Thursday, February 20, 2020

#IReadCanadian Day

I read Canadian

As they say, it is better late than never. Yesterday was #IReadCanadian Day, an opportunity to bring visibility around Canadian books, authors, and illustrators.

With so many books available online and in-stores, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start if you are looking to read a book from a Canadian author or illustrator, or a book about Canadian experiences.

For example, there are award winning authors right in our own back yard such as Langley-born Jonathan Auxier.

A good place to start in our province would be the BC and Yukon Book Prize. You can find past winners in prize in categories that range from children to adult, and fiction to non-fiction.

If you are looking to encourage your child to read, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a good place to start.

The #IReadCanadian site also has links to other province’s book awards if you would like to find books from authors and illustrators who are from specific provinces.

Many of these books can be requested online or from the Langley City branch of the Fraser Valley Regional Library.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Metro Vancouver’s water conservation efforts a success story. More work needed.

One of the success stories of our region has been our efforts to converse water. The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently released a report on water utilization in our region going back until 1985.

Back in 1985, Metro Vancouver had about half the population as today, but a similar amount of water being utilized as shown in the following graph.

Water use by sector, trends from 1985 to 2017. *Years when not all local government water consumption data was available. Source: Metro Vancouver.

Per capita per day of water used has been steadily declining. Today, 486 litres per person per day of water is used in Metro Vancouver. Even with the reduction of per capita water usage, overall water usage is starting to climb again due to population growth.

Breakdown of water use by sector in 2017. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

58% of water utilized in our region is for residential use. This means that there is still significant opportunities for people to make a big difference in our water conservation efforts.

Switching out shower heads, toilets, faucets, washing machines, and dishwashers with low-flow models can significantly reduce your water usage. BC Hydro even offers some rebates for shower heads and faucet aerators.

Of course, fixing leaks and drips also goes a long way to help conserve water.

One of the best ways to conserve water is to not water your lawn. This is something that can even be done if you live in a strata.

I grew up in the Okanagan where water conservation during the summer is critical. Golden lawns were OK. Many people replaced grass lawns with other plantings and landscaping that looked good and needed less water to maintain.

For a more local example, our strata doesn’t water our grass. During the winter and spring, the grass is green. During the summer, it turns golden. The strata building across the street waters their grass. I do not believe people who live in that other building have a better quality of live compared to people who live in my building due to grass watering.

Langley Environmental Partners Society has a good guide on water-wise gardening.

People who live in Metro Vancouver have done a good job conserving water, but as our population continues to grow and climate change causes drier summers, we will need to step up our game.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Metro Vancouver’s Walkability Index highlights gaps in the transit network

TransLink is well underway in delivering the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Transit and Transportation Vision which extends to about 2025. This includes SkyTrain to Langley.

Map of Mayors’ Council 10 Year Investments. Select map to enlarge. Source: Mayors’ Council.

Work is now underway on Transport 2050 which is our region’s long-term transportation plan. Metro Vancouver has had a series of these long-term plans which have been successfully implemented since at least the early 1990s.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District and TransLink has been working with the UBC Health and Community Design Lab to create a walkability index for our region. The walkability index has five components that determine the score: residential density, intersection density, land-use mix, commercial floor area ratio, and sidewalk network completeness. While the index does have some challenges, it helps to highlight areas that are walkable.

Why does this matter, and how can this link to Transport 2050?

One of the longstanding goals for regional planning in Metro Vancouver has been to create walkable nodes with a mix of housing, shops, services, offices, and industry connected by high quality transit. In Metro Vancouver’s land-use plans, these are called urban centres.

The following map overlays these urban centres, TransLink’s frequent transit network, and the walkability index.

2016 Walkability Index overlaid with Metro Vancouver’s Urban Centres and TransLink’s Frequent Transit Network. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

There are a few observations which could help inform Transport 2050 and Metro Vancouver’s land-use plans.

It appears that there are urban centres that are missing such as the Scott Road area in Newton, Clayton, Walnut Grove, and Tsawwassen. Urban centres such as South Surrey, Cloverdale, and Ambleside/Park Royal should be expanded.

This map also highlights major gaps in the frequent transit network.

For example, there is no frequent transit service in South Delta, Cloverdale, and Aldergrove. While there is a planned RapidBus for the 200th Street corridor, there needs to be frequent transit along 208th Street and in Walnut Grove. Port Coquitlam needs better transit connectivity as an urban centre.

Hopefully, this walkability index can help inform transit priorities in our region as every transit trip starts or ends with walking.

This walkability index is based on 2016 census data which is the most recent census. The next census will be in 2021, and I hope that this walkability index will be updated at that time.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

February 10 Council Meeting: Zoning Matters

This week I’ve posted about feedback received about Langley City’s proposed 2020-24 Financial Plan, and an update on various civil projects occurring in the community; these matters were both from Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. This post will cover the remaining items from that evening.

Council gave final reading to bylaws, and approved issuing development permits, which enable the construction of two development projects:

On January 27th, council decided to start the process of replacing the former Advisory Planning Commission with a new Advisory Design Panel. Council gave final reading to repeal the bylaw for the old Advisory Planning Commission and replace references to this old commission, with Advisory Design Panel, in other bylaws.

Council also approved Councillor Gayle Martin to attend the International Making Cities Livable Conference in Carmel, Indiana from June 2nd to 6th, 2020. The total cost is estimated to be $2,000.

The Langley District Parent Advisory Council sent a letter to both Langley City and Township councils requesting that zoning bylaws be amended to prevent businesses from selling vape products that are located within a 2km radius of schools.

As Langley City is in the process of updating its Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw, council requested that City staff investigate this request as part of this update process.

As a note, if council did decide to move forward with this request, existing businesses that sell vape product within a 2km radius would be grandfathered in as per BC law.

Finally, council heard from Anthony Butera regarding setting up a retail cannabis dispensary in Langley City.