Thursday, April 30, 2009

City of Langley News

While this is not directly related to transit, the City of Langley has just released this Affordable Housing Strategy. During consultations on the City's Master Plan (Part 1 here and Part 2 here), the public mentioned affordable housing strategies as something necessary. 

On April 20, 2009 City Council adopted this strategy. The City of Langley says:
"The Affordable Housing Strategy considers the existing and future need for affordable housing, the potential loss of rental housing units and the role the City can play to support affordable housing initiatives. The Strategy also anticipates and responds to Metro Vancouver’s proposed housing targets for the region."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Election Series – Part Four

Today we will be hearing from the BC Liberals’ Langley Candidate Mary Polak. I posted part three of this series last Friday.

What will your government do to promote sustainable community design?
Creating sustainable communities is key to meeting our environmental and economic goals as a province. We’ve worked closely with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to develop the type of government supports that will enable local governments to change the way in which they plan for the future.

We established the Green City Awards which provide substantial cash awards to local governments whose planning practices have enhanced integrated community design, physical activity, energy conservation and environmental benefits. The award criteria focuses on mixed-use, compact and complete communities; inter-connected networks of pedestrian and bicycle trails, parks and urban forests; smaller urban footprints with more affordable housing and efficient construction practices; reduced greenhouse gas emissions and decreased water use; age and access friendly design; protection of green spaces and increased transportation options.

We’ve provided financial support for these initiatives through the Healthy Communities Initiative (joint with UBCM) and through millions of dollars in grant programs such as:
-Local Motion grants for capital projects like bike paths, walkways and greenways. Grants are also provided for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and making communities more senior- and disability-friendly
-Trees for Tomorrow grants to support community organizations, First Nations and local governments in planting four million trees in public spaces
-Towns for Tomorrow grants designed specifically to assist smaller communities as they work to become greener, healthier and more liveable

What will your government do to get light rail and other forms of alternative transportation built in the South of Fraser?
Light rail and other forms of alternative transportation are critical to the development of the Fraser Valley. Beyond the obvious transit benefits are numerous positive environmental impacts.

The advancement of light rail and other transit options is one reason the construction of the Port Mann Bridge is critically important. The bridge will be constructed with the capacity for light rail installation. In addition, Rapid Bus service with dedicated on ramps and cue jumper lanes will bring transit back to the Port Mann corridor for the first time in 20 years. It will serve communities like Langley as we work to expand light rail and other transit options

As we consider the range of possible transit options, we are currently studying the viability of the old inter-urban corridor. We want to make the best possible use of existing infrastructure as we work to provide a variety of transportation choices for Langley and the surrounding area. We’ll do whatever the evidence tells us. We want to be sensitive to the fact that the Inter-urban line runs through large sections of ALR land. It’s important to evaluate the impact of increased pressure on the ALR as a result of the desirability of development in and around major transit infrastructure.

Like you, I am frustrated that light rail will not be available sooner. If infrastructure investment south of the Fraser had kept pace with growth during the 90’s we wouldn’t be forced to build our way out of a transit deficit now. Nevertheless, we must move forward from where we are and hope that subsequent BC governments will not neglect south of the Fraser communities in the future.

Monday, April 27, 2009

On Holiday

Good morning, as you read this I am of on holiday and on a train tour from Vancouver, through Seattle and Portland, with a final stop in San Fransisco. I'll take some pictures and share some of my experience at the Canada/US border with rail travel. In the meantime, enjoy these lovely springtime pictures of Vancouver.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Election Series – Part Three

Today we will be hearing from the BC Liberals’ Fort Langley-Aldergrove Candidate Rich Coleman. I posted part two of this series yesterday.

What will your government do to promote sustainable community design?
There has been no bigger booster for sustainable communities than Premier Gordon Campbell.

The BC Liberals, under Premier Campbell’s leadership, want to see sustainable, livable, compact communities. We changed the building code to allow six-storey wood frame buildings to spark more density in neighbourhoods at a lower cost than concrete towers. We invested $40-million into 122 Local Motion projects to support projects that promote physical activity, a reduction in car dependency and associated greenhouse gas emissions, and increase mobility for seniors and people with disabilities.

We are the first province in Canada to legislate hard targets for greenhouse gas emissions, including a 33 per cent reduction by 2020. This will quickly influence the way communities are planned and built. Our government made British Columbia the first jurisdiction in North America to legally require all government ministries, agencies and Crown corporations to be “carbon neutral”, by 2010. We also required all local governments to be carbon neutral by 2012, another way of influencing local design. Our carbon emissions tax encourages people to save money by adopting cleaner, more environmentally-friendly lifestyles.

Premier Campbell’s record on sustainable community design goes back to his days as Mayor of Vancouver. Under his leadership, Vancouver became one of the most livable cities in the world, an example held up by urban planners. As chairman of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, he led the Lower Mainland in developing and adopting the all-important Livable Region Strategy, which enshrined the concepts of an urban growth boundary, smart growth principles, and other important actions.

This work must continue. Under the BC Liberals, the provincial government will continue to develop and fund new programs to encourage people to live a more sustainable lifestyle. We will continue to help municipalities with the resources they need to properly plan their communities. See for more on our work making communities sustainable.

What will your government do to get light rail and other forms of alternative transportation built in the South of Fraser?
Planning sustainable communities and adding transportation options go hand-in-hand. We need a re-elected BC Liberal government to continue the work that has been started in transportation. It is our goal to double transit ridership by 2020 to more than 400 million trips a year. This means funding and finishing the Canada, Evergreen, and UBC SkyTrain lines, and improving the Millennium and Expo lines. It means building a new Port Mann Bridge to allow reliable transit service on Hwy. 1 for the first time in a generation.

Locally, it means adding RapidBus lines along 200th Street and Highway 1. When the new Port Mann Bridge opens, you will be able to take a bus from Langley to Lougheed SkyTrain station in 23 minutes. We see these RapidBus routes as the first step toward building the ridership necessary to add light rail on those routes. Streetcars use a lot of the same infrastructure as RapidBus, so we have that option in the future. A major transit station and exchange is planned at the Hwy. 1/200th St. interchange, which will serve people going north-south via the Golden Ears Bridge and east-west on the freeway.

By the end of 2009, our major Fraser Valley transit study will be complete. I am looking forward to seeing the recommendations out of that study. I personally believe that light rail could be an important component of the south Fraser’s transportation system going forward, but we must do our due diligence, work on business plans, and ensure it will be successful for the people of Langley, Surrey, Abbotsford and beyond. I also believe that this transit infrastructure will help communities like Langley continue to densify and spark transit-oriented development.

We also remain committed to investing in bike lanes and bike locker facilities, improving SkyTrain security, building necessary road infrastructure to keep our economy strong, and pursuing our $14 billion provincial transit plan. No other party has the breadth of vision we have for transportation—or the ability to create and lead an economy strong enough to pay for this infrastructure. Our plan will reduce provincial transportation greenhouse gas emissions by 4.7 million tonnes by 2020—equivalent to parking all cars and light trucks in Metro Vancouver for one year. For more on our transit plan, visit

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Portland - Climate Action Plan

So it looks like the City of Portland has decided to fight climate change. The City has released a draft climate action plan, and is looking for comments from their citizens. By 2050, they want to see GHG causing emission 75% below 1990 levels.

The eight areas they targeted are: Buildings and energy, Land use and mobility, Consumption and solid waste climate change preparation, Urban forestry, Food and agriculture, Community engagement, Climate change preparations, and Local government operations.

Be sure to check out this draft plan on their website.

Election Series – Part Two

Today we will be hearing from Langley Green Party Candidate Ron Abgrall. I posted part one of this series yesterday.

What will your government do to promote sustainable community design?
What will your government do to get light rail and other forms of alternative transportation built in the South of Fraser?

I do have a thought about how transit should work in a community.As an automotive technician, for almost 30 years, I have seen the old roads deteriorate and new roads branch off them. I think inter urban transit is the best way to move people about within there community. Im not sure that a rail system will help reduce the congestion on the roads, as proposed in Langley. It may be that we have to think outside the box, and look at an elevated network that by-pass the road net work.

I want you to know that I would workwith those involved to make a cleaner more accessible community, in witch we could get out of our cars and enjoy the out doors. More roads, more bridges, means more cars. Cars are good but bad for the environment, lets learn to park them more and live and work in our own community.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Election Series

Good morning, today starts the first part of a series for the upcoming provincial election on May 12th. We asked candidates from the Green Party, BC Liberals, and NDP from the Fort Langley-Aldergrove and Langley ridings two simple questions. We will post the responses we received in the order in which we received them. Today we will hear from the NDP’s Langley candidate Kathleen Stephany.

What will your government do to promote sustainable community design?
By creating the green bonds, we will be able to fund significant green infrastructure developments in addition to helping develop a safe investment that will help stabilize the economy. The NDP has always been concerned about the environment and sustainable development, and that is a high priority for Kathleen Stephany as well.

What will your government do to get light rail and other forms of alternative transportation built in the South of Fraser?
The plan to get light rail out to the South of Fraser by 2031 is obscene. The South of Fraser needs light rail now. While there are many priorities around the province, we can not promise shovels in the ground as of May 13th, however, Kathleen Stephany vows to be a strong advocate for light rail to be taken out to Langley, and beyond as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

News Update

I thought I would start the morning out my having a look at a study that is happening in the Victoria Region. Last year I blogged about the E & N rail and how there is an effort to revitalized that line. Anyway, BC Transit is now studying this line and other options in something that is called “Victoria Regional Rapid Transit.
The January 2008 release of the Provincial Transit Plan promoting the expansion of reliable rapid transit in British Columbia provided the opportunity to embark on a more detailed study of rapid transit network options. The Victoria Regional Rapid Transit Project (VRRTP) is intended to develop recommendations for a rapid link between Victoria and the West Shore in a better defined context.
On the topic of transit studies, the Abbotsford News has an opinion piece called “Get on with rapid transit:
Ultimately, however, it is difficult to imagine a future in which light rail does not play a role in the Valley’s transit picture.

Considering that commuting and traffic congestion has been a key regional issue for at least a decade, the study and planning work is long overdue.

Let’s get on with a rapid transit plan.
Finally, it looks like the Seattle Region is getting smart cards (I have a feeling we might be getting the same system.) They started the trial of the system yesterday. I makes since for Seattle because they will be providing a common fare collection system for seven different transit agencies.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Living Wall

I had the chance to check out the newish development on the corner of Cambie and Broadway in Vancouver while picking up some wine for a family get together this weekend. It is really interesting because there is a raft of big box developers in a very non-conventional big box development. There is something very satisfying about seeing condos on top of a Home Depot with an entrance that goes right up to the sidewalk.

Anyway, I took at few pictures of a living on all the new Whole Foods that they are opening there. I don’t know if it’s more for looks or it there is some insulation benefit from this kind of “brick”, but it look really cool…

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama Talks About Vancouver Rail

This week, US President Barack Obama announced an investment of US$ 8B to create a world-class railway that will provide sustainable and reliable transportation. President Obama called it:

"a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century. Reduces travel times and increases mobility."

Later he talked about how this is not something of the future, it is happen. Just not in the USA. His plan includes high-speed rail service from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA if we let it. We have reported last week about the red tape offered from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and processing of passengers after their normal business hours. Global BC reported last night that for the sake of $1,800 to provide the processing, we are giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars in tourist spending in Vancouver. Global also discussed a $3M siding that the BC government paid for to make passenger service more viable on this rail line and help AMTRAK avoid freight train conflicts.

I was happy to see our friends at Transport 2000 BC were interviewed on Global's News Hour Final. As of this writing a video link was not available. We are very pleased to see Transport 2000 take the lead on this rail corridor, as passenger rail and sustainable transportation takes many forms and we can't focus on all of them at all times. Thank you Transport 2000 BC!

You can watch the ABC News coverage of the President's announcement here. You can also read more here. All this as American's thirst for more rail service increases.

In researching this story I found these transportation links that you may find interesting. They have absolutely nothing to do with this high-speed rail story, but provide interesting facts and information:

The Vancouver Sun's special Transit-Spotting found here.

Cushioned walking paths for Vancouver?

New Port Mann Bridge will be finsihed by the end of 2012 - One full year earlier!

Vandals believed to be two young females, busted up ticket and validation machines at three SkyTrain stations. The story and picture appears here. They caused over $5,000 in damages. We hope that Chief Ward Clapham and his transit police find these two and make examples of them.

BC Carbon Tax: Finally, Tzeporah Berman, a well-known environmentalist and long-time NDP supporter told the party this week that she feels "deeply betrayed" and said, "You have put politicking before the planet in the most hypocritical fashion". Berman was referring to NDP statements this week that they would scrap the BC Carbon Tax that was implemented by the BC Liberals. Just reporting the facts here without being partisan. For the record, both Nathan and I support the carbon tax, and we personally favour two different political parties.

Friday, April 17, 2009

News from the World of Transit

Australia and Canada have a lot in common when it comes to how our cities where formed. Like the US, both countries went car-centric starting in the 1940’s and 50’s, but unlike the US we didn’t have the money to go whole-hog with the gutting of our urban centres for "progress." With that in mind, it is always interesting to see what is going on in that country.

An article in the Brisbane Times heralds “A sustainable Sydney needs bikes and trams.”
Around the world, smart cities are remaking themselves. They are investing in sustainable public transport and creating pedestrian-friendly environments, reducing their greenhouse emissions, cleaning the air, and providing places for people to meet and congregate…

…I would like to see part of the massive economic stimulus packages around the world directed to developing green infrastructure, laying the foundation for a restructuring of the economy to allow for a low-carbon future. Cities are critical to this shift. More than half the world's population lives and works in cities, which are the major source of greenhouse gas emissions. They are where we must make the biggest and most urgent changes.
Meanwhile in the US, Portland received a thumbs-up from the US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Although he mentioned the role of light rail, bus and bicycling, LaHood gave special attention to streetcar. He even hinted that he would visit Portland with a streetcar surprise.

"Streetcars are going to be a priority, certainly, as a part of livable communities," he said. "We're going to be making some announcements about streetcars very soon."
So, we better be getting a 200th St. streetcar as part of an election promise and light rail for the South Fraser. :-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bus News and Suggestions

This is a bit of old news that I blogged a month ago, but on April 20th TransLink will be improving bus service. The 502 will be improving from 10 minute peak service to 7 minute peak service. This is much needed as the following picture shows.

Also the 502 will now improve from running every hour to every half-hour for Aldergrove service.

While on the topic of buses, there is one thing that always seemed odd about bus service here. Bus stops are normally located after an intersection. This is fine most of the time, but I think TransLink should look at changing bus stops where two busy route meet from this:

To this:
As it stands now, you have to cross a street whenever you need to transfer buses. If you changed it to the way I propose, you wouldn’t have to cross the street going one direction, but you would have to cross the street twice going the other direction. Basically, you would do this when you know the direction most people went. I wouldn’t do this everywhere, but intersections like 152nd Street and Fraser Highway might be a good candidate for this design. The minute or so saved could be the difference between catching your bus or having to waiting 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Election in the Air

Ah! the smell of an election is in the air, it must be spring. Anyway to help celebrate next month’s election, I thought I would highlight what the major parties have to say about transit, and how they plan to improve it in their platforms. Let’s start with the Greens:
The BC Greens would use a portion of these collected taxes to build new transportation infrastructure, including pedestrian, rail, bicycle and public transit.
Now on to the Liberals. In their platform, they plan on working with transit agencies and universities to introduce a common U-Pass program. Also in the list is the Smartcard/Turnstile upgraded fare collection system on TransLink. They also mentioned the $14 billion transit plan that has been blogged about previously. And finally they mentioned the Fraser Valley transit study:
Major transit studies underway to identify best transit options for the Fraser Valley and southern Vancouver Island, including upgrading the existing Southern Rail and E&N rail corridors.
Finally let’s see what the NDP has to say in their platform about transit:
-Expand passenger train service between Seattle and Vancouver.
-Make necessary capital investments in needed bus and transit options in Metro Vancouver to cut congestion and pollution.
-Tune-up TransLink. The Campbell Liberals’ approach to TransLink has resulted in expensive privatization schemes, decisions made in secret and dictated by the Campbell government.
-The NDP will repeal Bill 43 to restore democratic control and public accountability to local government and taxpayers.
They also plan on rolling back transit fares and start construction on the Evergreen Line.

No word in any platform about light rail for the South Fraser.

That’s it for today, but stay tuned for more election coverage as the campaigning progresses.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Street of the Future

The following graphic is from GOOD Magazine that was directed our way from Langley Politics.

You'll have to visit their website to get the interactive graphic.

Pedestrian street lighting, dedicated transit lanes, separated bike lanes, pedestrian leading signals, curb extension, raised/textured crosswalks, speed bumps, street livery, and bollards are some of the tools this graphic suggests for creating a complete road. I agree with all these recommendations.

In the South Fraser we have some ways to go before we get to this ideal street, but there has been some progress on secondary streets like 116th Street in Delta and other traffic calmed streets, but no one has dared to touch a major road in a major way.

I think it will take some bold moves on the part of our local governments to see complete roads. King George Highway and 200th Street are two corridors that come to mind that could get converted to complete roads status. The right-of-way is there for sure. I think 200th Street is in a better position than King George Highway at becoming at complete road; it is 80% there with the pathway system on each side of 200th. All it needs are intersection improvement (bike boxes and pedestrian priority measures) to make the street more bike and people friends and, of course, mixed-use development.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Meeting Media Online

Last Thursday we had MLA Mary Polak speak at our meeting. I’ve posted up the audio and some photos from the night below.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who Uses Transit?

I was fishing through the Statistics Canada website today and found this interesting chart of transit use in Langley Township and BC. The interesting fact was found under use by sex. In the Township, 670 females use transit compared with 645 males. In BC the numbers increase to 113,490 females vs. 81,655 males.

Walkers and cyclers also follows this trend with 940 females in the Township walking or using a bicycle vs. 820 males. Again in BC the numbers show 85,135 females vs. 82,510 males. These are the latest 2006 numbers. 

I was thinking about my recent trip to Portland and public transit use there. Using eyeball analysis I would say their transit use is 50% male and 50% female. The streetcars and MAX line trains all have very large windows, metal spacers between seats (unlike SkyTrain seats) and they are wider. All of these design elements increase your perception of safety. 

I've watched female passengers at the Langley City bus loop during daylight hours, while waiting for Nathan at times. They seem to be very nervous and constantly looking over their backs and at their surroundings, almost instinctively. In Portland I've noticed female passengers are streetcar stops to be very relaxed and at ease. 

I recall a time when I lived in Bangkok, Thailand. Buses were getting more and more crowded and transit planners decided to institute the "Microbus". These smaller buses took on seated passengers only and stopped at less stops during rush hour. Some were designated as female buses only, and male passengers were not allowed on these special designated buses. Soon after, "Lady Buses" were introduced. It was a popular service and there were many reasons for its success. 

These numbers and observations should remind us that good transit supports all ridership and should be planned with all users in mind. If a large percentage of females use the planned system, their personal safety both daytime and evenings should always be considered in the design and mode of transit. Perhaps this is yet another reason to consider Light Rail transit? 

In other news, our very own Nathan Pachal received a hat tip here on the Planning Pool Blog.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

AMTRAK Cascades Vancouver - Seattle

Our friends at Transport 2000 Canada recently wrote to the Federal Minister of Public Safety to address some concerns, as well as some information on fees that the Canadian Border Services Agency(CBSA) wants to charge to service this train. The letter contains some interesting facts and you can check it all out here. I love the fact that they also talked about a White Rock stop! Here's a good quote on the ridership and economic impact of the AMTRAK Cascades:

"Washington State has studied the impact of the first train. American passengers coming to Canada spend money on hotels, meals and transportation, as well as on goods and services they buy. The second train is expected to generate US$18 million visitor expenditures, which means about U $765,000 revenue in GST for the Federal Government. So the Federal Government makes a profit even if we assume the dollar at par.

The trains on the West coast in the US continue to have increased ridership. Total Northwest Corridor ridership was 847,563 in 2008 up 15.4% over 2007. Seattle is well served by trains from all directions, which maybe one of the reasons cruise ships are moving their terminal from Vancouver to Seattle.

Amtrak, thanks to Vice-President Joe Biden, is getting $1.3 billion in improving infrastructure. Washington State hopes to get some of these funds to build a third track between Seattle and Portland so as to speed up the Cascades services.

So why is the Canadian Government being so obstinate in requiring extra fees? ... If it works for trains, why not for planes, buses and passenger cars?"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Portland Continues to Expand LRT While We Just Think About It

Portland's MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) light rail system will soon add a fourth route. The MAX is a 44 mile LRT system that runs east-west with 64 stations. The Eastside MAX Blue Line runs 15 miles east and connects Portland to Gresham and opened in 1986. Westside MAX Blue Line runs 18 miles and connects Portland west to Hillsboro.

The MAX Red Line (or Airport MAX) connects Portland to PDX Airport running 5.5 miles northwest from Gateway Transit Center to PDX and cost $125M to build. The new $350M Interstate MAX Yellow Line runs 5.8 miles and connects Expo Center in North Portland to downtown Portland and the rest of the transit system.

For about 1 1/2 years I have watched the new rail in the street near the PDX AMTRAK station that I use each trip. As the line would service the Pearl District hotel that I usually stay at, I have been greatly anticipating the opening of this line. Imagine my surprise as I was leaving Portland this week and found this in front of my AMTRAK station!

This two phase I-205/Portland Mall MAX is scheduled to open in the Fall of this year. The first phase is a 6.5 mile I-205 LRT that will bring service out to Clackamas County, Milwaukie and Southeast Portland and will run along Interstate Hwy. 205. The second phase is called the Portland Mall Extension that will allow direct downtown connections from the PDX Union Station AMTRAK station to Portland State University (PSU) and very close to my favourite Portland hotel! It will be called the MAX Green Line and will run a total of 8.3 miles. The Green Line will have 15 new stations and provide for 2,000 park and ride 

The transit systems in Portland are run by the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (Tri-Met). They have been tasked with implementing an efficient light rail network that will attract new development, while at the same time NOT bringing a disproportionate growth in road traffic. 83% of riders choose Tri-Met over their cars. Four fifths of Tri-Met riders have a car, but choose to ride the LRT and bus. 

Investments worth $2.4B has occurred along the MAX line since building it, not to mention ongoing property taxes collected. It's interesting to note that the Westside MAX travels through stretches of undeveloped lands. The line has attracted 7,000 housing developments and $500M in new transit-oriented communities that are within easy walking distance of the stations. 

On the development front, the $125M Airport MAX has opened up a 120 acre transit-oriented development near the PDX airport entrance that is scheduled to complete in 2015. Part of the MAX Green Line was put down in a street filled with empty warehouses with broken windows way before this line would open. The area now looks much like our Vancouver's Yaletown, with trendy apartments and urban shops. 

I travelled out to Clackamas this trip. I took a street car from my hotel to a MAX train, and then on to 3-4 buses to reach my destination, a strip mall in Clackamas. It took about 66 minutes from start to finish. The new MAX Green Line will make that trip MUCH faster, as none of my buses travelled anywhere near the highway.   

The new MAX Green was being tested here near the AMTRAK station. I couldn't resist having a chat with the friendly Tri-Met engineers here. It must be a very rewarding job for them because they appeared to be as excited as I was about MAX Green. 

Portland, Oregon is a great Light Rail Transit city. Instead of wires (masked on most streets by trees) and broken up roads, these trains allow for beautiful brick intersections like this one above that make this city shine. Most areas of the downtown core in Portland are virtually litter free and people go out of their way to find a recycle bin. As I travelled through the downtown campus of Portland State University (PSU), I hadn't seen so many bicycles since my many work visits to China. 

I believe that this emphasis on sexy transit, connectivity to work, school, housing, and play all combine to make a city peaceful and easy to get around. As Portland's motto says on all public works and other city vehicles, Portland "The City That Works"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Video about Surrey Bend and Fraser Heights

Meeting Tonight: Mary Polak

Speaker: The Honourable Mary Polak, MLA
Minister of Healthy Living & Sports

Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Township of Langley Municipal Facility
4th Floor, Nicomekl River Meeting Room
20338 – 65 Avenue, Langley

Download a Copy of the Agenda


6:45pm – 7:00pm Self-Registration /Greeting
7:00pm – 7:10pm Quick Group introductions
7:10pm - 7:15pm Introduction of The Honourable Mary Polak, MLA
7:15pm – 8:15pm "Healthy Living and Transit Use" - Minister Mary Polak
8:15pm – 8:30pm Q & A - Minister Mary Polak
8:30pm – 8:40pm Short Break
8:40pm – 8:50pm Reports
-Finance Report
-Update on VanCity Grant Application
-State of Advertising / Promotion / Website & Blog/ Help Needed/
8:50pm – 9:00pm New Business
Meeting Adjourned

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion

So I had the chance to go and look at the new convention centre yesterday before work. I have to say that it is a very impressive structure. Lots of attention paid to detail in the design. Of course the things I liked the most are the use of granite all over the place, the living roof, and the water features (to remind us how much it rains in Vancouver.) Anyway if you click on the photos in the slideshow, you can see the comments I made on each photo.

This is a really great addition to our waterfront. Since it cost almost $900 million, more than Calgary’s new 8.4km West Light Rail Line, it better well be!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meeting this Thursday - Mary Polak

Our next meeting is this Thursday, April 9th from 7:00pm - 9:00pm
in the Township of Langley Municipal Facility: 4th Floor, Nicomekl
Meeting Room, 20338 - 65 Avenue.

We will have a presentation by MLA Mary Polak, Minister of Healthy
Living & Sports. Come hear Minister Mary Polak share some insights
from a brand new UBC Report on health and transit use. Mary will
also blend in a wealth of knowledge from her cabinet post. Hear
from the minister's special view of our province.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Riding The Rails Again

The AMTRAK Cascades Train 513 pulls in at King Station in Seatte this morning

Note the pedestrian overpass above the train. This overpass allows passengers to get from street level up top, down to The Sounder commuter train service down below on the other side of this AMTRAK train. 

Nathan and I have both blogged here about ugly "utilitarian" Canadian infrastructure and how more public art and decor is designed into overpasses and other structures in the USA. These photos above are good examples of his an ugly overpass can become public art. There are also several other examples that I saw on the way to Portland today, but unfortunately a camera and a quick moving train don't always mix! At least I captured this good example for you. More to come over the next few days.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bike Lane in Langley City

I saw this about a month ago, but I didn’t have a way to take a picture of it. I was walking to the grocery store yesterday (the first warm, sunny day of the year it seems) and happened to come across a separated bike lane. Now it isn’t perfect or even complete (no bike box at the intersections and its only about one block long), but one side of the road has a proper bike lane!

Langley City has a patchwork of incomplete biking infrastructure. I’m hoping that the City will start to invest in completing this network. It seems to me like working began in the late eighty’s on building a bike network, but then something happened. Hopefully Langley City’s Park, Environment, Recreation, and Cultural Committee (which I’m on) will be able to make some recommendation to move this forward.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Money Makes The World Go Around

Money and budgets are a necessary evil in municipal circles and the Township of Langley is currently in a budget process. Without being political, I hope this information will be considered by our citizens in the Township of Langley and that they will provide feedback to mayor and council as I did yesterday.

I have attended all but one Finance Committee meeting, as well as the Council budget meetings that were held. Staff worked up numbers to show what various options would look like. The options were 1%, 3.95% and 5% tax increases. Obviously the higher the increase the more you can do. Some have argued that these are tough economic times and we need to be conservative.

I would agree with those who propose being conservative to a point, but I also recognize that the Township is not a commercial enterprise. The ToL cannot cut as a business does. We have made major investments in our community transportation assets like roads, bridges, transit corridors, etc. There are other non-transportation related assets, but I wanted to focus on transportation here.

In reviewing the budget documents and speaking with engineering staff I see 7 items that can be funded under transportation with a 1% tax increase. Basically some simple paving projects and that's about it with a budget of $15,563,953 for transportation, of which $4,896,031 goes to Salaries, Wages, Bendefits & Other. This would create a surplus of only $21,752 for any unexpected emergencies in 2009.

The challenges with a 1% icrease budget is that we will have serious shortfalls, unless we borrow money from reserves and increase our financial risks. 

1% Budget (shortfalls)

2009 = - $1,929,442

2010 = - $3,491,219

2011 = - $4,615,043

2012 = - $6,086,789

2013 = - $8,987,178

1% Transportation Utility (surpluses)

2009 =  $21,752

2010 =  $671,061

2011 =   $697,258

2012 =  $387,056

2013 =  $308,773

Also with the 1% increase, Water and Sewer Utilities Contribution to Capital would be depleted. All at a time where more and more residents want water and sewer lines in the ToL. 

3.95% Budget (surpluses)

2009 = - $224,195

2010 = - $1,008,805

2011 = - $2,437,527

2012 = - $3,738,746

2013 = - $3,846,914

A 3.95% increase would produce these surpluses for the Transportation Utility, thereby allowing us to fund more projects:

3.95% Transportation Utility (surpluses)

2009 =  $396,380

2010 =  $1,453,845

2011 =   $1,924,060

2012 =  $2,096,218

2013 =  $2,541,277

5% Budget Surplus/Shortfall

2009 - 2013 = - $0

5% Transportation Utility Surplus/Shortfall

2009 - 2010 =  $0

2011 =  - $1,197,605 (with $3,078,975 Contribution to Capital)

2012 =   - $2,613,832 (with $4,955,274 Contribution to Capital)

2013 =   - $3,398,213(with $5,500,000 Contribution to Capital)

Obviously the surpluses would be applied to fund more projects. An important transportation priority that I see on the list of potential projects is the replacement of the bridge at 232nd Street and 68th Avenue. I have been told by engineers that we may get as little as 12-18 months use of this bridge before major structural concerns will prevent trucks and larger vehicles from using this bridge. The price to design and construct a 232nd Street bridge is pegged at $1,500,000.

Also, the average person doesn't realize that the 200th Street Interchange vehicle capacity study assumed an overpass for 216th as well as a 4 lane 208th Street overpass, as part of the Major Roads Network (MRN). The cost to design and build a new 4 lane 208th Street overpass is pegged at $3,216,000. I have been told that the existing overpass allows for us to kick off the side plates and expand to 4 lanes, thereby saving us some cash.

I personally provided a feedback form to support a 5% increase, but I would also support a 3.95% increase. There is no way I would support anything less and put our community and transportation needs in jeopardy. 

The choice is yours based on the facts and figures. More details and info on providing input can be found at the ToL website here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Breaking News: Light Rail for Toronto

I’ve been blogging about Toronto’s Transit City vision for some time now. A few days ago, I mentioned that it was one step closer to become a reality. While, the Province of Ontario just committed $9 billion to the project:
The Eglinton rapid transit line will be the most expensive among the projects, costing about $4.6-billion. The City of Toronto and Metrolinx will determine final costs, the government said.

It will also include funding for the Toronto Transit Commission's plans to update and extend the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, and build a new rapid transit line along Finch Avenue from the Yonge subway line west to Highway 27 and east to Don Mills station.
You can read more about this in the Global and Mail. I like this quote for the article:
“We need to move quickly to build a better public transit system for commuters,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a statement. “Our investments in transit will create jobs, help stimulate the economy and improve the air we breathe.”