Monday, December 22, 2014

Looking back on 2014, and looking forward to 2015.

2014 has certainly been an exciting year for me, especially this fall. While I fell short of getting a seat on Langley City Council by 71 votes, I met some great people along the way. I feel even more strongly connected to my community. This fall also saw Leap Ahead – A transit plan for Metro Vancouver, written by Paul Hilsdon and me, become part of the transportation vision that people in our region will have a chance to vote on next spring.

Speaking about 2015, I will be working hard to get the message out about the importance of voting “Yes” in the upcoming transit plebiscite. This plebiscite will determine the future of our region. Citizens will be able to vote for a strong economy, reduced congestion, and enhanced livability; a “No” vote will be detrimental to the quality of life for every person whether in Langley, Lions Bay, or Vancouver. This is the most important campaign that I have ever been a part of; and that includes my run for City Council.

I will also be working on some exciting projects in the City of Langley which I will post about in more detail next year.

I will be taking a break from blogging until the new year, but in the meantime check out some great articles from Todd Litman at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

"The New Transit Safety Narrative", by Todd Litman, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 121-141.

Public transportation is, overall, a relatively safe (low crash risk) and secure (low crime risk) transport mode. Transit travel has about one-tenth the traffic casualty (injury or death) rate as automobile travel, and residents of transit-oriented communities have about one-fifth the per capita crash casualty rate as in automobile-oriented communities. Transit also tends to have lower overall crime rates than automobile travel, and transit improvements can help reduce overall crime risk by improving surveillance and economic opportunities for at-risk populations. Despite its relative safety and security, many people consider transit travel dangerous and are reluctant to use it or support service expansions in their communities. Various factors contribute to this excessive fear, including the nature of transit travel, heavy media coverage of transit-related crashes and crimes, and conventional traffic safety messages that emphasize danger rather than safety. Transit agencies can help create a new transit safety narrative by better communicating transit’s overall safety and security impacts and providing better guidance concerning how users and communities can enhance transit safety and security.

"Playing a CRITICAL ROLE: Author And Researcher Todd Litman On The Future Of Transportation And Why So Much Of It Depends On Parking", in "The Parking Professional," the official magazine of the International Parking Institute (, November 2014. This article discusses ways that more efficient parking management can help reduce traffic problems, support compact development, increase housing affordability, support efficient economic growth, and help achieve other planning objectives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Transit referendum, now plebiscite, ballot finalized by province

This morning, the provincial government approved the final version of the ballot that will be mailed to registered voters in Metro Vancouver this spring for funding much needed transit expansion in our region.

Provincially-approved ballot. Select image to enlarge.

The first thing apparent to me is that the province doesn’t want to be associated with this referendum which they forced upon the region. If the referendum fails, it will be the province that will have to deal with the aftermath; I believe the referendum will succeeded.

The province is calling the proposed regional 0.5% sales tax the “Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax.” I actually think it is a good name as it links the 0.5% sales tax increase directly to the transportation improvements that the tax will fund.

The referendum is now called a plebiscite.

Of course, the province also performed some “minor refinements” to the ballot question. The changes made were actually pretty major.

In the mayors’ proposed ballot, the “what” and the “why” of the transportation vision were provided. The province’s final version of the ballot removed the “why” component. This was likely to ensure that the ballot didn’t seem biased.

As an example, the mayors version of the ballot stated:

One million more people will live and work in Metro Vancouver by 2040. The region’s mayors worked together to develop a plan to reduce congestion on roads and bridge and to provide more transit to communities across the region.

The final version as approved by the province states:

The region's mayors have developed a Transportation and Transit Plan called Regional Transportation Investments -a Vision for Metro Vancouver.

Another interesting point is that the list of items included in the mayors’ version of the ballot were simplified in the provincial version. For example, the mayors’ version stated “Build light rail transit connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton, and Langley”, while the final provincial version says “Build rapid transits connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton, and Langley”.

I’m happy that the final version of the ballot contains the wording “revenue and expenditures would be subject to annual independent audits and public reporting.” People need to know that the 0.5% tax will go 100% to improving transportation in Metro Vancouver.

The province stated today that the 0.5% sales tax “would be applied as a sales tax to the majority of goods and services that are subject to the PST and are sold or delivered within the region.” This leads me to believe that more items will be exempt from the new regional sales tax than the provincial sales tax.

The plebiscite will require 50%+1 regional support to be approved.

With the ballot now finalized, the work begins to let voters in Metro Vancouver known that a small increase in tax will provide a large increase in transit service throughout all of Metro Vancouver. The South of Fraser is set to receive about half of this investment if the plebiscite is approved.

Enhanced Lighting Coming to Langley Centre Transit Exchange

The Langley Centre Transit Exchange has been the site of increased criminal activity over the last year. This is no surprise as the major tenant of the strip mall that the exchange is located by closed down, leaving the mall derelict. As a result, there are no “eyes and ears” on the street. The lighting is also poor at the transit exchange.

RCMP patrolling Langley Centre Transit Exchange

The long-term solution will be the eventual relocation of the transit exchange. You can read more about this in a previous post. The relocation will not be happening anytime soon.

This past April, Langley City Council was asked to spend $11,500 to upgrade the light bulbs at the exchange from 150 to 250 watts. Council at that time declined. Council Martin didn’t want to spend the money until a funding partnership was establish with TransLink.

An article in the Langley Times appeared earlier this month about a man who was beaten and robbed at the exchange. Since that article was publish, I’ve noticed that the RCMP and transit security have been more visible at the transit exchange.

Last Friday, funding became available from TransLink to spend $54,000 to upgrade not only the power of the lighting, but also install new lighting at the transit exchange. At Monday night’s council meet, council approved $29,000 as its contribution to this $54,000 project. TransLink will be funding the remainder.

Mayor Ted Schaffer said that he wants to “light that place up like an airport runway.”

While lighting and increased police presence will help reduce crime at the transit exchange, the root cause of the issues with the transit exchange is that the transit exchange is around a poor built environment. If the City or Translink are not moving the transit exchange anytime soon, the City needs to look at ways to encourage redevelopment of the derelict mall, bringing more positive activities to the area.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

City of Langley applying to feds for 203rd Street bridge widening and bike lanes

When I ran for Langley City Council this fall, one of the things that I heard from people in the community is that they are concerned about the volume of automobile traffic flowing through their neighbourhoods. People were resigned to the fact that 200th Street and 208th Street were major thoroughfares, but people wanted safe streets in the rest of the community: streets that are safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists; streets where children could ride their bikes or walk to school; streets where seniors don’t have to worry about being mowed down.

At the last council meeting, City Council unanimously passed a motion to apply to the Federal Build Canada fund for various projects along 203rd Street. The Build Canada fund is the major federal infrastructure funding program for local governments in Canada. This federal program could cover up to one third the cost of the projects the City has submitted.

The City of Langley will be bundling $2.6 million in projects which include:

-Upsizing Watermain - 203 Street from Grade Crescent to 49A Ave to support re-development
-Rehab and add capacity by widening 203 St Nicomekl Bridge – widen for the multi-use pathway (MUP) including bike lane
-Paving 203 Street – Grade Crescent to north approach of Nicomekl Bridge
-Adding bicycle infrastructure on 203 Street from Grade Crescent to 56 Ave/Douglas Cres
-Decommission/abandon 965m of AC Watermain
-Replace AC Sewer on 203 St from Grade Crescent to 49A Ave

While I’m excited to see that the City is working toward putting cycling infrastructure along 203rd, I’m hoping that they will be separated bike lanes. Regular curb bike lanes have not been found to be effective in encouraging the majority of people to cycle. This would be a great chance to provide a much needed north/south bikeway in the City. I hope council doesn't squander this opportunity if they get federal funding.

I’m also concerned about what widening the Nicomekl Bridge means. I’m sure people along 203rd won’t be too thrilled if their street becomes a 4-lane thoroughfare.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Community Garden and Dog Off-Leash Area for Linwood Park

The City of Langley Parks and Environment Advisory Committee has been advocating for adding a new community garden site to the city. Earlier this fall, the City of Langley hosted an open house to gather feedback from the community on a preferred location for a new community garden site, plus a site for an additional dog off-leash park.

130 people submitted feedback on where they though the City should build a new community garden and a dog off-leash area. Linwood Park was the top choice as a new community garden site though Douglas Park was also popular having received two less votes as the preferred community garden site.

Map of parks within the City of Langley with Linwood Park highlighted. Select map to enlarge.

Example layout of Linwood Park with dog off-leash area, community gardens, and sports field. Select image to enlarge.

The preferred park for a new dog off-leash area was Linwood.

At last night’s council meeting, the following motion was put forward by council:

That Linwood Park is chosen as the location for the new Dog Off-Leash Park and Community Garden site.

hat the City requests proposals from not for profit groups for the operation and maintenance of the new community garden site.

That a fee of $25 be established for the 16 sq.ft. garden plots and a fee of $50 established for the 32 sq.ft. plots

That the yearly fee at the Nicomekl Elementary garden plots be raised from $15/year to $25/year to be consistent with the new site.

Currently, the City of Langley subsides the cost of the current Nicomekl Elementary garden plots at a cost of $3000 per year. City of Langley staff is recommending putting out a request for proposal for a non-profit organization to look after the operation and maintenance of the new Linwood community gardens. As an example, Langley Environmental Partners Society operates some of the Township of Langley's community gardens.

There was discussion around the council table about the appropriateness of setting the plot fees before getting proposals from the RFP process. As such, Council voted to not establish the fees it would charge for plots at the new Linwood Park Site. Council also kept the the Nicomekl Elementary garden plots fee at $15 per year for now.

Work will proceed with the construction of the new community garden and the dog off-leash areas in Linwood Park in time for the 2015 growing season.

Monday, December 15, 2014

TransLink Third Quarter Stats Released

Every quarter, TransLink releases their financial and performance results. TransLink's third quarter results were recently released.

As you are probably aware, TransLink had two major service disruptions on the SkyTrain system this summer. During the first nine months of 2013, 95.4% of SkyTrains arrived within 2 minutes of their scheduled time. During the first nine months of 2014, that number dropped to 92.8%.

TransLink tracks the amount of complaints it receives per 1 million boarded passengers. Comparing the first nine months of 2014 to 2013, complains for the bus network were down 11.4%. Complaints were up 23.3% for the West Coast Express. What is really surprising is that complaints were up only 2.6% for the Expo and Millennium Lines. Complaints on the Canada Line were down 4.1%. Overall, passenger complaints were down 10.1% during the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

Transit ridership continued its two-year decline. According to TransLink, “Analysis into the decline in ridership suggests that the 2013 fare increase had a longer lasting effect on ridership than expected. However, preliminary ridership estimated for quarter three indicate that ridership is beginning to recover.”

In the third quarter of 2014, ridership was down 4.6% on the West Coast Express, down .8% on the Expo and Millennium Lines, and up .4% on the Canada Line. Bus ridership was down .5% compared to the third quarter of 2013.

A drop in ridership, combined with the "free transit day" in August has resulted in a drop of transit revenue by $3.2 million or .9%. Fuel Tax revenue dropped .7% in the first nine months of 2014 compared to 2013 while other taxation revenue grew at 2-3%.

Year to date, TransLink has spent $74 million on roads and bridges, $471 million on bus service, and $118 million on rail service.

TransLink has been hammered in the media lately about its administrative costs. TransLink held the line on these costs spending $47 million on corporate services and planning in the first nine months of 2014, an increase of .1% compared to the first nine months of 2013.

More detailed information is in TransLink's third quarter report.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Transit Referendum Ballot Question: $10 per month for $7.5 billion in transit and transportation improvements

Last August, Paul Hillsdon and I released Leap Ahead, A transit plan for Metro Vancouver. In the plan, Paul and I outlined the importance of a well-functioning transit system for the economic, social, and environmental health of the region. We also proposed what transit investments would be needed, and suggested a 0.5% region sales tax to pay for these investments. Today, the Mayors’ Council voted on the ballot question that will be going to voters in mid-March 2015 around transit in Metro Vancouver.

This morning at the Mayors' Council meeting in the New Westminster Anvil Centre.

Metro Vancouver mayors approved a ballot question that asks Metro Vancouver voters to support a modest 0.5% increase of the PST to support $7.5 billion in transit and transportation improvements. This is essentially what Paul and I proposed last year.

By the way, the 0.5% increase in the PST would cost the average household in Metro Vancouver $10 per month. This is a deal if you ask me.

The Mayors’ Council has updated their website with new information about the referendum and their plan. This includes fact sheets on what transportation improvements will be delivered to each sub-region in Metro Vancouver.

The question voters in Metro Vancouver will have to answer is “Do you support a 0.5% increase to the provincial sales tax in Metro Vancouver, dedicated to these transportation and transit improvements, with independent audits and a public review of spending?”

The proposed ballot for next spring's referendum.

The preamble on the ballot includes states:

One million more people will live and work in Metro Vancouver by 2040. The region’s mayors worked together to develop a plan to reduce congestion on roads and bridge and to provide more transit to communities across the region.

The Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan will:

-Add more bus service to crowed routed and add new routes in growing areas
-Increase service on SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus, and West Coast Express
-Add 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes, with fast and frequent service connecting town centres
-Maintain and upgrade the region’s major roads
-Build a new, earthquake-ready Pattullo Bridge
-Build light rail transit connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton, and Langley
-Extend the Millennium Line tunneled along Broadcast in Vancouver
-Improve safety for pedestrians and cyclist

Revenue raised through this referendum, together with Provincial and Federal contributions, will be dedicated to the Plan. Revenues and expenditures will be subject to annual independent audits and public reporting.

I was very proud that both Mayor Jack Froese of the Township of Langley and Mayor Ted Schaffer of the City of Langley supported the vision.

Mayor Froese noted that improved transit will be critical for the future of Langley, while Mayor Schaffer said the vision was a “great plan.”

Business, organized labour, and NGOs such as the David Suzuki Foundation have come together to support the mayors' vision. The campaign will starting in earnest after the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ecosystem Services: Putting a Price on Healthy Ecosystems

People benefit from a health ecosystem; when our environment is flourishing, we all benefit. There has been a growing movement to quantify the benefits we receive from the ecosystems where we live. These benefits are now being framed in a market-based context known as “Ecosystem Services.”

The following graphic is from Ecosystems and Human Well-Being, a report created for the United Nations Environment Programme.

Linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being. Select graphic to enlarge.

Last year, the Township of Langley adopted its Agricultural Viability Strategy. This strategy commits to investing at least $135,000 per year to support farming and the services it provides for people in Langley and Metro Vancouver. One of the key parts of the Agricultural Viability Strategy is to address "key issues such as open air burning, chemical use, wildlife habitat, nutrient management, environmental farm planning, and land stewardship.”

Since a healthy ecosystem provides provides tangible benifts to people, it makes sense that a monetary price can be calculated for the services provided.

A project called the Ecological Services Initiative is setting up pilot programs to see if it makes sense to “provide incentives to maintain natural systems and the services they provide in a cost-effective manner, socially fair manner” to farmers and rural landowners. The goal of the pilot program is to evaluate the effectiveness of paying financial incentives to ensure that rural and agricultural lands provide, or continues to provide, critical ecosystem services. This project is funded by the federal government, provincial government, the University of Alberta, and NGOs.

The Township of Langley has the most land within the Agricultural Land Reserve in Metro Vancouver. The Ecological Services Initiative is looking to partner with the Township of Langley to setup a 3-year pilot program. The Township would need to invest $40,000 per year. This is within the $135,000 funding envelop of the Agricultural Viability Strategy. Information gathered from this pilot project will be used to determine the return on investment for paying landowners to maintain or enhance ecological services provided by their land.

If successful, the pilot project could become permanent or even expanded with the creation of a local conversation fund.

More information is available in the Township’s December 8th Afternoon Council Meeting Agenda.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Walking Tour of Ladner

When some people think about the Metro Vancouver, they might think that the City of Vancouver is the centre of our region. The reality is quite different. Our region has always contained many town centres. Development today is still based around these original town centres throughout Metro Vancouver.

Langley Prairie, now the City of Langley, and Ladner are some of the earliest colonial settlements in our region. Both communities served as some of the original business and service centres for the farming and fisheries communities. You can see this even in some of the early buildings.

For example, both Langley City and Ladner have two fairly imposing federally-constructed historic buildings.

Federal Building in the City of Langley. (Former Post Office)
Federal Building in Downtown Langley

While the City of Langley building is now an office building, the Lander building still serves as a post office.

Yesterday, I had the chance to take a walking tour of Lander, which is located in South Delta, and snap some photos. They are in the following flickr slideshow.

One of the interesting things that I noticed was that Lander went through a bit of a building boom in the mid part of the 20th Century. Unfortunately for Ladner Village, some of the pedestrianly-friendly, street-oriented buildings were replaced with strip malls. Newer buildings in the community now promote walkability.

One of the oddest developments is Harbourside Plaza in the heart of Ladner. This mixed-used building actually wraps around a historic masonic lodge. Sadly, one of the defining features of this development is its unflattering parking lot.

Ladner also has a working waterfront, though in recent years, some sections have come under hard times. The Corporation of Delta has purchased one parcel of property along the waterfront which was the home of the 7 Seas Company. Delta plans to turn it into a public amenity at some point in the future, but it seems that all residents in Lander have to show to date it a sign stating such.

Delta has also spent some effort in improving the sidewalks in some parts of Ladner Village. For example, 48th Avenue has a great public realm. Sadly, some parts of Lander are completely missing sidewalks, or the sidewalks are so narrow that people have to walk single-file. Lander has a large seniors population, so I can imagine that this is a barrier to accessibility.

Another challenging for Ladner is that the bus exchange is in the middle of nowhere. Because of this, Ladner Village doesn’t have frequent bus service.

Places like Langley City and Ladner are incubators for small business because the communities are more affordable. I saw many great local small businesses while walking around Lander yesterday.

Living in the South of Fraser, it is fun to see all the communities that make our region so special.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Province underfunding transit in BC

Over the last several years, the provincial government has put up roadblock after roadblock as Metro Vancouver local governments try to find a way to fund critically needed transit expansion in the region. The latest roadblock came mid-last week when Minister of Transportation Todd Stone said that the province “won't contribute as much money as Metro Vancouver mayors want” to fund transit expansion. He even said that the proposed taxes or vehicle levy, which would raise about $300 million per year, was too rich for the province's liking.

The provincial government has consistently said that it believes local government should jack up property tax to pay for transit. Local governments in Metro Vancouver have said no.

One of the things that I find ironic is that the BC Liberals are supposed to be party of “free enterprise”, working towards lowering the cost of doing business in BC. By advocating for transit to be paid for with property tax, they are actually advocating for placing more burden on businesses to fund transit. Business property tax is already high in many parts of Metro Vancouver.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association prepared a series of infographics about transit ridership and funding in Canada. I thought I would share the infographics from Canada’s most populated provinces.

CUTA 2012 Ridership & Fund Infographic for Alberta. Select image to enlarge.

CUTA 2012 Ridership & Fund Infographic for British Columbia. Select image to enlarge.

CUTA 2012 Ridership & Fund Infographic for Quebec. Select image to enlarge.

CUTA 2012 Ridership & Fund Infographic for Ontario. Select image to enlarge.

In BC, the provincial government has generally contributed about 1/3rd of the cost for capital transit projects. In Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, provincial governments contribute about 2/3rds. These arrangements have been in place for over a decade.

The BC provincial government is actually getting a great deal because it has downloaded 1/3rd of the cost of funding transit capital projects to local governments. I’m not sure why the provincial government is crying foul at local mayors who are expecting the province to pay its fair share which the province agreed to in the 2008 Provincial Transit Plan.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Brydon Lagoon Task Force Approved

For close to a decade, it has been known that Brydon Lagoon in the Nicomekl Floodplain needs attention; Brydon has been slowly degrading. This August up to 1,000 fish died in Brydon Lagoon. You can read more about this on a previous blog post.

Earlier this fall, the City of Langley’s Parks and Environmental Advisory Committee heard from various community groups urging something be done. The Parks Committee recommended that City Council take action to form a task force that would recommend how to move forward with restoring Brydon Lagoon.

The previously City Council called on the Parks Committee to work with City Staff and other community environmental groups to develop a terms of reference for the new task force. This terms of reference was presented to Council at their November 24th meeting. The last act of the previous council was to approve the terms of reference and move forward with creation of the task force.

The task force will review the Brydon Lagoon findings and recommendations section of the Dillon Consulting Pond Management Strategies Study dated March 2013, past reports, documentation, and local knowledge. The task force will also identify information gaps and discrepancies in collected information and make recommendations to resolve issues. Finally, the task force will identify which recommendations of the Pond Management Strategy and other recommendations should be advanced.

The task force must submit its recommendations to City Council by June 2015. If Council is supportive of the recommendations, they will approve funding to restore the lagoon. The earliest this could happen would be in 2016.

The task force will be comprised of:

2 Parks, Environment Advisory Committee designates
2 designates from Langley Field Naturalists and alternate
1 designate from Langley Environmental Partners Society and alternate
1 designate from the Nicomekl Enhancement Society and alternate
1 designate from Ducks Unlimited Canada and alternate
Up to 2 members of the general public

Restoring Brydon Lagoon is something I would like to see done. Hopefully the current City Council will take action to restore Brydon Lagoon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, headline generation, and TransLink bashing

It seems like a month doesn’t go by without Jordan Bateman and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation either issuing a press release or “leaking” a document to the media about the evils of TransLink. The CTF’s low point was when they revealed that TransLink buys locally-roasted coffee for their staff.

This week, the media covered the fact that TransLink executives get a car allowance. It’s a good byline, TransLink Execs get Free Cars; there is some implied irony. Many people don’t realize that TransLink funds both transit and all major non-provincial roads and bridges in Metro Vancouver.

TransLink’s executives took home $2.5 million in wages and benefits, like the car allowance, in 2013. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this represents less than 0.2% of TransLink’s $1,406.9 million of operating expenses in 2013.

For comparison, it costs $1.2 million to operate the 555, $2.7 million to operate the 601, $5.2 million to operate the 502, and $9.4 million to operate the 99 B Line bus route in 2013.

The CTF’s goal is to get as much media coverage as possible. They make a lot of noise, but are devoid of providing any really solutions. TransLink executive compensation is a great example.

TransLink has no money to expand transit service. Bashing TransLink execs makes for sexy headlines. But even if TransLink had no executives, the "savings" wouldn’t even fund one frequent transit route.

So why does the CTF always target TransLink?

It should come as no surprise that many supporters of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would consider themselves to be more on the conservative side of the political spectrum. In BC and federally, we have governments which have branded themselves as more conservatively minded. If the CTF was to go after the provincial or federal governments directly, it would risk alienating its support base.

If the CTF can’t go directly after the government to get media coverage, then it makes sense that they would go after public agencies which are firewalled from provincial and federal politicians.

If there is one CTF message that I can support, it is the message that there is a lack of accountability between TransLink and the public. It was the BC Liberals that removed TransLink from the direct control of Metro Vancouver, and put it into the hands of a private board. It was also the BC Liberals that instructed TransLink to operate like a private company.

If the CTF was truly interesting in making agencies like TransLink more accountable, they would lobby the provincial government to put arms-length agencies back into the direct control of province or local government.

Of course that would be a solution, and the CTF is only interested in generating headlines.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Expo Line station upgrades coming in 2015

In 2010, TransLink released a report which outlined the work that needs to be performed on the Expo Line to ensure that the SkyTrain system remains in a state of good repair, and is able to accommodate increasing passenger loads. The authors of the report presented $1.1 billion in upgrades which would ensure that the Expo line continues to meet the needs of Metro Vancouver. Several stations along the Expo Line were identified as needing major upgrades.

TransLink has already completed work at Scott Road Station and is in the middle of rebuilding Main Street-Science World Station. The next two major station rebuilds will be at Commercial-Broadway and Metrotown.

Commercial-Broadway and Metrotown are the busiest stations on the SkyTrain network. TransLink has their work cut out for them as they will be rebuilding these stations while maintaining service.

TransLink recently posted PDFs online which provide some information on the proposed station upgrades, and impacts to customers and area residents during the construction phase. TransLink has posted an online survey for both Metrotown Station and Commercial-Broadway Station; they want your feedback.

Summary of changes to Metrotown Station and new bus exchange. Select image to enlarge.

Summary of changes to Metrotown Station. Select image to enlarge.

TransLink held open houses earlier this year to seek feedback on the preliminary designs for these station. In the first design for Metrotown Station, the pedestrian overpass that directly links the Metrotown Mall Complex to the SkyTrain station was removed. The overpass is now back in the design.

During construction, Metrotown Station will remain open though there will be no elevator. TransLink will provide a shuttle service between Patterson Station and Metrotown to maintain accessibility. Also, the current pedestrian overpass will be demolished, so people will need to cross Central Boulevard at ground level during construction. Construction will begin in 2015.

Summary of changes to Commercial-Broadway Station. Select image to enlarge.

Cross-section of upgraded Commercial-Broadway Station.

During construction at Commercial-Broadway, the west staircase will be closed. In addition, the pedestrian bridge over the Grandview cut will be narrowed. Construction will also begin in 2015.

Monday, December 1, 2014

City of Langley’s Master Transportation Plan fails to address existing sidewalks

Last Thursday, I posted about the City of Langley’s new Master Transportation Plan. One of the great things about the plan is that, if funded by Council, it will result in sidewalk coverage on both sides of almost every street in the City. The authors of the Master Transportation plan note that:

Sidewalk clear width of less than 1.5m is generally considered quite narrow, where walking in single file may be necessary when passing other pedestrians. Sidewalk clear widths of 1.5 to 2.0m can improve pedestrian accessibility and comfort, and clear widths greater than 2.0m (i.e. what is seen in many areas of Downtown) can comfortably accommodate many pedestrians and make for a more pleasant walking experience.
Wider sidewalks (greater than 1.5m) should be concentrated in Downtown, around schools and multi-family areas where more people are and can be attracted to walking.

One of the things that I find odd about the new Master Transportation Plan is that it doesn’t include widening sidewalks on key pedestrian corridors.

The west sidewalk on 203rd Street around 54th Avenue has to be one of narrowest and most dangerous sections of sidewalk in the City. It is along a major pedestrian corridor.

Yesterday, I went to return some cans to the recycling depot, and decided to take a tape measure with me.

Section of sidewalk on 203rd Street at 54th Avenue. Select image to enlarge

The tape measure shows a 2.0m length which is the recommended non-obstructed width for a downtown sidewalk. As you can see, besides the narrow width of the sidewalk, there is a 1 to 2 foot drop on one side. If you look in the background of the photo, you can see a utility pole in the middle of the sidewalk and sign posts which further constrain the usable width of that sidewalk.

While I’m happy that the Master Transportation Plan addresses adding new sidewalks, I’m surprise and disappointed that it doesn’t include recommended projects to widen sidewalks on key pedestrian corridors.