Thursday, July 19, 2018

Langley City’s role as a commercial centre means lower property taxes for residents

Langley City residents pay some of the lowest municipal property taxes on average in Metro Vancouver.

2017 Municipal Property Tax Levy Survey. Select table to enlarge. Source: City of Langley 2018 Financial Plan

One of the reasons for this is that the casino helps fund our capital improvement program. In 2018, revenue from the casino funded about a third of Langley City’s $16.8 million capital improvement program.

Another reason for Langley City’s low residential tax is because we have an extremely health business community. Langley City may be 10 square kilometres, but we are the commercial centre for our part of Metro Vancouver.

One way to put this into perspective is by looking at the total assessed value of property by class. These assessed values are used to calculate the amount of property tax that is paid. Many people refer to this as the tax base. This information is available from the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing.

In Delta, 83% of their total property assessed value is from residential properties. In Surrey, 88% is from residential properties, 96% of property assessed value is residential in White Rock, and in the Township of Langley 85% of property assessed value is residential. In Langley City, that value is 73%.

Another way to look at this is by assessed value of commercial property per capita. As shown in the following chart, Langley City is a leader.

“Business/Other” Property Class Authenticated Roll General Taxable Values per Capita, by Municipality. Select chart to enlarge.

Langley City is a commercial centre. Because of this, we are also able to invest in our community while maintaining lower residential property taxes compared to the majority of municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

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.