Thursday, September 19, 2019

September 16 Council Meeting: Population decreases in single-family neighbourhoods, Know Your Neighbour Campaign, the federal election, and housekeeping matters

This week, I’ve been posting about Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. You can read about council’s first steps on the path of reconciliation with the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations from Tuesday’s post. You can also read about the various City-funded projects that recently completed or are in-progress from Wednesday’s post. Today, I’ll be posting about the other items that were addressed at that council meeting.

Langley City provides neighbourhood profiles which can be viewed online. These profiles contain various highlights and statistics about our six neighbourhoods. The previous profiles where based on 2011 census data. Council received new neighbourhood profiles on Monday night based on the latest census data.

Langley City Neighbourhood Population Change between 2011-2016. Select map to enlarge.

One of the interesting things to note is that the population actually declined in the Simonds and Alice Brown neighbourhoods by 70 people between 2011 and 2016. There was modest population growth in the Blacklock and Uploads neighbourhoods of 30 people. The means these was a decrease in the number of people living south of the Nicomekl River. The population north of the Nicomekl River increased by 855 people in the same time period, with most of the growth occurring in the Nicomekl neighbourhood.

The updated neighbourhood profiles will be posted to Langley City’s website shortly.

Council approved door-to-door canvassing for our Crime Prevention Task Group’s “Know Your Neighbour Campaign” as follows:

Saturday, September 28, 2019: 10am – 12pm
Saturday, October 5, 2019: 10am – 12pm

If you’d like to volunteer to spread the message door-to-door, we will be going out two Saturdays: September 28 and October 5 from 10am to 12pm. Please contact Dave Selvage at dselvage@langleycity.ca or 604-514-2822 if you would like to help out. This is a fun activity.

Mayor van den Broek and Councillor Wallace sit on several Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) committees. FCM is the federal advocacy organization for local governments in Canada. Both recently returned from FCM committee meetings. Mayor van den Broek noted that people should visit the FCM website “Building Better Lives” to learn more about the federal parties during this election cycle, and what they promise to do to support local governments.

Council heard a presentation from Mervin Malish who does outreach work for Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community & Farm. This is a 62 bed, private abstinence-based recovery program 30 kilometres from Prince George. He provided an overview of his organization.

Council approved out-of-province travel for Firefighters Murphy and Rossnagel to attend the Flammable Liquids Emergency Rail Response training course in Pueblo, Colorado. This course is being funded by CP Rail. Given that we have one of the busier rail corridors in Canada, this is important training for firefighters in Langley City.

Langley City has a new Director of Development Services, Carl Johannsen. As a housekeeping matter, council appointed him as our new Approving Officer. This allows him to approve subdivision plans.

As another housekeeping matter, council rescinded the appointment of former Mayor Ted Schaffer, and appointed Mayor van den Broek as the voting delegate for the Municipal Insurance Association Annual General Meeting. This local government led organization provides liability and property insurance for local governments in BC.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

September 16 Council Meeting: Updates on City Park upgrades, new transit service, upcoming open houses, and other projects.

Summer is construction season, and there was no shortage of projects that were being worked on in Langley City. Council received updates about the various city-funded projects that are in-progress or recently completed at Monday night’s council meeting.

Council receiving a presentation about City Park upgrades. Select image to enlarge.

If you’ve visited City Park lately, you’ll have noticed that significant renewal is underway. The new dog off-leash area of City Park is scheduled to have its grand opening on October 21st at 3pm.

There is a trail that connects 208th Street near Douglas Crescent to the Nicomekl trail network. The entrance area was significantly improved recently.

A slide about trail entrance improvements at 208th Street, south of Douglas Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

Traffic calming has also been implemented near three elementary schools: Blacklock, Douglas Park, and Uplands.

The City is also piloting new ashtrays in our downtown core to help reduce the amount of discarded cigarette butts that pollute our community. These ashtrays are more vandal resistant than the previous design that was piloted.

City crews also completed drainage improvements along 50th Avenue, and riverbank erosion protection at the pedestrian bridge near 201A Street. Work was also completed near Brydon Lagoon.

Work is currently underway on replacing the sewer under 203rd Avenue between Fraser Highway and Logan Avenue. Once this work is completed, and the road repaved, a bus lane will be implemented along this section of road. There will also be bus lanes on sections of 200th Street and Logan Avenue. It is expected that the bus lanes will be rolled-out by the end of November. For more information about these bus lanes that will speed up transit service, including the new Fraser Highway Express, please read a previous post that I wrote.

To support the now operating Fraser Highway Express, the bus exchange at Glover Road and Logan Avenue was upgraded to accommodate longer, articulated buses.

There are also some open houses to get public feedback on two proposals. The first open house is about a proposed Douglas Park community garden which will be near the lawn bowling area. The details are as follows:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Langley City Hall/Timms Community Centre

The next open house will be to gather feedback about Glover Road walking, cycling, and underground utility improvements between the Langley Bypass and 56th Avenue. The details are as follows:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
5:00pm - 8:00pm
Langley City Hall/Timms Community Centre

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

On the Path of Reconciliation: Katzie Nation, Kwantlen Nation, Matsqui Nation, Semiahmoo Nation, and Langley City

Last night was the first Langley City council meeting since the end of July. Like most municipalities in BC, there are generally no meetings held in August.

One of the items on last night’s agenda was a motion about “acknowledging the Traditional Territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations.” This is the territory where Langley City is located.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released several calls to actions, including actions that can support indigenous people and local governments moving toward reconciliation.

For how these actions relates to local governments, the Union of BC Municipalities has a section of their website called “Communities Reconciling.

Since I’ve been on Langley City council, there has been no formal process of reconciliation that I am aware of, though we do have a relationship with the Kwantlen Nation. As part of moving toward reconciliation, council passed the following motions unanimously following a good amount of discussion.

THAT at the beginning of each Council Meeting held in Council Chambers, the presiding member acknowledge that the land on which we gather is on the traditional unceded territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nation
AND

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Langley formally acknowledge that the City of Langley is on the unceded traditional territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations;

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to invite representatives from the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations to work with the Mayor and Council to develop appropriate protocols for the City of Langley to use in conducting City business that respect the traditions of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations.

This is a good first step forward on the path of reconciliation, and is a difficult journey that we must take.

More information about the calls to action for local government from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are available from the UBCM website. You may also want to read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that all levels of government adopt and implement.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Exploring ways to enhance our ecosystems in Metro Vancouver to improve human health

One of the key documents that the Metro Vancouver Regional District is responsible for is the Regional Growth Strategy. This document aligns our region’s 21 municipalities and Tsawwassen First Nation Official Community Plans with the provincial mandate “to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy.”

Boundary Bay Wetlands

The currently Regional Growth Strategy, Metro 2040, is under-review as work is proceeding on Metro 2050 which is the next version of the Regional Growth Strategy. One of the areas that is under review is the environmental protection policies in Metro 2040.

Between 2009 and 2014, 1,640 hectares of sensitive and modified ecosystems where lost. Some example of why they were lost include for agricultural uses, logging, and residential development. With this is mind, the regional district is exploring ways to build stronger business cases, policies, and tools to better protect these ecosystems.

The regional district held a forum this summer between policy experts and government as part of the Metro 2040 Environment Policy Review to find ways to plug gaps in current regional environmental policies. The following items were explored:

Improve how we protect our ecologically important areas in our region

  • Implement additional mechanisms to protect, enhance, and connect sensitive ecosystems.
  • Create tools that help place a value on ecosystem services provided by ecologically important areas and include in municipal accounting.
  • Improve information about ecosystem services (including health and economic benefits).
  • Apply consistent policies and approaches across the region.

Explore biodiversity-led regional green infrastructure

  • Develop a common definition of green infrastructure noting the co-benefits for both wildlife and people.
  • Strengthen biodiversity and green infrastructure policies at the regional level.
  • Create a pilot project on biodiversity-led regional green infrastructure.
  • Develop funding and implementation tools for green infrastructure to support projects at a regional and local scale.

Link green space in urban areas to human health.

  • Increase the priority of green space in urban areas (especially new development areas).
  • Coordinate work between local governments and health authorities on green space and human health.
  • Rank public green space and health levels across the region.
  • Set green space targets for municipalities to meet or exceed, require reporting.
  • Develop best practices to optimize health and ecological benefits of green spaces.
  • Increase awareness about the benefits of green space in urban areas.

More details about these three focus areas can be found in the latest Regional Planning Committee Agenda. They will help inform the updated Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy which will hopefully further help creating an healthier region.