Friday, March 30, 2012

Re-post Friday: Langley Exchange Project

This following was sent to me by Township of Langley Planning to post.

Over the coming months, TransLink, the City of Langley and Township of Langley will be working together to design new transit exchanges for Downtown Langley and for Willowbrook.

In the next 20 years, as the population rapidly grows in the South of Fraser, the current downtown Langley exchange is expected to see major growth, requiring a significant number of additional bus layover spaces. The proposed development of two new transit exchange locations is aimed at addressing this growing demand. While each exchange has many similarities, there are unique aspects to each exchange.

We will be conducting separate consultations for each project and will ensure close coordination and communication on both projects. The following four phased approach to the planning and consultation process will take place over the coming months:

Phase 1 – Identify the possible opportunities and constraints for the exchanges

Phase 2 – Gather input on design objectives and evaluation criteria

Phase 3 – Gather input on design of preferred options

Phase 4 – Presentation of final designs

The purpose of the first phase of engagement is to gather input from key stakeholders in advance of the staff design workshop and public consultation. TransLink would like to invite you to participate in either one, or both, of the stakeholder workshops that will take place as follows:

Update: Right now TransLink will be starting the first phase of the project and will be going out for public feedback shortly. I'll keep you post on when that happens.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 Township Budget - Spending Priorities

I was reading the afternoon Township of Langley Council Meeting agenda and came across the results from the public consultation on the Township's 2012 - 2016 Financial Plan. One of the questions asked was what "the top three programs/services residents would like to see improvements or increases in services, combined with the top three local issues facing the Township over the next five years." The results are:

1.) Agriculture and Equestrian Centre 11
2.) South Langley Regional Trail 8
3.) Aldergrove Recreation Facility 1
4.) Multi Use Arts Centre/Theatre 0

I hope council doesn't consider feedback from 11 people as broad support for an Agriculture and Equestrian Centre in the Township that doesn't benefit the majority of urban residents in Langley.

I also looked through the list of "top 3 programs/services where would you like to see services reduced or eliminated to reduce taxes". It was interesting that most of the comments focused on cutting council's pay, reducing "fat", or cutting parks, recreation, and culture programs which is interesting because people also answered that parks, recreation, and culture programs were important to expand when asked what the "3 most important local issues facing the Township of Langley over the next 5 years" are. Improving transit service was also high on the list. This shows me that people really want improved service, but don't want to pay for it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Annual Secondary Suite Fee in the Township of Langley?

So, I was reading the agenda for last night's Township Council meeting and came across the following notice of motion:
At the March 5, 2012 Regular Evening Meeting of Council, Councillor Richter
provided the following Notice of Motion:

1. Secondary Suites

Whereas more secondary suites are being added in Township of Langley homes;
Whereas there are no additional taxes paid by single family home owners with secondary suites; and
Whereas secondary suites do incur additional municipal costs for services such as water, sewer, garbage, recycling, parking, parks, street use, etc.;

Therefore be it resolved that Township Council hold a public hearing style meeting to receive input from the public on whether or not the Township should implement an annual secondary suite fee or tax in future budgets to help offset these additional costs.
While the motion seems like a great idea, I think that one of the challenges that the Township will face is enforcement. I believe there are still more illegal suites than legal suites in our community and adding this fee will be another disincentive for people to make their suites legal.

I've always supported a user-fee system that changes people for what they use instead of a flat-rate system that can be unfair. Water meters capture water and sewer usage. Already, there is a limit on the amount of garbage that can put out. Many city services are already based on user usage fees.

I think the major issue for people is parking or lack there-of, and that can be solved by looking at communities like Vancouver which have on-street parking permits. All the Township needs to do is hand out 1 or 2 parking permits per legal household and change a nominal fee to cover the administration of the program. This would ensure that people with illegal suites are not "steeling" parking. I think this would be a far more effective solution.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation March 7, 2012 Motions

I have uploaded a copy of the official letter that was sent from TransLink's Mayors' Council to Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom to the document archive of this site. The highlights include the following motions.
Motion #1
The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation requests changes to legislation to:
-require the approval of both TransLink’s base and supplementary budgets by the Mayors’ Council;
-enable a Graduated Vehicle Registration Fee or a new Regional Carbon Tax in order to avoid the short-term property tax increase; and
-provide for review of TransLink by the Provincial Auditor General or the new Local Government Auditor General.

Motion # 2
The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation requests that:
a) the Provincial Government of BC amend or introduce legislation prior to June 2012 to enable the following long term revenue sources:
1. Comprehensive road pricing to be built on sound demand management strategies and consistent with the principles adopted by the Mayors’ Council on May 3, 2011;
2. New Regional Carbon Tax;
3. Allocation of future or restructured Provincial Carbon Tax revenues;
4. Graduated Vehicle Registration Fee based on engine size, fuel consumption, emissions rating;
5. Additional Fuel Tax;
6. Flexibility to add other best practices from around the world;
b) clarify that any new funding changes are to be implemented by the Mayors’ Council subject to public engagement.

Motion #3
The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation authorizes the release of the motions from the Mayors’ Council March 7, 2012 In-Camera meeting, and the resulting draft letter to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, to local councils.

Motion #4
The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation:
a) requests changes to legislation to:
-add Electoral Area A Director as a full member of the Mayors’ Council;
-allow the Mayors’ Council to call regular or subcommittee meetings when required and for remuneration in a manner consistent with Metro Vancouver to be funded within the Mayors’ Council funding envelope;
b) wishes to engage an independent, third party governance consultant and undertake a process that will review past and current public transportation governance models and best practices from other jurisdictions, with a view to recommending future changes to legislation based on the following principles:
-Openness and transparency to the shareholders (taxpayers) as exemplified by more public meetings;
-More direct involvement of the region in planning, funding and establishment of long term vision for transportation; and
-Review and establishment of long term funding options and allocations based on agreed on plans and vision.
In motion 1, the mayors are basically asking for TransLink to become controlled once again by politicians which is interesting because that is very similar to how TransLink was run originally. I guess it's true that what's old is new again!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Transit is best bang for buck

In Metro Vancouver, taxes and transportation are two topics that get people talking. Over the last few days, I’ve been reading all sorts of comments around transportation and transit and I’ve realized that there is a bunch of misinformation out there. For some reason people think that transit spending is a waste of money.

For some background in 2010, user-fees covered 34% of transit related operating and capital spending for TransLink. Provincially we have a dedicated gas tax, which you could consider a user-fee, that will pay for 36% of the operating and capital spending on roads by the Province in the current budget cycle. Federally and municipally there is no dedicated gas tax which goes directly to roads, just general revenue. Both transit and roads rely on taxes to pay for the majority of their budget.

When you want to improve any service beyond just keeping up with population growth, it will require more money: it’s that simple. That’s why user-fees and taxation has increased over the years to pay for increasing transit service in the South of Fraser and why the Port Mann Bridge is getting a toll. But here is the real question which is a better value, roads or transit?

Between 1998 and 2010 population in Metro Vancouver has increased by a factor of 1.2. Transit ridership has grown by a factor of 1.5.
TransLink Ridership (Note there was a labour dispute in 2001). Source: Metro Vancouver and APTA

Transit ridership is increasing faster than the population of the region. In the same time period, traffic over the Port Mann Bridge has flatlined in absolute terms.

Port Mann Bridge AADT. Source: BC Ministry of Transportation

It’s not just the Port Mann Bridge though, traffic volumes are stabilizing all over the region.

Highway 1 AADT west of 200th Street. Source: BC Ministry of Transportation

Here’s another interesting fact, since the opening of the Canada Line Richmond has seen three-years of decline in registered vehicles. We know that highways can negativity effect health, our social wellbeing, and the environment while transit has a positive effect on our health, social wellbeing, and the environment. From a value standpoint, doesn’t it make more sense to invest in something that people actually want to use and that has a ton of positive benefits?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Transit Value

One of the things that I noticed lately is how some people in the media are quick to point out how they think that transit is a waste of money. If you've been reading the papers lately, there has been calls for yet another audit of TransLink because of perceive waste. While I think that audits are a good thing, TransLink has been audited recently by KPMG, the Office of the Comptroller General, and handful of reviews by the independent TransLink Commissioner already. While some of these reports have found some savings, there hasn't been any revelation of major waste that could go to funding more transit. I suspect that the call for more audits in nothing but politics.

But even beyond the perception that TransLink is wasteful, there is the perception that transit in general is wasteful which I find odd.

The new 10-lane Port Mann Bridge and 37 kilometre Highway 1 expansion is being constructed at a cost of $3.3 billion or $89.2 million per kilometre. TransLink's SkyTrain system which is one of the most expensive transit systems in the world costs an average of $86.9 million per kilometre.

Here is a fun fact: the SkyBridge only cost $50.9 million (1990) or $80.1 million today to build. The SkyTrain bridge can handle more people per hour than the Port Mann Bridge will be able to handle once it is completed. If you want to talk about value for money, I think that transit is your best bet.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing the TransLink audit being completed, so we can get to the business of improving transportation in the South of Fraser.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cost of SkyTrain

So, I receive a book the other day call "On Track: The SkyTrain Story", it's a book publish by TransLink on the wonders of SkyTrain. The book is full of useful statics including the following:

Phase I (Original Expo Line)
Length: 21.4km
Started Construction: 1981
In Service: 1986
Cost: $854.3m (1986)
Cost: $1,601.15m (2012)
Cost per km: $74.8m (2012)

Phase II (Columbia to Scott Road)
Length: 3.1km
Started Construction: 1986
In Service: 1990
Cost: $179m (1990) 
Cost: $281.69m (2012)
Cost per km: $90.9m (2012)

Phase III (Scott Road to King George)
Length: 4.4km
Started Construction: 1990
In Service: 1994
Cost: $148m (1994)
Cost: $207.48m (2012)
Cost per km: $47.1m (2012)

Phase IV/V (Millennium Line)
Length: 20.5km
Started Construction: 1999
In Service: 2002
Cost: $1,167m (2002)
Cost: $1,443.21 (2012)
Cost per km: $70.4m (2012)

Canada Line
Length: 19.2km
Started Construction: 2005
In Service: 2009
Cost:  $2,000m (2009)
Cost: $2,136.28m (2012)
Cost per km: $111.3m (2012)

Evergreen Line
Length: 11km
Started Construction: ?
In Service: ?
Cost: $1,400m (2012)
Cost per km:  $127m (2012)

Average per km cost of SkyTrain: $86.9m

What I found interesting about this information is that when adjusted for inflation the Expo Line and Millennium Line essential cost the same, but costs started to get out of control for the Canada Line and almost doubled for the Evergreen Line. The reason why the Canada Line and Evergreen Line cost so much is because of the high cost of building bored tunnels. If the rich residents of west Vancouver hadn't forced the Canada Line to be put in a tunnel or the Evergreen Line didn't shift from light rail to SkyTrain in a tunnel, I have to wonder if we'd be building light rail already for Surrey and the South of Fraser.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Drive-Thru Coffee Shop Update

For awhile, I've been following the development application for a proposed drive-thru coffee shop in Downtown Langley. Tonight, the City of Langley will be holding a public hearing on the development permit. I grabbed the site plan and render from the Committee of the Whole agenda. What is good about this application is that the coffee shop fronts Fraser Highway and provides pedestrian access off the street. I do find it interesting that while the City of Langley is trying to build a pedestrian-friendly Downtown, when looking over the development application the plan is to have 60% of the traffic from the cars and the drive-thru. The application spends the majority of the time talking about parking and traffic, but little or no time about cyclists or pedestrians. While the application is not technical in Downtown Langley (it's one building away) more emphases should be put into creating a public space that makes pedestrians a priority. This is the gateway to Downtown Langley after all.

Proposed Site Plan for 20112 Fraser Highway. Click Image to Enlarge.

Renders of Proposed Coffee Shop. Click Image to Enlarge.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New White Rock/Langley Bus Route

For awhile now, I've been looking forward to bus service that connects Langley and White Rock. As a resident of the City of Langley, it takes over an hour to get to White Rock today on bus because you must go via Surrey Central SkyTrain station practically while driving should take around 20 minutes. This new bus service, which will launch shortly, will run from around 6am to 9pm seven days a week. What I find interesting about this route is that it completely bypasses Downtown Langley and the Langley Centre Bus Exchange, but is based on an urban grid bus network pattern that was recommended in the South of the Fraser Area transit plan. Also, it will be interesting to see if they extend service later on Fridays and Saturdays as White Rock is one of those place people stay late at.

New Langley/White Rock Bus Route. Select image to enlarge.
Thanks to @BusShots for the tip.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Form-based Zoning

Over the last little while, I’ve been thinking a bit about zoning. With the City of Langley now looking to even further regulate what businesses are allowed in the community which I have some issue with, it has become clear to me that cities shouldn’t been focusing as much on land-uses, floor area ratios, and minimum parking requirement which do little to improve communities, but focus more on what form we want our communities to look like.

I found a great article on Wikipedia about form-based zoning. The basics of form-based zoning is that it focuses on what types of buildings best suits the type of public realm you are trying to create. An urban downtown is going to have a different building form than a quiet residential street.

From Wikipedia Article: At a minimum, a form-based code, written to enable or preserve a specific urban form, consists of building form and public space standards keyed to a regulating plan. An urban design is the intention or goal, the form-based code is the regulatory tool to achieve it.
According to the article, if you can answer these questions by looking at your zoning bylaw, you have form-based zoning.
How does one determine if a development regulation is a form-based code and a well-crafted one? Form-based codes generally receive affirmative answers to all of the following questions:

Is the code's focus primarily on regulating urban form and less on land use?

Is the code regulatory rather than advisory?

Does the code emphasize standards and parameters for form with predictable physical outcomes (build-to lines, frontage type requirements, etc.) rather than relying on numerical parameters (floor-area ratios, density, etc.) whose outcomes are impossible to predict?

Does the code require private buildings to shape public space through the use of building form standards with specific requirements for building placement?

Does the code promote and/or conserve an interconnected street network and pedestrian-scaled blocks?

Are regulations and standards keyed to specific locations on a regulating plan?

Are the diagrams in the code unambiguous, clearly labeled, and accurate in their presentation of spatial configurations?
We should be focusing more on built form and less on land-use, floor-ratio ratios, and minimum parking requirement.

In the City of Langley, for example, 10 pages of the zoning bylaw talks about parking and the section on zone C3 "Specific Commercial Zone" spends three pages talking about acceptable land-use. On the important topic of build-form, it use about 3/4 of a page which is mostly tables of numbers. If you looked at the bylaw, you wouldn't have a clear idea of what the final building would look like.

The built form of our communities affect human health, the environment, and the future that we'll leave for our children. If we want to create communities that are more sustainable, we need to overhaul our zoning bylaws because I don’t believe that people would support the build form currently allowed if examples of what is allowed today was transferred into a form-based zoning bylaw. It would also give the development community a strong idea of the vision of a community and hopefully that will save time which saves money over the current back-and-forth process.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bus Deficit in the South of Fraser

I received the following information from Steve Burke of the Surrey Citizen Transportation Initiative (CiTi) and thought I'd pass the information along.

The following is information compiled by Patrick O'Connor, one of Surrey CiTi's members and a veteran bus driver. This is a snap shot in time so it is understood that the data is not current to March 2012 [November 2011].

Although there is some cross over for buses serving adjacent communities, for the most part, Surrey originating buses serve adjacent communities more than the reverse. Consequently Surrey originated buses are even less capable of dealing with Surrey's public transportation needs.

Although the data is not pin point accurate given these variables the take home message is clear. Surrey is underserved by bus public transit in comparison to the rest of Metro Vancouver. Given Surrey's population growth, we are falling even further behind. This is forcing motivated potential public transit users to revert back to cars and SOV's (single occupancy vehicles).

1. Population served by Surrey Transit Depot
- Surrey 475,000
- Langley 131,000
- North Delta 52,000
- White Rock 20,000
Total 678,000

2. Buses serving the Total Population (at AM rush hour)
- 145 Conventional
- 20 Community Shuttles
Total 165

3. Ratio Population/Buses served by the Depot = 4,109

4. Ratio Population/Buses in Metro Vancouver (TransLink service area) = 1,900

5. To reach this ratio the Surrey Transit Depot would require 357 buses

6. Other pertinent information
- When Vancouver had ~ 475,000 population (equivalent to Surrey's current) more than 400 buses served the community
- 15 years ago the Greater Vancouver Regional District had a population/bus ratio of 1,200 - to attain this the Surrey Transit Depot would require 565 buses
- Currently Toronto and Montreal have a population/bus ratio of 1,200

Monday, March 12, 2012

No morality crusade in the Township of Langley

Last week I posted how the City of Langley, in their latest proposed zoning amendment, proposes to ban some building uses which are illegal or promote illegal activity mixed in with other proposed banned uses that have more to do with “good moral” values. I’m a firm believer that government shouldn’t regulate the bedroom or what an adult choose to read, watch, or play within what the courts call the community standards test. The community standards test is a test that is not focused on what you would not tolerate being exposed to, but with what you would not tolerate other adults being exposed to.

Anyway that got me looking at what uses are banned in the Township of Langley in their zoning bylaw. The following uses are non-permitted commercial uses in the Township:

(a) Medical marihuana dispensary.
(b) Pool halls.
(c) Casino halls.
(d) Pawnbrokers.
(e) Tattoo shop.
(f) Cheque cashing facilities.

Compare this to the proposed non-permitted uses in the City:

(a) Auto Dismantling and Recycling Yard except that this use shall be permitted on the following properties: [see zoning bylaw]
(b) Selling, offering for sale, trading or dealing in drug paraphernalia.
(c) Adult entertainment stores.
(d) Adult theatres.
(e) Adult video stores.
(f) Arcades.
(g) Body rub parlours.
(h) Cheque cashing establishments.
(i) Currency exchanges.
(j) Escort services.
(k) Exotic entertainment.
(l) Money lending establishments.
(m) Pawnbrokers.
(n) The use of any premises for the selling, distributing, trading, cultivating, growing or producing of cannabis (marihuana) except as permitted and authorized under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada).
(o) The use of any premises, other than facilities operated by or under the supervision of the Fraser Health Authority, for the dispensing of methadone or heroin for use on the premises.
(p) The use of any premises, other than public and private schools, churches and community recreation centres, for public dances to which persons under the age of nineteen.

It seems like the city has gone a bit extreme. One of the interesting things about zoning bylaws is that when you change them; existing uses are grandparented in. According to the Local Government Act:

(1) If, at the time a bylaw under this Division is adopted,
(a) land, or a building or other structure, is lawfully used, and
(b) the use does not conform to the bylaw,
the use may be continued as a non-conforming use, but if the non-conforming use is discontinued for a continuous period of 6 months, any subsequent use of the land, building or other structure becomes subject to the bylaw.

So it seems like all these non-permitted uses that the City is proposing won’t really change anything as it will only apply to future developments. I don’t see many application these day for the things that are on the City’s list as the Internet has replaced conventional retailing for many of the proposed non-permitted uses. Given the fact that some of the non-permitted uses have been on and off this list a few times, it seems to me that out right banning some uses in the whole community is a bit silly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Robbery on the 320 Surrey Central - Update

In January, I saw someone getting robbed one-foot in front of me on the 320 bus to Surrey Central Station.

I received a letter from the Ministry of Children and Family Development that one of the criminals, that can't be named because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was placed on what they call a "differed custody and supervision order" which means according to the government.

Deferred custody and supervision order is a community-based alternative to a custodial sentence. Under a deferred custody order, the young person will serve his or her sentence in the community under a set of strict conditions. If these conditions are not followed, the young person may be sent to custody to serve the balance of that sentence.

One other individual was also charged, but I haven't received an update yet as to what happened.

TransLink rules and etiquette not always observed

So the CBC did a story on transit etiquette and some of the crazy things that happen on SkyTrain. There is even a quick blurb from myself. One of the interesting things to note was that I actually talked to them about the bus, but that didn't make the cut. While Drew Snider of TransLink noted that you can push the yellow emergency strip on SkyTrain, there is no such emergency strip on the bus.

In general we spend a lot of time talking about SkyTrain and security, but security is even more of a concern on the bus and it is often ignored. This isn't a good thing and I found out that out all to well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

City of Langley releases new economic development strategy

The City of Langley recently released a new economic development strategy. The plan's goals are to:

-Create a competitive and vibrant downtown area.
-Be recognized regional destination for new development.
-Renew Infrastructure underground and above ground) that encourages economic activity and contributes to the City’s quality of life.
-Secure strong sector partnerships that facilitate investment activity, job creation and economic diversity.

And it plans to do this by focusing on the following areas:

Infrastructure Renewal, including promoting the expansion of Rapid Transit services to Langley Regional City Centre

Information and research, including providing updates stats on the city, working with the Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA) on marketing the City, create partnerships with Kwantlen University and Trinity Western , and preparing a Brownfield renewal strategy.

Business development, including working with the DLBA to increase investor and tenant interest in Downtown properties and collaborating with the DLBA and Willowbrook shopping centre on shared recruitment efforts.

Marketing and investment attraction, including working with the Township of Langley to research development opportunities in the Langley Regional City Centre and developing a marketing plan.

One of the big things that the City needs to invest in is infrastructure, but this is a multi-million dollar, multi-year project. The key to renewing Downtown Langley will be to renew infrastructure like power, water, and sewer. This is holding up development today. Another key thing for the City will be to get rapid transit to Downtown. I think that Downtown Langley’s biggest advantage over other parts of Langley will be its access to rapid transit. With the new Park and Ride up in Willoughby, Downtown Langley will have even more challenges.

One of the other interesting focus points is working on attracting film. The only issue is that the film industry in BC hasn’t been doing so hot lately due to things like the scrapping of the HST and other jurisdiction becoming more competitive. The plan also looks at working with higher education providers like TWU and Kwantlen. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a university district developed on one of the City’s brownfield site instead of in the ALR?

One of the key things for the City of Langley is to ensure economic vitality, but as the report notes, it looks like good paying industrial jobs are being replaced with low paying retail jobs. It seems like working with the education sector is going to be key if Langley wants to attract good paying jobs to the City and ensure the possibility of a good local job for its citizens.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sidewalk coming to Langley Bypass

The title of this post may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but there is a proposed new development at the corner of 200th Street and the Langley Bypass that will include a real sidewalk which is a first for the Ministry of Transportation section of the Langley Bypass. The proposed development will include a Cactus Club Restaurant and was the subject of a public hearing at the City of Langley last night.

Site Plan. Click image to enlarge.

One of the things about this development that is a positive step in the right direction is that it fronts the Bypass and 200th Street and it isn't setback in a sea of parking. Also, while the building turns it's back to the Bypass, there is glass instead of a blank wall which is interesting considering that another development in Langley in a more pedestrian friendly areas doesn't even follow that rule.

Elevation and rendering of proposed development. Click image to enlarge.

What I did find interesting is that there is an allowance for a 4.78m road dedication along the frontage of the Langley Bypass and a 5.6m road dedication along the frontage of 200th Street. I suppose this is to ensure that in the future we can add more travel lanes or better yet, bike lanes.

The Langley Bypass is one of the worst places to be if you don't have a car. While developments like the proceeding put more thought into other forms of transportation, overall I think this section of town is doomed to be auto-only for the next little while until a plan is developed that will put a priority on providing transportation choice in the area. I do wonder if the Langley Bypass will ever become more urban and more sustainable.

Monday, March 5, 2012

City of Langley on Moral Crusade

This morning I was reading tonight’s City of Langley council agenda and I came across a proposed bylaw that would see the following uses banned in all zone in the City.

(c) Adult entertainment stores.
(d) Adult theatres.
(e) Adult video stores.
(f) Arcades.
(g) Body rub parlours.
(h) Cheque cashing establishments.
(i) Currency exchanges.
(j) Escort services.
(k) Exotic entertainment.
(l) Money lending establishments.
(m) Pawnbrokers.
(n) The use of any premises for the selling, distributing, trading, cultivating, growing or producing of cannabis (marihuana) except as permitted and authorized under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada).
(o) The use of any premises, other than facilities operated by or under the supervision of the Fraser Health Authority, for the dispensing of methadone or heroin for use on the premises.
(p) The use of any premises, other than public and private schools, churches
and community recreation centres, for public dances to which persons
under the age of nineteen.

What I find interesting is that before 1999 Arcades, Adult Entertainment, and Pawnbrokers uses were not allowed in the City and that restriction was previously lifted.

While some of the changes to the zoning make sense, overall it seems like the City is trying to impose morality on people. If you look at the definition of “Adult entertainment store” it includes places that sell “objects other than contraceptive devices that are designed or intended to be used in a sexual act.” There are actually products that you can buy at Pricesmart or Safeway that might not be able to be sold under the proposed changes. I personally don’t find a problem with people purchasing these products and I hold the view that the government should not be in the bedrooms of its citizens.

It appears that section (n) and (o) is a result of the medical marihuana dispensary issue in the City that you can read about on a previous post.

Section (p) is a result of the nothing-but-problems teen night club that was briefly operated in the City, but went out of business though I have to wonder if the bylaw wording will prevent something like a grad dance from happening at a place like the Cascades Casino as they have a ballroom there.

Finally being a bit of a gamer, I find it odd that they are banning “arcades” or Internet Gaming Cafes from the City. It seems sort of odd given that most people have a gaming console or PC anyway. Either way, I’m unsure why “arcades” are bad in the first place. Places like Castle Fun Park are arcades and I’m sure all of us born after 1975 have had a birthday party as a kid at that kind of place.

I’m actually shock that night clubs aren't in the banned use list as I don’t understand how having a night clubs with huge parking lots and no transit is a good idea for public safety

I understand what the City is trying to do, but the proposed zoning changes seems a bit overreaching to me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Budget information hard to find for the Township of Langley

This morning I went to the Township of Langley’s website and spent a good hour trying to find information on the 2012 proposed budget. I was a bit disappointed at the information available online. All I could find was a 5 page summary of the proposed 2012 budget and a PowerPoint presentation of some of the priorities of the engineering department. I couldn’t actually find overall budget spending. To make matters even more difficult, it appears that last year’s financial plan is nowhere to be found on their website. The latest financial plan is from 2010. Compare this to the City of Langley's website where I can look at the 2012 budget and the last three year's finical plans and I have to wonder why information seems more difficult to find online in the Township. Since open government seems to be a priority these days and since I believe that the financials tell you a lot about government, it seems that more effort should be taken to have this information more readily available.

On a side note, I was trying to find out how much money the Township was spending on cycling. I did find that they budgeted $160,000 for commuter cycling infrastructure which is less than the $176,000 they budgeted in 2010. This is higher than the $0 that the City of Langley spends on dedicated cycling infrastructure. In 2010, the Township's transportation budget was $78.7 million dollars. Of course most new road projects include cycling improvements, but that doesn't help in established areas. More on that later.