Thursday, July 18, 2019

Langley residents’ opinions on local government services. Comparing results to the rest of Metro Vancouver.

A few weeks ago, I shared the results of the State of Local Government survey which was completed on behalf of the Young Regional Leadership Collective. The survey results were for Metro Vancouver as a whole. Because I helped co-author report, I thought I would share the Langley specific results.

One of the questions that was asked in the survey was “which of the following local government services do you use, and how satisfied are you with the quality of the service?”

As as note, these charts are selectable to reveal more information.

Some areas of difference between Langley residents and other Metro Vancouver residents is that Langley residents are more dissatisfied with public transit, and more satisfied with land-use, planning and development.

Because this survey was for all of Metro Vancouver, there were only 19 results from Langley. These results shouldn’t be considered to have the same statistical rigour as the full survey, but they do shed some light on the similarities and differences of Langley residents compared to the rest of the region.

Please read the full survey results report to see the differences between Langley and the rest of the region. Maybe surprising to some, but Langley residents’ views are very similar to the views of people in other parts of our region.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Study shows walkable neighbourhoods can have up to 75% reduction in direct health costs

One of the things that people are innately attracted to are walkable communities. When you think of places where you’d bring a friend from out of town, you are more likely to show them Downtown Langley, Fort Langley, or Steveston than the Langley Bypass.

There has been extensive research on the benefits of walkable communities on people’s physical and mental health. These benefits translate into better health outcomes which helps lower the cost of providing health care services. How much are those savings?

The Health & Community Design Lab out of the UBC School of Population and Public Health has been researching this for many years. They presented their most recent findings at the Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee.

The following map shows the different classifications of neighbourhoods: car dependent, somewhat car dependent, somewhat walkable, moderately walkable, and walkable.

Five different types of neighbourhoods based on walkability in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

Obesity is linked to diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for people in BC. People who living in walkable communities tend to get more physical activity naturally which lowers the rate of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

The Health & Community Design Lab has been able to quantify the direct health costs for people who live in different types of communities by “linking the My Health, My community data with the Economic Burden of Illness in Canada and the Canadian Community Surveillance System estimates.”

Direct health costs for diabetes based on neighbourhood type.

Direct health costs for hypertension based on neighbourhood type.

Direct health costs for heart disease based on neighbourhood type.

As shown, there is significantly lower direct health costs for people who live in walkable neighbourhoods compared to car dependent neighbourhoods. The cost difference ranges from around 40% to 75%.

Given that health care spending is the most significant budget item provincially, it would make sense for the provincial government to support communities by increasing funding to build sidewalks and bike lanes, and also by providing toolkits to support communities in changing their default design which is based around accommodating cars to around people and walking (including people with limited or no mobility.)

One of the goals in Langley City’s strategic plan is to “enhance the multi-modal transportation network within the community.” This means enhancing walking and cycling infrastructure. You have seen this is action with the upgraded 203rd Street and 53rd Avenue. We have more work to do in our community; the north side Langley City is moderately walkable while the south side is somewhat car dependent.

Building a walkable Langley City not only helps reduce congestion, but it also supports making our community healthier. This also happens to be good for our collective wallet as it leads to a reduction in health care costs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

TransLink survey says strong support for bus lanes in Downtown Langley

As I posted about last week, Langley City council approved partnering with TransLink to implement Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes in Downtown Langley as shown below.

Planned westbound bus lane along Fraser Highway marked in yellow. Outside lane restrict to buses, bicycles, and vehicles turning right. Select map to enlarge.

Planned northbound bus lane along 203rd Street marked in yellow. Outside lane restrict to buses, bicycles, and vehicles turning right. Select map to enlarge.

Planned eastbound bus lane along Logan Avenue marked in yellow. Outside lane restrict to buses, bicycles, and vehicles turning right. Select map to enlarge.

These lanes will not only speed up bus service, supporting the new 503 B-Line like service launching this fall which will connect Langley City to King George SkyTrain along Fraser Highway, but they will also speed up general traffic to due traffic signal optimization.

This is a win-win project as it makes getting around better for people no matter the mode of travel they choose. TransLink held a public engagement process during the first half of June to get people’s feedback on the now-approved changes, and recently posted the feedback they received from the public.

Level of support for the proposed bus priority lane on 203 Avenue northbound from Fraser Highway to Logan Avenue — 100 responses

Level of support for the proposed bus priority lane on Fraser Highway westbound from 203 Street to 200 Street — 100 responses

Level of support for the proposed bus priority lane on Logan Avenue eastbound from 203 Street to Glover Road — 100 responses

As shown, there is public support to make these changes. The full engagement summary report can be downloaded from TransLink’s website.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Pilot program to help residential strata corporations reduce energy usage.

While a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions is generated due to transportation, energy usage within residential buildings also generates a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions in BC. There have been government programs to help support retrofitting single-family housing and rental buildings to reduce energy usage, but these types of programs have been harder to come by and access for strata residential buildings. This is significant as over 70% of our housing stock in Metro Vancouver is not single-family housing.

An example of a strata building. Select image to enlarge.

For strata corporations, it can be harder to implement energy reduction retrofits due to the nature of strata governance which normally includes volunteer strata councils, limited funding, and complexities around aligning individual owners who may have competing interests.

To help support residential strata corporations, the Metro Vancouver Regional District launched a Strata Energy Advisor pilot program. The goal of the pilot program was to see if there was an interest in a program to help residential strata corporations get energy assessments to support completing building upgrades to reduce energy usage.

There was a desire for such as program as the original pilot target of 70 qualified building was met 14 weeks earlier than planned. The pilot program was expanded to include 88 qualified buildings. A total of 118 energy-saving project were created as a result of this pilot. 64 of these projects are in progress, and 18 projects have been completed to date.

Some municipalities also provided grants to help support strata corporations complete projects. These municipalities included Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, New Westminster, the City of North Vancouver, and UBC.

In total, the pilot project was delivered for $759,000. Work will now begin to develop a report to “summarize the projects implemented to date, the estimated greenhouse gas reductions, cost effectiveness of the program, a survey of the participants and other measure of the impact of the program.” It will also include next steps. This could be an ideal program for the provincial or federal governments to support to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.

More information about the Strata Energy Advisor pilot can be found on a Metro Vancouver website.