Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sensitive ecosystem loss in Metro Vancouver and the South of Fraser

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has been tracking the loss of sensitive ecosystems and modified ecosystems since 2013. Last summer, the district released region-wide loss statistics which showed that 426 hectares of mature forests, wetlands, and riparian riverbank areas in the Metro Vancouver core had been lost between 2013 and 2018. I posted about this last summer where I noted that this loss was three times the size of all parkland in Langley City! The regional district recently released more detailed analysis and a sub-regional breakdown of sensitive and modified ecosystem loss in that time period.

Two critically sensitive ecosystem types in Metro Vancouver are wetlands and riparian riverbank areas. 120 hectares of our wetlands were lost, and 96 hectares of riparian areas were lost even with seemingly strict regulations. The follow charts shown the reasons for the loss.

Causes of loss for wetland ecosystems in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

Causes of loss for riparian ecosystems in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

One of the things that surprised me was the amount of loss caused by our transportation and communication networks.

While only 7% of all sensitive or modified ecosystems in Metro Vancouver are in the South of Fraser, 33% of the loss of these ecosystems in our region occurred in the South of Fraser which includes Surrey, White Rock, and Langley. 19% of all land in the South of Fraser is considered sensitive or modified ecosystem.

Proportion of regional sensitive or modified ecosystems found within the South of Fraser. Select chart to enlarge.

Proportion of regional loss that occurred within the South of Fraser sub-region. Select chart to enlarge.

The top 3 types of sensitive or modified ecosystems in the South of Fraser are:

  1. Riparian (Sensitive): 4,735 ha
  2. Young Forest (Modified): 2,164 ha
  3. Wetland (Sensitive): 1,952 ha

568 hectares of sensitive or modified ecosystems were lost in the South of Fraser between 2013 and 2018. Of that loss, about 54 hectares was mature forest which is considered a sensitive ecosystem. Modified ecosystem loss included young forests (184 hectares) and old fields (270 hectares).

The top causes of the loss of these ecosystems in the South of Fraser were agriculture, clearing, mowing, and residential development.

In Langley City, we recently strengthen our regulations around development near environmentally sensitive areas. It may be time for other municipalities and the provincial government to do the same to prevent further loss of sensitive ecosystems in Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Overcrowded transit routes in the South of Fraser to see increased service

TransLink has had record-level increases in transit ridership over the last few years. Transit ridership increased a massive 15.6% in the South of Fraser between 2017 and 2018; this year is looking to be similar. All this growth in ridership means that some transit routes are becoming overcrowded. While overcrowding is something that has been occurring on some routes for some time, this recent ridership spike has been pushing more routes to their limits.

When buses become overcrowded, the speed of bus service slows down as the amount of time that buses must dwell at stops to let people on and off the bus increases.

TransLink is working on addressing overcrowding on some routes. Last month, they started increasing bus service which will continue into the fall of this year as shown on the following table:

Sub-Region April (6,500 ASH*) June (21,500 ASH*) September (7,600 ASH*)
Burnaby/New West 116 101, 104, 123, 144 112, 116
North Shore 240, 250 240 240, 246
Richmond 301 301, 403, 430 301
South of Fraser 312, 319, 321, 323, 351, 640 319, 323, 335, 340, 341, 345, 640 321, 342
Vancouver/UBC 84 5, 6, 25, 33, 41, 95, 100, N19 5, 6, 7, 49, 99, N17

*Additional Service Hours

About a third of the routes that will see addition service hours are in the South of Fraser. The largest increase in service hours this year will occur in the summer.

TransLink fleet expansion by the numbers for 2019/20. Select image to view.

TransLink is expecting delivery of 32 double-decker buses this summer to go onto South of Fraser Highway routes such as the 555. Double-decker buses will increase capacity and reduce overcrowding. 47 new articulated buses are expected to arrive to support B-Line routes, and hopefully the new 503 down Fraser Highway.

In addition, TransLink has ordered 56 SkyTrain cars for the Expo and Millennium Lines, plus 24 Canada Line Cars.

20 of the 56 Expo/Millennium Line cars have already arrived, and it is expected that the remained will be here by March 2020. Between September 2019 and 2020, service frequency will increase on the Expo and Millennium Lines.

The new Canada Line cars are expected to arrive during the second half of this year, and Canada Line service frequency is expected to increase starting in 2020.

With the cost of fuel at record levels, it is more important than ever to give people affordable transportation options that get people where they need to go in an efficient manner.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2019 Maps of Civic and Parks Projects in Langley City

Over the last few weeks, Langley City staff and council have been hosting a series of meetings in various neighbourhoods throughout the community. These annual #LangleyCityConnects meetings give residents a chance to connect directly with their local government to ask questions, provide feedback, and learn about what is going on in their community. These meetings are wrapped up for this year.

One of the more visible aspects of local government is the various projects that are being planned, are about to start, or are in progress in Langley City.

Over the last five or so years, Langley City has been in renewal mode when it comes to our infrastructure. This year is no different. The following maps show the status of various projects in the City during the 2019 construction season.

Map of projects in the Nicomekl and Douglas neighbourhoods. Select map to view. 

Map of project in the Alice Brown and Uplands neighbourhoods. Select map to view. 

Map of projects in the Simonds and Blacklock neighbourhoods. Select map to enlarge.

For more information, please visit the Engineering & Parks Project section of the Langley City website.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May 13, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Wire Theft, Project Updates, and More Voting Opportunities.

The Langley City council meeting on Monday night had a packed agenda. You can read about some of the development matters addressed in the post I wrote on Tuesday, and about council remuneration and other financial matters addressed in yesterday's post. Today will be my final post about that meeting.

Langley City council receiving an engineering update. Select image to enlarge.

Council received an update on some of the various projects happening in our community. Some highlights include the recent enhancements to Brydon Lagoon including a new fountain in the middle of the lagoon. The Fraser Highway One-Way sidewalks were recently pressure-washed, and look great. City crews also recently completed work on keeping our fire hydrants and sewer pump stations in a state of good repair. Work is also progressing well on the City Park renewal project.

An example of the damage caused by wire theft, plus repair. Select image to enlarge.

Wire theft continues to be a major issue in our community. If you see someone tampering with street lights or traffic lights, please call 911.

In the past, people who were members of the Langley Seniors Resources Society had been offered an additional advanced opportunity to vote at the society’s building on 51B Avenue for local government elections. This additional advanced voting opportunity was not available to all members of the public which caused some confusion during the last election. Council approved staff to investigate making the Langley Seniors Resources Society location an additional advanced voting opportunity for all people eligible to vote, and to explore extending the number of hours available to vote at this location for the next local government election.

Council received a delegation to add on-street parking in front of the building located at 19897 56 Avenue on April 8th. At that time, council referred the matter to staff for a report. City staff recommended that the current travel lanes on 56 Avenue be maintained along this major corridor “in order to keep the traffic moving efficiently and allowing space for future protected bike lanes.” Council supported the recommendations in the staff report, and as such, there will be no on-street parking at this location. As a note, one of council’s priorities is to develop a comprehensive parking management plan for our whole community.

Langley City’s Fire Rescue Service uses the secure radio network from E-Comm which is best known for providing 911 services for most of BC. As such, the City is entitled to sit on the E-Comm board. Council approved appointing Councillor Gayle Martin to the E-Comm Board for a one year term beginning in 2019.

Council also approved Jayde Marno to be appointed to the City’s Environmental Task Group.

Mayor van den Broek provided an update on her trip to Ottawa with other members of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation where they lobbied members of all federal political parties for increased transit funding for our region.

The Mayor also recognized Langley City Firefighter Colby Dodd who participated in the New York City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Fundraiser.