Langley City Election 2018 - October 20th

Thursday, October 18, 2018

October 15, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Crime Prevention Task Group recommendations approved

Over the past two years, I have chaired Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. The task group’s mandate is wrapping up next month. Based on the work we have done over the past year, we presented a series of motions for council to consider to ensure that the City continues to support programs that help reduce crime.

One of the best ways to help reduce the types of crime that we see in Langley City is to build strong neighbourhood identities which fosters people to get to know each other. This creates a sense of ownership. This ownership supports people taking more active roles in helping to prevent and reduce crime in their neighbourhoods by reporting suspicious activities to the RCMP, and by forming Block Watch groups.

This summer, we piloted a “Know Your Neighbor Campaign.” This awareness campaign was a success which is why the task group recommended:

THAT Council consider striking a task group to plan an annual “Know Your Neighbour” campaign.

During this year’s campaign, we received information from people who were interested in the Block Watch program. A motion was required to be approved by council to pass this information along to the RCMP, so the task group recommended:

THAT Council direct staff to forward the contact information collected from residents interested in becoming part of a Block Watch Program to Superintendent Murray Power, OIC of the Langley RCMP detachment, and that the OIC request the Block Watch Program staff to contact the interested residents in order to potentially increase the number of Block Watch neighbourhood programs in Langley City.

One of the things that the people who volunteered heard at the door was that people where uncomfortable calling the RCMP Non-Emergency Number, or didn’t know the number, to report suspicious activities. The task group recommended:

THAT the Crime Prevention Task Group request that Council write a letter to the Langley RCMP Officer in Charge and to E-Comm asking that they work to better promote, and encourage the public to call, the RCMP Non-Emergency number to report all suspicious activity.

In order to support continued public engagement around crime prevention, the task group also recommended:

THAT the Crime Prevention Task Group request that Council direct the City’s Communication Officer to continue, on an annual basis, to fan out public safety awareness information on social media during Public Safety Week in November each year.

All the recommendations were approved by council on Monday night. To learn more about the work that the task group has done over the last few years, please read a series of my previous posts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October 15, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Redevelopment, street, and park projects on-the-go.

Yesterday, I posted about the public hearing and related bylaws which were on the agenda for Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. Today, I will be posting about some of the other items that were on the agenda.

Council gave first and second reading to a bylaw to accommodate at 4-storey, 40-unit apartment building at 5398, 5410, and 5448 208th Street. This will allow a public hearing to be scheduled in the future.

Rendering of proposed apartment at 5398, 5410, and 5448 208th Street. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan for proposed apartment at 5398, 5410, and 5448 208th Street. Select image to enlarge.

Third reading was also given to a bylaw which will allow for a 4-storey, 127-unit apartment building located at 5423, 5433, 19900, 19910, 19920, and 19930 Brydon Crescent. You can read more about this in a previous post, but one of the key features is that there will be a pedestrian/cycling right-of-way provided to connect Brydon Crescent and the trail along the old Interurban right-of-way that connects between Brydon Lagoon and Michaud Crescent. $254,000 in Community Amenity Charges will be received for this project from the developer, with a significant portion dedicated to building a trail bridge across Baldi Creek.

Final reading was given, and development permits issued, for the following:

Final reading was also given for our annual tax exemption bylaw. You can read more about the properties that were exempt in a previous post.

Council heard from Ginger Sherlock who is the Emergency Program Coordinator for the Langley Emergency Program. She wanted to remind council about the Great British Columbia Shake Out which takes place on October 18th.

Council also received an update about various projects in our community. Of note, because of the natural gas pipeline explosion in northern BC, asphalt plants have been shut down in the Lower Mainland. This means that many paving projects have been delayed in the City. Some of the projects on-the-go include the:

  • Repair and reopening of the Brydon Park Zip Line.
  • Installation of new trail markers along the power line right-of-way.
  • Reopening of a trail that connects streets to the south side of Condor Park.
  • Installation of a new sidewalk along 46A Avenue.
  • Completion of the new sidewalk along Duncan Way, connecting to the 204th Street overpass.
  • Completion of the installation of a new culvert at 48th Avenue.
  • Installation of a new traffic signal at 50th Avenue and 200th Street.
  • Continued work along Douglas Crescent to replace underground utilities between 206th Street and 208th Street.

Tomorrow will be my last post about council before the election.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October 15, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Old Yale Road Seniors District

Last night was the last council meeting before the general election. The final meeting of the current council will be on October 29th, with the new council’s first meeting being on November 5th. There were several bylaws and development applications that were adopted on Monday which I will cover over the remainder of the week. Today, I will focus on the public hearing and its related matters.

A motion was put forward at the beginning of the public hearing to move it to a date after the election. The motion did not pass, and the public hearing commenced.

Model of proposed development along Old Yale Road. Select image to enlarge.

As I posted about earlier, council gave first and second reading on September 17th for an “Old Yale Road Seniors District” Official Community Plan amendment, and a rezoning bylaw to accommodate two buildings. One building is proposed to contain 28 long-term care units and 169 assisted living units. The other building will contain 95 independent living, seniors-oriented housing units.

At the public hearing, there were several concerns expressed by the public around the protection of the riparian area around Murray Creek. Riparian areas are critical for preserving fish and other wildlife, and both Langley City’s Official Community Plan and provincial government regulations do not permit development within 30 metres of the high-water level of a class “A” watercourse unless a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) determines overwise based on provincial laws and regulations. In the case of Murray Creek, the QEP determined that development could occur within 15.8 metres of the high-water level of Murray Creek.

Langley City also has designated environment sensitive areas where development is not permitted to occur. The proposed development is not within any environmentally sensitive area.

Map of Environmentally Sensitive Areas in Langley City. Select map to enlarge.

Development cannot occur in the red area due to it being an Environmentally Sensitive Area and riparian areas. Select map to enlarge.

There were also members of the public who were concerned that the proposed building would get flooded or would cause flooding in other areas of the City. As the proposed development is within the 1 in 200-year floodplain boundary, it will need to comply with the City’s Floodplain Elevation Bylaw. I asked if the proposed project would increase the flooding risk due to its proximity to the floodplain, and was told no.

Light blue is the 1 in 200 year flood area. Select map to enlarge.

Two residents were concerned about privacy as the proposed buildings are near existing single-family housing. Based on feedback from earlier developer-led open houses, units were removed from areas where they might overlook neighbouring houses.

Triple A Seniors Housing requested that 19 independent living units be subsidized for low-income seniors. It is my understanding that there will be no subsidized independent living units as part of this project. I asked earlier in the public hearing about how this project fits in with our recently adopted “Nexus of Community” strategy which calls for policies to be developed to support affordable housing. I was told that it didn’t as this OCP update started before the adoption of the strategy.

The proponent noted that Fraser Health will be subsidizing some of the long-term care and assisted living units though I did not get a number.

As part of the Official Community Plan amendment, feedback was requested from the Township of Langley, Agricultural Land Commission, Metro Vancouver, Kwantlen First Nation, the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, TransLink, and Newlands Golf & Country Club. We received feedback from the Township of Langley, Agricultural Land Commission, and TransLink.

As the proposed project is within the region’s urban containment boundary, it does not require the approval of the regional district.

The Agricultural Land Commission did recommend that the proposed buildings be setback 30 metres from the ALR boundary as outlined in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Guide to Edge Planning. The yet to be adopted amendment to the Official Community Plan for the “Old Yale Road Seniors District” requires a development permit to be approved by council before any construction can start. One of the development permit requirements is to “respect existing agricultural land uses to the east.” I stated at the meeting that I would not support issuing a development permit unless the 30-metre setback recommendation is followed.

As part of the development, the proponent will also have to upgrade Old Yale Road to a local road standard, complete with curbs, gutters, drainage, sidewalks, and street lights.

Both the third reading of the Official Community Plan update and the Zoning Bylaw passed narrowly. I voted in favour of both. As is normal, a development permit was not issued last night.

Whether to give final reading of the Official Community Plan update and Zoning Bylaw, and issue a development permit, will be handled by the new council. Due to the many requirements of the projects, it could be several months before final reading as there are many requirements that the proponent must address.

On an aside, Langley City’s current Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw are essentially silent when it comes to affordability policies. This is why it is critical to get to work on completely updating these two key documents as noted in “Nexus of Community.” It is extremely difficult to address affordable housing and transportation on a site-specific bases.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Protecting green space from urban development in Metro Vancouver

Earlier this month, I posted about the changes in regional land-use designations and the impact of development on green space. Municipalities in Metro Vancouver must ensure that local land-use designations (zoning) are in line with regional land-use designations.

Changes in Regional Land-Use Designations, 2011-2018. Select charts to enlarge.

The data shows that over the last 7 years, the region has essentially preserved green space in Metro Vancouver. Green space includes agricultural, rural, and conversation & recreation land-uses.

One of the primary features of our regional growth strategy is the urban containment boundary. Almost all urban development is supposed to occur within that boundary. The following map shows the remaining “greenfield” land within the urban containment boundary that is open for development, plus how much of this “greenfield” land has been developed over the last five year.

Map of remaining “General Urban” land in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

In Metro Vancouver’s case, most of the “greenfield” land is former suburban land. Between this “greenfield” land, and redevelopment within regional town centres and transit corridors, there is a generation of land available for urban development that will not require us to give up our food lands and conservation areas.

Our region is not perfect. For example, within the urban containment boundary there are sensitive ecosystems that are at risk. An example of a sensitive ecosystem would be the Nicomekl Floodplain. There is still work that needs to be done at the regional and municipal levels to better manage these ecosystems from the externalities of urban development.

A local Langley City example would be our new rules around development near environmentally sensitive areas that was adopted last year.

While Metro Vancouver and its municipalities have done a relatively good job of containing urban development, there is still some development that occurs in agricultural areas. The provincial government is reviewing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) with the goal of strengthening the preservation of food land. I am looking forward to seeing the recommendations and an implementation plan from this review.

With our regional growth strategy and ALR strengthened, I am confident that we can protect our green space for generations to come.