Thursday, September 22, 2022

September 19 Council Notes: Motions on Community Safety, Truth and Reconciliation, Electoral Districts

On Monday afternoon, Langley City Council considered three motions.

Last year, Langley City Council approved placing an “Every Child Matters” banner across the two Fraser Highway entrances to Downtown Langley for the week when the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation occurs. The original motion only specified that this would happen in 2021. Council passed a motion on Monday to ensure that the City places the banners every year for the week when the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation occurs. This year, the banners will go up on September 26th.

Every Child Matters banner across Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

The next motion that Council considered was mine on creating a Citizens’ Assembly on Community Safety Reform in Langley City. As I posted about last week, one common theme I hear when I talk to people is that many do not feel safe in our community. Our current approaches to community safety aren’t making people feel safer, so this motion presents a new, holistic approach to community safety. To learn more about the full motion and background, please read a previous post on it. I was proud that this motion passed, supported by Councillors Albrecht, James, Martin, Storteboom, and Wallace.

Finally, the federal government has established independent electoral district commissions in each province to redraw ridings. BC is getting one new seat in parliament for the next federal election. In BC, the commission is proposing what I think is an uninformed decision to split Langley into four odd ridings, the strangest of which is the proposed Pitt Meadows Fort Langley riding.

Proposed federal electoral districts in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

Langley City Council approved writing a letter to the ”British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission (BCEBC) to consider reconfiguring the electoral boundaries to have one boundary for the City of Langley and the Township of Langley and be represented by one Member of Parliament.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

You Can Help Save the Farmland at the Old Federal Government “Cloverdale Site” on the Langley Border

If you’ve been down 192nd Street between Colebrook Road and 36th Avenue, you would see farmland with Government of Canada and do not trespass signs. This site was a former radio monitoring site for the government, in service until 2018. This radio monitoring required a significant amount of land as some antennas consist of a tall tower and buried cable. This meant that the surface was farmable. The federal government has contracted with a family that actively farms the land for produce since the 1980s. For more information, please check out the site Beautiful Brookswood.

Location of Cloverdale Site. Select map to enlarge.

Since the federal government decommissioned the site, it is now looking to sell it. Unfortunately, because this was federal government land, it could not be included in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Once the federal government sells the site, this active farmland will likely be turned into an office park or industrial area as the land is regionally zoned for “mixed employment” use.

Communication building that was onsite until 2005. Source: Beautiful Brookswood

The Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Agricultural Advisory Committee passed the following motion as they are concerned:

That the Metro Vancouver Agricultural Advisory Committee forward a letter to the Regional Planning Committee expressing: 1) its concern and opposition to the property known as Heppell’s Potato Farm, located between 36 and 42 Avenues and between 192 and 196 Streets in Surrey, currently owned by the Federal Government, being removed from active farming and sold; 2) its support for the property to be preserved as farmland, now and into the future; and 3) that the Agricultural Land Commission be requested to consider its inclusion into the Agricultural Land Reserve.

If you support preserving this site as farmland, please sign this official petition at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4128. This petition is sponsored by John Aldag, the MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, so it carries some weight.

To learn more about the site, please site Beautiful Brookswood.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Climate Change, Invasive Plants, and What We Can Do

Minnekhada Park - Quarry Trail

When we think of climate change and its impacts on our ecosystems, we likely think of native plant and animal species, but climate change also impacts invasive species. In partnership with UBC and Trinity Western University, the Metro Vancouver Regional District recently completed a mapping exercise of several invasive plant species, plotting out how their range would change by 2050.

They looked at four invasive plant species. Three of the four invasives would benefit from climate change while the other would have a reduction in our region.

The following maps show the changes for these four species.

If Flowering Rush is established in our region, it will proliferate throughout Metro Vancouver if not contained. Currently, it is only in Hatzic. Select map to enlarge.

Mouse-Ear Hawkweed will reduce in Metro Vancouver due to climate change. Select map to enlarge.

Climate change will make Shiny Geranium highly suitable for invasion throughout Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

Water Hyacinth will likely spread further throughout our region due to climate change. Select map to enlarge.

As we know, climate change stresses native species and may lead to their extinction over time. Invasives out compete native plants for resources. The replacement of native plants with invasives degrades our ecosystem, creating economic, infrastructure, and human health challenges. Some invasive plants can literally break apart concrete on highways!

This all means that, as a region, we need to double down on our efforts to control the spread of invasive plants. For example, in Langley City, we usually partner with non-profits to set up summer student teams that clear invasives in the Nicomekl Floodplain. City crews target the removal of particularly nasty invasive plants. Over time, we will need to increase City resources to control invasive plants in our community.

Please check out the September 9th Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee agenda for more information.

Monday, September 12, 2022

A Fresh, Community-Led Action Plan for Increased Safety in Langley City

Community Police Office

One common theme I hear when I talk to people is that many do not feel safe in our community. When I first ran for Langley City Council, I thought that implementing a few new programs would help make people feel safer, but I’ve come to understand now that we will need a comprehensive approach to addressing community safety. Community safety encompasses policing, fire-rescue, the bylaw department, ambulance, and health care. It also includes how we design and build our community, parks, roads, recreation programs, library, lighting, and overall engineering services. It includes our education system.

Over the past year, I’ve studied how we can deliver increased community safety for Langley City. I’ve talked to people in our community, experts, politicians, and ex-politicians, including in other municipalities, about how we can deliver a comprehensive community safety plan for Langley City.

I will present the following motion at the September 19th Langley City Council meeting. If approved by Council, it will allow us to create a community-led action plan to improve safety in a meaningful way. This action plan includes built-in transparency. The actions in the plan will be regularly measured to see if they drive meaningful improvement in community safety. If not, the actions will be changed to drive a meaningful improvement.

Background

Based on Langley City’s Community Survey, in 2004, 82% of residents felt safe and secure. Over the past two decades, this number has been steadily dropping. As of 2019, only 67% of Langley City’s residents felt safe and secure. This is despite the City’s protective services budget more than doubling over the past 18 years.

In 2004, the City budgeted 39% of property tax for the police and $8.5 million on protective services overall. In 2022, the City budgeted 45% of property tax for the police and $20.5 million on protective services overall.

The top concerns in our City remain poverty, homelessness, and the perception of crime.

The status quo, how we are responding to these concerns, is not working and is costing Langley City residents not only dollars and cents or their quality of life, but, tragically for some people, their lives. Reform only works when it comes from the community. A Citizens’ Assembly brings together people from the community, representing diverse viewpoints and lived experiences.

A Citizens’ Assembly convenes, supported by experts and facilitators, to deliberate on a given set of challenges and provide a set of recommendations. The Assembly drives the outcomes of these recommendations. At a high level, Assembly will evaluate current pressures and top calls for service in Langley City for the police service, fire-rescue service, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), bylaw department, parks department, and engineering department through the lens of community safety.

The Assembly will determine which services or City department can fulfil these calls for service in the most timely, nimble, and resource-effective manner to maximize positive outcomes. Where there is a gap in capacity, the Assembly will also look at which service or department the City controls or influences can most effectively close the gap in the ability to execute.

For example, the fire service may be in the best position to help stabilize people during a medical event and partner with health care professionals to ensure people are attached to the care they need.

The bylaw department, working with health care and housing professionals, could be in the best position to attach people experiencing homelessness to housing and healthcare.

A new City Park and Trail Ranger service might be the best to help keep our parks safe and clean.

These are just ideas, and the Assembly will think outside the box.

The Assembly will also look at the upstream reasons for the top calls for service and generate an action plan for the City to complete in partnership with First Nations, the federal government, province, school board, other local governments, and our non-profit sector.

For example, the Assembly might determine that universal access to after-school programs will reduce tagging of City infrastructure, and recommend future advocacy of provincial funding for said programs.

Motion

THAT Staff include in the 2023 budget a line item for convening a Citizens’ Assembly.

THAT, if Council approves the resources to convene a Citizens’ Assembly, the Assembly will:

  1. Be representative of the demographics of Langley City, have five additional seats for each of our four host First Nations, and one additional seat for a person who lives in Langley City who self-identifies as Indigenous.
  2. Have access to people with lived experience or, external of Langley City and independent, expert knowledge to help inform its recommendations.
  3. Look at the calls for service that are responsible for 80% of the volume each for the police service, fire-rescue service, BCEHS calls where the fire-rescue service responds, bylaw department, parks department, and engineering department to determine:
    1. Which service or department should handle the call for service based on:
      1. Cost-effectiveness.
      2. The ability to respond promptly.
      3. The most direct line of accountability to local businesses and residents.
      4. The ability to improve people’s quality of life, attaching people to services and care.
      5. The “best fit” for resolving a call for service based on the existing skillsets of people working in the service or department, looking thru the lens of equality and equitably, as well as the report “Transforming Policing and Community Safety in British Columbia.”
      6. The ability to reduce repeated calls for service caused by a single person.
    2. If there isn’t a “best fit” department or service, identify:
      1. What skillsets are missing and must be implemented into a department or service to be able to respond to the call for service effectively; or,
      2. If a new department, service, program, or partnership is required to provide a “best fit” to respond to a call for service, identify why a department, service, program or partnership is needed and what skillsets are required.
  4. Develop a phase staffing plan to address the calls for service assessed in section 3.
  5. Evaluate for the top ten calls for service based on volume, the upstream reasons causing these calls for service.
  6. Develop an action plan for the City, either directly or by working directly with partners, to reduce calls for service identified in section 5.

THAT, if Council approves the resources to convene a Citizens’ Assembly, Staff work with the Citizens’ Assembly to prepare a report of recommendations and outcomes desired, based on the work plan outlined in this motion, for Council to consider.

THAT, if Council approves the resources to convene a Citizens’ Assembly, that Staff:

  1. Develop metrics to monitor the implementation of the Assembly’s recommendations and outcomes desired.
  2. Develop a process to create a feedback loop to facilitate updating the actions of the City to ensure the spirit of the Assembly’s recommended actions and outcomes are being met.
  3. Update Council at least biannually on items i. and ii.

More information

https://pub-langleycity.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=10926
https://langleycity.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/Finance/Financial%20Plans/Amended%20Bylaw%203194%202022%20Financial%20Plan-updated.pdf https://web.archive.org/web/20050403214113/http://www.city.langley.bc.ca/serv/tax.htm
https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/42nd-parliament/3rd-session/rpa/SC-RPA-Report_42-3_2022-04-28.pdf