Monday, June 5, 2023

Majority of Langley City Survey Respondents Support Incorporating hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ into Parks and Street Names

A few weeks ago, I was one of the judges for the Langley School District’s IDEA X Challenge, where high school students had presented solutions to making “a future Langley that could exist in 50 years which is environmentally responsible, earth-conscious, incorporates Indigenous perspectives and honours what is important to today’s residents.”

Langley City itself is on a reconciliation journey which started with a motion that Council passed in the fall of 2021. You can read this motion in a previous post.

I have been meeting with Chiefs and Councillors over the past six months. One common theme I heard is that Langley City can further reconciliation in our community by acknowledging, preserving, and revitalizing Indigenous languages. While in the federal context, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action included five calls to action specifically around language.

When I saw that one of the IDEA X Challenge groups designed prototypes of bilingual hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (hunquminum)/English street sign, it got me thinking about what we could do to celebrate hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ in Langley City.

Prototype street sign design by high school students in consultation with sesmélət (Fern Gabriel). Select the image to enlarge.

I put together a survey asking people:

  • Do you think Langley City should dual name significant streets in our community, incorporating the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language?
  • Do you think Langley City should dual name parks in our community?
  • Do you think Langley City should rename some parks in our community?

After filtering the results to Langley City residents, the majority of the remaining 123 survey respondents supported all three actions. The strongest support was for dual naming parks.

What I found interesting is that support was not even around Langley City. The majority of survey respondents north of Grade Crescent were supportive of incorporating hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ into parks names and street signs; respondents south of Grade Crescent were not. North of Grade Crescent respondents accounted for 78% of people that completed the survey, which correlates nicely with the population of Langley City, of which around 80% live north of Grade Crescent.

For example, 63% of survey respondents in the Blacklock Neighbourhood supported dual naming streets and parks. 58% supported renaming parks.

Now, I am happy that the majority of people who completed the survey are supportive. However, regardless of survey results, Langley City still must move forward on reconciliation and acknowledging, preserving, and revitalizing hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓.

One of the pieces of feedback I heard was to include a pronunciation guide for places with hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ names. I think that would help revitalize hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ in Langley City.

I look forward to continuing the journey of reconciliation in Langley City.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Overcrowding a Growing Concern. More Transit Service Needed.

At today's TransLink Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation meeting, we received an update from Kevin Quinn, the organization's CEO.

People at King George SkyTrain Station. Select the image to enlarge.

Back in 2019, transit ridership was at crush-level loads on many transit routes throughout the region; we couldn't keep up with the demand. Well, transit ridership continues to climb in Metro Vancouver, and overcrowding on many routes is occurring again.

The following chart shows transit ridership growth in our region, looking at weekday, weekend, and total journeys.

Transit ridership 2019 to present. Select the chart to enlarge.

In the South of Fraser, which includes Surrey, White Rock, Langley City, and the Township of Langley, ridership is at 115% of 2019 levels. You can see this if you've taken any major bus routes in Langley or Surrey.

Map of percentage of routes overcrowded in peak PM travel periods. Select the map to enlarge.

As shown, overcrowding is a significant concern for routes in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and the South of Fraser.

The following image shows an example of what an overcrowded standard 40' long bus is per TransLink's service standards.

Example of overcrowding on a standard 40' bus. Select the image to enlarge.

This continued growth in transit ridership is why the Mayors' Council is working on a new 10-year transit investment vision for Metro Vancouver. Mayors from throughout the region were recently in Ottawa lobbying the feds for more funding for transit. We are also working with the provincial government to get a new deal for transit funding, as we know that the gas tax, a significant transit funding source, is declining. At the local level, we will also need to invest more in property tax and fees we receive from development to help pay for expanding and operating transit services.

The only way we can keep our region moving, as our density and population increases, is to invest in walking, cycling, and transit services. While we have our work cut out for us, I know that the feds, province, and mayors are committed to delivering increased transit service for people in Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Langley City to provide comments on Gloucester Industrial Park Expansion. City's Role for Township's Booth, Fernridge, and Rinn Neighbourhood Plans.

As I posted about last month, the Township of Langley is seeking Metro Vancouver Regional District Board approval to expand Gloucester Industrial Park by 14.59 hectares, converting regionally designated agricultural land to industrial land and expanding the Urban Growth Boundary. This change requires updating Metro 2050, our region's growth strategy.

Location of the proposed expansion of Gloucester Industrial Park. Select the map to enlarge. Source: Township of Langley

As per provincial government law, the regional growth strategy amendment process requires a minimum 45-day notification period to allow all affected local governments and members of the public to provide comments on this proposed change.

Langley City Council received a letter from the Regional District and asked staff to prepare a response to be sent back to the Regional District board. Council will review Langley City staff's response at an upcoming meeting before sending it to the Regional District.

The Township of Langley is also updating the Booth, Fernridge, and Rinn Neighbourhood Plans. Again as required by provincial law, the Township of Langley is seeking feedback from Langley City on the proposed updates to these neighbourhood plans.

Township of Langley Neighbourhood Planning Areas South of Langley City. Select the map to enlarge. Source: Township of Langley

Langley City is in the process of updating our transportation plan. As 200th Street and 208th Street serve as regional roads, Langley City must consider the growth in the Brookswood, Booth, Fernridge, and Rinn neighbourhoods. To benefit both Langley City and Township residents and businesses, our communities must work together to ensure that the 200 Street and 208 Street corridors can effectively handle the people and good movement required for our growing communities.

As we share the same watershed, we also need to work with the Township of Langley to update water, sewer and stormwater modelling and ensure we have an updated Integrated Watershed Management Plan.

In the past, the Township of Langley and Langley City signed a Memorandum of Agreement as part of the original Willoughby planning work done decades ago.

For the mutual benefit of both communities, and following our long history of working together, the City will be asking the Township to sign a Memorandum of Agreement to create a game plan to ensure our transportation and transit infrastructure can support the population growth proposed in the Booth, Fernridge, and Rinn Neighbourhood Plans, that we have an Integrated Watershed Management Plan, and that we have identified any new water and sewer service that may require access through Langley City to support the proposed updated Booth, Fernridge, and Rinn Neighbourhood Plans.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

May 29 Council Notes: Financial Amendments, Alcohol in Parks, Renewing 56 Ave and Park Ave

Last night's Langley City Council meeting started with a Committee of the Whole, which enables the general public to provide feedback to Council. Council was seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the 2022-2026 Financial Plan and the 2023-2027 Financial Plan. I posted about these changes in a previous post.

One community member attended the Committee of the Whole and asked a few questions on the 2023-2027 Financial Plan Amendment. She asked if the City was planning to use an additional loan to finance the Fraser Highway One-Way project and how the City plans to use the $15 million loan approved in the 2023 budget. Staff noted that the City would not need an additional loan to complete the $20.7 million Fraser Highway One-Way renewal project. The $15 million loan approved in this year's budget is for acquiring property to support the SkyTrian project and the Fraser Highway One-Way renewal project.

After the Committee of the Whole, Council approved the 2022-2026 and 2023-2027 Financial Plan Amendments.

Council also approved the Growing Communities Reserve Fund Establishment Bylaw, which the provincial government requires to track their $7,186,000 Growing Communities Fund grant, which we are using for the Fraser Highway One-Way renewal project.

Council approved updating the Parks and Public Facilities Regulation Bylaw to allow the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages from Thursday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and every Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm from June 1st to October 31st in the north section of McBurney Plaza, designated areas in Douglas Park, and at most picnic shelters at City Park.

Council authorized the tendering of a $4,156,715.00 (excluding GST) project to McDonald & Ross Const. Ltd. The tender includes renewing the:

  • Watermain, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer along 56 Avenue from 200 Street to 203 Street
  • Traffic signal at the 56 Avenue & 201A Street intersection Watermain on Park Avenue

While 56 Avenue will be patched as part of this year's work which the City expects to start this summer, the City plans to fully repave 56 Avenue in 2024.