Thursday, November 7, 2013

Langley City Park, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan

On Monday night, the Park, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan was presented to City of Langley Council. This is a 10-year plan that is meant to guide the City’s priorities in those areas, helping guide capital and operational spending. The City and its consultants started the process of putting this plan together earlier this year. The Park and Environment Advisory Committee received updates throughout and was able to provide feedback during various stages of the planning process (as was the general public.)

One of the things that I’m excited to see in the plan is the recognition that our on-street road network needs to be connected to our off-street trail network. This plan recommends that the on-street pedestrian and bicycle network be improved and connected to the off-street network. I’m happy to see that the draft of the forthcoming Master Transportation Plan also recommends improving the on-street and off-street pedestrian and cycling network. Of course a plan is just a piece of paper without funding. Since I’ve lived in Langley City, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure funding has not been a priority; I hope this will now change.

One of the odd things in the Park, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan is the recommendation that more green space be included in multi-family developments. Having lived in multi-family housing for almost half my live, I can say that this semi-private green space in usually under-utilized and can create “dead zones”. For some reason there is this still this notion that higher-density development need green space. Sadly it was this notion that helped create some of the worst public housing projects in North America.

The reality is that people will use private green space and public green space. Successful higher-density communities need great public parks. Instead of requiring developer to put in semi-private “dead zones”, fees collected from developers should be used to make sure that we have high-quality parks. At the end of the day it’s about quality and not the quantity of green space. The plan does recommend improving the quality of the parks in Langley.

The Park, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan contains a phasing and costing section for the recommendations contained in the rest of the plan. One of the highest priority areas is for the City to expand and maintain the off-street trail network and work on integrating it with an expanded on-street pedestrian and cycling network. One of the other key recommendations is to add more programming and uses into parks including dog off-leash areas and urban agriculture while “improving the diversity, appearance and environmental and social sustainability of existing and future parks, e.g., more trees, protect and enhance natural areas, more social spaces and gathering areas, more seating, attractive rainwater management features, and year-round uses.”

When it comes to recreation facilities, the highest priority is to complete the design and construction of the new Timms Community Centre. Right now the site of the Timms Community Centre (beside City Hall) is an empty concrete slab. Another high priority area is to continue working towards the creation of an artist and cultural space in the Langleys.

The Park, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan is contained in the latest Council Meeting agenda.

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