Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Private citizens providing transit service in South of Fraser

In Metro Vancouver, there is a rule of thumb when it comes to transit: the further east you go, the less service is available. This has been the case for at least 100 years. People have been screaming for better transit out in places like the South of Fraser since I moved to the region about a decade ago and while there has been some improvement, there is much work still to be done. Sadly, it seems that our politicians are unable or unwilling to find a long-term solution to fund transit expansion. One of the interesting things is that public transit is so desired out here that when government failed to act, private citizens took the job of providing transit on themselves. I don’t think there is a stronger case for providing more transit service than this. Over the last few months, one new “private” transit service has been launched and another is about to begin.

One service is called Pacific Commuter which runs an express bus service between Langley, Cloverdale, and Downtown Vancouver. This is a West Coast Express-like premium transit service.

The second service that’s about to get started is called the Aldergrove Trolley which brings $2/ride service to parts of Aldergrove that are not served by TransLink which includes Gloucester Industrial Estate. The service will feed into the 502. The organization has already purchase a trolley bus and is getting the help of Jim Storie, the owner and CEO of the Vancouver Trolley Company according to an article in the Aldergrove Star, to get things running.

Politicians should take note that the desire for public transit is so strong in the South of Fraser that people have decided to take matters into their own hands. This both encourages me about the type of people that live in the South of Fraser, but also saddens me that government has been unable to properly provision a public service out here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Langley gets transit system in 1988

One of the neat things that TransLink has done is post a searchable archive of the Buzzer newsletters online which goes back to 1916. One of the interesting Buzzer newsletters I found was from 1988. Up until July 25, 1988, the 70,500 residents of the City and Township of Langley did not have BC Transit (now TransLink) service. At that time they got the following routes:

501 (Langley South – New West SkyTrain): 30 minute peak/60 minute off-peak service
502 (Fernridge/Brookswood/Langley Center – New West SkyTrain): 30 minute peak/60 minute off-peak service
506 (Murrayville – Langley Centre), 507 (Fort Langley – Langley Centre, 511 (Aldergrove - Willowbrook) with 60 minutes or worse service

1988 Bus Route Map of Langley
Current Bus Route Map of Langley
While the service level on the 501/502 has been vastly improved over the years and while we now have buses to White Rock and Maple Ridge, it’s interesting that the local bus network in Langley is very similar to how it was in 1988. The only different is that today we have a population of over 130,000! While TransLink has done a good job over the years providing intra-regional service, local service in Langley is no better than it was in 1988.

Friday, July 27, 2012

More Metro Vancouver Water coming to Langley Township

Earlier this year, Township of Langley council threatened to leave Metro Vancouver due to Metro’s opposition to Trinity Western University’s University District. As I suspected, this was nothing more than saber rattling as council has authorized $36.2m to be spent to connect eastern Langley to Metro Vancouver’s water system.

Current Water System in East Langley

Right now the eastern section of Langley which includes Salmon River/Uplands, Aldergrove, and Gloucester Industrial Estates gets its water from Township run wells from groundwater. As the aquifers are starting to run on empty, the Township needs to connect up to Metro Vancouver’s water system to sustain the current water system. Also by connecting to Metro’s water system, the Township will be able to put the Aldergrove Plan in action that aims to increase density in the area. Right now the ground water system is a limiting factor to its success.

Whether the Township likes it or not, Metro Vancouver provides the only sustainable source of water in the region which means that Metro and the Township must work together to resolve their difference instead of threatening each other.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Langley Eats Local Festival

Over the last little while, I've come to the realization that Agritourism will be the key to preserving farming viability and the Agricultural Land Reserve in Metro Vancouver. And what better way to show your support for local than attending the Langley Eats Local Festival.

Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) is proud to once again present Langley Eats Local! The 4th annual sustainable food festival will take place on Sunday, July 29th at Driediger Farms Market. Centrally located next to 160 acres of farmland, this year's festival will feature local farmers, food processors, and artisans. The widespread appreciation among participants, exhibitors, and vendors from last year’s success has prompted LEPS to host the event at Driediger Farms for a second consecutive year.

The goal of the festival is to celebrate Langley's vast agricultural land reserve and to encourage citizens of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to shop and eat from our region.

Langley Eats Local is a family-oriented day of fun featuring local music talent, face painting, community group exhibits, artistic craftsmanship, and quality local foods. There will be a variety of fresh food samples and local products to purchase including produce, preserves, flowers, and pottery. One of many returnees, the Suburban Spoon, will be providing concession at the event from an entertainingly purple mobile kitchen. LEPS will also have an interactive display of edible native plants courtesy of Cedar Rim Nursery. The festival runs from 11 am to 3 pm. Admission is free.

Last year, over 1,200 attendees enjoyed picking berries in the U-pick fields and socializing in the open air market. Whether single, couple, family, youth or adult, participants from all over Metro Vancouver came to visit Driediger Farms - some as far as Vancouver Island. "Everyone who attended the event is already truly concerned with supporting food locally and knows where their food comes from," says Bonnie Windsor, Assistant Plant Manager at Johnston's. One attendee described their experience as a rare opportunity to both shop and eat locally amidst a family farming operation - a sentiment strongly echoed by Langley Eats Local returning vendors and exhibitors.

“LEPS hosts Langley Eats Local as a way to introduce citizens to local food providers, and to encourage the positive environmental impact that supporting local producers has on our global footprint,” said Nichole Marples, LEPS Executive Director “as well as the economic benefits of keeping our money local”.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Pedestrian Space, Less Parking - McBurney Lane

Council approved design concept for McBurney Lane

I am thrilled to report that City of Langley Council decided to endorse a pedestrian-friendly option for the redevelopment of McBurney Lane in Downtown Langley. Last year the City was going to redevelop the lane as a pedestrian-only corridor, but some local businesses opposed that plan and wanted to keep it as a parking lot. Last month, the City proposed a concept design for the lane that would have kept it much the same as it is today (a plaza in the north section, and parking lot in the south section.) I’m happy that Council changed their minds and supported an option that will still preserve some parking for the merchants, but will also make McBurney Lane a strong pedestrian corridor. The endorsed option will include a pedestrian corridor, a plaza in the north section, plus 10 angled parking stalls on the west side on the south portion. As these are premium parking stalls, I would hope that City makes these 30 minutes stalls to ensure turn-over.

Looking at the minutes of July 9th meeting, it was interesting to note Councillor Schaffer and Councillor Wallace supported the parking lot option while these two Councillors plus former Park and Environment Advisory Committee Chair Councillor Arnold opposed the endorsed pedestrian-friendly option. At the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier and I’m glad that the City is moving forward with building a pedestrian-friendly Downtown. The reconstruction of McBurney Lane will start in January 2013.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Charleston Place in Downtown Langley - Rezoning

Back in April, the City of Langley announced a new project called Charleston Place which will see the construction of a 15 storey, mixed-use building in Downtown Langley. This is exciting news for the City which has been working hard over the last few years to attract major development to the community and revitalize its Downtown. Today, City council will be looking at a rezoning application to change the zoning from service commercial (auto-oriented) to Downtown commercial. This project will include ground-level retail, office space, and 29 residential units. I’ve lived in the City of Langley for about 5 years and this building will be the first to include new office space in Downtown Langley since I’ve been here. The development will also result in the demolition of a night club which has changes names it seems yearly. All good news for the City and I look forward to seeing detailed plans for this project.

Site of proposed mixed-use building.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Township of Langley's Gateway - Carvoth Update

Back in January, Township of Langley staff presented an updated plan for the lands around the northern section of 200th Street in Langley called Carvolth. The original plan for the area was to make it business parks and light industry lands, but the introduction of the 202nd Street Transit Exchange allowed the Township to rethink the plan and make it more transit and pedestrian friendly. I was concerned that the recent funding challenges at TransLink -which leaves the 202nd Street Transit Exchange with no Bus Rapid Transit service- would dampen the Township’s plan, but I’m happy to report that the plan is on course and is better than ever.

The Township’s presented a planning concept for Carvoth based on an early “Transit Nodes” plan and went to open house with it in February.

January Carvolth Plan: Red = Mixed-use, Dark Blue = Office-Mixed-use, Brown = Higher-Density Residential, Purple = Light Industrial

Based on the feedback from the open house, the Township updated the plan which saw the following major changes:

Updated June 2012 Carvolth Plan: Red = Mixed-use, Dark Blue = Office-Mixed-use, Brown = Higher-Density Residential, Purple = Flex Employment, Gray = Gateway Commerial

Service Commercial (auto-oriented) use was removed from land around the 200th Street Interchange and replaced with a new Gateway Commercial use which will allow for hotels, offices, and retail uses (as long as retail buildings also contain 1.5 more office space than retail space). There are two polices in this zone that excite me. One is that development must be to a higher standard to created landmark projects. The other policy is the requirement to provide 1/3 of the total parking in either underground or structured facilities. Surface parking lots are one of the biggest barriers to creating walkable areas that can be serviced by transit. It’s great to see that the Township is taking the first steps to requiring structured parking in commercial areas and I hope this trend will continue in other parts of the Township.

Gateway Commercial: Preliminary design for a potential development featuring tall buildings with bold architecture from Berezan Management Ltd.

Light industrial use has been replaced with a new Flex Employment use which will allow:
-research and development labs
-warehousing and distribution
-light manufacture, assembly, repair, finishing and packaging of products
-commercial recreation, instruction and entertainment uses
-film production studios
-hospitals and medical clinics
-works yards
-small scale retail commercial uses to support and be incorporated with flex employment uses (not standalone)

The final change to the plan is the slight increase in the size and density of the Office-Mixed use designation.

The vision statement for Carvoth is to create “a transit hub and major employment node, Carvolth will be a liveable, sustainable urban place with high quality amenities and green infrastructure integrated into the community fabric.” This update to the plan helps the Township achieve this vision. Of course the missing piece to make this plan truly successful is the provisioning of transit service. Hopefully, the Province and the mayors will be able to get their acts together to fund transit in this region. The plan will go to open house again this fall.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

History of Rapid Transit in Metro Vancouver

I received an email from Greg Pettipas with a document that he continues to work on called “Restore the POWER of Streetcars NOW”. The document contains information about the history of streetcars, interurbans, and rapid transit in Metro Vancouver and other parts of BC. It mostly lists in chronological order major transit events in Metro Vancouver. It also highlights the rise of the auto. For me the most interesting part of the document is how Metro Vancouver’s cost-effective light rail plan of the 1970’s turned into the costly SkyTrain system of today. It also includes ridership stats since 1989 and technical information on our current rapid transit system.

You can download the document from our archive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Riding the 531 to White Rock

The other day I had the chance to take the new 531 bus from Langley to White Rock. This service was promised as part of the South of the Fraser Area Transit Plan and was supposed to be in service by 2009, but kept on getting pushed back due to financial challenges at TransLink. With the current situation at TransLink, I’m happily surprised that the service was allowed to proceed. The new bus service reduces the trip to White Rock from over 1 hour to less than 30 minutes which is a huge improvement. While I appreciate the new service, I do have some concerns about it.

One of the long-term goals of TransLink is to move the bus system in the South of Fraser from a system based on transit exchanges to a system more like Vancouver where every route is a straight line or L-shaped. The design goal being that you can get anywhere in the South of Fraser with only one transfer. While I support this concept with the frequent transit network where you never have to wait more than 15 minutes, waiting 30 minutes for a transfer sucks.

Another concern is that while every other bus goes through Langley Centre, the 531 is off in its own little world and actually bypasses the major populated area of the City of Langley. While I support the grid bus network, the 531 would see more riders if it when through Langley Centre while the rest of the grid builds out.

Finally, the 531 spends 80% of its time in currently rural areas (it does pass through Campbell Heights). While I support the 531 route, I have to wonder how it was approved while Walnut Grove still only has one community shuttle and there is zero bus service on 208th Street in Willoughby; both areas with higher-density.

The TransLink website has a document that outlines the planned build-out of transit service in the South of Fraser though as it currently stands, there is no money to implement the plan.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Agritourism key to farming viability

Yesterday, I went on a wine tasting tour of four of the many local wineries in the Township of Langley. A few weeks ago, I went to one of the many on-site farm food stores in Langley. One of the neat things about living in Langley and the Fraser Valley is that you can have your whole meal from food grown in the same or neighbouring municipality. This is something that is not available to many large regions in Canada and I think speaks to the value of the Agricultural Land Reserve.

When I was at Krause Berry Farm yesterday, they were having a Framers' Feast event which featured products from other local farms as well. The event was completely packed full of people. I know that Langley has put a lot of effort into sports tourism, but I wonder if an equal amount of effort has been put into supporting local Langley Farm Fresh food and agritourism. To be honest, agritourism hasn't been the top of mind for me until recently, but I now think it is important for Langley and the future of farming in the region.

Agritourism promotes local farms and hopefully brings more business to their doors. This should hopefully further increase the viability of farming in the ALR. The worst thing that could happen is for farms to turn into grass fields. Once that happens, there is usually pressure to develop the property into some form of housing. One tricky thing that is happening in the ALR is the conversion of farm land into what I’ll call large estates. These 4 acres lots meet the minimum requirements for the ALR, but the land becomes nothing more than a large backyard for very large houses.

Another benefit of agritourism is that it connects people back to where their food comes from. A strong agritourism marketing and support campaign would draw people from places like Vancouver who instead of buying food imported from California at their favourite Nature Mart, would come to Delta, Richmond, Langley, Surrey, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack to enjoy local food that supports our local economy and has a smaller environmental footprint. If people feel connected to where their food comes from and farming, they might also more strongly oppose development that is slowly eating away at our precious farmland.

Over the last month I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to support the long-term viability of farming in the South of Fraser and Fraser Valley, all levels of government must play a larger role in marketing and supporting local farms.

Friday, July 13, 2012

3rd Annual SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program

I received the following in my inbox from the City of Surrey.

We are excited to announce the third year of the SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program, starting in September 2012.

Some changes have been made to the program, and we have divided the program into Module 1 and Module 2. We really appreciate all the feedback we got to improve the program for this year.

All the updated information is on our website www.surrey.ca/transportation (under News, and under Transportation Lectures) and from there, you can click on the registration link to be directed to the SFU website for online registration.

I attended the SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program during it's first year and I highly recommend that you attend.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TomTom Congestion Index Useless for Metro Vancouver

My jawed dropped when I saw the headlines yesterday that Vancouver has the second worst congestion in North America. TomTom, the GPS maker, released the North American Congestion Index which found that Metro Vancouver had an index of 30%. It didn’t seem to make sense to me so I looked into the number. The congestion number is based on the percentage difference between free-flow travel time and congested travel time. So if three cities have free-flow travel times of 35, 30, and 25 minutes and during peak periods travel time is 5 minutes longer in each city, the city with the shortest free-flow travel time will appear to have worse congestion using the TomTom Index. Another fatal flaw of this report is that it does not take transit, cycling, or walking into account which in Metro Vancouver plays a large role during peak commuting times.

Information from Statistics Canada points to the link between population and commute time. The not-so-surprising result is that the larger the population, the higher the commuting time.

Average Commute Time vs Population (Source: Statistics Canada)

When you plot the average commute time to the TomTom Index, there is a weaker correlation that becomes glaringly obvious with Metro Vancouver.

Average Commute Time vs. TomTom Congestion Index (Source: Statistics Canada)

The big difference between Metro Vancouver and every other major region in Canada is that we have fewer freeways which means that the average speed in Vancouver is slower. Many people confuse speed and mobility with travel time and accessibility. While Vancouver roads are the slowest of any major region in Canada, yet we have shorter commute times than Toronto or Montreal. Metro Vancouver is a more accessible region.

What I did find really interesting about the TomTom report is the other data it contained. There seems to be a link between the amount of freeways built and congested speed. It seems that the more freeways you build, the larger the difference between free-flow and congested speed. You could draw the conclusion that freeways actually make more congestion!

Congested Speed vs Free-Flow Speed (Source: TomTom)

The TomTom congestion index is useful for the region that builds more freeways as its population grows and doesn't rely on public transit, walking, or cycling, but in a region like Metro Vancouver (which bucked the freeway trend until recently) the index proves to be of little use.

PS: The average commute time in the freewayless City of Vancouver is 27 minutes, while outside of the City of Vancouver the average commute time is 31 minutes.

The raw data. Click image to view.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Traffic (de)calming in the Township of Langley

Nobody likes people cutting through their neighbourhood, but everyone likes cutting through other people's neighbourhoods. To address rat running through neighbourhoods in the Township of Langley, the Township has a Traffic Calming program. The program allows a concerned citizen to get their neighbourhood traffic calmed if 50% + 1 of the local area residents support calming.

Traffic Calming being installed at 98th Avenue and 203rd Street (May 2009).

Prior to the completion of the Golden Ears Bridge in 2006, local residents were concerned about traffic cutting through their neighbourhood in the area. In response, the Township of Langley traffic calmed their neighbourhood. Now two years later in a “have your cake and eat it too” moment, the residents are back demanding that the traffic calming be removed as not only does traffic calming slow down “rat runners” (or in this case heavy industrial traffic,) but it also slows down people who live in the neighbourhood. The Township balloted the neighbourhood and found that about 54% supported removing the traffic calming; not a very strong majority. As the Township noted that the cost of removing the traffic calming would be the same or more than the installation costs, they are recommending that the traffic calming policy be amended to require 67% support to add or remove traffic calming. Increasing required support to the pre-2009 level of 67% will ensure that only neighbourhoods that truly support traffic calming will receive it and likewise only neighbourhoods strongly oppose calming will have it removed. The 98th Avenue traffic calming/de-calming could cost the Township more than $200,000 if the weak 50% + 1 mandate is allowed to stand. Talk about waste!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fort Langley businesses to spend $2m to spruce up area

The Fort Langley Business Improvement Association has petitioned the Township of Langley to setup a Local Area Service district to pay for the undergrounding of utility poles in key commercial areas of Fort Langley. According to the BIA, the undergrounding project “is critical to the long-term commercial success of Fort Langley as a unique destination.” The creation of a Local Area Service district allows property owners to be taxed for improvements that directly benefit them. Of the estimated $3 million to complete this project, the local property owners will be on the hook for about $2 million. The undergrounding of utilities will not only provide more reliable service, but will also remove the ugly utility poles that are in the middle of sidewalks and require the removal or butchering of trees. The removal of the utility poles will also allow Fort Langley to install lamp standards that better reflect the scale of the neighbourhood. It is encouraging to see a BIA that is actively involved in investing in the betterment of its community. I look forward to seeing what Fort Langley will look like without utility poles.

Utility poles to be removed in red.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A new option for McBurney Lane

As you may know, I’ve been following the saga of the redesign of McBurney Lane for a while. The City of Langley wanted to convert the lane into a pedestrian corridor that connects to Douglas Park while some local merchants wanted to keep it as a parking lot that according to the City “will not achieve the desired revitalization plan for McBurney Lane."

Sadly it looked like the parking lots option was going to be future for the lane, but as of Friday afternoon the City has submitted a new plan that offers a compromise.

New Option 5 for McBurney Lane
The proposed south view of the lane

The [new] recommended Option 5 design concept for McBurney Lane offers a compromise which will meet the objectives of all parties. The North portion, without the water feature, will offer a new pavement treatment with soft landscape improvements.

The South portion will off the same pavement treatment as will as landscaping improvements. This option offers the most versatility for the south portion. The space will be available for parking; however, it can be transformed for events by closing the parking area and making McBurney Lane an attractive location to host community events.

The continuous design of McBurney Lane from north to south should hopefully signal to motorist that this is a shared space and that pedestrians are a priority. While the new proposed design is indeed a compromise, it is likely the only alternative that could be supported by all parties. I certainly hope that Council supports this revised design as opposed to the original asphalt parking lot design.

Friday, July 6, 2012

McBurney Lane Update

I have some good news to report on the McBurney Lane front. As you may be aware, the original plan for McBurney Lane was for it to be a continuation of Douglas Park to provide much needed green space in Downtown Langley and to provide a safe pedestrian corridor. The merchants in Downtown Langley oppose creating added green space in the lane and would prefer that it remain as it is today (plaza in the north, parking lot in the south).

At last night’s City of Langley Parks and Environment Committee Meeting, the committee passed a motion in support of a pedestrian-only corridor for the entire length of McBurney Lane. I am told that City Council will be reviewing the McBurney Lane proposals on Monday and I’m happy that they will now have another viewpoint to consider when deciding the future of the lane.

Four Proposed Options for McBurney Lane. Click Image to Enlarge.

While I have no doubt that parking will stay in McBurney Lane, I’m hoping that council will choose a design like option 2 that has more pedestrian/green space and less parking instead of the current preferred option 4.

McBurney Lane is the key pedestrian corridor for families and seniors that live in the area and walk downtown. Let’s hope the City and the merchants see the value in creating a safe and welcoming environment for them. It should be a win, win as studies show that pedestrian-only corridors actually improve the profitability of businesses located on them.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

More tales from Car-Friendly Downtown Langley

This weekend, like most weekends, I walked 5 minutes from my apartment to Downtown Langley to enjoy some food at one of the local restaurants. Maybe it was because of my post last week about the how the auto trumps the pedestrian in Downtown Langley, but when I posted about how a Councillor thought that Douglas Park should have a bigger parking lot, I didn’t realize that parking appears to be allowed on the grass in the park today.

On the south side of Douglas Park is the lawn bowling club. The grass to the north of the club also serves as their parking lot. While I understand that the lawn bowling club requires space for parking, why does it come at the expense of public, pedestrian friendly green space which is a limited resource north of the Nicomekl Floodplain?

The saddest thing I saw on that same day was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle at one of the drive-thru ABMs in Downtown Langley. This bank provides an outside ABM for motorist, but provides no after-hours ABM for pedestrians. This means that in order to do your banking, you must walk-thru the drive-thru. I have even done this in the past. I believe that drive-thrus have no place in an area that is supposed to put a priority on pedestrians and other active forms of transportation. Drive-thrus can be deadly.

I love Langley City and believe it has the history as the traditional centre of Langley and all the right plans to become a great pedestrian-friendly town centre. It frustrates me that people still don’t see that the future of the City revolves around people.

I grew up in the City of Vernon which had a population around the size of Langley when they built their mixed-use parkade (shops on the ground level.) I think this is what Downtown Langley needs. It would provide ample parking that the merchants believe they need and would allow the City to develop a pedestrian friendly core which is critical for its long-term viability. In my home town, the merchants agreed to tax themselves to build this infrastructure. In fact in Vernon, they actually agreed to reduce the travel lanes on their main street to build bigger sidewalks. If a City in the Okanagan can do this in the 1980's, surely a City in Metro Vancouver can do this today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Port Metro Vancouver Land Use Plan - Phase 1

Earlier this year, Port Metro Vancouver started a consultation process for its new land use plan. Right now the Port has three different land use plans from before the Port was merge. The actual consultation process started earlier this year with work on the draft land use plan set to start late in 2012. The final plan will be adopted by December 2013. One of the things that Port Metro Vancouver told me last year was that the community is now supposed to be completely integrated with the Port Metro Vancouver planning process. This kind of planning is not traditionally what happens with organization like the Port though last year South Fraser OnTrax was part of the pre-consultation process for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.

The Port's land use plan will address Port growth and development, regional land use, local communities, environment, and transportation and goods movement. The first phase on the process just wrapped up and the Port has released the results. Overall, the community told the Port that their plan must:

1. Use existing lands efficiently and intensively
2. Balance competing land uses
3. Protect the environment and habitat areas
4. Improve transportation and supply-chain efficiencies
5. Engage and communicate effectively
6. Develop greater coordination and collaboration

The one of the major topics that the Port will have to address is the protection of the Agricultural Land Reserve. In fact “Balancing completing land uses” has the most space dedicated to it in the summary report of the 6 key themes. This is not a surprise given the fact that the ALR in Delta is in being threatened today with the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road while big dollars are behind a plan to remove land from the ALR near Deltaport for “industrial” use. All the destruction of the ALR is being done in the name of the Port. Another topic of concern is the protection of sensitive habitat as Port land serves as home for many species of animals and is part of the pacific flyway for migratory birds.

While reading some of the information on the plan, I noticed that climate change mitigation was one of the major concerns for the Port. “Experts predict that sea levels will rise between 20 and 60 cm over the next hunderd years. Increased severe weather could lead to more frequent flooding along the Fraser River. Much of the Port’s land and infrastructure, along with other waterfront lands in the region, would be at risk of submersion.”

It will be interesting to see how the Port moves forward as it develops its land use plan over the next year, and if the plan will address the concerns of the community.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Row House in Langley

Proposed Fee Simple Row House near 68th Avenue and 208th Street in Langley

I remember a while ago that Vancouver planning types where lamenting the fact that there was a lack of row houses in their city. Row housing is important because it provides the density required to support a transit-friendly, walkable, and a generally livable environment. It also provides an opportunity for people to own a place of their own which is affordable and has a smaller environment footprint. Finally, the traditional street-facing row housing can provide a degree of convertibility to possible live/work spaces. It's really interesting because row housing has been around Metro Vancouver for a lot longer than most people think as the strata townhouse. It doesn’t really exist too much in the City of Vancouver, but a good chunk of development is strata townhouses in Surrey and Langley.

One of the things that I’ve been noticing lately in the Township of Langley is the development of fee-simply row housing. This is good news because it provides all the benefits of strata townhouses minus the drawbacks that come with strata living (fees and strata councils). To maintain a common design and good maintenance on row housings, a registration of party wall and common element maintenance agreement is attach to lots that are connected. Visitor parking easements are also secured to ensure adequate parking. One interesting thing that came up in Langley council recently was fee simply row housing owners trying to remove visitor parking easements. The irony is that these are the same people that complain about the lack of parking in their neighbourhoods. Of course if Willoughby actually had public transit (which is can support today accord to creditable research), it would become one of more sustainability parts of our region and parking would become less of an issue.

I know that City of Vancouver types always think that they are the centre of all things good with the world of urban living, but Langley is leading the region in providing a housing style that supports the livable region while providing the benefit of owning your own place. I hope we see more fee simple row housing in the future all over Metro Vancouver.