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.


Misty vanPopta said...

I don't think that it is necessarily for a moral code that they are trying this, but more an economic decision. For instance, my girlfriends and I would never say "Let's go downtown Langley and go shopping". There is the odd store that I make a point of going to if I need something, but I would never window shop and spend the day there. City of Langley spends a lot of money on the up keep of their core (ie. flowers, nice sidewalks etc), but there are not the type of stores there that would make me want to come. Clear out some of those businesses and attract something other then those, then maybe I would go. That is my hunch as to why the change.

Nathan Pachal said...

As someone who walks and lives in Downtown Langley, it actually is showing it's age. I've almost slipped many times on the sidewalk because of its age. Also, the infrastructure (water, sewer, hydro) is in need of major renewal which is probably one of the reason that there isn't more development in the City.

The interesting things is that when you close shops down, you create empty storefronts which is worse than having a profitable store. I would argue that the reason you don't go to Downtown Langley that much is that because it's more of a local shopping area than a regional shopping area. If you look at Downtown Vancouver and Granville Street, there are a lot more adult store. The interesting things is that they are starting to be replaces as the value of land goes and the cost of lease commercial space increase. Maybe the City should invest in infrastructure instead of shutting down people's businesses. Investing money to attract development will raise the value of the area.

I believe there is nothing worse for an area than boarded up shops.

Misty vanPopta said...

I am not suggesting in the least bit to shut down or board up any of these existing businesses. If this is what this bylaw is suggesting, then I would not support it either. Attracting development is a 2 pronged approach, you can't just renew the infrastructure and expect business to come, it has to be inviting also. I believe the bylaw is merely trying to say that when/if these businesses close or move, replace them with something more attractive to the general public (whether that's right or wrong). My comment on your post was just to say that I suspect moral is not the reason for the bylaw. And if I reread your most recent post about the economic development strategy for the city, then my hunch may be correct.

And as a side note, although the core may be starting to shows its age, the city at least puts some money into the aesthetics of its core, way more then the township does. In fact the only money the TOL will spend on a business core is Aldergrove. The birthplace of BC (aka Fort Langley), Brookswood and WG merchants pay for all their own flowers and banners and up keep of their core. Fort Langley got a partial new sidewalk years ago, but the job was never finished. The city should be commended in its efforts to support and try to better its business core.