled for January 31 between 6:00pm and 7:30pm at City Hall.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Langley City 2018 Proposed Budget Part 1: Operating

Monday night was the first Langley City council meeting of 2018. The first and second reading of the City’s 2018 Financial Plan was the primary item on the agenda. Today’s post will highlight some of the operating portions of the budget, and tomorrow’s post will focus on the capital works portion of the budget.

The 2018 Financial Plan is focused on four main areas: improving public safety, addressing homelessness, enhancing the parks and recreation system, and renewing infrastructure.

The operating budget is proposed to increase by $1.27 million in 2018. Around half of this increase is driven by critical public safety services, and to address homelessness in our community.

RCMP policing costs are budgeted to increase by $539,250. Fire Services wages and benefits are budgeted to increase by $279,065.

The City’s Bylaw enforcement department also grew by one person this year which required a $38,630 increase in the proposed 2018 budget. Security costs at Timms Community Centre is also proposed to increase by $32,245 to ensure that it remains a safe space.

To address on-going cleanup costs relating to homeless camps in our community, the budget for camp cleanup costs is proposed to increase by $30,000.

The new Timms Community Centre is well used. With increased programming, the budget for recreation services is proposed to increase by $84,990. The new Penzer Action Park has also been well received in the community. The budget to maintain that park is proposed to increase by $28,320.

A new Facilities Maintenance Worker position is being proposed to ensure that City facilities remain in a good state of repair.

Wages and benefits for municipal employees is budgeted to increase by $356,135, and council remuneration is budgeted to increase by $105,605. Employee wage and benefit increases are driven primarily by collective agreements, and contract requirements.

The following table provides an overview of the 2018 Financial Plan. A full list of larger changes in the proposed budget can be found on page 5 of the 2018 Financial Plan.

Langley City 2018 Consolidation Financial Plan Summary. Select table to enlarge.

At the end of the day, the proposed budget will require a 4.94% residential property tax increase. As I posted about earlier this month, this increase will not be distributed evenly due to how the BC property tax system works. Some people may see a property tax decrease while others may see a larger increase.

The following table shows the changes in property tax of an average multifamily home over the last five years.

Year Assessment Taxes Change
2014 $206,029 $1,275
2015 $200,656 $1,238 -$37
2016 $205,161 $1,209 -$29
2017 $249,849 $1,236 $27
2018 $327,350 $1,366 $130
Increase $91

The proposed operating portion of the 2018 budget will help support to improve the quality of life for people who call Langley City home. You can provide feedback on the proposed budget by visiting the City’s website. There will also be an open house at City Hall on January 31.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Park Once, Walk Everywhere: Designing Parking to Support Walkability

One of the keys to creating a successful, walkable downtown is to design the area so you only have to park your vehicle once. These types of areas generally require on-street parking, parkades, and other shared facilities to handle parking demand. On-site parking for specific sites is not prioritized, or is actively discouraged through zoning.

The Langley Bypass is an example of how providing on-site parking for each business does not create a walkable area. In contrast Downtown Langley, especially around the Fraser Highway one-way, relies more on shared parking facilities and on-street parking.

For an interesting blogpost on specific parking policies to support walkable areas, I suggest reading “Walkable Parking: How to Create Park-Once-and-Walk Districts” by Paul Barter.

This weekend, I was in Downtown Kelowna. Downtown Kelowna consists of mostly low- and mid-rise buildings. Providing on-site parking to meet all the needs for these types of buildings would have resulted in large surface parking lots. Requiring low- and mid-rise, mixed-use buildings to include underground parking would have actively discouraged redevelopment.

The City of Kelowna manages three parkades in Downtown Kelowna, on-street parking, and some surface parking lots. They also have implemented a wayfinding system to encourage long-term parking in parkades. These parkades include on-street displays which show the amount of parking available in each facility.

Memorial Parkade including green, dynamic available parking sign. Parkade includes street front office space. Select image to enlarge.

Poorly designed parkades can degrade the walkability of an area. This is not the case for the two most recent parkades built in Downtown Kelowna. They include active street fronts with parking access from the side of the structures, not the front.

The following picture shows a new restaurant that is being opened in one of the parkades nearest the central library branch in Downtown Kelowna.

Library Plaza Parkade includes ground-level retail. Select image to enlarge.

Walkable areas require people who drive to these areas to park once for the day. This means that people must be able to leave their cars parked for as long as they want. Currently, this is not possible in Downtown Langley.

Given the successful transformation of Downtown Kelowna over the last decade, I believe that a parkade would be beneficial in Downtown Langley. Building a parkade would not only support the park-once model, but it would also facilitate more ground-level retail redevelopment projects in our downtown core.