Thursday, February 14, 2019

Langley City 2019 Budget: Helping to increase safety, address social matters, and keep our parks and streets in a state of good repair

During the election campaign, and over my last term on council, there were common themes that I heard from residents in our community. They wanted Langley City to reduce property crime, address homelessness, and continue investing in our parks and streets. While we need the federal and provincial governments to partner with us to address some of the more complex social challenges in our community, the proposed 2019 budget addresses these themes heard. I wanted to highlight some of the proposed service level increases, and their annualized costs, found in the Langley City 2019-2023 Financial Plan.

Langley City budget presentation

Safety

Bylaw Officer - $90,000
Will allow the hiring of an additional bylaw enforcement officer to provide additional enforcement to support the growing community, and to address matters relating to camping in our parks.

Vandalism\Wire Theft - $30,000
Will allow the City to address the increased cost of cleanup and repairs due to vandalism and wire theft.

Additional Firefighters - $456,130
Will allow the hiring of 3 additional firefighters to increase the number of fire prevention inspections and enhance daytime emergency response.

Social

Recreation Office Supervisor - $73,400
Will allow for the Director of Recreation, Culture, and Community Services to focus on cultural planning and on developing programs that address the complex social needs of people who live in Langley City.

Community Outreach Facilitator - $48,300
Will allow the City to partner with the federal and provincial governments, and social service agencies, to address matters around: aging population, diversity and multiculturalism, new immigrant support services, inclusion, participation and social connectedness, and homelessness.

Building Maintenance Position Upgrade - $12,800
Will allow for the Timms Community Centre to remain in a state of good repair.

Parks and Streets

Enhanced Park Maintenance - $45,000
Will allow the City to keep parks up to standard including grass mowing and landscape maintenance.

Enhanced Tree Maintenance - $100,500
Will allow the City to address the increases in requests for service to address matters relating to trees, and help ensure that the City’s increasing tree inventory remains healthy.

Planning for the Future

Planning Assistant - $90,500
Will support the implementation of Langley City’s Nexus Community Vision.

Infrastructure Levy - $75,000
Will help ensure that the City’s aging infrastructure can remain in a good state of repair.

Unlike the federal and provincial governments, local governments are not allowed to run deficit budgets. To help increase safety, address the social challenges in our community, enhance our parks and streets, provide more recreation and event opportunities, plan for the future, and keep our infrastructure in a state of good replace, a property tax increase is required.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February 11, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Engineering projects on-the go to improve walking, cycling, and transit infrastructure

Because of the mostly mild weather this winter, Langley City public works projects have been proceeding throughout our community. Langley City council received an engineering department update at its Monday night meeting about what was on-the-go.

Rogers Hometown Hockey was a well attended event in our community this January. Behind the scenes, Langley City staff were working hard to ensure that this event went flawlessly. There was a significant portion of our Downtown that was closed to motor vehicle traffic. The traffic management plan was completed in-house by City staff and worked well.

There are many sections of Langley City that were built during a period of time when little thought was given to making walkable communities; there are sections of our community with no sidewalks for example. Today, we are correcting this oversight by slowly completing our sidewalk network. One project that was recent completed was the installation of a new sidewalk along 46 A Avenue, off 208 Street. The completion of this project has been well received, and the City has received positive comments from members of the community about this change.

Work is continuing for adding sidewalks in the Duncan Way Industrial Area. A multi-use trail along Duncan Way was completed late last year which connects from Glover Road to the 204 Street overpass. Work is currently underway to add a sidewalk in the rest of this area.

Just an important as building out a cycling network is to ensure that there are places to park bikes. While there are currently some bike racks in the Downtown Core, Langley City will be installing an additional 12 new bike racks in the area.

As our community and region grows, the number of people travelling around will continue to increase. Widening roads have been shown to be ineffective in reducing congestion. People need fast, safe, and convenient ways to get out of congestion instead. As part of improving transit service in Langley City, in partnership with TransLink, transit-only lanes will be coming to certain sections of our community. This will help speed up travel for transit riders, making it a more appealing travel option.

As part of the reconstruction of 203 Street between Fraser Highway and Logan Avenue, transit-only lanes will be installed. In addition, the sewer line will also be upgrades as well as a new traffic signal will be installed at Industrial Avenue.

Wire theft is on the rise in Langley City. This is costly to repair, so the City is starting to rollout the installation of deterrents to try to combat this increase in theft.

Wire Theft Deterrent Device. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City council increased the funding a few years back to help ensure that our streetscape remains in a good state of repair. The following picture shows some work done to ensure that a stop sign remains visible.

Boulevard Maintenance - Tree Trimming. Select image to enlarge.

Other projects on-the-go include:

  • Developing the Michaud Crescent Greenway Design
  • Developing the Grade Crescent Design
  • Updating the subdivision and development bylaw
  • Upgrading water mains along 197A Street, south of 46 Avenue; and, Fraser Highway, between the Langley Bypass and Landmark Way.

Later during the meeting, council approved our CAO Francis Cheung to attend “the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators Annual Conference and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference in Quebec City, Quebec from May 26 to May 30, 2019 and from May 30 to June 2, 2019 respectively.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

February 11, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Public Hearing for Redevelopment Proposals and Funding Community Amenities

Last night’s Langley City council meeting started with a public hearing for three different bylaws around development.

As I posted about previously, there is a proposed bylaw which would allow for a 5-storey, 104-unit apartment building located in the 199A Street cul-de-sac off Brydon Crescent to be constructed. The project’s proponent noted some of the proposed features of the building at the public hearing including a terraced concrete foundation to reduce the building’s perceived height. Also, all underground parking spots will be roughed-in to accommodate electric vehicles.

Renders of proposed apartment project at 5470, 5480, 5490, 5500, 5510 199A Street. Select image to enlarge.

As a condition of a subdivision or building permit to be issued, Langley City imposes Development Cost Charges. While these charges are mandatory, they are very restrictive in how they can be used under BC law. As part of a rezoning application, the City also negotiates Community Amenity Charges with developers to help provide additional required amenities beyond what can be funded via Development Cost Charges. The currently policy is set at $2,000 per multi-family residential unit approved to help mitigate the impacts of the development.

In this proposed development, in addition to contributing $208,000 as per council policy, the project’s proponent is contributing $200,000 to help fund a pedestrian bridge as shown on the following map which will link Brydon Crescent with our trail network.

Location of proposed bridge connecting Brydon Crescent to the trail network. Select map to enlarge.

Some of the issues that council hears regularly from residents about at public hearings are around construction traffic and parking. The project’s proponent submitted a traffic management plan to help mitigate these issues.

At the public hearing, there was one resident who expressed some concern about parking for visitor who have larger pickup trucks, and the need for more affordable housing in general.

The second proposed bylaw at the public hearing would accommodate at 4-storey, 14-unit stacked townhouse complex. This is a new concept in Langley City which you can read more about in a previous post. Council received a writing letter from an individual who was generally concerned about higher-density development. This proposed project will also have a traffic management plan.

Renders of proposed stacked townhouse project at 20172 - 20178 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

The final bylaw on the agenda of the public hearing was to remove a land-use contract from the property located at 5139 209A Street. Land-use contracts were planning tools used in the 1970s that are no longer used. The owner of this property has a pending request to our Board of Variance for a setback relaxation. This request cannot more forward until the land-use contract is removed/discharged. There were no members of the community that spoke to this matter. Later during the council meeting, third reading was given by council to discharge the land-use contract.

Tomorrow, I’ll be continuing to post about Monday night’s council meeting.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Policing expenditure increases, prevention, and Langley City’s proposed budget

Over the next little while, I will be posting about Langley City’s 2019 – 2023 Financial Plan and budget. Policing expenditures are a significant partition of our City’s budget, and this has been the case for at least a decade.

The following table shows the increase is property tax budgeted from 2009 until this year.

Year Budgeted Percent Change
2019 $29,191,145.00 7.66%
2018 $27,113,085.00 5.46%
2017 $25,710,425.00 4.73%
2016 $24,549,430.00 4.18%
2015 $23,565,270.00 3.42%
2014 $22,785,750.00 4.25%
2013 $21,856,465.00 3.03%
2012 $21,214,045.00 2.96%
2011* $20,603,182.00 3.26%
2010 $19,952,130.00 5.83%
2009 $18,852,505.00 0.00%

The next table shows the increase in policing expenditures over the same period.

Year Police Expenditures† Percentage of Budget
2019 $12,907,040.00 44.22%
2018 $12,261,750.00 45.22%
2017 $11,725,840.00 45.61%
2016 $11,023,910.00 44.90%
2015 $10,596,570.00 44.97%
2014 $10,317,425.00 45.28%
2013 $10,065,385.00 46.05%
2012 $9,589,110.00 45.20%
2011* $8,427,799.00 40.91%
2010 $8,715,645.00 43.68%
2009 $8,357,740.00 44.33%

Policing expenditures have consistently used around 45% of property tax revenue received. In fact, policing costs are proposed to increase by $0.6 million dollars this year. This investment maintains the number of police officers and does not increase the number of police officers. While we get a great value from the RCMP and our joint detachment with the Township of Langley, increasing the number of police officers would have a significant impact on our budget and property tax.

This is why it is important to invest in programs, people, and infrastructure that will reduce the number of incidents that police need to attend.

This means investing in our parks and recreation departments to ensure that young people have positive opportunities in our community, or by giving community grants to organizations that help parents in our community nurture their children and by giving community grants that help ensure that young people can receive nutritious meals, so they can succeeded at school to become productive members of society. This helps reduce police calls for service over time.

It also means investing in our parks and public spaces to get more people outside which results in more eyes and ears on the street. It also helps create a sense of ownership in our community which further helps reduce police calls for services.

Ensuring that our buildings, parks, and public spaces use Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principals is also critical.

Finally, implementing traffic calming and redesigning our roads to reduce speeding also lowers the amount of police calls needed.

Programs and projects that are focused on prevention help lower the number of police calls for service. This has a direct impact on the number of police officers required which affects the City’s bottom line and your wallet.

If you do see suspicious activity, please call the police every time.

*This is the actual, not budgeted amount.
†This does not include capital works projects.