Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rental zoning gives BC municipalities a new tool to support affordable housing

Langley City’s has a significant amount of rental housing in our community. Around 38% of households in Langley City are renters. This is the highest percentage of any community in the South of Fraser, including White Rock where 32% of households are renters according to census data. Rental housing is an important part of the housing continuum.

Housing continuum diagram which also shows BC Housing's annual contribution across the housing spectrum.

In Langley City, policies are in place to ensure that current rental buildings are not converted into strata units, but most of our rental housing stock is nearing its end-of-life. While some purpose-built rental is being built in Langley, communities throughout BC did not have any tools in place to require that new purpose-built rental units are created, or where those rental units should be located.

Metro Vancouver has done extensive research on affordability, and has found that it is ideal to encourage the construction of purpose-built rental housing near high-quality public transit.

As I posted about earlier this year, the provincial government was considering giving municipalities the ability to create rental zones. The provincial government moved forward with this idea, updating legislation to give municipalities the ability to create rental zones.

Representatives from the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing recently presented to the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Housing Committee on what this new tool allows municipalities to do.

Fundamental, rental zoning will allow communities to ensure that existing areas of rental housing are preserved, and require that some new housing units be rental.

The zoning can only be applied in areas where apartments, townhouses, or rowhouses are allowed. The zoning can also be applied at different scales such as by neighborhood, street, or building. For example, lots abutting a transit corridor such as Fraser Highway could be placed in a rental zone.

The rental zone doesn't need to be all or nothing, municipalities can specify the percentage or number of units in a building that must be rental.

If a municipality chooses to move forward with creating rental zones, the provincial legislation has measures in place to ensure that existing units occupied by the owners, and strata corporation bylaws or housing co-op rules that restrict rental are not impacted.

The new rental zoning enabled by the provincial government gives municipalities in BC a powerful tool to ensure that there is a health supply of rental units in our communities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Boardings and cost per boarding stagnant for Langley Community Shuttles

TransLink released its 2017 Transit Service Performance Review for bus routes in Metro Vancouver. The transit agency runs two types of fixed-schedule bus service. One type provides service where there is demand. The other type of service provides basic coverage to areas, even when there appears to be little demand for transit.

People are more likely to take transit if a certain set of conditions are met. Transit routes that are frequent and run in straight lines attract more riders than routes that are infrequent and are milk runs. Land-use also plays an important role. Areas that sprawl generally have lower transit ridership.

Yesterday, I posted about the success of Langley transit routes that are designed to attracting riders. Today, I wanted to look at TransLink’s basic coverage routes which used to be called “Community Shuttles.” TransLink is in the process of removing the “Community Shuttle” brand, dropping the “C” from these routes in Langley. For example, the C60 is now the 560. To see these routes, you can download the Langley transit routes map from TransLink’s website.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C60 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C61 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C62 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C63 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C64 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

As shown, Langley’s former “Community Shuttle” routes underperform compared to other transit routes. These routes have seen little growth and are highly subsidized. The only exception might be the C62 which runs in straight lines between Langley City, Fort Langley, and Walnut Grove.

There is some good news. With phase two of TransLink’s Ten Year Vision fully funded, Langley’s former “Community Shuttle” routes will be restructured to provide more service and better coverage.

As I noted yesterday, a boarding is counted every time a person taps a Compass card, pays with another means, or uses a transfer. Service cost per boarding is the operating cost of the route divided by the annual boardings.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Boardings up, cost per boarding down for Langley transit routes

TransLink recently released its 2017 Transit Service Performance Review. The review includes detailed information about all bus routes in our region. Langley bus routes are of interest to me, so I thought I would create some charts of the major routes in our communities using the performance review data. The two statistics I looked at were annual boardings and service cost per boarding. A boarding is counted every time a person taps a Compass card, pays with another means, or uses a transfer. Service cost per boarding is the operating cost of the route divided by the annual boardings.

One of the trends for bus routes that service Langley is that ridership is trending up, while cost per boarding are trending down. This is a good thing as it shows that transit routes are serving areas where there is demand. Compass card bus fare is $2.30 today. Based on that number, most bus routes in Langley are subsidized.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 501 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 502 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 503 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 509 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 531 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 555 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 595 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

I want to call out two things. The 502 ridership dipped in 2014 because it was split into two routes with the creation of the 503 to service Aldergrove. The 595 was also changed to service the 208 Street corridor in the fall of 2016.

Route maps for the 501, 502, 503, 509, 531, 555, and 595 are available on TransLink’s website. Tomorrow, I will be looking at the community shuttle bus routes in Langley.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

July 9, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: $1.5 million from TransLink, a new Community Standards Bylaw, plus a summer of improvement projects and events.

On Tuesday, I posted about redevelopment matters. I posted about new, faster transit service coming to Langley City on Wednesday. Today, I will post about the remaining items covered at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting.

Langley City council gave first, second, and third reading to three bylaws relating to a new Community Standards Bylaw. The new Community Standards Bylaw consolidates three previous bylaws. It focuses on the upkeep and maintenance of properties, including the securing of unoccupied building from unauthorized entry. While mainly a housekeeping matter, the new Community Standards Bylaw makes it easier for the City to address problem properties. The Fees and Charges Bylaw and Municipal Ticketing Information System Bylaw were also amended as a result.

As capital projects move forward, more detailed costing becomes available. The City can also receive funding from the province, feds, or TransLink throughout the year. Because of these things, Langley City must amend its financial plan from time-to-time. One of the items that I wanted to highlight is that our community recently received a $977,000 grant from TransLink to help replace the Logan Creek Culverts under the Langley Bypass. Another highlight is that the City was awarded $284,000 by TransLink to support installing bike lanes on 208 Street, and $269,000 to support the installation of bike lanes on Glover Road. A full list of updates to the financial plan can be view on the City’s website. Langley City council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw that would amend the financial plan.

Council gave final reading to a new Business Improvement Area Bylaw which I posted about previously. Final reading was also given, and a development permit approved, for a townhouse complex located at the intersection of 56 Avenue and 196 Street which I also posted about previously.

Council received an update on our recreation programming over the summer. There is something happening pretty must every weekend. More information is available on the City’s website.

Council also received an update on parks and other capital projects on the go in our community. Some of the highlights include:

  • A new zip-line at Brydon Park that can support a person up to 250lbs
  • A renovated sports field at City Park
  • A replacement pedestrian bridge in the floodplain near 203 Street that recently opened
  • A replacement pedestrian bridge in the floodplain near 201A Street that is under-construction, and due to open at the end of August
  • A renewed Douglas Park playground that is under construction
  • A new washroom at Penzer Park which will be completed this summer
  • A new sewer main under 48 Avenue which is under construction

There are many other projects in our community that have been approved by council. You can see a list and maps of projects in a previous post.