Monday, October 27, 2014

Langley Advance City Candidate Questions

As I am running for Langley City Council, the Langley Advance sent a list of questions for me to answer. The Advance was looking for yes/no answers to their list of questions, with the option to provide expanded answers to some questions.

Looking over the questions, I thought that most of them warranted more than a simple yes/no response. While I will submit my answer to the Langley Advance in the format they requested, I have provided full answer to their questions in this post.

Do you currently live in Langley City?

How long (in years) have you lived in Langley City?
I have lived in the City of Langley for over eight years.

Should the Official Community Plan allow increased density in all areas of the City?
I believe that the current City of Langley official community plan is good the way it is when it comes to density. There is lots of potential for redevelopment in Downtown Langley and the surrounding area with higher densities as envisioned in the OCP. I see no reason to increase density in other neighbourhoods in the community.

Would you support tolling ALL Metro Vancouver bridges to fund transit?
Tolling all Metro Vancouver bridges is something that only the province can do. While I personally support fair tolling across the region, there is very little I could do as a City Councillor to make that happen. I think that the current tolling policy is unfair and creates traffic issues by having only some crossings tolled.

Would you support removing tolls from all Metro Vancouver bridges?
The tolling of bridges is the responsibility of the province and TransLink. TransLink is directed by the Mayors’ Council. A Langley City Councillor would have no say in this matter. Tolling is an important way to fund bridges; these are multi-billion dollar projects. When it comes to major transportation systems (whether bridges or transit), the cost should be split between taxes and direct-user fees. People who use these costly systems should pay their fair share. User fees also help people make smart transportation choices, reducing congestion, and ultimately saving them money.

Would you support road pricing to fund transit?
No. I believe road pricing should be used to fund roads. Road pricing lets people know how much they are paying for how much they drive. This will reduce congestion and save people money. I would support reducing gas tax if road pricing was introduced, but road pricing is under the control of the province. There is very little a Langley City Councillor could accomplish.

Would you support increasing property taxes to fund transit?
No. You can read Leap Ahead: A transit plan for Metro Vancouver which I co-authored. How to better fund transit is detailed in that report.

Should a tree protection bylaw be brought in?
A proposed tree protection bylaw was introduce by the City of Langley in 2010. It was flawed. More trees got cut down because of that proposed bylaw than at any other time I can remember. That bylaw didn’t pass. It seemed like it was a solution looking for a problem. Before supporting a new tree protection bylaw, I would want to see that there is a clear problem that needs to be resolved, and that it has the broad support of the community.

Should developers be required to provide more low-income housing in the City?
Providing low-incoming housing is really a responsibility of the province. Langley City is one of the most affordable communities in Metro Vancouver. That being said, I’d work hard to partner with community organizations and the province to make sure that more affordable housing is provided for people that need it, including seniors. I would also work to ensure that major new developments include housing options at a number of different price points.

Should the City create more bike lanes and public cycling infrastructure?
I believe the City should invest in creating greenways and protected cycling lanes. Cycling lanes and greenways are cost effective. They provide the safety needed to help people feel comfortable cycling in the community giving people transportation choice.

Should more of the City’s casino revenue be used to directly reduce property tax rates?
The City uses casino revenue to pay for capital projects. If the casino revenue was used to lower property taxes, the City infrastructure would start to crumble. Deferring maintenance to future years would cause a deterioration of the quality of life in our community. It would also stop Downtown Revitalization. Finally, it would pass the cost of replacing and improving infrastructure to future generations at a much higher cost. It would be a lose, lose, lose.

Was building the $14 million Timms Recreation Centre the right decision?
Yes, the City needs to continue investing in our Downtown, providing high quality facilities that will improve the quality of life for people that call Langley home. This investment will also provide a catalyst for revitalizing Downtown Langley which will create a strong local economy.

Does the City need more public green space?
The City has a good amount of green space today. I support enhancing our current parks, trails, Brydon Lagoon, and the Nicomekl floodplain, creating safe and enjoyable public spaces. I want to make our park system a point of a pride for our community.

Does the City need more sports and recreation facilities?
I support the City of Langley working with the sports community to ensure that our amenities are meeting the needs of its users.

Does the City do enough to support business?
I believe the City of Langley could do more to support business in Downtown Langley. I would work to create a stronger working relationship and create new partnerships with the Downtown Langley BIA.

Does the City do enough for its seniors population?
No. I believe that the City needs to partner with community organization to ensure the City it doing enough to support our seniors.

Does the City do enough for youth?
No. The City of Langley needs to work with the school board and other community organizations to make sure that this City is delivering the right programs that support young people.

Does the City provide adequate cultural services?
I believe that we are missing an Arts & Cultural Centre. I would support such a centre in Downtown Langley. It would help revitalize Downtown Langley which would, in turn, help reduce crime.

Does the City provide sufficient fire/rescue service?

Are you satisfied that the City receives its fair share through the Township/City policing service agreement?
The City of Langley has about 1 police officer for every 500 citizens. This is the highest ratio in Metro Vancouver. The City is receiving its fair share.

Does the City have a good working relationship with the Township?
Yes, but I believe the City and Township could work closer together on Parks and Recreation. Where I grew up, both Vernon and Coldstream —two communities of vastly different sizes— partnered to deliver parks and recreation serves. It served both communities well and saved money; I believe it would also serve Langley well.

Do you believe Langley Township and City should be amalgamated into one municipality?
No. I’ve done some research on this. Financially, amalgamation drives up property tax for all taxpayers. Larger municipalities are more bureaucratic. Larger municipalities also makes it harder to have a voice as a citizen. I can call the Mayor of Langley up any day and get a meeting within a week. Could the same be said if I was living in the City of Vancouver?

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