Thursday, April 15, 2021

April 12 Council Meeting Notes: Mail Theft and Insecure Mailboxes, Final Approval for Langley Lions Affordable Housing, and Sewer Main Renewal Approved.

While the overall crime rate is down in Langley City, mail theft is on the rise year-over-year. Mail theft is a serious concern. The immediate impact of a stolen bank card, credit card, or cheque is often followed by identity theft and other fraud. A victim of mail theft can spend a significant amount of time recovering from one incident and can often be revictimized.

Each occurrence of mail theft and associated identity theft and fraud takes significant police resources to investigate.

To help reduce mail theft which would also free up police resources, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group asked City Council to “direct staff to investigate an incentive program to retrofit insecure mailboxes in multifamily housing to increase security and deter mail theft, which in turn, reduces policing costs.”

While newer townhouse and apartment developments have secure mailboxes, many of the older buildings in Langley City do not.

On Monday afternoon, Council approved this request.

The redevelopment of the Langley Lions Housing Society’s seniors-focused affordable housing complex to the south of Langley Mall has been working its way through the approval process at City Hall. Council gave final approval to the housing agreement, official community plan update, rezoning, and development permit to construct a new 101-unit Birch Building on Monday. This approval also set the groundwork for the eventual redevelopment of the current 518-unit complex into a 981-unit, seniors-focused affordable housing complex.

Council also approved a land exchange as part of the West Country Hotel redevelopment. The exchange enables expanding the community garden along Michaud Crescent and a new access lane between Michaud Crescent and 56th Avenue.

Council approved staff applying for a grant to fund 50% of the cost to assess the City’s road pavement conditions. This assessment will help staff prioritize road repair work.

Council awarded a contract to PW Trenchless Construction for $821,213.11 to complete a sewer upgrade, as shown in the following map.

Map showing the 200th Street sewer replacement from 49 Avenue to the Nicomekl River.

Council endorsed Mayor Val van den Broek to stand for election to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors for one year starting in June 2021.

At the end of Monday afternoon’s meeting, Council asked staff to send a letter to the province asking them to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Langley City Council provides suggested locations for Overdose Prevention Site

In BC, there is an ongoing overdose crisis due to the ever-increasing toxicity of illicit drugs. In February, Fraser Health staff told Langley City Council that 2020 saw the highest number of overdose deaths ever. While some people may associate overdoses with people experiencing homelessness, around 70% of overdose deaths occur in private residences, 16% in other indoor locations such as restaurants, and 13% outside.

The overdose crisis is primarily impacting employed, single young men. The province recently launched Lifeguard App for smartphones to help reduce overdose deaths for people that use alone. Another way to help reduce overdose deaths is to building Overdose Prevention Sites.

These sites provide:

  • Distribution of supplies for safer injection
  • Education on safe injection technique and infection prevention
  • Overdose prevention and intervention
  • Medical and counselling services
  • Referrals to substance use treatment
  • Connection to housing and other support services
  • Drug-checking

Fraser Health is looking to partner with a service provider to create an Overdose Prevention Site in Langley.

Langley City is a compact community. You can walk from one end of Fraser Highway to the other in about 30 minutes. There is a high concentration of social and health services within our downtown. While access to social and health services is critical, concentrating services in one area leads to ghettoization. Services should be spread throughout a community to increase access and reduce stigmatization.

Given Langley City’s small size, this presents a difficult challenge. Langley City council selected the green area as a recommended area to place an Overdose Prevention Site in our community.

Area for potential Overdose Prevention Site in green. Select map to enlarge.

The Langley Bypass area and area bound by Fraser Highway, the Langley Bypass and 200th Street are the Council recommended locations. The triangle area is accessible by transit and walking, which is likely a critical requirement for an Overdose Prevention Site.

Council also asked Fraser Health to:

  • Go through a rezoning process for a proposed Overdose Prevention Site since no existing zones permit its use today.
  • Require all services be provided inside a Overdose Prevention Site
  • Require 24/7 security and site clean up around a Overdose Prevention Site
  • Develop a good neighbour committee

As this is a health emergency, Fraser Health can likely place an Overdose Prevention Site wherever they see fit. I do hope that they consider Council’s recommendations which will help uplift people and our neighbourhoods.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Langley City Council adopts Living Wage Policies for Staff, Contractors, and Service Providers. Council Looks to Expand Food Truck Options.

Yesterday afternoon’s Langely City Council meeting started with a delegation from Shiera Stuart, the government relations officer for Gateway Casinos. Gateway Casinos operates Cascades Casino. She requested that the City updates its Business Licensing Bylaw to allow food trucks in the City beyond what is currently permitted.

Today, food trucks can operate if they are part of a Farmer’s Market, a community event, or operated by a non-profit as part of a fundraising effort.

The City’s proposed Offical Community Plan and Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood Plan support the expansion of mobile food vending such as food trucks in locations such as at select trailheads.

Given this support in these plans, Council passed the following motion:

THAT staff investigate and report back to Council on updating our business licensing to permit food trucks, including in the report fixed business presence, recycling, garbage, sanitation, and location requirements.

Council also approved two policies to enable making Langley City a Living Wage employer. Langley City Council’s new policy will ensure that City staff receive a living wage per the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Currently, the living wage is $19.50 per hour. These policies would increase the salary of one position in the City.

The policies also apply to City service providers and sub-contractors who have contracts greater than $50,000 with the City. Examples of these contracts include garbage collection and security services at Timms Community Centre. Staff noted that these policies could result in an increase of $16,000 for garbage services, but that “municipalities that have adopted a Living Wage Policy did not experience a significant increase to most of their contracts.”

These policies exclude local amateur sports organizations, social enterprises, and one-off services such as emergency repairs from the living wage policy.

All of Council supported a living wage policy for City employees and contract instructors. Council had a robust discussion about applying living wage policies to service providers and sub-contractors. In a 4-3 vote, Council decided to move forward.

The Living Wage Policy for employees and contract instructors starts on July 1st and for services providers and subcontracts on January 1st, 2022. The Living Wage policies will apply to new contracts after that date.

The Chief Administrative Officer, in consultation with City Council, will review these policies annually.

Other Living Wage municipalities include Central Saanich, Victoria, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Burnaby, and Quesnel.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Video: Walking across the new crosswalk at 208th Street at 45 A Avenue

One of the long-standing requests from residents in the Upland neighbourhood, and parents of students who attend Uplands Elementary, was to install a crosswalk to connect the area east of 208th Street with the school via a preexisting walkway.

The installation of this crosswalk will shave around 3~5 minutes of walk-time for people that want to access the school. People generally do not walk more than 10 minutes before considering driving, so this crosswalk supports building a walkable neighbourhood and increases the accessibility for walking and cycling.

This weekend, I decided to test the new crosswalk across 208th Street at 45 A Avenue.

It does the trick!