Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fraser Highway Express – Big Changes to Transit Start September 3rd

Thanks to the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision which is delivering a record-level of transit investments throughout Metro Vancouver, there will be some big improvements to transit along the Fraser Highway corridor.

Starting on September 3rd, there will be a significant enhancement to transit service along the Fraser Highway corridor from SkyTrain to Langley City (and onto Aldergrove).

Fraser Highway Express sign at Langley Centre Bus Loop.

The new Fraser Highway Express (503) is a limited stop service which is similar to TransLink’s new RapidBus network minus the fancy bus stops. Some bus trips will operate will longer articulated buses between SkyTrain and Langley City. Transit priority measures are also being rolled-out over the fall to keep the Fraser Highway Express on-time.

Fraser Highway Express Schedule:

Every 8 to 9 minutes during weekday peak periods
Every 10 to 15 minutes outside of peak periods
Every 30 minutes during the night

Fraser Highway Express Stops:

Surrey Central SkyTrain
King George SkyTrain
140th Street
148th Street
152nd Street
156th Street
160th Street
164th Street
168th Street
184th Street
188th Street
192nd Street
Willowbrook Mall
201a Street
Langley Centre

Map of service along Fraser Highway for 502 and Fraser Highway Express (503). Select map to enlarge.

The 503 becomes a local service route east of Langley Centre as it is today.

As a result, the 502 will see scheduling changes as well.

502 Schedule

Weekdays

Every 15 minutes in the early morning
Every 12 minutes during peak periods
Every 15 minutes outside of peak periods
Every 20 minutes during the night

Saturdays

Every 15 minutes 6am until midnight
Every 30 minutes from midnight until late

Sunday and Holidays

Every 15 minutes

In other Langley transit news, the 555 between Carvolth and Lougheed SkyTrain will started being served with double-decker buses starting in January 2020.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New housing needs report will help municipalities align zoning and better advocate for affordable housing for all

If you live in British Columbia, you are keenly aware that we are in a housing crisis. The housing crises might be the most keenly felt in Metro Vancouver where the price of housing whether apartment, townhouse, or detached house has skyrocketed. Even with the current damping of housing prices in our region, home ownership remaining unaffordable and unavailable for many people.

MLS Home Price Index Benchmark Prices for the Fraser Valley. Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

The rental market has also seen prices escalated due to extremely low vacancy rates caused by a limited supply of new purpose-built rental units.

While the federal and provincial governments are now just starting to catch up, there was a multi-decade long under-investment in subsidized housing, specialized housing for people with physical and mental disabilities, and housing for people dealing with addiction.

In order to advocate for housing that meets the needs of all British Columbians, local governments need to know where there are gaps in the types of housing required within their community.

To help municipalities and regional districts, the provincial government enacted legislation last year to require that local governments complete housing needs reports. The specifics of what must be included in these reports was released this spring. The provincial government also provided funding to help local governments complete these reports.

Local governments must complete their first housing needs reports by April 2022, then update the reports every five years.

At at least 50 unique points of data must be incorporated into a housing needs report.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District already has expertise collecting demographic and housing data on our region. As the regional district is a federation of local governments, the district will be preparing the approximately 50 unique points of data for each local government within Metro Vancouver. This will save both time and money when creating the 20+ housing needs reports for municipalities in our region.

Local governments like Langley City would use the data from the Metro Vancouver Regional District to prepare their own housing needs report. The report must include:

  • Statements about key areas of local need, including affordable housing, rental housing, special needs housing, seniors housing, family housing, and shelters and housing for people at risk of homelessness
  • The number of housing units required to meet current and anticipated housing needs for at least the next five years, by housing type. Housing ‘type’ is defined as dwelling size (number of bedrooms)
  • The number and percentage of households in core housing need and extreme core housing need

These reports are required to be publicly available, and their content needs to be consider whenever there is an update to an official community plan (zoning) or regional growth strategy.

These reports will provide the information local governments need to advocate to the provincial and federal governments for funding to build subsidized and special needs housing.

It will also help keep local governments honest about the link between zoning and housing required in their community. If the housing needs report says a community needs 1-bedroom rental units, but current zoning only permits single-family housing, hopefully local governments will update their zoning to encourage 1-bedroom rental units.

I look forward to the development and release of Langley City’s housing needs report.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Massey Crossing Project Update: 6-lanes with bus-only lanes and keeping the old tunnel shortlisted.

Back in 2015, the provincial government which was controller by the BC Liberals announced that they were going to build a $3.5 billion, 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. I was concerned about this project. It would have caused worse congestion on the Alex Fraser Bridge. There were serious geotechnical challenges which likely would have escalated the cost of this bridge project further. The project also did very little to improve public transit.

When the NDP came to power, they paused the project to complete a technical review of it. The review which was released early this year stated that a 10-lane bridge was not required, and that a more modest design could be used.

The province is now moving forward with a rebooted George Massey Crossing Project. Unlike the first version of this project, there appears to be more consultation with local governments. Items that are important to municipalities in our region include enhancing transit, cycling, and walking transportation options. The new Massey Project is putting a priority on these modes of travel.

The project has a “commitment to transit growth; including dedicated [bus] lanes.” It will also include a 3.5 to 4 metre cycling and walking path on both sides of the road.

Options that are currently being considered include:

  • A new 6-lane bridge or tunnel with the existing tunnel being converted to a 2-lanes road for use by transit or local traffic
  • A new 8-lane bridge or tunnel with dedicated transit lanes

Building more than 3-lanes in one direction would simply shift congestion from one area to another. For a perfect case study, just look at the Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1. The modelling for the new Massey Project also shows that more lanes simple cause more traffic. This is called induced demand, and is a well know impact of highway expansion projects.

Updated George Massey Crossing traffic forecasts for 2035 and 2050 based on 4-lane, 6-lane, and 8-lane configuration. Select chart to enlarge.

The next step for the project is to further study the short-listed options to come up with a preferred option.

The lower the lane count, the less a river crossing project costs to build. I’m hopeful that the province will choose a cost-effective option to make sure that funding is available for other transportation project and to reduce the impact of induced demand.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Volunteers needed for 2nd Annual Know Your Neighbour Campaign

When people know their neighbours, we end up with a safer community. People who have connections with other people in their building, complex, or neighbourhood, even if it is just saying a simple hello to the person who lives across the street or hall, helps create a sense of ownership.

When people have a sense of ownership in their community, they are more likely to notice when something or someone is out of place. This helps reduce negative activity. Beyond creating a stronger and safer community, knowing your neighbour also makes people happier. For a good book about this, read “The Happy City.

To give people tools to connect with their neighbours, including services available from the city to support these connections such as Block Watch and funding for neighbourhood BBQs, the 2nd Annual Know Your Neighbour Campaign is scheduled to hit the streets on September 28 and October 5.

Last year’s campaign was a big success. To make this year’s campaign even more successful, your help is needed.

The Know Your Neighbour Campaign is an initiative of Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. We need your help to go door-to-door for 2 hours either on Saturdays, September 28 and/or Saturday, October 5. The more people that volunteer, the more neighbourhoods we can visit.

I was handing out information in the Uplands neighbourhood during last year's campaign. Select image to enlarge.

I helped out last year; it was a lot of fun. To signup to volunteer, please contact Dave Selvage who is the Manager of Bylaw Enforcement at dselvage@langleycity.ca or 604-514-2822.