Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Townhouse and apartment projects moving forward, plus a new process for rezoning bylaws

Monday night was the first meeting of the new Langley City council where we got back into the business of city governance. With a new mayor and council, comes a new process for dealing with rezoning bylaws.

To rezone a parcel of land, four “readings” of a bylaw, plus a public hearing is required. Previously, first and second reading were given at one council meeting. At a subsequent council meeting, a public hearing and third reading was given. After all conditions from the city were met, a final reading would be heard for possible adoption of a rezoning bylaw.

The public hearing and third reading will now happen on two different nights. This will allow for feedback from the public and council to be addressed in more detail before debating the merits of a rezoning at third reading. I think that this is a good move.

There was a public hearing on Monday night about a proposed rezoning of the property located at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street to accommodate a 40-unit, four-storey apartment building. Of the 40 units, 8 units will include three bedrooms. This will help provide move affordable housing options for families.

Render of proposed apartment building at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street. View from 208th Street. Select image to enlarge.

Render of proposed apartment building at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street. View from Douglas Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

There were two residents who spoke at the public hearing, and one resident who submitted a written list of concerns. One concern expressed by the residents was the loss of trees along Douglas Crescent, east of 208th Street. The primary concern regarding the trees is that the people who live in the apartments across the street would lose privacy. They were also concerned that there would be a reduction of on-street parking. Finally, one resident was concerned about the construction period noise and parking for tradespeople.

Staff informed the residents at the public hearing that the trees will need to be removed to accommodate the underground parking. The proponent of the project noted that they will be incorporating new layered trees and shrubs to provide privacy. As far as on-street parking, staff noted that there will be no reduction in on-street parking.

Landscaping plan for proposed apartment building at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street. Select image to enlarge.

I asked the proponent of the project to bring their construction parking management plan for the third reading of the rezoning bylaw.

Later in the meeting, council gave final readings and issued development permits for the following projects:

Tomorrow, I’ll be continuing my update on the matters that were addressed last night.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mayors’ Council halts light rail along King George and 104th Avenue; moves forward with two-phase SkyTrain extension to Langley

As I posted about on Wednesday, important decisions were made at the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation inaugural meeting. I listened to this meeting which was live-streamed on Thursday morning.

One of the first orders of business was to choose a new chair and vice-chair for the Mayors’ Council. People who serve as the chair and vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council are also automatically appointed to the TransLink Board, so these positions are very important.

Mayor Jonathan Cote of New Westminster was nominated by other mayors to be the chair, and Mayor Jack Froese was nominated as the vice-chair. Both Mayor Cote and Froese are good choices for these positions.

New Westminster and Langley City are very similar as we are both compact urban centres. I know that Mayor Cote is also a strong supporter of building compact urban centres that are connected by high-quality transit. This is what we are working towards in Langley City with our Nexus Vision.

Mayor Froese will provide a strong voice for the South of Fraser. He is pragmatic, and I know that he will work to ensure that we will get rapid transit built to Langley.

Not surprising, the Mayors’ Council did vote to halt building light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue. Importantly, they also voted to keep moving forward with the 10-Year Regional Transportation Investments Vision with the exception of Surrey rapid transit.

After much debate, they also voted to proceed “immediately with planning, design and procurement readiness works for the SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project. And, concurrently, initiate a planning process to refresh the Surrey-Newton-Guildford rapid transit, consistent with the 10-Year Vision of building 27 km of rapid transit along both corridors.”

It was confirmed that SkyTrain along Fraser Highway will likely be built in two phases due to the increased cost of using this technology compared to conventional light rail. The first phase will likely terminate somewhere in Fleetwood. It will be extremely important that funding is approved to ensure that there is a phase two of SkyTrain that will run to Langley.

The Mayors’ Council also approved their work plan for 2019 which includes:

  • Securing all remaining funding from the federal and provincial governments to complete the 10-Year Vision, including SkyTrain to Langley
  • Getting funding to complete a SkyTrain extension to UBC
  • Continuing to moving forward with exploring mobility pricing

While not explicitly stated, moving forward quickly to complete the 10-Year Vision will also mean that the Mayors’ Council will need to approve increased regional revenue to pay for the vision. This will likely mean property tax and gas tax increases.

Over the next few months, more details will become available on the implementation of rapid transit in the South of Fraser, including the timing of implementing B-Line routes. Information will also become available on how to get SkyTrain to UBC.

As I stated last week, I believe that the Mayors’ Council has their work cut out for them. They will need to accelerate and find significant new funding to build transit in our region. I hope that this new Mayors’ Council will move quickly as people in our region are tired of waiting for transit service to be expanded.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Two Events to Get You into the Christmas Spirit

I know that it is still the middle of November, but the Christmas season is quickly approaching. There are a few events that are coming up that are sure to get you into the spirit of the season.

The first event is the 2018 Langley Children's Wish Breakfast.

Children's Wish Breakfast

Stop by Newlands Golf & Country Club on November 27th with a new unwrapped toy, and enjoy a free breakfast with live entertainment. I was at this event last year, and it really reminded me of the generous spirit of our community. The toys will be used by the Langley Christmas Bureau for families in need.

Date: November 27, 2018
Time: 6:30 am - 9:30 am
Location: Newlands Golf & Country Club, 21025 48 Ave, Langley, BC

If you would like to volunteer or have any questions, please contact wishbreakfast@newlandsgolf.com

The next event is the annual Magic of Christmas Day on Saturday, December 1st.

Langley City's Magic of Christmas

You can start the day with a kid-friendly Breakfast with Santa from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Douglas Recreation Centre. You must pre-register for this event online or by calling (604) 514-2940.

In the afternoon, you can drop by McBurney Plaza to take part in family-friendly activities from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm.

The annual Christmas Parade starts at 6:00 pm, so be sure to grab a spot along the Fraser Highway One-Way.

After the parade, the Christmas Tree at McBurney Plaza will be lit and carolling will ensue.

For more information, please visit Langley City’s website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Future of South of Fraser Rapid Transit on the Table Thursday

Thursday morning will be the first meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation since the local government elections. Normally, inaugural meetings including items like appointing chairs, allowing people to get up to speed on the details of the current work plan, and developing a work plan for the coming year. With 75% of the mayors serving their first term, this would be a significant meeting with just those items.

With the new mandate in Surrey to halt development of light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue, and build SkyTrain along Fraser Highway instead, this meeting will also lay the groundwork for the future of transit for the over 800,000 people that call the South of Fraser home.

A typical cross section of SkyTrain as proposed for Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Mayors’ Council staff is asking mayors to approve the following recommendation:

  1. Endorse TransLink’s decision to suspend the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Project, stopping all expenditures of money and resources on the project, based on the request from the City of Surrey;
  2. Use the 10-Year Vision as the basis for South of Fraser rapid transit planning, recognizing the City of Surrey request to change the technology and timing of the Fraser Highway project from LRT to SkyTrain, and draw only on the available funding currently allocated for South of Fraser rapid transit in the Phase Two Plan, and the financial framework for the Phase Three Plan.
  3. Request the additional analysis and a work plan on “Option 2” in this report, for consideration at the December 13, 2018 meeting of the Mayors’ Council to:
    1. Start immediately with planning, consultation, design and procurement readiness works for the SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project, building on the 2017 SkyTrain design study; and concurrently to,
    2. Initiate a planning process to refresh the South of Fraser transit strategy.

What this means is that if the resolution is approved, Mayors’ Council staff would start the process of implementing SkyTrain along Fraser Highway in two phases. There is currently $1.6 billion available to build SkyTrain along Fraser Highway. The total cost to build SkyTrain is around $2.9 billion.

As noted in the report, “given the funding available in Phase Two [today], management advises that is likely that SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley would have to be constructed in two phases, the first using available Phase Two funding, and the second phase to complete the line to Langley, commencing once the Phase Three Plan is funded and approved.” Planning for SkyTrain along the whole corridor would start right away if the resolution is approved.

Additionally, there could be impacts to the timing of the Fraser Highway B-Line which was scheduled to start service in 2019.

In order for SkyTrain to make its way to Langley, new funding will need to be approved. Ideally, the federal and provincial governments would commit to an accelerated funding program. The Mayors’ Council would also have to approve a regional funding component which has historical been sourced by increasing property tax and gas tax.

Building SkyTrain to UBC has been expressed as a priority for the City of Vancouver. The Mayors’ Council will also need to figure out the priority of this project, how much it will cost, and how it will be funded. There is also the question of the future of rapid transit along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey that will need to be answered.

The new Mayors’ Council will have a full plate over the next few years. If all the pieces fall into place, SkyTrain along Fraser Highway could start construction in 2021/22.