Thursday, May 31, 2012

Value-added Transportation System - Dr. George Hazel

Last night, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel for a lecture by Dr. George Hazel on shifting to a value-added, customer driven transportation system.

Hazel started the lecture by sharing the thought that when push comes to shove, the economy will always trump the environment and that affects how we frame the dialogue around building sustainable cities. Hazel's view is that there are only two types of spaces in a city: exchange space and transportation space. Exchange space can be anything from sidewalk cafes, indoor shopping, parks, offices, etc. Transportation spaces are bike lanes, rail lines, bus lanes, car lanes and the like. From an economy standpoint, exchange space is very important as is moving goods and people around cities. This leads to the logical conclusion that you want to find the most efficient way to move the largest amount of goods and people while maximizing exchange space. As it turns out cars and the infrastructure association with cars (wide lanes and parking lots) are the biggest loss of economy potential in cities.

Typical Per-Person Travel Space Requirement. From TDM Encyclopedia.

This is nothing new to most planners, but so often the best plans for a transportation system (like road pricing) die in the water because while it is actually good for a region, people don’t buy in. It’s like how everyone knows that eating veggies are good, but we still go for the potato chips instead. With that in mind, Hazel suggests that we need to reevaluate how we deliver transportation in regions. We need to stop thinking about cars, transit, and bikes and start thinking about the people that use the cars, transit, and bikes. Basically, we need to shift to a customer-focus transportation system based on the retail model.

One of the key take-aways from last night was that transportation providers like TransLink need to focus on adding value to their services. This could range from a loyalty cards system that rewards things like taking transit during peak periods or a smart card payment system that works on transit, taxis, and car share systems with discounts. TransLink could also become a one-stop shop for all your transportation needs in Metro Vancouver from booking a taxi, renting a car, finding a bicycle, and personal planning of your journey through the region. Hazel is currently researching different ways of adding value to transportation systems that use positive incentives to get people to shift to more sustainable travel options. His view is that the stick approach of getting people to change their behaviour has failed and we need more of the carrot.

While politicians like talking about value-for-money and low taxes, all that transportation customers want is service available when and where they need it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Discussion about the Pattullo Bridge and Roads

One of the things that I find interesting about our region is the small divide when it comes to discussions around transportation. When it comes to discussions about the provisioning of more transit, cycling lanes, and walking paths, there is universal support across the region, but there are some subtle differences though. In places like Surrey and Langley, you can build separated bike lanes and transit to your heart's content, but you must not take away a single inch of lane from the auto. In places like New Westminster and Vancouver, their citizens will allow the reallocation of road space. What makes New Westminster different from Langley City? Why can people North of the river have a rational conversation about our transportation system while in the South of Fraser, we still operating under the assumption that the more cars = good?

The only conclusion that I can think of is that because South of Fraser residents haven’t been exposed to good public transit and a complete cycling network, they don’t see the benefits of a diverse transportation system that puts a priority on active forms of transportation and transit. I bring this up because there is an event happening in New Westminster to discuss the future of the Pattullo Bridge.

In Surrey, the general consensus is to build the biggest bridge possible, but in New Westminster they are questioning every aspect of the bridge including the size and what effect it will have in their community. This was the same type of discussion that went on about the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver. The Province wanted a bigger bridge, but the citizens of Vancouver fought to keep it three lanes total with better sidewalks. Anyway, if you are interesting in a good discussion about the Pattullo Bridge...

A community forum is being organized by New Westminster residents Daniel Fontaine and Keith MacKenzie to discuss the future of the existing Pattullo Bridge.

Guest speakers Gordon Price and Prof. Anthony Perl from SFU will be in attendance. We also will have Jerry Behl, Transportation Engineer with the City of New Westminster on the panel.

Come join your neighbours to discuss what is possible for the existing bridge built in 1937. For more information about the forum, you can email More information is at City Caucus.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Development along 200th Street

Township of Langley Council passed a motion to look at 200th Street as a high density corridor a few years ago though this initiative hasn't really gotten off the ground. The Township finds itself in a bit of a catch 22. Without density TransLink (on a good day) will not provide service, but without transit it’s harder to make the case for density. Of course a lack of transit should not be used as an excuse to prevent an area from becoming pedestrian and cyclist friend. Recently a proposed office development at 8506 200 Street came to Public Hearing in the Township.

Proposed Development at 8506 200 Street

Site Plan

The development is consistent with the current plans for 200th Street, but one of the alarming "features" of this project is the huge parking lot. Research shows that large parking lots are right up there with blank concrete walls in dissuading people from walking or cycling. In the City of Langley, for example, all residential parking is essential required to be underground. This creates a pedestrian friendly environment. The Township should seriously look at making structured parking a requirement for areas like 200th Street which they eventually want to see transformed into an urban corridor because right now it seems like more land is being wasted on parking than actual buildings which generate jobs for people and income for the municipality. The Township should also consider free-market priced on-street parking to ensure that retail businesses always have some spots available along their block. Interesting enough, on-street parking actually makes pedestrians feel safer because it provides a buffer between them and busy traffic.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Infographic – Government Service Delivery in Metro Vancouver

With the recent controversy over TransLink and Metro Vancouver, it has become apparent that there is broad confusion over which level of government or agency delivers services to people in our region. To help people understand the complexity of service delivery in our region, OnTrax partnered with local graphic artist Sam Bradd to develop an infographic that shows who is responsible for delivering services to people in the region.

Infographic – Government Service Delivery in Metro Vancouver
Infographic – Government Service Delivery in Metro Vancouver. Click Image to Enlarge.

What becomes apparent when looking at the infographic is that there is a large degree of overlap in service delivery. It shows how our region is really based on cooperation and that all levels of government share the responsibility in providing services to people in Metro Vancouver.

The infographic also shows that the federal government plays a very limited role in the direct delivery of “on the ground” services that people rely on daily. Parks are the one service that all levels of government support directly, which shows the importance of green space for Canadians.

Download a PDF version of the infographic from our document archive. The infographic is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Transportation Technologies for Reducing Congestion

I will be a panellist at the following event which should be pretty interesting. You can RSVP on the SFU website.


May 30, 7-9 pm
SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre), 515 West Hastings St, Vancouver
Admission: $10 (cash only at door).

Speaker: George Hazel, former Chairman of MRC McLean Hazel, now Adjunct Professor at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane and Chair of the Advisory Group for the Transport Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University.

George Hazel, based in Scotland, is an international expert in city and mobility analysis, policy advice and development and in innovative funding and delivery mechanisms. He has extensive experience of how towns and cities work, having written a book in 2004 on “Making Cities Work” and led the team which produced the Megacities Challenges report for Siemens. Hazel will be speaking on new technologies in transportation that are being used to reduce congestion, make transportation systems more efficient, make pricing and payments more convenient, provide more travel options, and reduce trips and traffic. A panel with local transportation expertise will add comments: Peter Fassbender, Mayor of the City of Langley; Peter Holt, Principal, Buckley Blair & Associates, Inc., Transportation Commentator; and Nathan Pachal of South Fraser OnTrax.

Hosted by the Sustainable Transportation Coalition, the Planning Institute of BC South Coast Chapter and SFU Continuing Studies (City Program). With generous support provided by TransLink. The Sustainable Transportation Coalition is a group of volunteers and organizations dedicated to promoting transportation choices in Metro Vancouver, in particular building public understanding of the best options for sustainable transportation funding in the region.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our transit system isn't that bad

Right now there isn’t a lot of love for TransLink in the South of Fraser. Some people want to throw out TransLink and are actively campaigning to tear it apart. This is short-sighted and not best for the people in our region over the long-term. I was reminded yesterday at how good our system really is when a friend from Scotland came over to visit this long weekend.

The first thing he noticed was how efficient our rapid transit system was and how easy it was to use. For those people that haven’t used transit outside of BC, most cities have multiply transit operators that lead to confusion and duplication of service. In Scotland, they have “privatized” public transit so that popular routes have multiply operators running bus service and the less popular routes have to be subsidized by the government. The fares are even different for each bus that you take. I spend a good 5 minutes explaining to my friend that yes, you can use the same ticket on the train and the bus. That blew him away. I also explained that you can use your ticket anywhere in the system for 1.5 hours. He didn’t believe me. Our unified fare system is so good that the New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan called it the “golden ticket” and was envious of our integrated transit system. Let me repeat, the New York Transportation Commissioner was envious of our system. My friend was also surprised that I could take a bus for $5.00 from Langley to Downtown Vancouver. Apparently that is dirt cheap. The icing on the cake for him was that I could text for the next bus arrival time.

When you live in a region, you can always find the warts with your system. Sometimes it takes outside eyes to remind you that things really aren’t as bad as they seem. While TransLink has some issues that need to be fixed around funding and accountability, it would be a misstep to split our region along the lines of the Fraser River like we lived in the dark ages. Geographically and economically were are one region, it just seems that some politicians and lobbyists haven’t figured that our yet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Response from Township of Langley Mayor over Metro Vancouver Incident

Yesterday, I posted about Metro Vancouver's threatened legal action against the Township of Langley over the proposed Trinity Western University District. The Township has rescinded the fourth reading of the rezoning bylaw to prevent the issue from going to court and work things out with Metro Vancouver.

I have obtained a letter from Mayor Jack Froese's Office that was sent to Metro Vancouver in response and have posted it to the document archive. I invite you to read the email, but the following section from the letter is a key point from the Township's perspective.

The key issues in regard to the relationship between the Township of Langley's official plan amendments and Metro Vancouver regional planning is whether the Council of the Township, acting reasonably, considers that the Official Community Plan amendments are not inconsistent with the Regional Context Statement under the Livable Region Strategic Plan.

I also agree with the following statement from the Mayor:

The appropriate venue for decisions on consistency with regional context statements to be made is not with Metro Vancouver staff, but rather with the Mayor and Council members of each Metro member municipality at the local democratically elected level balancing multiple interest to make reasonable land use decisions.

On yesterday's post I also noted that Metro Vancouver should have been more involved in the University District plan if they had such a large concern. According to the letter, Metro Vancouver only submitted one response during the public hearing before bringing out the big legal guns.

I'm a strong supporter of regional governance and very high-level regional land use, but it I think that legal action should be used as a last resort only. I also have to wonder if any of the people that voted for legal action against the Township have even been to Trinity Western University? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Metro Vancouver Board set to sue Township of Langley

My jaw almost drop out of its socket when I heard news that Metro Vancouver was gearing up to start legal proceedings against the Township of Langley over the proposed Trinity Western University District.

Consistency of Township of Langley Regional Context Statement with Official Community Plan Amendments

“That the Board direct staff to proceed with filing of a quashing motion pertaining to the OCP Amendment and Rezoning Application No. 100084 (Trinity Western University/Township of Langley) Bylaw No. 4900 prior to the expiry of the quashing period, subject to the results of the Township of Langley’s special council meeting of May 16, 2012.

That the Board Chair establish a Task Force to provide instructions to counsel with respect to the proceedings regarding the Township of Langley’s proposed amendments to its Official Community Plan.”

Siting of Proposed Trinity Western University District

I have an issue with one of the developments near the proposed Trinity Western University and some other developments in rural parts of Langley, but I haven't taken an exception to the expansion of Trinity Western University itself. The University District was in the Agricultural Land Reserve, but the area was so unsuitable for farming that the Agricultural Land Commission requested that Trinity Western "pursues exclusion of additional lands as they are steep riparian areas not suitable for agricultural use".

This action from Metro Vancouver comes from out of left field as the University District has been on the books for a while now. In fact the land for the University District is part of a special study area in Metro's regional growth strategy meaning any change in land use is considered a "Minor Amendments to the Regional Growth Strategy" and only requires a two-thirds weighted vote and regional public hearing.

With regional politics already strained, actions like this further reinforce the stereotype that Vancouver and the north of the river people don't want to work with the South of Fraser; they just want to impose things on us. If Metro Vancouver's board was looking to further destabilize regional politics, this is certainly the way to do it.

If Metro Vancouver really wanted to work with Langley, it should have sent a letter expressing their concerns about this project when it first landed on Township Council's desk for rezoning in January and worked with the Township to address the concerns instead of passing an 11th hour quashing motion.

The icing on the cake for me is that while all this is going on UBC is allowed to do whatever it wants as it isn't part of Metro Vancouver and SFU has been allowed to cut down half of the top of Burnaby Mountain for a "sustainable" community.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Road Kill in the Township of Langley

When a Greenfield site is developed former buildings, trees, etc are razed. The result of this process is the displacement of wildlife, some of which become road kill. In October of last year, Dr. Patricia Tallman made a presentation to Township of Langley Council called “Road Kill Report” which looked at this issue and made some recommendation. Dr. Tallman later met with Township staff and developed a list of recommendation. Including:

-Public awareness
-Speed bumps
-Wildlife crossing signs
-Speed patrols
-Driving awareness campaign
-Better lighting
-Designate additional wildlife habitat
-Excavation Protocol/Best Practices

At last night's Township of Langley council meeting, council received a staff report on this issue with some recommendations. The general tone of the report seemed to suggest that wildlife displacement and road kill is the result of development and this cannot be helped. The Township of Langley does have wildlife corridors and the hope is that wildlife will use these routes. Staff did recommend the follow action items though they questioned if the items will have any real impact.

1. Require developers to put up signs by development sites during clearing of land. This would have to be discussed with the development community.
2. Put up warning signs on major roads advising drivers to beware of wildlife crossing where significant construction is taking place. The cost of providing, erecting and maintaining the signs is estimated to be at least $5,000, with ongoing costs as development changes over time.
3. Put a notice on the Township web site advising residents of the dangers to wildlife in developing areas and asking them to observe road signs and speed limits.

Monday, May 14, 2012

More thoughts from CARP event

Last Thursday, I attended the first CARP meeting for Langley and Abbotsford and had a chance to mingle at the end of the event. Here are some random observations from the evening.

It was interesting to note that the same things that the Baby Boomers or Zoomers will require to age in place are exactly the same places that my generation, the Millennials, want to live. More and more boomers are looking to move from single-family homes to strata living in areas which are close to services, cultural, and recreation that are easy to access by walking or transit. I know that many see Boomers as the ones that will kill Old Age Security and drain our economy in their old age, but I’m starting to think that maybe the Boomers may be the catalyst to finally make the last big push away from our sprawled, auto-oriented suburban regions back to something more urban and sustainable.

While I was at the event, a woman came up to me and talked about how she felt that Vancouver was unfairly getting the majority of infrastructure money in the region while the South of Fraser was being left out to dry. I can’t blame her for thinking that way especially when you look at what is going on. Take the Olympics for example, the South of Fraser got barely a drop of money from that major infrastructure project while money rained upon Vancouver. More recently when it came time to chop transit investments, it was the South of Fraser that saw its service pulled. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to see the Evergreen Line being canceled and transit service investment in the South of Fraser proceed? I think that politicians should be on the lookout for Boomers hitting retirement and wanting a more urban lifestyle. As I heard at CARP, they were the activists in the 1960 – 1970’s and they aren’t afraid to vote and lobby until they get their way today (unlike my generation.)

Finally, I had a chance to talk with someone who worked for the Ministry of Transportation back in the day when it looked after ferry service, roads, and public transit. Apparently the system worked well, but Bill Vander Zalm “threw the baby out with the bath water” when trying to clean up bureaucracy in the 1980’s and started splitting things up. This continued into the NDP era. What we are left with today in Metro Vancouver is an “independent” BC Ferries, “independent” TransLink, and the Ministry of Transportation which all seem to be stepping over each other. Meanwhile, the Province still has its fingers in all the agencies. Since the Province will never give up control of transit, ferries, or roads maybe it’s time they all go back under MoT control like in the 1980’s. At least there would be more accountability.

This post has gone all over the place, but I was really encouraged to see that both the older and younger generations are looking towards the same future.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Speech from CARP on Aging in Place

Last night, I had the privilege to speak at the inaugural public meeting of the South Fraser CARP chapter on "Will where you live affect your quality of life as you age?" I was a great event, and I thought I'd share the speech I delivered.


In 2010, the Township of Langley completed an Age-Friendly Community Evaluation Study. The study found, not surprisingly, that our population is aging. For example in the next 14 years, the Township’s over 65 population will double to more than 22,000 citizens. The study also found that the top concerns for older citizen were around better awareness and communication about services and community programs, transportation and accessibility, and health services and overall well-being. I will be focusing on transportation and accessibility.

Since World War II, we have been designing our communities around the automobile and mobility. The results have been the single-use, single-family suburban neighbourhood and strip mall. Researchers like Dr. Richard Jackson, who worked at the US Centre for Decease Control and California Public Health, has found links between obesity, diabetes, and respiratory illness such as asthma; and our suburban built form. In fact if you live close to roads like 200th Street or Highway 1, you are at a higher risk of contracting a respiratory illness and the sad reality is that the most vulnerable in our community, the young and the older, will feel the effects first. Research has also show that there are negative social consequences to our built form. If you look at many neighbourhoods in the South of Fraser without access to a car, you have no access to a rewarding and dignified way of life: we could end up with a community of “shut-in” seniors. Of those seniors who are capable of operating a motor vehicle, the ever increasing cost of gas will have a financial consequence for those who are on a fixed income. It is no surprise that the Township of Langley’s study contained many reference to providing better public transportation. So how should we be designing our communities?

We need to stop building our communities around mobility, get people from point a to point b in the fastest way possible, and start building accessible communities which focus on providing an environment that allow all citizens access to the services they need and provide high quality, independent living opportunity for all people at all stages in their lives. What does an accessible community look like?

I live in the City of Langley in its downtown core. This part of town has a high percentage of older citizens. Why do they choose to live in Downtown Langley? They have access to shopping, medical services, and social activities within a short walk or a short trip on transit. They do not need to rely on driving or other to get them around. In fact Downtown Langley is referred to as a Naturally Occurring Senior Citizen Area. We need more places like this in the South of Fraser. The Township of Langley is looking a creating an urban village in the Carvolth Area in northern Willoughby, and the City of Abbotsford is revitalizing its walkable core. These are the kind of area that will allow older citizen to age in place with dignity. Again it is no surprise that then that the demand for suburban, single-family housing continues to shrink while the demand for more urban, walkable communities continues to increase.

As older citizen, you must demand that your local government place a priority on building accessible, walkable, transit friendly communities that include shops and services for seniors. You must also demand that your local, provincial, and federal politicians come to the table to fund a balanced transportation network which places a higher priority on walking and public transportation. Not only will you be helping yourself, but you’ll be providing a brighter, more sustainable future for your children and grandchildren. You are one of the most powerful demographics in Canada right now, when you speak, governments will listen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Central Gordon Estates Neighbourhood Plan

The Township of Langley presented the Central Gordon Estates Plan to council on Monday night. The highlight of the plan for me was the mixed-use combined with live-work that is being proposed at the intersection of 70th Avenue and 204th Street. If the intersection will look anything like it does in the plan, it will be one of the nicest and highest-quality intersections in the Township.
Central Gordon Estates Land Use Plan
Mixed-used/High Quality 204th Street and 70th Avenue
Over the years, I’ve noticed that the Willoughby Plan has been evolving from a more suburban to a more urban plan, and I’ve been seeing more and more mixed-use in the sub-neighbourhoods plans in Willoughby. This is good news. The one thing that concerns me is TransLink's response to the provisioning of transit service in the area. Now I know that TransLink is in trouble right now, but there seems to be reluctance to provide transit historically in the Langley that I think is holding back the Township from being more aggressive with their urban designs and density in Willoughby. The following quote is from Council’s package on the neighbourhood plan:
The current lack of transit was high-lighted throughout the process. Transit routes will be indicated in the related Engineering Servicing Plan. However, TransLink has confirmed that higher density is required in order to obtain higher levels of service and there will likely be no service extension / expansion without an increase in population generating demand
When I look at the Central Gordon Estates Plan, the majority of the housing will be apartments and town/row houses. It actually has a pretty good mix of housing type. Does the Township need to build towers everywhere before transit will be provided? Because you don’t need towers to get the density required to provide high-quality transit service.
Central Gordon Estates Street Lamp Standard
I’m pretty excited about this neighbourhood plan and I look forward to seeing the 70th Avenue/204th Street intersection once it is build out.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Township of Langley looks to leave Metro Vancouver

I want to start off this post by saying that Metro Vancouver has nothing to do with TransLink or the provisioning of transit service in our region which I why I was shocked that the following motion from Councillor Kim Richter was referred to the Township of Langley Council Priority Meeting with a vote of 5-4.

Formation of a New South Fraser Regional District Whereas:
1. The fastest growing areas of population in BC are located south of the Fraser River, and these areas of high growth are historically and consistently underserviced in terms of key population needs such as transit, education, and healthcare;
2. The needs of the growing population living south of the Fraser River are significantly different than the needs of the population living in the traditional metropolitan areas of Metro Vancouver such as Vancouver and Burnaby;
3. The Metro Vancouver Board members cast weighted votes which favour the established metropolitan areas to the detriment of the high growth areas;
4. There is strength in numbers and the elected officials of the communities South of the Fraser need to band together to give maximum voice to the concerns and needs of the fast growing populations that they represent;
5. The Metro Vancouver Board is trying to use the Liveable Region Strategy to participate in zoning decisions made in member districts and this was never the scope, direction or intention of the Liveable Region Strategy; and
6. There is concern that the communities south of the Fraser no longer receive service value for tax dollar generated due to the inadequate service levels they receive.

Let's go over this motion.

Part 1 talks about transit, education, and healthcare. Metro Vancouver does not provide, nor does it fund any of these items.

Part 2 talks about value for money. Metro Vancouver spends $510m or 84% of its budget providing water, sewer, and solid waste services to the region. In fact all the water in our region comes from the North Shore Mountains. Over the last few years Metro Vancouver has invested close to 1 billion dollars to upgrade water services to accommodate our growing region. The majority of our sewer in the region gets treated at Annacis Island which has also seen massive upgrades. As there is no water available in the South of Fraser that would meet the needs of local residents, we would 100% still be getting our water and sewer services from Metro Vancouver. Heck, even Point Roberts in the USA gets water from Metro Vancouver! At best, there would be no saving and at worst Metro Vancouver could charge municipalities like the Township of Langley the higher “University Endowment Lands” rate for services. Let not forget that Abbotsford asked the Township of Langley to stop using its sewer system and the Township paid $23m to connect Aldergrove to Metro Vancouver’s sewer system. If Metro Vancouver is such a waste, why does Abbotsford continue to have Metro Vancouver look after some of its parks?

Part 3 is true, but any South of Fraser regional district would be dominated by Surrey. Surrey could and would overrule any other municipality in the proposed regional district that it didn't agree with. The Township might actually end up with less allies than it has being in Metro Vancouver.

I 100% agree with Part 4. The South of Fraser needs to speak with one voice to get its issues not just on the regional table, but the provincial table. Right now the biggest issue is with transit service and transit service is a Provincial issue.

Part 5 talks about regional planning and land use. I wrote an earlier post on regional land use, but basically there will always be a tension between local governments and regional land use, that is the point. A regional land use plan prevents the tragedy of the commons. As has been proven throughout North America without a regional land use plan that has teeth, sprawl will occur and green space will be eaten up. In fact, Metro Vancouver’s regional growth plan was spawned out of residents desire to protect our green space. I can’t think of any place in North America that has reduce sprawl that doesn’t have a regional land use plan.

Part 6 I don’t actually understand. Last time I checked every tap poured water, every toilet flushed, and garbage, recycling, and composite got picked up for anyone that is in Metro Vancouver’s service area. I would be curious to see what Metro Vancouver service isn’t being adequately provided in the Township of Langley.

If this motion was about TransLink I would understand, but leaving Metro Vancouver makes absolutely no sense and would just create yet another regional government in the Lower Mainland. In reality Metro Vancouver should go from the ocean to Abbotsford/Mission because we are one region.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Upcoming Event: Will where you live affect your quality of life as you age?

Will where you live affect your quality of life as you age? International conference speaker and author, Rhonda Latreille, MBA, CPCA, will share how the psychology and dynamics of aging creates a critical imperative for planning where we choose to age and how this will greatly impact our quality of life. Inspired by the successful United Nations endorsed Age-Friendly City and Rural Communities initiatives; Rhonda founded an organization that elevates the needs and customer experience for people 45+.

Says CARP Chapter #48 Chair and veteran Langley Township Councillor, Kim Richter: “Designing communities so people can age in place is of critical and growing importance in the South Fraser region. We need people to stay in our communities as they age because their contributions to the development of our communities are what have made, and will continue to make, the South Fraser such a vital and dynamic area to live, work, and play.”

“CARP is an important advocacy agency for issues affecting the aging population. We need their voice here to help ensure that our Zoomer and seniors’ issues will not be overlooked as our communities continue to grow and expand.”

At this same free public event, South Fraser OnTrax Co-Founder Nathan Pachal will speak on the linkage between where we live and our transportation needs moving forward as people age. South Fraser OnTrax is a sponsor of this CARP South Fraser Chapter #48 event. Everyone is welcome to participate and you do not have to be a member of CARP to attend. Door prizes will be given away and a social time with free refreshments will follow the meeting.

Event Details:
Thursday, May 10, 2012 – 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm (Social Time To Follow)
Fraser River Presentation Theatre – 4th Floor
Township of Langley Civic Facility
(20338 – 65 Avenue, Langley, BC)
Please R.S.V.P. by email to:

What’s a Zoomer? - Zoomers are people 45+, including Baby Boomers and those who are older. There are more than 14.5 Million Zoomers in Canada today!

Friday, May 4, 2012

City of Langley Starts Pond Management Study

In the City of Langley there are three ponds that have a combination of either ecological, recreational, or engineering significance: Brydon Lagoon, Langley Seniors Resource Centre Pond, and Sendall Gardens Ponds. Over the years, these ponds have been filling up with silt and there has been calls by many in the community to have the City take an active role in managing them. In early March, the City started the process of developing a management strategy for these ponds and is working on a report which will be delivered to Council later this year.

At last night’s Parks and Environment Advisory Committee, we heard about the history of the ponds and some of the issues surrounding them. Brydon Lagoon started out as a waste water treatment pond that was decommissioned in the late 1970’s which now serves as a limited storm water retention pond, wildlife habitat, and a very important park of Langley’s park system. Because of its original purpose and the buildup of silt, its use as a storm water retention pond and wildlife habitat are diminishing.

The Langley Seniors Resource Centre Pond started its life has a storm water retention pond that is now important as part of the park system and for wildlife habitat. Because of silt buildup, it is no longer an effective storm water retention pond which may have other negative effects on the Nicomekl Floodplain.

The Sendall Gardens ponds where build by the Sendall’s to basically look pretty and have importance as part of Langley’s park system. The consultants working on the management strategy report had a hard time referring to one of the ponds as a pond as it is more of an enlargement of the creek that flows through the park. This pond is in the wrong location and nature doesn’t want a pond there.

Over the coming months, the City will be consulting with its citizen on the management strategy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yorkson Creek

Probably one of the largest development projects current happening in Langley is by Quadra Home on a project called Yorkson Creek which includes townhouses and apartments. In June 2010, they were issue a development permit to build sixteen four storey apartment buildings which included 1,474 units. In September 2011, they applied to increase the height of three buildings from four storeys to five storeys, increase unit sizes, and slightly reduce the total number of units. I was looking through the Development Activities section of the Township of Langley’s website; I noticed that they have now applied on March 19th to allow a maximum building height of six storeys and also add townhouse to the once apartment only part of this project. It has been interesting to see how while the height of the apartment buildings have been increasing in this project, the actual number of units has been decreasing. I know some in the Township of Langley oppose taller buildings because generally it means more people in a neighbourhood, but this development seems to fly in the face of that logic.

Site Plan for Yorkson Creek Appartments

One of the things that concerns me now in the Township of Langley is that many current and future projects in the north section of Willoughby really need transit access to be successful from a sustainability standpoint. With the silly games that are going on will TransLink, I wonder if this will have a negative effect on Willoughby and prevent the development of a truly sustainable neighbourhood. The Township may find itself with the right densities to allow for frequent transit, but no actual transit service.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Challenge

With the exception of garbage incinerators, not much attention is placed on solid waste in our region even though it has a big impact on our environmental footprint and sustainability. Metro Vancouver has a goal to divert 70% of solid waste from landfills by 2015. One of the key priorities is to divert kitchen waste (organics) from garbage into regional composting. As organics represent about 40% of all waste in our region, this is a major component of Metro Vancouver's waste reduction strategy called “Zero Waste Challenge”. For a few years, some neighbourhoods in the Township of Langley have been piloting a regional “green bin” program. This program is now ramping up in other parts of the region. I’ve been told that there currently isn’t enough facilities to process food waste into compost in Metro Vancouver yet, though this should be ramping up shortly.

Another interest fact is that in our region single-family housing and commercial properties have about a 50% recycling rate, but multi-family housing only has 16% recycling rate. In the City of Langley, the municipality provides recycling service to multi-family housing, but this is the exception in the region. Municipalities will need to work harder to ensure that multi-family housing has a legal requirement and space to recycle. In my building, we actually have more space in our recycling bins than garbage for example.

While it doesn’t get a lot of attention, Metro Vancouver's solid waste strategy is a good news story about how our region plans to clean up its act on solid waste and reduce dumping our garbage in Cache Creek.