Thursday, July 9, 2020

Regional Greenway 2050: Building 350 kilometres of new multi-use paths

One of the things that has become clear during the COVID-19 state of emergency is the importance of parks, trails, and paths.

Metro Vancouver Regional District’s new Regional Greenway 2050 plan outlines some of the benefits of trails and greenways including:

  • Promoting physical and emotional health
  • Protecting nature and restoring habitat
  • Mitigating climate change
  • Providing more opportunities for active living
  • Enhancing tourism and business development

In our region today, we have a mix of trails and paths that are operated by the Metro Vancouver Regional District, TransLink, municipalities, and the provincial government.

The goal in the Regional Greenway 2050 plan is to build out 830 kilometres of interconnected multi-use trails and paths throughout our region. About 480 kilometres is built today.

The following map outlines the current network in green, what is planned in yellow, and proposed new additions to the network to fill-in any gaps in red.

Proposed Greenway Network in Metro Vancouver. Select image to enlarge.

In Langley City, our contribution to the network is complete, but there is significant work left to do both in Surrey and the Township of Langley. One of the proposed additions to the regional network would skirt around Langley City from the Langley Airport to Glover Road.

Most of the responsibility to build out this network will rest with municipalities. This means that the build out of the network is dependent on each municipalities’ internal priorities.

If the Metro Vancouver Regional District wants to see this network built out at an accelerated schedule, regional funding would be required. With COVID-19 recover top-of-mind, this regional vision might be a good candidate for future economic recovery funding.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

I’ve left Langley City three times on transit. Face masks are key to a safe transit trip.

I’ve been staying close to home since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency, and with the exception of venturing off to 64th Avenue, only recently travelled outside of Langley City.

When I originally moved to Langley City, it was because I thought it had everything I needed within walking distance. I can also work from home. For 3 months, I was able to stay within the 10 square kilometers of this community. I have of course missed visiting friends, but other than that, I’ve really enjoyed working, living, and going for walks throughout Langley City.

I’ve now left Langley City three times since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency. Twice I left to go into Downtown Vancouver for work. Once I left to visit a friend in Green Timbers park for a picnic. These three times, I’ve used transit as I do not own a motor vehicle.

King George SkyTrain Station with reduced operating fare gates. Select image to enlarge.

Knowing that transit service is still running on the same pre-COVID-19 schedule, and that local governments and the provincial government are committed to ensuring that transit remains fully funded, has reduced stress for me as I’m sure it has many others in our region.

Transit service is still in demand, and ridership is slowly climbing. As of the end of June, transit boardings are about 33% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

Currently, TransLink only allows people to be seated on the bus. You are not allowed to stand. TransLink has reduced the flow of people through SkyTrain stations.

Me waiting for the SkyTrain at Stadium-Chinatown Station. Select image to enlarge.

On the six times I’ve been on a bus, and four times I’ve been on a SkyTrain, I’ve noticed TransLink is getting close to their reduced capacity limit.

TransLink is currently recommending that people wear a face mask or face covering when riding transit. I believe soon TransLink will need to move back into full capacity mode. In order to move back into full capacity mode, masks will likely play a significant enabling roll.

As of this post, the BC Centre for Disease Control guidance states that a mask “is a good option in situations where you cannot keep a safe distance from others for an extended period of time, such as when you are on transit, getting a haircut or visiting someone indoors.”

In Toronto, masks are now required when people are using transit. To ensure that all people have access to a mask, they are also distributing masks for free.

Transit is critical for people in Metro Vancouver, and ridership is climbing. As TransLink looks to restore full capacity on the transit system, masks will play an important role in keeping everyone safe.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 6 Public Hearing: First held via Zoom Webinar and live-streamed on YouTube.

Yesterday, Langley City council attended the first public hearing since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency. The public hearing was for two bylaws to discharge land-use contracts.

The properties part of the hearing were:
19671 50A Avenue
19986 50A Avenue

A land-use contract was a zoning tool that was used in the 1970s, but hasn’t been used for 40 years. In Langley City, many of the single-family neighbourhoods south of the Nicomekl River have land-use contacts. Land-use contracts override the underlying zoning of a property.

Langley City has allowed secondary suites for around 15 years within primary buildings in single-family-zoned neighbourhoods. Land-use contacts do not allow secondary suites in Langley City. Since I’ve been on council, we have discharged (or removed) many land-use contracts to enable the underlying zoning which permits secondary suites.

As a note, City council is planning to discharge all land-use contacts as part of adopting its new Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw, scheduled to take place later this year.

The provincial government will discharge all land-use contracts on June 30, 2024.

One of the special things about this public hearing was that it was live-streamed on the City’s YouTube channel, and people were able to attend and speak to council live via Zoom Webinar.

People were also able to submit correspondence via email or letter about the discharging of these land-use contracts.

Council received one email from a resident that was opposed to secondary suites. A resident on the webinar asked about the process of building a legal secondary suite.

When I logged off from the public hearing, I was excited.

I was excited because COVID-19 has caused governments throughout Canada to examine how they do business. In the past, public hearings only occurred in-person and usually in the City Hall Council Chamber.

Many people are not able to attend these in-person meetings whether it be due to a disability, work schedule, or home life. By offering the ability to attend a public hearing online, more people are now able to engage with local government.

By streaming via YouTube, council meetings are also viewable on mobile phones, computers, and TVs. This helps enhance transparency.

Right now, online council meetings and webinars are allowed by the province only because of the COVID-19 state-of-emergency. I hope that once this state of emergency is gone, local governments will still be allowed to hold meetings and public hearings online.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Recycling program changes in Langley City

In BC, recycling is the responsibility of retailers, manufactures, and restaurants that supply packaging and paper products for use within the province. This means that the responsibility for the collections of these materials is the responsibility of these businesses.

Historically, municipalities funded recycling programs via property tax. This is not that case in Langley City. Recycling services in Langley City are provided directly by Recycle BC with no municipal involvement.

At the start of this month, Recycle BC changed the contractor responsible for recycling collection for single-family homes in our community. I received several inquiries from residents about this change.

Recycle BC provided the following information which may be of use.

What are the changes to the recycling collection program in Langley?

  • GFL takes over as the collection contractor from Emterra effective July 1
  • Residents will use new customer service contact information for questions/issues about their recycling collection: srrecycle@gflenv.com or 778-765-3662
  • A yellow bag has been delivered to each home – for residents to set out paper materials
  • A grey box has been delivered to each home – for residents to set out glass materials
  • Increased education and enforcement regarding sorting requirements

What remains the same about the recycling collection program in Langley?

  • The collection schedule will not change
  • The accepted materials will not change
  • Residents will continue to use the blue boxes that they have – now only for containers (plastic, metal and cartons and paper cups)
  • Multi-Family collection will continue to be provided by Emterra Environmental to multi-unit properties

FAQs

Why are we getting a yellow bag for paper, the blue boxes were fine?

Yellow bags are used successfully in the collection programs in Township of Langley, City of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Richmond, Vancouver, and the North Shore. The yellow bags are being implemented due to the enforcement of sorting requirements, many homes were not properly sorting paper into one blue box and containers into another.

Residents are welcome to continue using their existing blue boxes, as long as you are ensuring that the material is properly sorted.

We have never had to sort before, why the change now?

There have been sorting requirements in place for years; however, they were not enforced prior to now. Proper sorting ensures that more of the material that gets collected is successfully recycled.

Why are we required to sort if it all goes into the same truck anyway?

The truck body has separate compartments. The driver ensures that the materials are placed into the trucks compartments correctly.

Why can’t the driver sort the materials?

The drivers are collecting from more than 750 homes each day. Unfortunately, they cannot take the time at every home that would be required to sort everyone’s material.

Why don’t we get the large carts like they have in Surrey, people don’t have to sort there?

When the material is sorted at the house like we do in the City of Langley, it reduces contamination and more of the collected material can be recycled. Many other local communities are also required to sort including the Township of Langley, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Vancouver, and the North Shore.

What do I do with my extra blue box and green box?

You are welcome to keep the extra boxes. They can be used for storage, moving boxes, raised garden beds, or kept as a back-up recycling box in the event that your main box goes missing or is damaged. Unfortunately, the boxes themselves cannot be collected for recycling, so if you want to dispose of it, it will need to be placed in the garbage.

More Questions

GFL Environmental can answer any other questions or concerns at: srrecycle@gflenv.com or 778-765-3662.