Wednesday, November 20, 2019

November 18 Council Meeting: Aldergrove Regional Park’s extraterritorial area approved. 56 Avenue parking request received. Responding to the climate change emergency.

Yesterday’s post was part one of two about Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. Today’s post is part two.

Langley City, Langley Township, Matsqui, and Abbotsford where part of the Central Fraser Valley Regional District until 1995. Aldergrove Regional Park came into existence during the Central Fraser Valley Regional District era. When regional districts were redrawn in 1995, and Abbotsford became part of the Fraser Valley Regional District, it still participated in the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks system.

This changed a few years ago when Abbotsford withdrew from the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks system. Metro Vancouver transfer all its parks in Abbotsford to that municipality. Aldergrove Regional Park straddles the border of Langley Township and Abbotsford. Half the park was transferred to Abbotsford. From an operational perspective, this didn’t make a lot of sense. Abbotsford is now transferring its half of the park back to Metro Vancouver.

Because the Abbotsford section of Aldergrove Regional Park is in another regional district it is called an “extraterritorial area.” For it to be a Metro Vancouver park again, two-thirds of the municipalities in Metro Vancouver must consent to bringing all of Aldergrove Regional Park back into our regional parks system. Langley City council did its part on Monday night and consented.

Langley City is also part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library System. Council approved $25,000 to be used to renew furniture in our library branch.

Back in April, Ms. Damianos who lives and operates a business in the live-work building located at 19897 56 Avenue, asked council to consider providing full-time on-street parking in front of her business. Council passed a motion asking staff to explore this. The staff report came back not recommending full-time on-street parking along this section of 56 Avenue.

Council received a letter from Ms. Damianos asking that the curbside westbound lane of 56 Avenue be used for on-street parking between Noon and 7am. Staff did not recommend making this change as 56 Avenue is a major road. Council approved sending a letter back to Ms. Damianos noting that there will be no change to on-street parking along that section of 56 Avenue.

As a note, there is on-site parking at 19897 56 Avenue. This is similar to other commercial buildings in the area.

A photo from Councillor Wallace that she took at the Livable Cities Forum. Select image to enlarge.

Councillor Wallace recently attended the Livable Cities Forum in Victoria. She gave a presentation to council about her experience at the conference including about food security and upcycling programs in Victoria. She also read a statement from the forum about the need for local governments to take action to response to the climate change emergency.

Alex Speers speaking to council. Select image to enlarge.

Council also received a presentation from Alex Speers who is a grade 12 student at DW Poppy Secondary School. She thanked council for supporting her project to plant more trees at Hunter Park. Council thank her, and Mayor van den Broek presented her with a small token of our appreciation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

November 18 Council Meeting: Environmental Task Group, Reducing Red Tape, and Rosewood Seniors Centre Housing

Last night’s Langley City council meeting covered a lot of ground. Today will be the first of two posts about that public council meeting, focusing on some of the decisions made.

Langley City council establishes task groups that have a variety of mandates. One such task group is the Environmental Task Group which has the mandate to “prioritize, evaluate and develop a business case for the implementation of various environmental initiatives and programs” for council to consider.

The following recommendations were made by the task group for council to consider:

THAT mandate item four from the Environmental Task Group Terms of Reference be amended from:

“Promote landscape boulevards and environmental features on boulevards by residents, food production, bees/butterfly gardens” to

“Promote landscape and environmental features on boulevards by residents, businesses and developers, ie. food “security”, bee/butterfly gardens’

THAT the Environmental Task Group recommends Council receive a presentation from Green Teams Canada.

THAT the Task Group recommends that Council give funding to Green Teams of Canada to hold up to 3 events in 2020 at a cost of $2,000 per event.

THAT the Environmental Task Group recommend that City Council extend the term of the Task Group to December 31, 2020 in order to allow the group to fulfill their mandate.

To provide some context around the motion, task groups in the City are term-limited, and must be renewed. Green Teams of Canada previously held a successful event in Langley City where volunteers removed invasive plants from one of our parks.

Council approved the recommendations of the task group, modifying the funding request to be considered as part of the 2020 budget process.

Previously, if you were a contractor or other construction industry professional, you would need to get a business license in each community where you worked. This created red tape. To help streamline the process for people in the construction industry, municipalities came together to create the intermunicipal business license program. This means that only one business license is required from Delta to Hope for people in the construction industry.

Harrison Hot Springs and Merritt are joining this program. Council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw to help enable these municipalities to join the program.

Model of proposed development along Old Yale Road. Select image to enlarge.

Last October, council gave first, second, and third reading to an Official Community Plan update and Zoning Bylaw update to enable a proposed Rosewood Seniors Centre Housing development on Old Yale Road. You can read more about this proposed development project in a previous post.

The last step for this project to get started from a municipal policy perspective is the final reading of the bylaws, and approval of a development permit by council. For this to occur, City staff must be satisfied that certain conditions are met for these final approvals.

There is a one-year time limit between when third reading of a development-related bylaw is given, and when final reading of that bylaw must occur. If this time limit is exceeded, a development project proponent must go through the whole process again. Langley City allows for a 6-month extension of this one-year time limit. The proponent of this development project requested an extension “to resolve an existing tenancy and demolish buildings on the site.” This extension was approved by council.

Tomorrow, I will post about the remaining items covered at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Have your say on the future of Langley City by attending next week’s workshop and open house about land-use planning

Official Community Plan - Zoning Bylaw Updates Poster. Select image to enlarge.

One of the key planning documents for municipalities in BC is the Official Community Plan. Every municipality is required to have an Official Community Plan which details the “objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management.”

A municipality’s zoning bylaw is the companion to its Official Community Plan. It is about the prescriptive implementation of the policies and objectives found in the Official Community Plan.

Langley City’s Official Community Plan received its last major update several decades ago. Because Langley City council recently adopt its Nexus of Community vision, and because of the pending arrival of SkyTrain, both the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw are being re-written.

Since these are key documents for our community, getting people involved in the creation process of them is critical.

Next week, there is a workshop and an open house for all to attend. The details are as follows:

Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaw - Housing Forms Workshop

Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: Ballroom at the Coast Langley City Hotel & Convention Centre

It is recommended that you signup for the workshop.

Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaw - Housing Forms Open House

Date: Thursday, November 28, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: Timms Community Centre

There will be other opportunities to provide input as well, and I’ll be posting about them as they become available.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fixing the misalignment between creating a livable region and our employment zones.

Metro Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the most livable places in the world. One reason why is due to our land-use patterns of building walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible communities.

This land-use pattern is codified in our regional land-use plan which all 21 municipalities in Metro Vancouver adhere to. The following map shows urban centres, frequent transit development areas, and frequent transit corridors in our region. The region’s long-term goal is to accommodate 40% of all residential growth within these areas, and 50% of all job growth, between 2006 and 2041.

Map of urban centres, frequent transit development areas, and frequent transit corridors in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

When it comes residential development, we are meeting that goal. For jobs, we are not. Only 18% of job growth has occurred in these areas between 2006 and 2016. One of the reasons why has to do with our land-use planning. The following map shows the areas in our region that are zoned as “employment land”. These zones can accommodate anything from factories to office space.

Map of “employment land” zones in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

What might stand-out is that much of our “employment land” is outside of urban centres and frequent transit corridors. This wasn’t by mistake either, this is also codified in our regional land-use plan. The Metro Vancouver Regional District has now recognized that there is a misalignment between job growth objectives and land-use.

From a recent regional district staff report:

This suggests that new policies and tools may be needed to support the strategy’s objective to direct employment growth to centres and corridors served by transit. This could include new supports from the Provincial government, such as the creation of commute trip reduction legislation, similar to that implemented in Washington State that requires employers to take actions to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips; more research is needed on this and other possible directions. Staff also intend to explore how much employment growth is taking place on lands with an Industrial or Mixed Employment regional land use designation.

TransLink is updated its long-term transportation plan. This is a good opportunity to realign our land-use patterns and transportation network.

One idea could be to start serving these “employment land” areas with frequent transit. To support frequent transit, and to build more livable “employment lands”, mixed-use zoning could be introduced.

Given that most employment land-uses are quiet and produce little to no air contaminants, residential and retail uses could be introduced to these areas in the form of mixed-use buildings. An example could be an industrial/residential building. I remember attending a 2003 Sustainability by Design conference where this idea was explored. You can see an example of what this might look like for Langley.

I look forward to seeing how TransLink and the regional district will make our “employment land” more livable.