Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Carvolth Neighbourhood Plan

The Carvolth Neighbourhood Plan represents a vision and implementation framework for creating a transit oriented, walkable and highly urban place at this important gateway to the Township of Langley. The new neighbourhood is envisioned to have a high quality of design and a balance of jobs and housing and be a regional showcase for sustainable design.

What better way to celebrate the 1,500 post to this blog then to talk about the Carvolth Neighbourhood in the Township of Langley. Originally the plan for this neighbourhood in Willoughby was for your typical auto-oriented office parks, but the addition of the Park and Ride at 202nd Street, and ExpressBus service over the Port Mann Bridge, allowed the Township to rethink the neighbourhood as a transit-friendly, walkable community. I’ve been following this neighbourhood update for some time, and I was pleased to see that Township Council adopted this new walkable plan earlier this year.

The Township of Langley recently released an eight page brochure that lays out the vision for the neighbourhood and is well worth the read. The community could include a variety of housing options including mixed-use, live/work units, apartments, and townhouses. It could also include a diversity of retail and offices opportunities including the creation of a high street on 86th Avenue.

What the Carvolth Plan clearly shows is the link between land-use and transportation. It also shows that in order to build a transit-friendly greenfield neighbourhood, the transit network has to be in place around the same time as the neighbourhood is being developed.

Long-term conceptual build out of the Carvolth area. Click image to enlarge

I was told the other day that the Carvolth Park and Ride facility was designed to accommodate ten years’ worth of growth, but it is already near capacity today. This is pretty amazing considering there is both a $2 per day or $40 per month parking fee plus transit fare needed to use the facility. This shows that people prefer to take high-quality transit over driving. In fact, I’ve been told this by many people that living in Walnut Grove and Willoughby.

Contrast this to highway projects were the introduction of even a minor toll causes traffic levels to plunge, and I have to question why transit isn’t made a priority by the province for our region. The fact is that the introduction of high-quality transit service has consistently over-exceeded usage predictions while highway usage prediction have not been met in Metro Vancouver.

While I believe that the Township has an amazing opportunity to build a new walkable community, the municipality will have to be careful about the phasing. I’ve seen far too many great projects in the Township derailed by people who move to the Township and then opposes any higher-density projects. The Township must ensure that the high street and some higher-density projects are in place before allowing medium-density projects to be built in the neighbourhood. This will do to things.

First, it will calm people’s fears that higher-density projects are evil and show that they are actually vital for a walkable community. It will also limit anti-growth sentiment that always seems to pop up when new lower-density projects are established before high-density projects. If the Township get the timing of projects right, I believe that Carvolth has a bright, sustainable future.

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