Thursday, April 9, 2020

March Langley City Property Crime Map

Even with the COVID-19 state of emergency in BC, people are still committing crimes.

The Langley RCMP has released its March property crime map for Langley City.

March 2020 property crime map for Langley City. Select map to view.

With more people staying at home, residential break and enters have decreased in Langley City.

Theft from auto is still a concern in our community. To reduce your chance of being a target, remove everything from your vehicle. This includes garage door openers. If it’s not bolted down, someone will try to steal it.

If you see suspicious activity, call the RCMP non-emergency line at (604) 532-3200. From personal experience, I know that reporting suspicious activity helps create a safer neighbourhood.

Because the population density is higher north of the Nicomekl River, there will be more activity both positive and negative, compared to south of the Nicomekl River.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

BC Human Rights Tribunal: Rainbow Flag allowed to be flown at City Hall/Timms

Langley City council passed a motion in the summer of 2016 to allow the Rainbow Flag to be flown on the flagpole at City Hall/Timms Community Centre annually to coincide with Vancouver’s annual Pride Week.

As stated in the original motion,“the City of Langley is an inclusive and diverse community that acknowledges and respects all people regardless of their colour, race, region, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.”

The Rainbow Flag is an international symbol of inclusiveness and diversity.

Seniors of Langley representatives, Langley City council, and others holding the rainbow flag in July 2019. Select image to enlarge.

The Rainbow Flag has been flown at City Hall/Timms for one week, three summers in a row at the request of LGBTQ+ members of our community. Last year, the request to raise the flag came from the LGBTQ Seniors of Langley who have faced a lifetime of discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

The City also allows flags to be flown at City Hall/Timms to “recognize visiting dignitaries, City challenges, and civic events and to allow not-for-profit community groups to promote local events.”

Since I’ve been on council, there have only been a handful of these requests each year.

Langley City as a government body must be neutral when it comes to the expressions of any religious preference. As such, religious flags are not permitted to be flown at City Hall/Timms.

In the winter of 2018, a complaint was filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal regarding Langley City’s flag policy.

Yesterday, the BC Human Rights Tribunal upheld Langley City’s flag policy.

An excerpts from that decision:

Similarly, the City’s prohibition against flying religious flags while flying the Rainbow Flag cannot be seen to amount to a distinction that is discriminatory. Rather, these acts are all in the service of equity. They increase the participation and representation of the LGBTQ+ communities in an attempt to offset the historical disadvantages experienced by these communities. They help bring LGBTQ+ community members to equal standing with heterosexual and cisgendered individuals, who have not experienced such societal disadvantages. They ensure that the City maintains a neutral public space free from coercion, and judgment on the part of public authorities in matters of spirituality. Altogether, they advance the purposes of the Code to foster a society in which there are no impediments to full and free participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life of British Columbia and to promote a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights.

For more information, please read the full decision.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

April 6 Council Meeting: Strata insurance changes needed. Businesses call for tax relief.

Yesterday afternoon, Langley City council met virtually over a video conferencing solution. This is the second council meeting held virtually since the introduction of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Langley City council and staff meet virtually. Select image to enlarge.

The council meeting was brief.

The first item on the agenda was a motion by Councillor Albrecht relating to the rapid increase in strata insurance rates. I know most stratas are seeing significant increases in their insurance premiums. Some stratas are seeing insurance deductibles so high that they essentially need to self-insure. There are even some stratas that can’t get insurance. In the strata I’m a part of, we saw a massive increase in our premiums and deductibles.

The Insurance Brokers Association of BC is calling on the province to put a $50,000 cap on loss assessment coverage for each strata unit owner. Currently, some stratas are seeing deductibles of $250,000 or higher. If a loss higher than the deductible occurs, and it is caused by one unit, that owner would be on the hook for $250,000. Many individual owner insurance plans do not provide loss assessment coverage that high. By putting a cap on loss assessment coverage, it would protect strata owners and allow them to be fully covered.

The second recommendation by the association is for the province to create a standard definition of a strata unit. This would remove confusion about what is a strata corporation’s responsibility for insurance compared to an individual owner.

Langley City council passed the following motion:

THAT City of Langley write to Premier John Horgan and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson to urge them to take immediate action to consider the two reform proposals put forward by the Insurance Brokers Association of BC (IBABC) to provide stability for the strata insurance market in BC and protect millions of strata owners by mitigating insurance market cycles.

Council also received letters from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business calling for reductions in property tax, for moving property tax and municipal utility payment due dates to the fall instead of summer, and on the province to expand its property tax deferral program.

As reducing or changing the tax due date would have significant implications to the City’s cash-flow and ability to provide services, these letters were referred by council to City staff for followup.

This virtual council meeting will be posted to Langley City’s website for viewing.

Monday, April 6, 2020

A Walk Through History in Langley City

Practicing physical distancing is one of the critical measures that we must all take to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, we should “stay home as much as possible.”

If you go outside, “keep about two meters (six feet) or the length of a queen-sized bed apart when possible.”

One of the many good things about Langley City is that we have a high density of trails, parks, and sidewalks that can be useful to get to the grocery store, or for a walk to get exercise, while maintaining physical distancing.

I took an indirect route from my apartment to the grocery store this weekend which also revealed some interesting facts about the history of the area.

If you travel along 51b Avenue or 208th Street, you might notice they were designed like highways. You might also find it odd that 208th Street does not align north and south of Fraser Highway.

208th Street Causeway and Nicomekl Park. Select image to enlarge.

These two sections of 208th Street used to connect with each other. If you go through Nicomekl Park, you will notice that its parking lot is actually an old section of 208th Street. This section of road would have been subject to flooding.

208th Street Causeway Bridge plaque. Select image to enlarge.

The 208th Street Causeway was opened in 1985 making this section of 208th Street no longer subject to flooding. You will notice that 51b Avenue was built in the same era. Both these roads were meant to be bypasses around Langley City’s urban area; they did not end up that way.

Just east of the intersection of 208th Street, Fraser Highway, and the Langley Bypass is the Old Yale Road Bridge. This was an original part of the Trans-Canada Highway, and is only open for walking and cycling.

Old Yale Road Bridge/Old Trans-Canada Highway Bridge. Select image to enlarge.

If you continue walking northeast along Old Yale Road, you will see the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Select image to enlarge.

One of the facts about this Township of Langley park is that a section of it is in Langley City.

It was interesting to see the history and quirks of our community literally right under my feet.