Langley City Election 2018 - October 20th

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October 15, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Old Yale Road Seniors District

Last night was the last council meeting before the general election. The final meeting of the current council will be on October 29th, with the new council’s first meeting being on November 5th. There were several bylaws and development applications that were adopted on Monday which I will cover over the remainder of the week. Today, I will focus on the public hearing and its related matters.

A motion was put forward at the beginning of the public hearing to move it to a date after the election. The motion did not pass, and the public hearing commenced.

Model of proposed development along Old Yale Road. Select image to enlarge.

As I posted about earlier, council gave first and second reading on September 17th for an “Old Yale Road Seniors District” Official Community Plan amendment, and a rezoning bylaw to accommodate two buildings. One building is proposed to contain 28 long-term care units and 169 assisted living units. The other building will contain 95 independent living, seniors-oriented housing units.

At the public hearing, there were several concerns expressed by the public around the protection of the riparian area around Murray Creek. Riparian areas are critical for preserving fish and other wildlife, and both Langley City’s Official Community Plan and provincial government regulations do not permit development within 30 metres of the high-water level of a class “A” watercourse unless a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) determines overwise based on provincial laws and regulations. In the case of Murray Creek, the QEP determined that development could occur within 15.8 metres of the high-water level of Murray Creek.

Langley City also has designated environment sensitive areas where development is not permitted to occur. The proposed development is not within any environmentally sensitive area.

Map of Environmentally Sensitive Areas in Langley City. Select map to enlarge.

Development cannot occur in the red area due to it being an Environmentally Sensitive Area and riparian areas. Select map to enlarge.

There were also members of the public who were concerned that the proposed building would get flooded or would cause flooding in other areas of the City. As the proposed development is within the 1 in 200-year floodplain boundary, it will need to comply with the City’s Floodplain Elevation Bylaw. I asked if the proposed project would increase the flooding risk due to its proximity to the floodplain, and was told no.

Light blue is the 1 in 200 year flood area. Select map to enlarge.

Two residents were concerned about privacy as the proposed buildings are near existing single-family housing. Based on feedback from earlier developer-led open houses, units were removed from areas where they might overlook neighbouring houses.

Triple A Seniors Housing requested that 19 independent living units be subsidized for low-income seniors. It is my understanding that there will be no subsidized independent living units as part of this project. I asked earlier in the public hearing about how this project fits in with our recently adopted “Nexus of Community” strategy which calls for policies to be developed to support affordable housing. I was told that it didn’t as this OCP update started before the adoption of the strategy.

The proponent noted that Fraser Health will be subsidizing some of the long-term care and assisted living units though I did not get a number.

As part of the Official Community Plan amendment, feedback was requested from the Township of Langley, Agricultural Land Commission, Metro Vancouver, Kwantlen First Nation, the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, TransLink, and Newlands Golf & Country Club. We received feedback from the Township of Langley, Agricultural Land Commission, and TransLink.

As the proposed project is within the region’s urban containment boundary, it does not require the approval of the regional district.

The Agricultural Land Commission did recommend that the proposed buildings be setback 30 metres from the ALR boundary as outlined in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Guide to Edge Planning. The yet to be adopted amendment to the Official Community Plan for the “Old Yale Road Seniors District” requires a development permit to be approved by council before any construction can start. One of the development permit requirements is to “respect existing agricultural land uses to the east.” I stated at the meeting that I would not support issuing a development permit unless the 30-metre setback recommendation is followed.

As part of the development, the proponent will also have to upgrade Old Yale Road to a local road standard, complete with curbs, gutters, drainage, sidewalks, and street lights.

Both the third reading of the Official Community Plan update and the Zoning Bylaw passed narrowly. I voted in favour of both. As is normal, a development permit was not issued last night.

Whether to give final reading of the Official Community Plan update and Zoning Bylaw, and issue a development permit, will be handled by the new council. Due to the many requirements of the projects, it could be several months before final reading as there are many requirements that the proponent must address.

On an aside, Langley City’s current Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw are essentially silent when it comes to affordability policies. This is why it is critical to get to work on completely updating these two key documents as noted in “Nexus of Community.” It is extremely difficult to address affordable housing and transportation on a site-specific bases.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Protecting green space from urban development in Metro Vancouver

Earlier this month, I posted about the changes in regional land-use designations and the impact of development on green space. Municipalities in Metro Vancouver must ensure that local land-use designations (zoning) are in line with regional land-use designations.

Changes in Regional Land-Use Designations, 2011-2018. Select charts to enlarge.

The data shows that over the last 7 years, the region has essentially preserved green space in Metro Vancouver. Green space includes agricultural, rural, and conversation & recreation land-uses.

One of the primary features of our regional growth strategy is the urban containment boundary. Almost all urban development is supposed to occur within that boundary. The following map shows the remaining “greenfield” land within the urban containment boundary that is open for development, plus how much of this “greenfield” land has been developed over the last five year.

Map of remaining “General Urban” land in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

In Metro Vancouver’s case, most of the “greenfield” land is former suburban land. Between this “greenfield” land, and redevelopment within regional town centres and transit corridors, there is a generation of land available for urban development that will not require us to give up our food lands and conservation areas.

Our region is not perfect. For example, within the urban containment boundary there are sensitive ecosystems that are at risk. An example of a sensitive ecosystem would be the Nicomekl Floodplain. There is still work that needs to be done at the regional and municipal levels to better manage these ecosystems from the externalities of urban development.

A local Langley City example would be our new rules around development near environmentally sensitive areas that was adopted last year.

While Metro Vancouver and its municipalities have done a relatively good job of containing urban development, there is still some development that occurs in agricultural areas. The provincial government is reviewing the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) with the goal of strengthening the preservation of food land. I am looking forward to seeing the recommendations and an implementation plan from this review.

With our regional growth strategy and ALR strengthened, I am confident that we can protect our green space for generations to come.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Langley City Council Candidate Videos

One of the questions that I’ve been getting regularly over the last few weeks from people is where can they find information about who is running in the Langley City civic election. With general voting day on October 20th, many people are making their final decisions about who they will support.

Langley City itself has posted candidate profiles. The Langley Times and Langley Advance newspapers also have information about candidates available online. The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce recently posted videos where they asked candidates about affordable housing, transportation, and business.

You can find a link to all other candidate videos on the Chamber’s website.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This year 681 young people experienced homelessness in Metro Vancouver, 16 in Langley.

In Canada, there are many individual factors and societal factors that lead people to experiencing homelessness. Federal, provincial, and local governments need to work together to reduce the pathways that lead to homelessness, and increase the pathways out of homelessness. While this should be done for people of all ages, I believe that extra attention should be given to reducing the number of young people (up to age 24) who experience homelessness.

Regional Homelessness Conceptual Framework: A Mental Model. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

Education is key to providing opportunity for people. If you do not have stable housing or food, your ability to learn in significantly diminished. This could lead to a lifetime of experiencing homelessness.

The Metro Vancouver Community Entity, a partnership between Metro Vancouver and the federal government, recently released the 2018 Youth Homeless Count. 681 people up to the age of 24 were identified as being homeless. In Langley City and Township, 16 young people were identified as experiencing homelessness. The report authors note that this is an underestimation as there are many people who are “couch-surfing”, staying with friends or strangers, that are not connected with youth support service agencies, and therefore cannot be counted.

Unaccompanied Youth and Accompanied Children by Municipal Sub-Region. Select map to enlarge.

There are certain people groups that are over-represented in the youth homelessness population. 42% of people identified themselves as Indigenous. 26% of people identified themselves as LGBTQ2S. Extra attention is needed to reduce the number of Indigenous and LGBTQ2S youth from experiencing homelessness.

More than half of young people experienced homelessness for the first time because of a family conflict. I’ve personally heard too many stories about a young person being kicked out of their house because they came out to their parents.

Mental health and substance addiction were also leading causes for young people to become homeless for the first time. There are gaps in the healthcare system that need to be closed to help young people and their family get support and treatment services.

Ending youth homelessness should be a priority for all governments. In Langley, Encompass Support Services Society recently opened the Youth Hub. One of the services of that facility is to provide housing for young people. While this is a good start, I believe that more beds and support services will be required throughout Langley.

Providing stable housing, meals, and support is not only the morally right thing to do, it is the fiscally prudent thing to do. When someone is homelessness, it costs society at least $66,000 per year. Providing housing and supportive services costs up to $18,000 per year. Providing affordable housing cost up to $8,000 year. Preventing a lifetime of homelessness for a young person means giving them a lifetime of opportunity. It also saves millions of dollars per person in societal costs.