Wednesday, June 16, 2021

June 14 Council Notes: $7.5 million loan, alcohol in parks pilot project, and “light it up” policy approved

As I posted earlier this year, Langley City council preliminarily approved a $7.5 million loan to purchase property to support the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension and the Nexus of Community vision. This loan would be paid back over 15 years by a one-time 1.93% tax increase applied this year. For a loan to be approved, the provincial government requires that municipalities either hold a referendum or go through an Alternative Approval Process.

In an Alternative Approval Process, following strict provincial regulations, a municipality advertises how people who are eligible electors can register their opposition to the loan. In Langley City, people could register their objection in-person at City Hall, by mail, email, and even fax. Of the estimated 21,374 eligible electors in Langley City, only 19 registered their objection to the loan, well below the 10% threshold, which would have caused Council to cancel the loan or go to a referendum to approve the loan.

As a result of the Alternative Approval Process, Langely City council approved the $7.5 million loan on Monday afternoon.

After discussing whether to scale back the date for the “Consumption of Liquor at Parks and Public Facilities” pilot project to the end of August, Council ultimately approved the original pilot dates and bylaw. Not all members of Council were in support of the pilot program. The pilot program will run from July 1st until September 30th on Fridays and Saturdays between 1 pm and 8 pm. The pilot program will take place in McBurney Plaza, select areas in Douglas Park, and the picnic shelters at City Park. For more information, please read a previous post I wrote.

Council also received a report from City staff about the current end-of-life electric vehicle charging stations in the Timm’s Community Centre underground parkade and Engineering Operations Centre. Council directed staff to “include a 2022 capital budget request to upgrade existing Level 2 stations at Timm’s underground parkade and Engineering Operations at a capital budget of $17,000 and operating budget of $850/yr.”

Council approved a new policy which will allow the stage at Douglas Park Spirit Square to display different coloured lights in response to requests that are not-for-profit, community-orientated and support either:

  • an event or cause of national or international significance
  • a local festival or event that positively impacts local community spirit
  • a local, national or international awareness issue that builds community

The City will deny requests that “espouses racism, personal discrimination, violence or hatred” or “promote a point of view or organization of a political, ethical, or religious nature or directly encourage, or exhibit obvious indifference to unlawful behaviour.”

Council also gave final reading to several housekeeping bylaws and the Municipal Ticket Information System Amendment Bylaw, which will result in increased fines for some bylaw violations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Council tenders $2.9 million contract to improve Glover Road, including protected bike lanes

With the support of TransLink funding, Langley City Council approved tendering a $2,910,425 (excluding GST) contract to Jack Cewe Construction Ltd. for safer, protected bike lanes between Fraser Highway and Collection Drive along Glover Road.

This project will have bike lanes similar to 203rd Street between Fraser Highway and Eastleigh Crescent with improvements to curb letdowns for people cycling.

Streetmix view between Fraser Highway and Logan. Select image to enlarge.

Aerial plan view between Fraser Highway and Logan. Select image to enlarge.

Streetmix view between Logan and Eastleigh. Select image to enlarge.

Aerial plan view between Logan and Eastleigh. Select image to enlarge.

Between Eastleigh Crescent and Collection Drive, the bike lanes will have a 1-metre planter buffer between general vehicle lanes and the bike lanes.

Streetmix view between Eastleigh and Collection. Select image to enlarge.

Aerial plan view between Eastleigh and Collection. Select image to enlarge.

The following is an example of planters in Seattle.

Planter along a bike lane in Seattle. Select image to enlarge.

The bike lanes will extend to KPU to provide a safer cycling route for people visiting the university campus. The bike lanes do not extend to the Langely Bypass as that section of Glover Road is owned and maintained by the provincial government.

In addition to the new safer bike lanes, water main renewal, storm sewer renewal, on-street transit measures, and other road rehabilitation work are part of the tender.

Once completed, there will be a gap in the safer bike route network between 203rd Street and Glover Road. I look forward to seeing a plan to connect these two cycling routes.

Monday, June 14, 2021

TransLink Transit Network “COVID-19 Snapshot:” Bus routes and South of Fraser ridership recovers more than other parts of Metro Vancouver

For several years, TransLink has released an annual transit network review that provides detailed ridership and cost information about all the agency’s routes. This year, TransLink provided a less-detailed “COVID-19 Snapshot” review of 2020.

As I posted recently, not all modes of transit recovered equally. Bus service recovered more than other modes.

Ridership by mode, early fall 2020. Source: TransLink

This recovery is not surprising as bus service is the workhorse of transit service in our region.

Of note, the 319 - Scott Road route moved from the eighth busiest route to the fourth busiest bus route between 2019 and 2020.

The R1 - King George Bouvard became the ninth busiest bus route in 2020.

In Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows the R3 Lougheed Highway, which TransLink introduced in January 2020, was still able to “generating new ridership demand in the sub-region in 2020.”

Ridership recovery by sub-region, early fall 2020. Source: TransLink

Bus service is the primary mode of transit for the South of Fraser, Maple Ridge, and Pitt Meadows. These areas are also home to essential businesses and workers, people who need to work out of the home. It is no surprise that transit ridership recovered more in these areas.

In areas with a more significant number of transit routes that service post-secondary institutions, which were doing remote learning for most of 2020, transit ridership was suppressed.

Another interesting observation was that transit ridership recovered more mid-day and on weekends than peak travel periods.

Weekday bus and SkyTrain (Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines) Compass boardings by time of day, early fall 2020 vs. early fall 2019. Source: TransLink

These changes in travel patterns highlight the importance of transit service beyond post-secondary/school trips and office commuter trips.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, I would not be surprised if transit service has smaller peak travel periods. It will be interesting to see how TransLink adapts, including impacts on revenue and ability to provide a robust, frequent transit network.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Langley City Council supports 101-unit Birch Building affordable seniors rental housing project by reducing fees by $151,500

Entrance to Langley Lions Housing Society site. Select image to enlarge.

In BC, municipalities can levy development cost charges on new development projects to expand or build new infrastructure.

The provincial government has strict regulations for development cost charges. A municipality must go through a complex bylaw creation process that lists specific road, sewage, water, drainage, and parkland projects. Municipalities must prove that any project for which development cost charges are applied is required as a direct result of development. There is a 116-page guide on creating development cost charge bylaws, including complex calculations needed to “prove” the impact of development on a community. The provinical government must approve development cost charge bylaws.

Development cost charge regulations can be too restrictive. For example, with parkland projects, municipalities can use development cost charges for building some types of sports fields, swings, and slides, but not dugouts, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, sports tracks, park lighting, or parking lots. This example shows the overly restrictive nature of development cost charges.

As a result, municipalities negotiate developer-paid community amenity contributions during the rezoning process to help pay for projects required due to development, but are exempt from development cost charges. Examples include basketball courts and other park improvements, public art, affordable housing, and renewing roads, trails, sewers, and water mains.

Langely City uses both development cost charges and community amenity contributions.

The Langley Lions Housing Society provides affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities. They are in the process of building a new 101-unit Birch Building. They recently signed a housing agreement with Langely City to ensure that this building is mainly for seniors and remains affordable.

The Society requested that Langley City waive the $202,000 community amenity contribution for the Birch Building.

Langley City staff recommended that Council waive 75% of the community amenity contribution, which works out to $151,500. Constructing a housing agreement-secured, affordable, seniors-focused rental housing project is an amenity for our community. That being said, staff noted that “increased site density and a plan to allocate 20 percent of new units to non-seniors, it is also fair to anticipate that some increased demand for community amenities will be generated by new Langley Lions residents.”

The remaining $50,500 of community amenity contribution will support the new Birch Building residents’ additional amenities requirements.

Council supported staff’s recommendation and reduced the community amenity contribution for the Birch Building by 75%.