Wednesday, September 22, 2021

SkyTrain to Downtown Langley City not delayed

Map of Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension. Select to enlarge.

Over the last few days, there have been a few media articles and press releases about Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Project delays. These articles and releases premise a completion date of 2025 for the whole project from King George to Downtown Langley.

In January 2020, TransLink released the phase one business case for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project. Phase one would have the SkyTrain terminate in Fleetwood.

In the business case, it states, "the anticipated opening date for passenger service on this first stage [to Fleetwood] is late 2025."

Since the release of the original business case, there was a provincial election. The NDP promised to build and help fund the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project as one phase to Downtown Langley.

The 2021 provincial budget reserved room to fund the SkyTrain extension fully to Downtown Langley. The provincial government is also now responsible for getting the project built.

On July 9th, the federal government also announced $1.3 billion in additional funding to build the project to Downtown Langley.

Because TransLink staff only completed the detailed design work and business case to get to Fleetwood, now provincial staff are working on completing the business case and detailed design work to build the project as one phase to Downtown Langley.

The increased scope of the project (building to Downtown Langley) and a possible new Operations and Maintenace Centre near the Langley terminus, as per the latest TransLink board report, means that 2025 was never going to be the date for SkyTrain to get to Langley City.

I understand that a new business case is almost now complete, so this winter/spring, I expect the province to launch a request for proposal for the entire project. Because of the project's complexity, I would expect the province to announce a successful tender at the end of 2022, with construction ramping up in 2023 over the next four years. It took about four years to build the Canada Line.

While it may seem that there has been a significant delay in getting SkyTrain to Langley City, it is not the case. From what I've seen, things are full-steam ahead.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Council Notes: Discovery Langley City Partnership Renewed. Budget Amendments Approved.

In the fall of 2017, Langley City launched Discovery Langley City in partnership with its hoteliers. Discovery Langley City is a tourism marketing organization for the community. The City collects a 2% tax, called the Municipal and Regional District Tax, applied to the price of a hotel room in Langley City. This tax, combined with a small $15,000 fee for service funded out of the City’s operating budget, enables Discovery Langley City to promote the community as a tourist destination.

In 2019, Discover Langley City funding was around $200,000. Revenue drop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Downtown Langley Business Association operates Discover Langley City, and their current five-year contract is ending at the end of this year. Langley City Council voted on Monday to renew the contract for an additional five years, ending at the end of December 2026.

From time to time, Langley City must amend its current-year budget. These amendments are required because priorities can change, unexpected expenses can come up, or grants received. These budget amendments do not impact user fees or property taxes.

Council approved an amended capital budget as follows:

COVID-19 Response & Safe Restart Expenditures - $200,000
198 St Hydro Conduit Design - $30,000
General Road Rehabilitation - $43,447
Michaud Crescent Community Garden Upgrades - $40,000
Insurance Risk Management - $10,000
56th Avenue Underground Utility Detailed Design (200th Street to 203rd Street) - $100,000
Eliminate Watermain Pipe Twinning on 200th Street - $100,000
Glover Road Cycling Improvement (Median Irrigation) - $150,000
Leachate Pump Station Upgrade - $200,000
City Public Facilities Condition Assessment -$65,000
Drinking-Water System Upgrades - $150,000
Upgrade Council Chamber to Support Hybrid Meetings - $120,000
Upgrading Lighting Rigging at Spirit Square - $20,000

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Council Notes: Development Proposals including near Brydon Park

On Monday, Langley City Council gave first and second reading to a suite of bylaws to enable a 13-unit townhouse development at the corner of 198th Street and 53rd Avenue if approved. With Council giving two readings to the bylaws, Langley City staff have scheduled a public hearing at 7 pm on September 27th. Please visit Langley City’s website for more information on attending the public hearing or submitting feedback. I will post more about this proposed development project after the public hearing.

Rendering of the proposed development at 5324 - 5326 & 5334 - 5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Landscaping plan of the proposed development at 5324 - 5326 & 5334 - 5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave third reading to a suite of bylaws to enabled a 6-storey, 113-unit apartment development across the street from Nicomekl Elementary School. You can read more about this proposal in a previous blog post.

53/53A Avenue proposed project view from 53rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

53/53A Avenue proposed project view from 53 A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council gave third reading to a suite of bylaws to enable a 6-storey, mixed-use building with 114 apartments and 9050 sq. feet of ground-level retail space at the current Washworld site at Fraser Highway and 201A Street. You can read more about this proposed project in a previous blog post.

Proposed mixed-use project view from the corner of 201A and Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Starting the Journey of Reconciliation in Langley City

When I went to elementary school and high school, we were not taught about the horrors and cultural genocide committed against Indigenous Nations and people by governments via the residential school system. My first exposure to the dark history of the residential school system was when I worked at the TV station where they filmed the first season of APTN’s First Talk.

Earlier this summer, with the discovery of 215 remains at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, the atrocities of the residential school system came to light for many Canadians, including myself.

With Canada Day coming up at the time, I reached out to Katie Pearson, CEO of the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society. She said that Langley City needs to start implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. She left me with some presentations to watch and contact information for other Indigenous leaders.

Over several discussions with Indigenous and Métis people, I heard that the heart must first be open to starting the journey of reconciliation. For Langley City as a colonial institution, this begins with education.

Langley City Council unanimously passed the following motion last night.

WHEREAS the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s summary report, “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future,” was released to the public on June 2nd, 2015;

WHEREAS as directed by the commission report; calls for federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People as the framework for reconciliation;

WHEREAS the City of Langley is a colonial institution;

WHEREAS the work of reconciliation must start within colonial institutions;

WHEREAS the City of Langley owns the act of reconciliation;

WHEREAS local governments must begin the journey with Indigenous Nations by learning the truth of Canada’s cultural genocide of Indigenous People before reconciliation can be achieved;

WHEREAS City of Langley Council has the opportunity to move the City in a good way by gaining perspectives and understanding of Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of ethics, concepts, and practices of reconciliation;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Langley create a Request for Proposal for developing an educational program about Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Cultural Protocols, Knowledge Systems, and Empathy and Safety work by qualified Indigenous Cultural presenters, practitioners or educators;

THAT the City of Langley submit a successful Request for Proposal for Council to tender;

THAT Council consider funding the tender as part of the 2022 budget process;

THAT the educational program be delivered to Council and Senior Staff as soon as possible;

THAT the educational program be delivered to Council and Senior Staff within six months of any Council inauguration;

THAT the City of Langley take immediate action by acknowledging Orange Shirt Day by placing an Every Child Matters Banner across the two Fraser Highway gateways to the Downtown for the week of September 27th, 2021;

THAT up to $2,500 be expended from the Enterprise Fund for the Every Child Matters Banner; and,

THAT the Every Child Matters Banner be stored by the City for future use as directed by Council.

This motion is just the first step on the reconciliation journey. With our hearts open, we can start on the path of implementing the Calls to Action.

As of this writing, Indigenous Nations throughout Canada have discovered over 1,500 unmarked graves at former residential school sites.