Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Public Hearing: Apartment Project and Industrial Project

Last night, Langley City Council hosted a public hearing for two rezoning bylaws and an Official Community Plan amendment. One rezoning bylaw would enable a 2-building, 59,858 sq. ft industrial-office development at the corner of 56th Avenue and 200th Street.

Rendering of proposed project at 19959, 19971, & 19985 56 Avenue; 5643 & 5647 200 Street.

This proposed project is in an area where the current and future Official Community Plan, plus the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy designate for industrial uses.

Langley City is unique in that we allowed live/work units within our industrial areas. For example, someone could live above their workshop. Several residents who lived in the live/work building at 5678 199 Street expressed concern about added traffic to 199 Street, the lane design, the types of uses permitted within the proposed project, and crime prevention.

Staff explained they are completing a traffic study for 199 Street, and if required, the City would install a traffic light at 199 Street at 56 Avenue. Staff also noted that this project would not result in lane access to 5678 199 Street and further noted the project underwent a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design audit. The proponent of the project accepted all the recommendations of the audit.

As for permitted uses, City staff explained that the land-uses are almost identical to the uses allowed for 5678 199 Street, which is light industrial. These land-uses mean there should be no loud noises 24/7 or noxious fumes.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which is composed of residents of Langely City, an accessibility representative, architects and landscape architects, made the following recommendations about the project, which the proponent accepted:

  • Create more pedestrian connections between buildings and sidewalks
  • Create a plaza area to the west side of the project
  • Add a public art piece at corner plaza
  • Add more landscaping in the parking areas, along building faces, and on the 3rd-floor patio

The second proposed project at the public hearing was for a 6-storey, 113-unit apartment building at Michaud Crescent and 200th Street. For the proposed rezoning, Council received one piece of written feedback from a resident who lives in a four-storey apartment in the area concerned about the 6-storey height of the proposed building. At the public hearing, one resident expressed concern that the proposed building is to be a rental project and was also concerned about on-street parking.

Rendering of proposed project at 5370 & 5380 200 Street; 5371 & 5381 200A Street; 20010 & 20020 Michaud Crescent; 20031 53B Avenue.

Another resident expressed concern about on-street parking and noted safety concerns for pedestrians that cross Michaud Crescent at 200th Street due to the high-speed right turn lane. Staff noted that the City would remove the high-speed right turn lane if the proposed apartment project proceeds.

The Advisory Design Panel made the following recommendations:

  • Utilize alternate materials for the planters
  • Improve interface and path between dog run and outdoor kitchen
  • Update trellis to align with the form and character of building façade, and consider designing the trellis to provide cover for the outdoor kitchen
  • Show building footprint in context with other buildings in the drawing package
  • Add additional landscaping on the visitor parking deck and the site
  • Utilize alternate materials to the proposed synthetic turf
  • Create a unique façade variation at the corner of 200th and Michaud

The project’s proponent accepted most of the Design Panel’s recommendations except for the planters, which they changed to a mix of wooden and concrete planters. The proponent also reduced but did not eliminate the use of synthetic turf in the project.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Why does Langley City look the way it does? Why was that project approved? Is there a plan?

It may seem that city plans, public projects such as road construction, and private development happen uncoordinated and haphazardly. This is not the case. A series of interconnected policies at the provincial, regional, and local levels guide Langley City Council and staff's actions. I explain more in this video.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Willowbrook Shopping Centre – A Tale of Two Cities

Willowbrook Shopping Centre

One of the quirky things from an urban planning perspective in Langley is the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, which is about three-quarters in the Township of Langley and one-quarter in Langley City. Last weekend, I was looking at the renovation plan for the north side of the mall, which reminded me of this fact. The following map shows the municipal border within the mall.

Site plan of Willowbrook Shopping Centre, including pedestrian circulation and municipal border. Select image to enlarge.

Half of some shops are in the Township and half in the City, including The Bay. It would be interesting if there were “Welcome to Langley City” signs within the mall itself.

What I find interesting is the design of the parking lot. There is no protected pedestrian walking area in the parking lot in the Township while there is in the parking lot within Langley City. It shows one of the subtle but important differences in development guidelines between the Township and the City.

With Langley City’s new proposed Official Community Plan, creating safe pedestrian spaces in parking lots will be further enhanced. As per the proposed Official Community Plan, “clearly defined and well lit pedestrian connections shall be provided between site functions (buildings, parking, loading, pedestrian spaces) and to connection points outside the site (e.g. sidewalks and bus stops).”

For surface parking lots, they “should be broken up into smaller parking areas with dedicated pedestrian pathways buffered by significant landscaping for the safe movement of pedestrians to and from on-site destinations and public sidewalks. A minimum of one tree is required for every six parking spaces.”

While the new Official Community Plan places greater emphasis on walking, cycling, and transit than in the past, Langely City has a history of creating safer pedestrian spaces.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

October 4 Council Notes: Virtual Meetings and New Bylaw Violation Ticket Process

One of the many things that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that you don’t need to meet in person to have a productive council or committee meeting. The province gave local governments the ability to hold “electronic meetings,” for example, via Zoom, permanently. Local governments do need to update their Council Procedure Bylaw to unlock this feature.

I like meeting remotely in most cases. You don’t need to go to a council chamber for most things. Meeting in real life is required for workshops and planning sessions when you need to brainstorm and vision with others.

For members of the public, more people can attend public hearings and other council meetings. For example, people don’t need to find childcare to participate in a long council meeting. We asked members of the Advisory Design Panel if they wanted their committee meetings held in-person or virtually. 100% of the committee wanted to continue meeting virtually.

Given the strong support for virtual meetings, Council gave first, second, and third reading to an amended Council Procedure Bylaw, which will allow meetings to be held entirely virtually, hybrid in-person and virtually, or fully in person. The amended bylaw also contains other housekeeping items.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to a series of bylaws that enable a new adjudication process for people who violate City bylaws. The new process will allow people to dispute a bylaw violation notice up to 14 days after being issued a violation notice. The process ends with an independent adjudicator. Today, people would have to go through a complex process that culminates in the court system. The City will maintain the “Municipal Ticket Information” process for serious bylaw violations and use the new adjudication process for matters like parking tickets.

Langley City Council gave final reading to the amended Watercourse Protection Bylaw to adjust the allowable pH levels for water discharged into a watercourse to aligned with the Metro Vancouver Regional District drinking water standard of 6.5 to 9.0.