Monday, February 25, 2013

Northeast Gordon Estate Neighbourhood Plan: Public Consultation Results

Earlier in January, I posted about how the Township of Langley is updating the Northeast Gordon Estate Neighbourhood Plan and how 208th Street may become a high-density, transit-friendly corridor. The proposed changes to the Northeast Gordon Estate Neighbourhood Plan include creating two walkable centres; one at 207 Street and 68 Avenue and one at 208 Street and 72 Avenue. These two nodes would be linked by a north/south off-street greenway that would run through the middle of the neighbourhood. There would also be a greenway along 208th Street, 72nd Avenue, and 70th Avenue. The original plan for the neighbourhood was adopted in 2006 and would not have resulted in the same type of walkable and transit-friendly community that this proposed updated plan calls for. I have to wonder if the Sustainability Charter adopted by the Township about five years ago is responsible for slowly shifting how the Township plans its neighbourhoods. The Township recently posted the results of the public consultations about the proposed update to the plan.

When it came to density, there was a balance of opinion. Some people wanted to see more density and others did not. The updated neighbourhood plan proposes to build the highest-density around the two walkable nodes with density stepping down as you move away from the nodes. The neighbourhood plan will include a mix of all housing types.

One of the other results from the public consultations was that there should be more accessible and seniors-friendly housing. This type of housing is called adaptable housing and includes things such as lowering the height of light switches, installing wider doors, and providing in-wall support to allow the installation of handrails in bathrooms at a later date. Township Staff is recommending that 5% of single-family housing be adaptable and 10% of apartments. From what I’ve been told, building adaptable housing only adds a few hundred dollars to the total cost of new home construction. To me, it makes sense to build a higher portion of adaptable housing considering our aging demographics.

As this is Metro Vancouver, there were concerns about the preservation of views. Apparently this updated plan includes previsions to ensure that view corridors are maintained. Public art was also brought up as a topic and the Township is working on developing a public art policy. This is good news as public arts seems to be lacking in the Township.

When it comes to transportation, the plan includes traffic calming measures such as reduced road widths and road pinches at intersections. The plan will also encourage the placement of off-street parking in the back of buildings which will allow for more on-street parking. Of course, the walkable nodes will also set the groundwork in place for increasing transit service.

I look forward to seeing this neighbourhood plan being adopted in the Township and I hope that the Township sticks to its guns requiring the creation of the walkable nodes. The next step for the updated plan is for Township Council to have a first and second reading to allow for the scheduling of an official public hearing.

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