Thursday, December 7, 2023

"On the Trail - 50 Years of Engaging with Nature" Local History Book Launch

Cover of the book,"On the Trail - 50 Years of Engaging with Nature."

This summer, I enjoyed reading an advanced copy of the book "On the Trail - 50 Years of Engaging with Nature." Members of the Langley Field Naturalists wrote this book. It tells the stories of field naturalists in our community and the contribution they made not only to Langley but also throughout North America.

Locally, the Redwoods Conservation Area, Forslund/Watson Reserve, and Brydon Lagoon are some of the direct results of efforts by field naturalists to protect and enhance natural areas and native species. The story about how these places came to be is wonderfully told in this book.

A handful of books tell the settler stories of Langley, Langley City and the Township. This new book is a fine addition to this body of work. I am sure that historians will refer to this book when they research our community in the coming decades.

Langley City Council was proud to provide a grant to help make this book possible, and its official launch is happening this weekend.

The details are as follows:
Saturday, December 9th at 2 pm
Langley City Library
20339 Douglas Crescent

I hope to see you there.

You can check out a copy of this book through the Fraser Valley Regional Library system.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Making it easier for trades to do business in the Fraser Valley

Back in the day, if you owned a business as a tradesperson or another construction-related business, you'd have to take out a business license in every municipality you worked in. In Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, there are 27 municipalities. Taking out a business license in each municipality would put an undue burden on these mobile businesses.

In 2012, 11 municipalities got together to create the intermunicipal business license program. This program allows mobile trades and construction businesses to take out one business license in their "home" municipality and have it be effective in all participating municipalities.

Over the years, the program expanded, including out to Merritt. Given the geographic distance between Merrit and the Fraser Valley, Merrit decided to bow out of the program. As a result, other participating municipalities need to update our inter-municipal business license bylaw.

On Monday, Langley City Council gave first, second, and third reading to update our bylaw to remove Merrit and update some housekeeping matters in the bylaw.

The list of participating municipalities includes Langley City, Abbotsford, the Township of Langley, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Delta, Mission, Hope, Pitt Meadows, Kent, Surrey, and Harrison Hot Springs.

Please visit Langley City's website for more information on the Intermunicipal Business Licence program.

At the same meeting, Council gave final reading to update our Municipal Ticket Information System Bylaw. You can read more about this in a previous post.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Langley City Water, Sewer, Garbage Collection Rate Changes

December is the start of budget session in Langley City, and one of the first things that Council considers is updates to the water, sewer, and garbage collection user fees.

Langley City is a member of the Metro Vancouver Regional District, and as such, we purchase water and sewer services from the Regional District.

All properties in Langley City are on water meters. If you live in a strata, your water and sewer may be billed directly to your strata corporation, though it is still metered.

Metro Vancouver is increasing its water and sewer rates, so Langley City is passing on the cost. As a result, Langley City is proposing to increase the water rate by 17¢/cubic metre to $1.79. The flat rate of $75 per year is not changing. The average cost for a detached homeowner will increase by $56.10 to $665.70 per year. The average cost for a strata homeowner will increase by $32.30 to $415.10 per year.

The sewer rate is tied to water utilization for a property. Langley City proposes increasing the sewer rate by 26¢/cubic metre to $1.82. The flat rate of $75 per year is not changing. The average cost for a detached homeowner will increase by $68.64 to $555.48 per year. The average cost for a strata homeowner will increase by $39.52 to $351.64 per year.

The City collects solid waste from detached houses and small stratas. Metro Vancouver fees, green waste processing fees and an inflationary increase in the City's collection contract mean that the City proposes increasing the flat fee by $28 to $271 in 2024.

Council gave first, second, and third reading last night to a suite of bylaws which will set the 2024 utility rates at its last night's meeting.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Higher Density Means Lower Property Tax for Infrastructure

Aerial of Downtown Langley City

When it comes to municipal infrastructure such as roads, water pipes, sewer pipes, and stormwater systems, it has been well-accepted that building and maintaining this infrastructure for compact urban areas is more cost-effective than suburban ones. While there is a lot of evidence that proves this out for regions throughout the world, this has just been done for Metro Vancouver. The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently released a report called "Costs of Providing Infrastructure and Services to Different Residential Densities."

The report's authors crunched the numbers and produced the following table, which shows representative housing forms within our region and their associated municipal infrastructure costs.

Scenario Unit Yield (Per Acre) Servicing Costs Cost Per Unit Persons per Household Cost Per Capita
House (Low) 16 $640,000 $40,000 3.10 $12,903
House (High) 24 $880,000 $36,667 3.10 $11,828
Townhouse (Low) 40 $680,000 $17,000 2.75 $6,182
Townhouse (High) 60 $700,000 $11,667 2.75 $4,242
Apartment (Low) 100 $800,000 $8,000 1.85 $4,324
Apartment (High) 200 $900,000 $4,500 1.85 $2,432

Langley City's single-detached housing density would be "high," townhouse density would be "high," and apartment density would be "high" in the table to give an idea of the densities this study's authors are comparing which isn't super high density.

You may think that the servicing costs don't matter as builders pay for it initially via developer fees and charges. One of the challenges is that the City, and therefore all property taxpayers, are on the hook for ongoing costs and replacement costs when the infrastructure needs to be renewed. Regarding infrastructure costs, lower density means high property tax in the long run, as it is spread among fewer people.

Please read the full report in the November 3, 2023, Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee agenda.