Thursday, April 11, 2024

Langley City Council Approves New Development Charges in Principle

Langley City staff have been working over the last year to update our development cost charges. Developers pay development cost charges for each new building they construct or significantly renovate, whether commercial, institutional, industrial, or residential.

Langley City last updated its development cost charges rates in 2012, so it was due for an update. The provincial government strictly regulates development cost charges; municipalities can only use these charges for infrastructure directly related to accommodating a new development project. This idea is sometimes called "growth should pay for growth."

Municipalities can broadly use development cost charges for transportation, water, sewer, facility (e.g. new rec centre), and storm sewer projects, as well as for acquiring or upgrading parkland. Any project a municipality plans to use development cost charges for must also be approved by the provincial government. Municipalities usually submit a list of projects to the province for their approval. Langley City has recently done this.

As I posted about last summer, Langley City submitted its proposed development cost charges rates to the public and development community for feedback. The one piece of significant feedback we received is that our development cost charges should be updated more frequently to avoid rate jumps. The City now plans to update its development cost charges rates more frequently. Recent provincial changes expand what municipalities can use development cost charges for, and the province now allows four units of housing per detached lot by right. As a result, the City will be doing another update to our development cost chargers later this year.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to the rate as shown in the table.

Building Type Unit of Measure DCC Rate
Detached Residential Per Lot $45,563.00
Townhouse Per Dwelling Unit $32,683.00
Apartment Per Dwelling Unit $21,246.00
Commercial Per gross floor area (in sq. ft.) $14.46
Industrial Per gross floor area (in sq. ft.) $5.81
Institutional Per gross floor area (in sq. ft.) $14.46

The City will now submit these rates to the provincial Inspector of Municipalities for approval. If approved, which the City believes will be likely, Council will adopt the new rates. The Inspector usually takes about four months to review rate changes.

Setting development cost charges is tricky because we want to ensure that we can pay for the infrastructure and facilities required for new projects while also being mindful of the total cost of building a new home or other building.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Detailed Analysis of Tree Canopy By Land Use in Langley City

I've been posting about urban forests and tree canopy cover over the past week. Langley City is in the process of creating our urban forest management plan. As part of that process, City staff and consultants completed a detailed analysis of tree canopy cover by land use type in our community. The following land use map is linked by colour to the table below. You'll want to select each of the map and the table to enlarge them as they are a bit small inline.

Langley City Land-Use Map by Colour Code

Tree Canopy Cover in Langley City by Land-Use. Grey Bars are the Total Area of Land Use Type. Green Bars are the Tree Canopy Area within the Land Use Type.

There are a few things that stood out to me. Our residential-only areas have a fair amount of tree cover, but our commercial, industrial, and downtown areas have virtually no tree canopy. While we need to preserve tree canopy in our residential-only areas, there is a significant opportunity to increase tree canopy in our downtown, Langley Bypass area, and mixed-use areas.

Based on the feedback the City received from our community last year, staff and consultants are nearing the completion of a draft urban forest management plan for Langley City. The City will present a draft of the plan for public feedback this spring to have a version for Council to consider approving this summer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Council Approves Michaud Crescent Improvement Project

Last night, Langley City Council approved tendered contracts for the Michaud Crescent Improvement Project.

Michaud Crescent Improvement Project Area. Select the image to enlarge.

This project includes:

  • Replacing the watermain under the street
  • Upgrading drainage
  • Improving intersection safety with new curb letdowns and extensions at all cross streets along Michaud
  • Adding new streetlights
  • Adding street trees on the south side of the street
  • Improving the safety of the Michaud and 201A Street intersection by narrowing the intersection, removing the flex posts, and implementing a four-way stop
  • Improving the safety of the Michaud and 203rd Street intersection removing the traffic island and narrowing the entrance to Michaud
  • Adding an accessible bus stop on 201A Street, just north of Michaud
  • Adding safer cycling lanes on the south side of the street
  • Repaving the south half of Michaud

Overall, this project will replace aging infrastructure and improve road safety for people who are walking, rolling, cycling, and driving.

I know that the current trees on the north side of Michaud are iconic and are a source of pride for our community. During this project, none of those trees will be touched and will be protected.

Council tendered the contract for the project to Arsalan Construction Ltd. for $2,441,789 (excluding GST). The Langley Prairie (City) townsite is over 100 years old, so there are some contaminated soils under some of our roads. We learned about this during the 56th Avenue project, which resulted in an unexpected cost increase. Learning from that project, the Michaud Project includes funding, if needed, to address contaminated soils.

Council also approved tendering a contract to RF Binnie & Associates Ltd. for $155,882 to manage the project. The project includes a $140,000 contingency.

TransLink and developer fees are paying for the safe cycling part of the project.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Enhancing and Protecting the Urban Forest, Metro Vancouver’s Updated Toolkit

Bowen Island Community School - Sports Field

As I posted last week, more work needs to be done to grow the tree canopy in Metro Vancouver. The region’s goal is to have 40% tree canopy coverage in urban areas. Today, Langley City has about 21% tree canopy coverage.

Average canopy cover by various land-use in Metro Vancouver in 2020. Select the image to enlarge.

The Regional District created the Metro Vancouver Tree Regulations Toolkit in 2021. This toolkit provides information for municipalities that are developing or updating their own tree protection and urban forest management plans and requirements.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is updating the toolkit to provide more guidance to municipalities. These updates include more direction on how to manage trees in development, subdivision, and municipal serving bylaws. The updated toolkit also includes guidance on promoting urban forest management practices through development permits.

How regulatory tools can be used to preserve trees and grow tree canopy in the region – Trees in Forest Stands and Naturalized Areas. Select the image to enlarge.

How regulatory tools can be used to preserve trees and grow tree canopy in the region – Trees in urban areas. Select the image to enlarge.

The new toolkit includes checklists for local governments to consider for higher-level plans, land-use bylaws and development plans, and serving bylaws, which helps make it easier for municipalities to incorporate the updated toolkit. They also include the latest data and best practices around tree protection and urban forest management, including new regional district targets such as the 40% tree canopy coverage.

You can read the proposed updated toolkit in the Friday, April 5 agenda of the Regional Planning Committee.