Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Welcome Back to Langley City Recreation Facilities - Enhanced Safety Protocols

With winter weather in full force, many people will be looking to participate in recreational activities at Langley City facilities.

The following video shows how to sign-up for activities, what to do when you arrive, and how to stay within the COVID-19 safety protocols put in place.

For more information, please visit the City’s COVID-19 Updates page.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Metro Vancouver Regional District eyeing increased summer water rates to reduce peak utilization

Water and sewer charges are a large component of the municipal-controlled portion of property tax.

Most municipalities in our region, including Langley City, purchase their water from the Metro Vancouver Regional District. Municipalities pay a volume charge to the Regional District for sewer services. Municipalities are responsible for the delivery of water and sewer between business/residential properties and regional mains.

The utility fees that are included in property tax are a combination of the municipal and regional costs to provide water and sewer services.

I virtually attended the Metro Vancouver Regional District Council of Councils meeting on Saturday. Regional District staff and directors presented an overview of their proposed 2020-24 financial plan. The renewal and replacement of outdated wastewater treatment plants, and the expansion of the regional water supply system to meet increased demand, are causing significant increases to the water and sewer rates charged to municipalities.

The Regional District board has been looking for ways to provide short-term financial relief to property taxpayers. One of the major projects that will likely be deferred as a result of finding short-term relief is the Coquitlam Lake Water Supply Project. This means that the region will have to double down on water conservation efforts.

Currently, the Regional District charges a summer and winter water rate to municipalities. The Regional District is looking into increase the summer water rate charged to municipalities.

Langley City has water meters on all properties, municipalities like Surrey do not. The increase in summer water rates might encourage municipalities throughout the region to install water meters on all properties.

It might also result in municipalities charging a summer and winter water rate to property owners. In Langley City, there is a base water charge and year-round meter rate.

The idea is to nudge municipalities to invest in water conservation programs and encourage people to use less water during the summer months.

Metro Vancouver Regional District staff noted at the Council of Councils meeting that our region uses more water per capita than other large regions in North America. We can do better as a region to reduce water utilization which will help reduce increases in property tax.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A case for more municipalities in the Lower Mainland

One of the things that pops-up from time-to-time is the idea that there are too many municipalities in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The are 27 municipalities in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. There are 2.9 million people that live within these municipalities. This works out to one municipality per 109,000 people.

In the rest of BC, there are 1.6 million people that live within 135 municipalities. This works out to one municipality per 12,000.

Lower Mainland residents are underrepresented when it comes to municipalities compared to the rest of the province.

One argument about having less municipalities is that it will be more efficient because of deduplication of services. As I posted about in the past, duplication is minimal to nil in Metro Vancouver.

The other argument is that some people feel that there are just too many mayors and councillors.

In the Lower Mainland, people are already underrepresented when it comes to the number of municipalities. There are 195 people locally elected to councils in the Lower Mainland. This includes mayors and councillors. This works out to one municipal representative per 15,000 people overall.

This is not distributed evenly. Langley City has one municipal representative per 4,000. Abbotsford has one per 18,000. Surrey has one per 64,947.

As pointed out in a recent CBC article, 48 of BC’s 87 provincial electoral districts are within the Lower Mainland. This means that there is one MLA per 62,000 people.

Because 62,000 people is a lot of people to represent, each MLA gets a constituency office. A MLA’s base salary is $111,024. Each MLA also gets $141,400 to hire staff and run a constituency office. It would be impossible to serve 62,000 people on your own. That is a total cost of $252,424, or $4.07 per person in an electoral district on average in the Lower Mainland.

In Surrey, the mayor has a base salary of $147,019 while a councillor has a base salary of $74,980. With total salaries of $746,859, this works out to $1.28 per person in Surrey.

In Abbotsford, the mayor has a base salary of $122,379 while a councillor has a base salary of $46,132. All in, this works out to $3.10 per person in Abbotsford.

In Langley City, the mayor has a base salary of $115,446 while a councillor has a base salary of $53,874. All in, this works out to $15.83 per person in Langley City.

Councillors do not get funding for constituency offices.

As someone who is elected in Langley City, I feel that I can keep up with local issues and have time to meet up with residents to help them. I honestly don’t know how I would be able to do that if I was elected in a community like Surrey.

A case could be made to create more municipalities in Metro Vancouver. Surrey would be a clear example of a community that is under-represented at the local level.

In the Lower Mainland, there are less municipalities per person than the rest of the province. There are regional services, and coordination of services between municipalities. Some of the larger municipalities are underrepresented at the local level.

While it might look nice on a map to have fewer municipalities in the Lower Mainland, it would result in less representation than at the provincial level.

Addressing local issues is critical as they have the most impact on people’s lives. We should be looking to enhance representation, not reduce it.

As a note, Lower Mainland means the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley Regional Districts. The population estimated are for 2019 from BC Stats. All local government salaries are from 2019.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Report Crime Online

Earlier this year, the Langley Detachment of the RCMP launched online crime reporting. Instead of calling the police, you can now submit the following reports online:

  • You have lost something that costs less than $5000
  • Someone has stolen something from you that costs less than $5000
  • Someone has vandalized your property or vehicle and it will cost less than $5000 to repair it
  • You want to report general poor driving behaviour such as speeding, distracted driving, and failing to follow a sign or signal

Visit the Online Crime Reporting tool.

If there is a crime in progress, please call 911. For other requests and to report suspicious activity, call the RCMP non-emergency line at 604-532-3200.