Every three years, the City of Langley conducts a Community Survey. The Community Survey gives an indication of what residents feel about the quality and delivery of municipal services. It also gauges top-of-mind issues for people in the community. I’m sure it is not intentional, but this survey has always been released during municipal elections years; the City released previous surveys in 2004, 2007, and 2010.
The survey is based on 600 telephone interviews from Langley City residents over the age of 18. While the survey provides weighted sample characteristics, I have to wonder if the survey weighting true represents the demographics of people that live in the City.
Even though the Langley City has received a lot of attention around crime over the last few years, 95% of City residents rate quality of life as good or very good. This has remained constant since the survey started in 2004. The top three reasons that people cited for why quality of life is improving is because of growth/development, better/more services, and improved public safety. Though on the flip side, reasons cited for a reduction in the quality of life in the City include increased crime and poverty. Interesting enough, population growth was also cited as a reason for a reduction in the quality of life. Some people might equate population growth with more congestion and a reduction in quality of services.
Transportation is the number one issue that residents want the municipality to focus on. Top concerns are the condition of streets, sidewalk, and lack public transit. While transit is a regional/provincial issue, the City can do more to improve the quality of our streets. Residents also want the City to improve the aesthetic of boulevards.
One of the thing that I’ve been advocating for is wider sidewalks, separated bike lanes, and street that create a great public realm. These are called “Complete Streets”, and we need more of them in Langley. These streets would build an accessible community and would address residents’ concerns about quality of street in the City. Building these streets would fix “pothole” problems, and could be built when replacing water and sewer infrastructure that is hitting its end-of-life.
Other issues that residents want the City to continue to focus on is crime-reduction and addressing social issues like poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse in the community.
One of the thing that I’ve always believed is that local and regional government impact people’s lives more directly that other orders of government. I also believe this is why people support local government services. The survey results indicate that 84% of residence believe they receive good value for the municipal tax dollar. Given the choice between cutting taxes or reducing services, only 29% would cut taxes.
The survey also spent some time going into issues in Downtown Langley. While 98% of people feel safe in Downtown Langley during the day, the number drops to 54% in the evening. This is no surprise giving that the Downtown becomes a ghost town after 6pm. More redevelopment, included mixed-use and pedestrian-oriented projects, will bring more residents to the Downtown core. This will go a long way to improving the perception of safety. Having more people in the area will support coffee shops and restaurants staying open later which will further increase the perception of safety.
The infrastructure in Downtown Langley is getting worn down which impacts the perception of safety. As I mention earlier, the City needs to focus on building complete streets. Building complete streets in Downtown Langley, and on major roads that connect to Downtown Langley, should be a priority and will go a long way to improving the public realm and perception of safety.
The survey asked for the first time if residents had difficulty finding parking in Downtown Langley. 40% said they did, though the survey doesn’t give reasons why. What’s clear is that the City and the Downtown Langley merchants really need to reevaluate their parking policies. More surface parking lots and drive-thrus are not the answer. I believe that managing the existing parking supply should be a priority.
While most people are happy with life in the City of Langley, there are opportunities to truly make the community “the place to be”. The full survey results are available in tonight’s council agenda.