Thursday, May 19, 2022

Filling in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Gap for Large Existing Buildings

Older Building

Buildings are responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in Metro Vancouver. The Metro Vancouver Regional district's overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, achieve a carbon-neutral region by 2050, and improve the overall ambient air quality. For this to happen, our current buildings must be retrofitted and newer buildings constructed in a way that further reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

While the BC government has solid greenhouse gas reduction policies, laws, and regulations for new construction, there are no policies or requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for existing buildings.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is proposing to help fill in that gap regarding existing buildings. Its first step is to look at office, retail, and residential buildings larger than 25,000 sq. ft.

Taking a whole building approach to increase efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. Source: Metro Vancouver.

The first phase of filling in the policy gap is reaching out to large building owners to understand the challenges they face in upgrading buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The regional district's goal is to create a phased policy approach requiring increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emissions targets for exiting large buildings.

Please read "Potential Approachers for Managing Greenhouse Gas Emission from Larger Buildings in Metro Vancouver." This start on page 17 of the May 13th Metro Vancouver Regional District Climate Action Committee Agenda.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Right-Sizing Parking Requirements in Metro Vancouver

West Beach Parkade in White Rock

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has completed a series of parking studies over the last decade. They have found that apartment building on-site parking supply exceeds demand throughout the region, including in Langley City. They also found that on-street parking in most residential neighbourhoods with apartments has about 65% utilization most of the time, with Saturday evening being the highest use for on-street parking, where demand can sometimes exceed supply. These studies did not look at townhouse parking rates.

Parking matters because surface parking takes up a lot of space which could be used for housing, businesses, or parks. Surface parking makes a community sprawl out, creating places where people have to drive, limiting travel choices and increasing travel costs. The cost of providing parking is around $80,000 per stall, which impacts the overall affordability of housing.

None of our most cherished neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver meet “modern” parking requirements.

Based on the research done by Metro Vancouver and on-the-ground experience, Langley City has right-sized the number of parking spaces required for apartment, commercial, and mixed-use buildings that will be within a 10-minute walk of the future SkyTrain stations. On-site parking is still about 85% of our current bylaw requirements for these buildings.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is now working on a comprehensive Regional Parking Strategy based on its past work. The strategy will include developing parking policies and regulations that municipalities can use as templates.

The strategy will look at:

  • Right-sizing the supply of parking spaces
  • Right-sizing parking to reduce construction costs, increase land efficiency and increase housing affordability
  • Supporting Employer parking cash-out
  • Securing bicycle parking requirements

The regional district is still working with its members to finalize the scope of the parking strategy. I think that on-street parking demand management will also need to be part of the plan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SkyTrain to Langley Full Steam Ahead. Public Feedback Needed

Building SkyTrain to Langley is full steam ahead. With $128 million in advance works already in progress, the train has left that station!

Conceptual rendering of 203rd Street SkyTrain Station. Select image to enlarge.

Conceptual rendering of Willowbrook Mall SkyTrain Station. Select image to enlarge.

Some of the advance works to support the construction of SkyTrain to Langley include:

  • Partnering with the City of Surrey on phase two of Fraser Highway widening
  • Designing and relocating power lines, utilities, and other structures in Surrey and Langley
  • Purchasing property along the SkyTrain corridor

While the SkyTrain extension to Langley City does not need a full Environmental Assessment, work is wrapping up on an Environmental Screening Review. This review includes looking at noise, visual, archaeology, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, and air quality impacts and making recommendations to reduce adverse effects.

For example, the project will use TransLink’s SkyTrain Noise Assessment recommendations to reduce noise impacts. The province will also design the stations to minimize potential bird strikes.

The province is looking for your feedback. You can learn more by visiting the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Project site and completing the online feedback form.

You can also attend the following open houses:

Wednesday, May 25rd
4 pm to 7 pm
Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex
100 - 16555 Fraser Highway

Tuesday, May 31st
4 pm to 7 pm
Langley City Hall
20399 Douglas Crescent

The business case approval for this SkyTrain extension is expected in the fall of this year. The province is planning to issue the contract for construction in 2024. The extension should be in-service by 2028.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Reducing vandalism while creating safer and cleaner Langley City public washrooms

One of the ongoing challenges for public washrooms in Langley City parks is vandalism. Another challenge is the utilization of washrooms for activities that result in unsafe environments for all washroom users.

The following photo, which Langley City staff shared with Council last week, shows the latest round of vandalism at Linwood Park.

Vandalism at Linwood Park Washroom. Select image to enlarge.

Park washrooms are essential, and Langley City does whatever is possible to keep our park public washroom open. These washrooms have come to my rescue on many occasions.

Of course, the City doesn’t want to continually repair vandalized washroom or have park washroom users find themselves in an unsafe situation.

As Langley City public washrooms have similar challenges and opportunities as some washrooms in the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Parks Washroom Strategy has insights relevant to our community.

Example of washroom fixtures from Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Parks Washroom Strategy

Of the eight best practices in the strategy, the following may be directly applicable to Langley City:

Maintenance - Washroom layout should be designed for ease of maintenance. Surfaces should be of resistant materials that discourage graffiti and allow for pressure washing. Fixtures should have a durable design to withstand heavy use. For fire resistance, select stainless steel for surfaces, replace paper towels with hand dryers, and limit the number of garbage cans inside.

Monitoring & Emergency Response - Besides using durable fixtures and considering harm reduction, attendants can help mitigate impacts at socially sensitive sites. An attendant is a person hired to monitor and supervise a washroom facility to ensure the safety of the washroom user. The attendant acts as the first responder in the event of an emergency and ensures washrooms are well-maintained. In most successful cases, the attendant is a peer or member of the community who has social connections and understanding of the relevant issues.

When I was in Kelowna recently, I noticed that they had attendant monitored and maintained washrooms at their downtown transit exchange.

In Langley City, there may be opportunities for new approaches to monitoring and maintaining washrooms at Linwood, Penzer, Douglas, and Rotary Centennial parks. There is a clear opportunity to partner with Fraser Health and other service providers in our community.