Monday, August 15, 2022

Surrey and Township of Langley refuse to adopt new regional growth strategy

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has 22 members, which includes Tsawwassen First Nation and 21 municipalities. One of the significant responsibilities of the Regional District is to create a regional growth strategy. The creation of a regional growth strategy is provincially mandated. All members of the Regional District, including Langley City, must follow the regional growth strategy.

Metro Vancouver has some unique challenges when it comes to land use. We are surrounded by mountains, the US border, and the ocean. We have the largest and busiest port in Canada, which means industrial land is at a premium. We have the most fertile farmland in BC, protected mainly by the Agricultural Land Reserve. We also have a growing economy and population, meaning we need to build more housing. People in our region also believe in protecting greenspace, which helps clean our air and water.

Because of this, it is no surprise that each successive regional growth strategy has become more prescriptive.

The happy path for adopting an updated regional growth strategy is for all Metro Vancouver Regional District members to willingly vote in favour of the new policy. Langley City Council voted to adopt the new regional growth strategy, Metro 2050, back in June. In fact, all members of the Regional District except for Surrey and the Township of Langley have adopted the new regional growth strategy.

In Surrey, Council wants to remove the Rural regional land-use designation, changing it to the General Urban regional land-use designation. Rural land in Metro Vancouver has very low-density residential, agricultural, smallscale commercial, smallscale industrial, or institutional uses that do not require the provision of urban services such as sewerage or transit. Surrey sees rural areas as a “land bank” for future development. The regional growth strategy explicitly states, “Rural lands are not intended as future urban development areas and generally will not have access to regional sewerage services.”

Map of land with the regional Rural land-use designation in Metro 2050. Select map to enlarge.

This Rural land-use designation existed in the previous Metro 2040 regional growth strategy, so Surrey Council must get Metro Vancouver Regional District Board approval to convert rural land to urban land even today.

Township of Langley Council and the Regional District have a long-standing dispute focusing on an area around Trinity Western University called the “University District.” The Township of Langley and property owners in the area want to exclude 152 hectares of land from the regional Agricultural land-use designation even though the Agricultural Land Commission has only allowed for the exclusion of 23.4 acres from the Agricultural Land Reserve. While Township of Langley Council has other concerns that I believe the Regional District and its members will be able to address, the biggest challenge will be removing agricultural land for urban use. The challenge is that the majority regional viewpoint is that agricultural land, even if not actively farmed, provides ecological service to the region. In the Township, there is a significant view that land that isn’t Class 1 or 2 agricultural lands should be converted to industrial or urban uses.

Township of Langley’s proposed land use, left. Metro 2050 land use, right. University District. Select map to enlarge.

With the upcoming local government elections, adopting the new regional growth strategy will likely be paused into the new year.

If Surrey, the Township of Langley, and Regional District cannot find a happy path forward, it will become messy and legal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Election Update: I need your help. Would you like to put up a lawn sign or go door-to-door with postcards?

Nathan at Douglas Park

It is hard to believe that it is only about two months until the October 15th general election for Langley City Mayor and Council.

I enjoyed chatting with the folks who attended my mayoral launch event a few weeks ago at Farm Country Brewing. People were interested in how we need to work together as a City Council with provincial and federal levels of government, and our community’s vibrant non-profit sector, to move forward with meaningful, positive change for our community. I continue to be interested in hearing your ideas and working together to find the best ways forward.

It is only by working together with others that we can address community safety concerns, create more affordable housing, get people experiencing homelessness into housing with wrap-around support and treatment, and continue to expand public transit options for people.

We must also work together on getting the basics right, like fixing potholes, keeping park washrooms clean, and fixing uneven sidewalks.

The election campaign starts in earnest after Labour Day.

Are you able to help out?
Would you like a lawn sign?
Are you able to hand out postcards in your neighbourhood?
Would you like to go door-to-door with me to get to know people in our community, the challenges they face, and solutions for our community?

If so, I invite you to sign-up to volunteer at https://forms.gle/m9ePWMeR7hHtFvQh8

Just as a mayor needs to work with others to get things done, I need your help for my mayoral campaign to be successful.

If you’d like to donate to the campaign, you can do so with your credit card at:

You can also write a cheque to:
Nathan Pachal Election Fund
16 – 19631 55A Ave
Langley, BC. V3A 0L5

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

SkyTrain is coming to Langley City. Why it matters for affordability.

My good friend Patrick Johnstone, a New Westminster City Councillor who is running for Mayor of New Westminster, and I talk about SkyTrian coming to Langley City.

We talk about the importance of building affordable rental housing near SkyTrain and the lessons Langley City can learn from New Westminster's effort to build affordable rental housing near SkyTrain. We also talk about how SkyTrian opens up more access to jobs for both Langley City and New Westminster residents.

Finally, we chat about how we can work together on the Mayors' Council and other regional boards if elected to Mayor in our respective communities to further the building of affordable transportation and housing in our region.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Overdose Awareness Month - Upcoming Community Event

Talking about overdose could save a life

August is Overdose Awareness Month. Because of the toxic unregulated drug supply in our province, people are still overdosing and dying in BC at record rates.

Unfortunately, more and more people know a friend or family member who has died or overdosed in our province.

There is a stigma associated with using unregulated drugs. This stigma means that people may not reach out to family, friends, and medicinal professionals out of fear of being judged as “one of those people.”

Many people use unregulated drugs recreationally, and there are ways to be safer. For example, you can get your drugs tested, including through the mail.

If you want to learn more about how to stop overdoses, please visit the BC government’s Stop Overdoses website, where you can also learn about reducing the stigma around unregulated drug use.

Community Event Poster

The Langley Overdose Response Community Action Team is hosting a community event at Douglas Park on Wednesday, August 31st starting at 6 pm. There will be a free BBQ, vigil, memorial walk, naloxone training, and other community resources. For more information, please visit the event’s Facebook page.