Thursday, August 5, 2021

July 26 Council Meeting: Official Community Plan sent to Metro Vancouver for Approval. Other Housekeeping Matters.

On June 28th, Langley City Council hosted a public hearing about the community’s proposed new Official Community Plan. Council received 35 written submissions for the public hearing, and approximately 28 members of the public attended the public hearing.

Langley City staff proposed around 25 changes to the draft Official Community Plan based on the feedback received. Council asked staff to incorporate these changes at its July 12th meeting.

Langley City Council gave third reading to the proposed new Official Community Plan on July 26th. Third reading incorporated these 25 changes, plus 14 other changes resulting from a legal review of the proposed new Official Community Plan.

While most of the legal review changes were mainly housekeeping, some rationals for policies in the Official Communty Plan (OCP) were strengthened, such as:

Building General Form & Character Guidelines -“To implement the strategic directions and policies of this OCP that aim to create walkable, human-scale, attractive, and safe neighbourhoods.”

Hazard Guidelines - “Where landslip and erosion may impact the safety of people, property, and buildings.”

Environmentally Sensitive Area Guidelines - “Where healthy riparian habitat, watercourses, and tree stands are key to achieving the OCP’s key directions and policies related to mitigating the impacts of climate change and enhancing biodiversity.”

Under provincial law, municipal Official Community Plans must be approved by Regional Districts and be consistent with its Regional Growth Strategy. The Official Community Plan contains “regional context statements,” which link it to the Regional Growth Strategy.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District Board is responsible for approving Official Community Plans. Because Langley City staff have been working with regional district staff on the Official Community Plan, they are confident that the regional district board will likely approve it. The earliest this process could complete is October 29th.

If the regional district approved the Official Community Plan, Langley City Council could then give final reading to adopt it.

Council also adopted two policies around annual inspections for road markings and speed bumps primariliy as “a useful tool for defending lawsuits alleging your local government was negligent.”

E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network

Langley City uses E-Comm 911’s dispatch network for our Fire Rescue and Police services. As such, we have a rotating seat on the board, which we share with White Rock and the Township of Langley. Langley City’s term on the board is complete, and Langley City accepted White Rock’s appointment to the board for a two-year term. The Township of Langley’s four-year term will start in 2023.

Council approved applying to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Municipal Asset Management Program for a grant to participate in a collaborative project with other municipalities to improve asset management, which will help keep our water, sewer, and other infrastructure in a state of good repair.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Langley City Development Update: Eastleigh Crescent Apartment and 55A Avenue Townhouses

Last Monday, Langely City Council gave final reading to update the current, old Official Community Plan, Rezoning Bylaw and issued a Development Permit to enable the construction of a 6-storey, 88-unit apartment development at 20689 and 20699 Eastleigh Crescent.

This project had a slight adjustment between the third and final readings. The elevation of the living spaces on the ground floor needed to be raised due to Langley City’s Floodplain Elevation Bylaw to protect people’s living spaces during a 1 in 200-year flood event.

These renderings show the updated design.

Updated renderings of proposed apartment project at 20689 & 20699 Eastleigh Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

These renderings show the original design.

Original renderings of proposed apartment project at 20689 & 20699 Eastleigh Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave third reading to a bylaw to enable a 15-unit townhouse development at 19665 and 19669 55A Avenue. You can read more about this proposed development in a previous post.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to “close” a lane which the City never built out. The lane’s location is between 5500 and 5510 Brydon Crescent.

Proposed lane closure. Select image to enlarge.

Ideally, this lane could have formed part of a connection to 199A Street to improve cycling and walking access, but because the previous Council (which I was a part of) and I missed the opportunity during a previous development project along 199A Street, this is no longer possible.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

July 26 Public Hearing: Apartment Near Nicomekl Elementary School, Washworld Mixed-Used Redevelopment

Last Monday, Langley City Council held a public hearing regarding two proposed development projects.

The first proposed development was a 6-storey, 113-unit apartment building at 20040-20070 53A Avenue & 20041-20071 53 Avenue, just north of Nicomekl Elementary School. The proposed project also includes a new walking and cycling greenway on the east side of the property, which will connect 53A Avenue to 53 Avenue.

53/53A Avenue proposed project view from 53rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

53/53A Avenue proposed project view from 53 A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel made the following recommendations for this proposed project:

  • Provide additional on-site outdoor amenity space
  • Improve privacy for ground floor patios adjacent to building entrance and parking ramp entrance
  • Consider updating landscaping in narrow areas
  • Consider additional installed EV chargers and rough-ins, including in the visitor parking/ground floor
  • Ensure combined storage areas are usable and practical
  • Utilize solid opaque privacy screens between patios/balconies
  • Ensure security is considered for mailroom placement/design, including by employing a CCTV system
  • Update fencing material on ground floor parking deck to be high quality
  • Consider increased weather protection over balconies on the 5th floor below indoor amenity spaces
  • Provide landscaping in the surface parking area to soften its appearance

The proponent of the project accepted the recommendation of the Advisory Design Paneling, including adding 4 EV chargers in the visitor parking and 2 in the underground resident parking area.

Council received emails from three residents about this project. Two residents noted that they lived on the 5th floor of an existing building in the area and were concerned the 6th floor would block their southern view.

Another resident was concerned that the building would cause parking and traffic issues, didn’t like the design of the building, had concerns about rental buildings in general and was worried about the loss of green space.

The second proposed development at the public hearing was for a mixed-use, 6-storey building with 144 apartments and 9,052 square feet of ground-level retail space at 20137 & 20139 Fraser Highway, which is currently the location of Washworld.

Proposed mixed-use project view from Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Proposed mixed-use project plaza view. Select image to enlarge.

Proposed mixed-use project view from the corner of 201A and Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel made the following recommendations for this proposed project:

  • Provide complete floorplans for Council submission
  • Consider more varied brick pattern with colour accents to add interest to ground floor fa├žade
  • Add increased visual interest to plaza pavement pattern/colour
  • Add a double row of trees along Fraser Highway and 201A Street
  • Highlight column in the plaza with colour and lighting
  • Secure waste management and mailroom areas
  • Use a decorative aluminum fencing material in the parkade
  • Consider a larger pedestrian area at the Fraser Highway and 201A Street intersection and potential expanded public realm along 201A Street
  • Integrate the future bus stop into the Fraser Highway frontage design to complement and enhance the public realm and complement commercial uses
  • Use more shade-tolerant trees on the interior outdoor amenity deck and taller shade-providing trees on the western outdoor amenity deck
  • Incorporate public art and seating elements in the plaza

The proponent of the project accepted most of the recommendations of the Advisory Design Panel except for adding the double row of trees and updating to use more shade-tolerant trees.

The proponent noted that the underground parkade design prevents adding a double row of trees along the street. They would add more landscaping features, including more trees along the single planting strip along Fraser Highway and 201A Street and new trees lining the proposed plaza area at the corner of Fraser Highway and 201A Street.

Council will consider the feedback received at the public hearing. These projects will be back for council to consider third reading in September.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Langley City Council calls on Province to Improve Coordination of Pre-Hospital Care

During the recent heat dome event over BC, 719 people suddenly died. The heat dome was a tragedy because these deaths could have been reduced. Some of these deaths were caused by systemic problems with our pre-hospital care system. We’ve known that there have been management issues and chronic underfunding of the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) ambulance service for decades.

Langley City Fire Rescue Service

Local governments have tried to fill the gap with our Fire Rescue Service First Responders, but there are still challenges with funding and coordination. You can see this in the most recent Langley City Fire Rescue Service call stats, which show medical response calls volumes were all over the map over the last year.

The Auditor General of British Columbia’s report “Access to Emergency Health Services” made the following recommendations:

That the Ministry of Health work with local governments and BCEHS to ensure that BCEHS can implement a coordinated approach to pre-hospital care that results in:

  • Medical oversight, to the extent appropriate, across agencies to ensure that patient care meets acceptable medical standards
  • Data-sharing between agencies to better understand whether patients are getting the right medical interventions at the right time
  • Signed agreements outlining the roles and responsibilities of fire departments, including the level of care provided
  • Confirmation that first responders are being notified of events where they can best contribute to patient care

The Auditor General of British Columbia made these recommendations in 2019, but little changed.

Unfortunately, it took the death of 719 British Columbians, but the provincial government is now taking action, including providing more funding for the ambulance service and “reconstituting the BC Emergency Health Services board.”

The province said little about how it would act on the Auditor General’s recommendations regarding coordination with First Responders and local governments like Langley City.

As a result, Langley City Council passed the following motion from Councillor Gayle Martin.

THAT the Province of BC and BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) immediately allocate the funding to improve ambulance response time; and to improve coordination with fire departments to support consistent application of medical standards, information sharing, an integrated dispatch system, and improvements to patient care as recommended in the Auditor General report.

THAT Minister Dix take concrete actions to treat First Responders as an equal and an integral partner of the pre-hospital care system with adequate support (e.g. training) and resources (e.g. cost recovery) in order to achieve this goal.