Monday, September 25, 2017

Crime Prevention Task Group: Promoting crime prevention programs including stolen bicycle recovery program, and discarded needle reduction pilot program

On Thursday night, the Langley City Crime Prevention Task Group met. One of the initiatives of the task group is to promote both the Block Watch and Business Link crime prevention programs. Earlier this month, City council authorized municipal resources to help promote these programs.

The task group heard from Dianne Robinson and Florence Fowler who are Crime Prevention Coordinators for the Langley detachment of the RCMP. They provided more detailed information on the aforementioned crime prevention programs. Task group members and City staff will be working toward a big push to promote these programs in our community during Crime Prevention Week which takes place between November 1st and 7th.

Committee members will also be working with City staff to promote crime prevention programs through the City’s official social media and advertising channels throughout the year.

Engaging the business community on crime prevention and reduction is also in the works. A new document will be included with City-issued business licenses that will provide information on free services available to businesses included CPTED reviews.

These programs are effective in reducing crime. A research paper call “The Effectiveness of Neighborhood Watch” delves into the effectiveness of Block Watch programs.

Bike theft occurs in Langley City. Recovering stolen bikes can be difficult because there is generally no way to match a bike to its owner. Task group members learned about 529 Garage. This is a program that uses the power of crowdsourcing and the Internet to help recover stolen bikes. This program is available in Langley, and you can signup online. In-person signup events are also being planned throughout the community.

One of the goals of the task group is to send a signal that our community is safe by using the broken windows theory. Litter, tagging, and inappropriately discarded needles send negative signals. The task group passed a motion asking council to consider piloting the installation of needle disposal bins in problem areas, along with a public education component. In other communities, this has proven to be effective in reducing inappropriately discarded needles.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

This fall will reveal the future for transit in Metro Vancouver

For as long as I’ve lived in Metro Vancouver, funding for transit expansion has been challenging. Since the launch of the 10-Year Vision for Transportation in Metro Vancouver, our region is closer than ever to finally getting stable, long-term funding required to move forward on much needed transit expansion. With the change in provincial government, we will know within the next six months if our region will be moving forward with the Vision, or if it will be business as usual.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation is meeting today; on the agenda is an update on the 10-Year Vision for Transportation. The business cases for the Broadway Extension of the Millennium Line and Surrey-Langley Light Rail will be finalized this fall. Based on those business cases, the Mayors’ Council will be working with the provincial government to find a regional funding source to pay for transit expansion.

Current overview of 10-Year Vision including phasing. Select table to enlarge.

The provincial and federal governments have agreed to pay for 73% of the costs to building rapid transit, and the provincial government has agreed to pay for 40% of the capital costs for other projects in the 10-Year Vision out of their own revenue sources. This leaves the region on the hook for the remaining costs to building rapid transit and other projects, plus 100% of the on-going operating costs.

As a first step, the Mayors’ are looking for the provincial government to authorize a regional Developer Cost Charge for Transportation in the spring 2018 legislative session. If this is not approved, projects currently underway in phase one of the 10-Year Vision will have to be cancelled or deferred. The Mayors’ are also hoping that the provincial government will announce a fair, affordable regional revenue source to help fund the remaining phases of the Vision this fall.

The following table outlines the preferred timing for phase two projects.

Timeline for phase two service expansion and new rapid transit investments. Select table to enlarge.

On the Pattullo Bridge, with the removal of tolls in our region by the provincial government, the Mayors’ Council is looking for confirmation that the province will straight-out pay for 40% of the capital costs, plus provide an annual operating subsidy in lieu of toll revenue for the replacement bridge. The toll revenue was to be the way that TransLink was going to pay for the new Pattullo Bridge.

On another interesting note, it looks like the Burnaby Mountain Gondola is back on the table.

We will know if the new provincial government is committed to getting Metro Vancouver residents out of congestion by funding much need transit expansion by the end of this fall.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 18, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Green Walls, Casino Impacts, and Environmental Stewardship

Langley City council approved issuing a development permit for an expansion to one of the car dealerships located in the “Langley Auto Collection” located near Glover Road and the Langley Bypass. The addition to the existing dealership will facilitate an expanded parts and service department. The current auto dealership has a small section of green wall. I noticed that the green wall was missing in the expanded version of the auto dealership. I asked the proponent of the project if the green wall was being removed, and was told yes.

Rendering of expanded parts and service department for an auto dealership on Collection Drive. Select image to enlarge.

While green walls can have energy saving benefits if done correctly, most green walls are used for aesthetic purposes. Since being on council, there have been two green walls/roofs proposed in projects were development permits were issues, and where the greening was subsequently removed from the plans. This auto dealership will be the first time that a green wall is being removed after being installed in the City. Green walls are not a requirement for development permits to be issued in Langley City.

Green walls have significant maintenance costs which is likely why they end up being removed from projects. I find it interesting that they seem to show up frequently in development permits.

Later during the council meeting, there was a presentation from BCLC about the casino in our community, and the benefits derived from the casino. Representative from BCLC also outlined their new program to encourage positive gaming. About 3% of people problematically use BCLC products (slots, table games, and lottery tickets). Their new program is called “Player Health.” It is based on the following four pillars: Informed Decision Making, Encouraging Positive Play, Reducing Problem-Gambling Prevalence, and Effective Referral to Treatment and Support.

Langley City helps funds the Langley Environmental Partners Society’s Summer Eco Crew. This program employs two post-secondary students and two high school students full-time during the summer months. Carly Stromsten gave a presentation to council about this year’s program. The goals of the program are to provide: habitat enhancement, environmental education to the community, and employment skills to participating students.

Presentation including picture of LEPS 2017 Eco Crew. Select image to enlarge.

This year, the Eco Crew removed invasive plants at 7 sites totaling 637 square metres in Langley City. They participated at eight community events. They also gathered data throughout the City, noting the location and density of invasive plants, to generate a heat map. This map can be used for targeting invasive plant hot-spots for removal in the future.

Later during the meeting, council gave first and second reading to discharge land-use contracts from two lots in the City. Land-use contacts were used in the 1970s, and have since been superseded by zoning.

Council also approved the updated Officer Establishment Bylaw, and Fire Protection and Safety Bylaw. I posted about these two bylaws previously.

Council also gave first and second reading for a proposed rezoning at 19753 55 A Avenue. This will allow a public hearing to be scheduled. I will post more about the proposed rezoning at that time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 18, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Traffic Calming Approved near Linwood Park

Traffic calming in an important issue for many people who live in Langley City. It is becoming something that the City is increasingly focusing on. $400,000 was specifically budgeted for implementing traffic calming measures this year throughout the community. This is in addition to projects like 203rd Street.

Back in June, Council approved traffic calming measures around Conder Park, at Brydon Park, and along 198th Street.

The City held an open house near the end of July to get feedback from residents for traffic calming measures along Michaud Crescent and 201A Street near Linwood Park. The open house was well attended. Based on the feedback from the open house, City staff proposed that the following traffic calming measures be implemented.

Design of temporary painted curb bulges with delineators at the intersection of Michaud Crescent and 201A Street. Select image to enlarge.

Location of three approved speed humps on Michaud Crescent and two speed humps on 201A Street. Select image to enlarge.

The proposed design of the intersection at Michaud Crescent and 201A Street uses paint and delineators to narrow the intersection. This is because the City will be completing a greenway plan for the Michaud corridor in 2018 that, if approved could start construction in 2019. The paint and delineators will allow traffic calming before the full greenway plan is implemented.

On Monday night, Langley City council approved the proposed traffic calming measures.

Many residents also requested a four-way stop be installed at 201A Street and Michaud Crescent. City staff will be completing an evaluation to see if a four-way stop is warranted. Streets need to have similar traffic volumes to warrant a four-way stop. If the evaluation comes back positive, a four-way stop will be installed.

Some people think that four-way stops are a good traffic calming measure. They are not. The following is a small sample from the Traffic Calming Program from London, Ontario about why four-way stops are not a good idea for traffic calming. The full list is longer.

  • Creates higher traffic speeds between stop signs.
  • Results in poor compliance with stop signs due to driver frustration.
  • Results in more frequent rear-end collisions caused by low percentage of motorists who actually do come to a complete stop.
  • Potential risk to pedestrians especially children and seniors crossing an intersection, since not all motorists approaching an intersection will stop.

City staff is working hard to get the speed humps installed at all traffic calming location this fall.