Thursday, September 21, 2023

Langley City Council Meets with Provincial Ministers to Raise Community Concerns and Opportunities

This is a slide from one of the sessions at the UBCM conference this week.

Langley City Council is at the Union of BC Municipalities Conference in Downtown Vancouver this week. This annual conference is an opportunity for local government elected representatives to get together to learn about the challenges we are all facing and potential solutions. It is also a time to have informal conversations and debate resolutions with other elected representatives across BC. Critically, it is also an opportunity to meet with provincial cabinet ministers to bring local concerns and requests forward.

Langley City Council has or will be meeting with six ministers throughout this year's conference.

Our first meeting was with the Minister of Finance, Katrine Conroy. We advocated for the province to split the current single residential property tax class into a detached and attached residential property tax class. This change would allow for more consistency when we annually adjust property tax. You can read more about why this matters in a previous blog post. This call to create two residential property tax classes was endorsed by the Lower Mainland Local Government Association membership earlier this year and the Union of BC Municipalities memberships yesterday.

We met with the Minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon, to advocate for a BC-wide tenant protection and compensation policy for when housing is redeveloped. These policies are done piecemeal by municipalities today, and every municipality takes a different approach. We also asked the minister to talk with his federal counterpart to reform the CMHC RCFI program to encourage more affordable housing.

Our third meeting was with Rachna Singh, the Minister of Education and Child Care. We asked her to consider building and expanding schools in Langley City in preparation for the arrival of SkyTrain.

We will meet with the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, this morning. We will ask for Fire Rescue Services to be better integrated into the pre-hospital care system and for the province to compensate local governments for the medical calls our Fire Rescue Services attend.

We will also be meeting with Minister Lana Popham today. As the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sports, we will ask her to support our plan to build a performing arts centre in Downtown Langley.

Finally, we will meet with the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Framworth tomorrow about the future of the Langley RCMP detachment.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

September 11 Council Notes: Banners, Bus Rapid Transit, Asset Management

Langley City's September 11th Regular Council meeting started with an award presentation to Kurtis Stevenson as his design was selected for this fall's streetlight banners.

Langley City initiated a call for artists back in the spring to design a banner that reflects our community in the fall.

Stevenson recently graduated from The Wilson School of Design at KPU. Besides an honorarium, he was also given two banners with his design. If you head to Downtown Langley, you can see his banners in the wild.

New street banner in Downtown Langley. Select the image to enlarge.

As I posted, Bus Rapid Transit is the future of getting people around our region. Bus Rapid Transit will allow more people in our region to access fast, affordable, frequent transit service that doesn't get stuck in traffic. The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation and TransLink staff are currently working on shortlisting the first few Bus Rapid Transit routes that will go forward. They are looking for municipalities willing to support Bus Rapid Transit, including a commitment to reallocate road space to accommodate dedicated bus lanes, support transit-oriented development, and work with TransLink staff to get this transit service running as fast as possible.

98 B-Line Bus Rapid Transit on No. 3 Road in Richmond. Image Source: Busologist

TransLink and the Mayors' Council want this early support because they ran into bumps with the previous rollout of RapidBus, including having to cancel a section of RapidBus in West Vancouver as there wasn't municipal support at the time.

Langley City Council unanimously endorsed Bus Rapid Transit along 200th Street, going through the future 203rd Street/Industrial Avenue SkyTrain Station and transit exchange.

Langley City Council approved updating our Living Wage Policy with some housekeeping items, including increasing the threshold where it would apply to contractors and service providers from $50,000 to $250,000. Council also asked City staff to review creating an updated Living Wage/Fair Wage program for future years.

Council also approved City staff applying for a $25,000 grant from UBCM to develop an Asset Management Plan and Levels of Service Framework. This framework would help optimize how Langley City's cost effectively maintains assets such as roads to maximize their life and lower costs. If we are successful with this grant, the City will contribute $48,000 for a total project value of $73,000.

CKF is one of the largest employers in Langley City, providing over 350 well-paying union jobs. At their request, Council approved sending a letter of support for the proposed expansion of their production facility in Langley City. They are applying to the provincial and federal governments to support their expansion plans financially.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Save Our HandyDART Virtual Townhall - September 20th

HandyDART Buses. Source: Mike W.

I received a flier about a virtual town hall for HandyDART services last week. I wanted to pass on this information as I know that HandyDART service is a critical part of our transportation network in Langley City.

Are you concerned about Translink’s increasing use of taxis to perform HandyDART trips? Are you worried about the service’s lack of public accountability?
Join our Save Our HandyDART! Virtual Townhall

DATE: Wednesday, September 20th
TIME: 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM PDT
LOCATION: Online, via Zoom
CART caption and ASL interpretation will be available.

Heather McCain, the Live Educate Transform Society founder, will be hosting the virtual townhall.

The Save Our HandyDART coalition is hosting this event, which includes accessibility advocates, seniors advocates, and the labour movement.

For more information about HandyDART service today, please read my overview of the report “Access for Everyone? Publicly Operated HandyDART In Metro Vancouver” or download the whole report.

Monday, September 18, 2023

All Aboard for Heritage Railway Signs in Langley City

A few years ago, Langley City resident Bruce Downing had an idea to place heritage markers on Grade Crescent to recognize the history of that road as the original railbed for the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway.

A picture of Langley Prairie’s (Langley City) B.C. Electric Railway "new" station opened July 1928. It was demolished circa 1955. The railway tracks were removed in 1970. Select the image to enlarge.

Mr. Downing presented this idea to the City, but we didn't have a heritage committee then, so the City upgraded the mandate of our Arts, Culture, & Recreation Committee to the Arts, Culture, Recreation & Heritage Committee.

With the additional help of Henry Ewert and Graham MacDonell, Mr. Downing and the committee worked on what has now turned into the Heritage Railway Project.

An example of the heritage railway signs.

Last Monday, Langley City Council approved installing signs at six locations in our community as shown on the following map.

A map showing the locations where the City will install the heritage railway signs. Select the map to enlarge.

The following shows an example of the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway wording.

Grade Crescent is aptly named as it is laid on the original “grade” of the Vancouver, Victoria, and Eastern Railway (V.V.& E.) line.
Chartered in 1897, this railway operated between the Lower Mainland and B.C.’s Kootenay-Boundary region. The V.V.& E. operated through Langley from 1908 to 1933. It was a passenger and freight line with an emphasis on long-distance rather than local service and it often transported logs to sawmills. The railway had a limited impact within Langley Prairie as there were no stations located here. The closest V.V.& E. stations were Cloverdale Station and Lincoln Station (Benz Crescent, Township of Langley). The arrival of the BC Electric Railway in 1910 had a more profound impact on Langley Prairie which became Langley City in 1955.
Parts of the V.V.& E. right-of-way were purchased for municipal roads in 1934 at a cost of $240. The following roads follow the original railbed. (with some minor realignments).
These include:
  • Colebrook Road / 50 Avenue (between 192 Street and 200 Street)
  • Grade Crescent
  • 47 Avenue east of 208 Street
There was also a spur line on Grade Crescent near 208 Street which was used for housing logs on railcars that supplied the adjacent Federal Lumber Company (1918 – 1924)

The next shows an example of one of the texts for the British Columbia Electric Railway Interurban sign, which the City will install by Brydon Lagoon.

Langley City was initially connected to the rest of the region by two railways. They were the B.C. Electric Railway and the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway (V.V. & E.). These railways carried both passengers and freight. This path follows the old rail bed of the B.C. Electric Railway.
It operated its passenger interurban service in Langley between 1910 and 1950. The railway helped fuel the growth of Langley City. It was hydroelectric-powered and provided transportation from Vancouver, all the way to Chilliwack by October 1910.
The railway ran to the west on the south side of Brydon Lagoon to 192 Street where Anderson Station stood. To the east, the railway followed what is now Baldi Creek Trail. It ran to Hunter Station at what is now the intersection of 200 Street and Michaud Crescent. From Hunter Station, it followed the north side of Michaud Crescent to Langley Prairie Station. That station is now the location of Timms Community Centre. Leaving Langley Prairie Station the tracks headed northeast along Glover Road.
Slowly, with better roads and an increase in cars and trucks, the railway became uneconomical. The ending of service on September 30, 1950, was marked by a large ceremony attended by politicians from the communities served by the railway. The tracks were removed in the early 1980s and this walking path was established.

The signs will have QR codes directing people to a web page with more historical information. If you would like to learn more about the historic railways in Langley City, please read NEIGHBOURHOOD HISTORY - THE RAILWAYS.