Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brookswood/Fernridge Plan back on Council Agenda

About 13,100 people currently live in Brookswood/Fernridge. The Township of Langley began the process of updating the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan in 2011. The update was started due to a petition by several landowners in the area. The Township agreed to the update the plan under the condition that the landowners paid for the update process. The landowners agreed.

An update was needed as Council passed a resolution in 2004 to place a moratorium of any new major new development. The moratorium would be lifted once the Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan was updated.

The original community plan was from the 1980s. It was a suburban and auto-oriented plan. You can read my previous posts about the most recent attempt to update the plan, but the end result was that last year Council chose to not pass the updated plan due to community opposition.

Some of the major reasons that people opposed the updated community plan were they:

Wanted no new development in Brookswood;
Though the density was too high in the updated plan. Didn’t like apartments, townhouses, or row house;
Had traffic/parking concerns;
Wanted more protection of the environment with a focus on trees, wildlife, groundwater, aquifer and streams;
Had concerns about school capacity;
Though there wasn’t enough infrastructure to support an increased population;
Though that there would be an increase in crime if the new community plan was adopted.

People in Brookswood/Fernridge also want more sidewalks, parks, trails, and transit. Sidewalks, parks, and trails are usually paid for by new development. Depending on the outcome of the transit plebiscite, planning for transit might be a moot point in the Township.

What to do about Brookswood/Fernridge is back on the Council agenda. Staff has given Council several options on how to proceed.

According to staff, Council's moratorium on development is no longer valid for several reasons. First, a moratorium can’t be valid indefinitely. Second, because the moratorium was passed as a resolution, it can’t technically superseded a community plan which is a bylaw.

The first option presented to council is to do nothing. By doing nothing though, Council would be reaffirming the 1987 auto-oriented plan. This would see the development of an unsustainable, auto-oriented, sprawl of a community with a total population of 35,000.

The second option would be to start a minor update of the plan. According to Township staff:

The Brookswood area, generally north of 33 A Avenue west of 200 Street and north of 36 Avenue west of 208 Street, remaining essentially as-is, consistent with the existing 1987 Plan;
Minor changes to the commercial areas of the existing 1987 Plan to facilitate change from auto-orientation to more walkable commercial nodes;
Decrease in the density of single family developments and reduction of townhouse and multifamily;
Designated areas in the 2014 Plan to reduce overall population growth and density; and
Increase the areas designated for larger lots (10,000 ft2 compared to 7,000 ft2), that would result in a reduction in the overall population growth and density.

This option would will still not support building a transit-friendly community. If Brookswood/Fernridge residents wanted more parks, trails, and sidewalks, the improvements would have to be paid for by increasing property tax.

The third option presented would be for Council to start a whole new Brookswood/Fernridge plan. This would be similar to the failed 2011-2014 update, but include even more public input.

The fourth option would be for Council to consider separating the Brookswood/Fernridge plan into two separate community plans. This would allow Brookswood to remain in stasis while allowing Council to develop a comprehensive plan for Fernridge.

The final option would be to amend the Official Community Plan to remove urban development as an acceptable land-use in Fernridge. Brookswood would remain unchanged. This would require an update to the current Brookswood/Fernridge Plan, and the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

TransLink fights back with the facts

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been waging a full-out assault against TransLink’s reputation for the last four years. The CTF has used a blend of selected facts, and in at least two cases being straight-up dishonest, in a bid to smear TransLink. By releasing a slow, but steady stream of sensational press releases, the CTF has been successful in convincing the region that we have one of the worst transit systems in North America. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

TransLink is kind of nerdy. It is interested in running a transit system, planning Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, and funding bridges, roads and bike lanes. Focusing on its self-imagine has not been a priority.

Like any nerd, TransLink gives you six ways from Sunday to find out when the next bus will come, get reports on all sort of geeky transportation stuff, and discover a cornucopia stats. It’s also pretty good at responding to customer complaints. TransLink’s weakness is that it has done a poor job of presenting itself to the media, and by proxy, the people of Metro Vancouver.

When Paul Hillsdon and I released our Leap Ahead transit plan in the fall of 2013, we got a phone call from the folks at TransLink. They wanted to meet with us, and we agreed to meet with them. We talked about all sorts of things. At some point in the conversation, I asked why TransLink wasn’t doing more to counter the negative messaging being put out by the CTF. I was told that TransLink would “take their lumps”, but would essentially just focus on delivering world-class transit service.

You have to stand-up to bullies. Unfortunately, it took TransLink until midway through this plebiscite to stand-ups for itself.

Last week, TransLink launched a “The Facts Matter” information campaign to help set the record straight about the agency.

Select facts from TransLink's new information campaign. Select image to enlarge.

While this information campaign won't likely impact the outcome of the transit and transportation plebiscite, if TransLink keeps presenting the facts to the public, it will help people form an opinion of the agency that it ground in facts.

I’m happy that TransLink is finally standing-up for itself, I just wish it would have been a bit sooner.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Metro Vancouver Map: Shaping Growth and Investing in Transit for a Livable Region

The Regional Planning Committee is part of the Metro Vancouver Board which represents the interests of 21 municipalities and one treaty First Nation in our region. The Regional Planning Committee’s mandate is to provide advice and recommendations on regional planning, agricultural, and transportation matters.

Recent Regional Planning Committee agendas include various statistical maps that highlight some of the important metrics that impact our region. The latest Regional Planning Committee agenda contained an info-map called “Shaping Growth and Investing in Transit for a Livable Region.”

Shaping Growth and Investing in Transit for a Livable Region. Select info-map to enlarge.

The map shows how the mayors' transportation plan, which people are voting on in the Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite, ties in with the Regional Growth Strategy. Both the transportation plan and regional growth strategy aim to accommodate the 1 million new people and 500,000 new jobs that are projected to come to our region in the next 25 years, while maintaining the livability of our region.

According to Metro Vancouver, 55% of residents today are within a 5 to 10 minute walk to frequent transit service. Frequent transit means a bus that runs every 15 minutes or better all-day, a B-Line, or SkyTrain. If people approve the mayors’ transportation plan, 70% of resident will live within walking distance of transit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Township’s Green Building Rebate Program

When the Township of Langley adopted its Sustainability Charter in 2008, it marked a change of course in planning for the community. Since that time, there has been some major changes such as transforming the plan for Carvolth in Willoughby from offices parks and single-family houses, to a vibrant mixed-use community with a high street. There have been tweaks to other community and neighbourhood plans, making them more walkable with a variety of housing types and shops. On the transportation front, Township of Langley staff has been working for several years on a comprehensive cycling plan for the community.

Of course there is much work that still needs to be done. There has also been cases where Township Council has actually gone against the spirit of the Sustainability Charter. The controversial approval of the Trinity Western University District, or the refusal to increase funding to build out the cycling network last year comes to mind.

One of the innovative ways that the Township is working to increase sustainable building practices is with the introduction of a Green Building Permit Rebate Program.

In 2014, the Township of Langley piloted a one year program to rebate builders $750 for each new single-family house, and $150 for each new townhouse, row-house, or manor-house if an EngerGuide rating of 80 for single-family houses, or 82 for other housing types was achieved.

Typical houses built to code have a rating of between 65 and 72. The rebate comes off the Township’s building permitting fees. You can find out more information about the rating system at Natural Resources Canada.

To help fund the rebate program, the Township is introducing a Sustainable Construction Fee which is applied to virtually all new major building permits.

Twelve participants qualified for rebates during the 2014 pilot program. There are 460 housing units that should qualify for the rebate this year.

Because of the success of the program, Township staff recommended that the rebate program become permanent. The BC Building Code is requiring more energy efficient houses, and the Township will monitor the rebate program to make sure it encourages development that goes above and beyond BC Building Code requirements.

Township Council approved making this a permanent program earlier this month.

The Township needs to focus on commercial development next. Looking around the community, many recent commercial projects look like they could have used some incentive to help them be designed and built in a more sustainable manner.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The feds and province have the authority, but local government has the responsibility

Having responsibility without authority is not a good thing. Since running in the Langley City municipal election, I’ve been thinking about responsibility without authority when it comes to the provisioning of government services.

In the context of government services, downloading is when one level of government with the authority to provide a service, transfers the responsibility to another level of government.

A classic example is the enforcement of the criminal code. Back when Canada was founded, and government authority was being divvied up, the power to make the criminal code was given to the federal government. The responsibility to enforce the criminal code was given to the provinces.

I’m sure the original thinking was to protect provinces from being taken over by a federal police coup, but it is an early example of one level of government’s decisions having financial consequence on another level of government.

Today when the feds trumpet criminal code changes to “get tough on crime”, it’s actually provincial governments, and in BC, local governments that have to pick up the tab for added policing costs.

In BC, the provincial government dumps its policing responsibilities onto local government. Before 2007, rural areas or municipalities under the population of 5,000 didn’t have to pay for policing services. Municipalities between the population of 5,000 and 14,999 had to pay for 70% of policing costs, while larger municipalities had to pay 90% of the costs.

Under the guise of fairness, the BC government in 2007 started charging a police tax in rural areas and municipalities under the population of 5,000, to recover 50% of the cost of policing.

In my hometown of Langley City, policing is the single largest item in the municipal budget. Local government has to pay for police whose primary purpose is to enforce federal and provincial laws. Local bylaws are enforced by bylaw enforcement officers, generally not the police.

If you happen to live in West Vancouver, it really doesn’t matter if the federal government, provincial government, or local government pays for policing services. But not all communities have the financial resources of communities like West Vancouver. Langley City is a working class community. Every dollar spent on policing at the local level means less money to fix sidewalks or enhance parks.

Having services paid for at the federal, or even provincial level, spreads the cost of providing services out equally. This ensures that all Canadian have access to similar levels of service whether they live in a wealthy community or not.

So while the federal and provincial governments lower income tax and sales tax, proclaiming they are cutting government waste, it is more likely that the feds and province are actually downloading the responsibility to provide even more services to local government. The irony is that for most people when the feds or province downloads responsibility to local government, it ends up costing them more.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Linwood Community Garden Update

One of the priorities of the City of Langley Parks and Environment Advisory Committee in 2014 was to see more community gardens built in the City. North of the Nicomekl Floodplain consists mostly of row houses, townhouses, apartments, and businesses. With limited private green-space for gardening, there was a demand for public gardening space.

One of the ironic things about living at higher densities is that people don’t get to know their neighbourhood as well. In many parts of Langley, and throughout Metro Vancouver, there isn’t a sense of ownership in neighbourhoods. Besides providing an opportunity for people to do the business of gardening, community gardens also provide an informal meeting space. This allows people to meet their neighbours. Community gardens also get people out of their homes and into the neighbourhood, providing “eye and ears” on the street. This instills a sense of ownership in a neighbourhood which works to reduce crime, and the perception of crime.

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

With all that in mind, I was happy that Langley City Council chose Linwood Park as the site of the second community garden in the City (the first community garden site is at Nicomekl Elementary School.)

For the day-to-day operation of the new Linwood Community Garden, the City of Langley was looking for a non-profit organization to help out. At tonight's council meeting, Council will be receiving a report from City staff who recommend that Langley Environmental Partner Society (LEPS) be the selected non-profit. LEPS already operates community gardens in the Township of Langley making it the perfect fit for the new Langley City community garden.

LEPS projects that the cost to operate the Linwood Community Garden site at $4,200 per year. They are proposing to charge $50 per plot per year, plus a $25 key deposit. LEPS will have to find an additional $1,500 per year beyond the plot and key fees to fully fund the garden site.

I’m hopefully that council will approve LEPS as the operator of the Linwood Community Garden, and will also provide a $1,500 grant to LEPS for the operation of the site.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Township of Langley's Cycling Plan

The Township of Langley has been working on a comprehensive cycling plan for many years. In 2012, the Township completed its Ultimate Cycling Network which outlines the long-term vision for bike lanes, trails, and other cycling infrastructure. In the spring of 2014, Township staff requested an increase of funding for the Ultimate Cycling Network (from $160,000 to $280,000), but that funding request was denied by the former Township Council.

About a year later, the Township of Langley has now completed a draft of its comprehensive cycling plan. This plan builds upon the Township’s Ultimate Cycling Network.

The cycling plan provides a detailed overview of the public consultation process that lead to the creation of the plan. The plan also outlines the types of cyclists in Langley, recognizing that the community is a sports cycling destination due to the “relatively low [traffic] volume road and the scenic rural environment of the Township.”

The Township builds cycling infrastructure into new roads projects, and when doing major upgrades to existing roads. While this is the most cost-effective way to build cycling infrastructure, it leaves large gaps in the network. Like any transportation network, having gaps greatly limits a networks usefulness. Township staff recognize that dedicated funding will be required to fill-in these gaps.

When it comes to driving, parking in actually one of the most important requirements. Cars remain parked about 90% of the time. Township staff recognized the need for parking and the requirement for showers, change rooms, and storage lockers for people that would like to cycle to work.

Township staff is proposing a update to the parking bylaw “where 30 or more parking spaces for vehicles are required, bicycle spaces and bicycle storage shall be provided for new non-residential developments and for multiple unit residential buildings.” The proposed bylaw is based on the City of Surrey bicycle parking bylaw, and requires that bicycle parking be conveniently located.

Proposed bicycle parking requirements.

While building cycling infrastructure is important, maintaining existing infrastructure is also key. One of the important things that the Township must do is make sure that cycling lanes and paths are clear of debris. Currently, cycling routes in the Township are sweep at least four times per year. Aerial roads are swept by-weekly for cars, and Township staff is proposing to include cycling lanes on arterials in the by-weekly sweeping.

While it doesn’t snow often in the Township of Langley, when it does, cyclist may find themselves in a pickle due to “limited winter maintenance budget, snow plowing service will not be provided on cycling routes in the Township.” Just as an incomplete network isn’t very useful for the majority of people, an network that is only available part of the year will limit cycling growth in the Township. As the Township builds-out its cycling network, its winter maintenance policy will need to be reevaluated.

The Township's Ultimate Cycling Network will cost $80 million to complete, and will included 361km of on-street routes and 158km of off-street routes.

Township of Langley's Short-Term Cycling Infrastructure Plan. Select map to enlarge.

Currently, TransLink is funding half of the $160,000 that the Township spends on cycling specific infrastructure. Based on the current funding levels, the Township Ultimate Cycling Network will be completed in about 500 years. Township staff has prepared a short-term plan for the 2018/2022 timeframe. While the former Township Council denied increasing cycling funding to $280,000, will the new council show leadership? By increasing funding, the short-term plan can be completed by 2018.

The Township wants your feedback on the plan. You can complete a questionnaire before Monday, April 13 and email it to cyclingplan@tol.ca.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

British Columbians want more transit, province to deliver wider highways

Yesterday, the provincial government released “B.C. on the Move.” This is the province's 10-year transportation plan. The plan opens with some facts about what British Columbians feel are transportation priorities.

95% said keeping highways, bridges, and side roads in good conditions was top priority
87% said expanding and increasing transit service was important
73% said we should expand high capacity and upgrade key highways and bridges to facilitate heavy hauling
72% said enhancing cycling infrastructure and improving transportation choices were important
70% said we should support regional and small community airports.

With this in mind, the province presented 12 key priorities for the transportation network in BC over the next decade.

  1. Rehabilitating Highways, Bridges and Side Roads
  2. Improving Highway Safety
  3. Improving Highway Capacity and Reliability
  4. Delivering a Provincial Trucking Strategy
  5. Investing in Transit
  6. Investing in Cycling
  7. Investing in Airports
  8. Enabling Efficient Ports and Rail
  9. Sustaining and Renewing Ferries
  10. Building Partnerships with First Nations
  11. Improving Accessibility
  12. Protecting the Environment

Sometimes when governments release new plans, they simply restate existing funding programs. B.C. on the Move is no different.

The provincial government plans to increase spending by $560 million over the next three years to repair or replace bridges, and improve the condition of provincial side roads. The province also plans to spend $75 million, a doubling of funding, for road safety projects. It is important to make sure that our roads are in a state of good repaid, and I’m happy that the province recognizes that fact.

I was pretty happy to see that British Columbians placed a higher priority on expanding and increasing transit service than expanding highways. With that in mind, I was eager to see what new funding program the province would announce for transit. I was shocked to find that the province has no new funding program for transit.

In the transportation plan, the province reconfirmed its support to match local funding for BC Transit outside of Metro Vancouver. In Metro Vancouver, the province reconfirmed its support to fund 1/3rd of the cost of TransLink capital projects. Without a Yes vote in Metro Vancouver, it is likely that there will be no new transit investment for a long time.

While British Columbians placed a much lower priority on expanding highways, the province is 100% committed to increasing the size of highways in our province. While no new funding for highway expansion was announced, the province plans to spend $1 billion over the next three years to expand roads. No questions asked, no referendum needed.

In Metro Vancouver, we can look forward to a six-lane Highway 1 between Langley and Abbotsford, a new George Massey Megabridge, more overpass, and more interchanges.

The province's highway expansion program flies in the face of our regional growth strategy which calls for investment in active transportation modes such as walking, cycling, and transit to accommodate the one million people who will call Metro Vancouver home in the next few decades, while preserving the livability of our region.

The B.C. on the Moves highway expansion program also flies in the face of provincial health authorities that call for investing in active transportation which improves health outcomes of people. Highway expansion actually leads to health problems.

When it comes to cycling, which was similar in priority to expanding highway, the province plans to maintain its cycling infrastructure program at $18 million over the next three years. While it may seem minor, it is actually important for cycling safety that the province sweep bike lanes. The province committed to doubling the frequency of bike lanes and shoulder sweeping at “priority locations” throughout the province.

Without a Yes outcome in the transportation and transit plebiscite, people living in the South of Fraser can expect a tolled George Massey Megabridge, and a six-lane Highway 1 to Abbotsford in the next few decades. There will be little else, and no new transit service.

While announcing the province’s ten-year transportation plan, Transportation Minister Todd Stone confirmed that a No vote means no transit investment for Metro Vancouver and “the province has no plans to make any further improvements to governance at TransLink.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Langley Mayors at Carvolth Transit Exchange Promoting Yes Vote

This morning, I decided to stop by the Carvolth Transit Exchange to help Mayors Ted Schaffer and Jack Froese spread the good news about the Mayors’ Council’s Transportation Plan for our region.

Most people in Langley want more transit service, but when it comes to funding transit service, the community is spilt. While Langley is getting its fair share of transit service today, there is simply not enough money to provide needed transit service improvements region-wide. Communities like Willoughby and Walnut Grove need more service.

While it is universally agreed that we need more transit, it is tricky to convince people to vote for a tax increase.

Mayor Jack Froese at Carvolth Exchange

In a places like Langley, there is a belief that local government and TransLink have extra money that could be used to pay for transit expansion. Of course this is not a reality.

Since transit service isn’t the primary mode of transportation for most people in Langley, many have a hard time picturing the tangible benefits of the Mayors’ Plan for our community.

While it would have been politically easy for both the Langley mayors to have opposed the Mayors’ Council plan or remain silent, I have to give them credit for doing the right thing.

Mayor Ted Schaffer at 555 Bus Stop

They know the importance of improving transit for our community. They are standing up for the future of our community even though they won’t be winning any political points for doing so.

At the transit exchange, I was able to have a few conversatiosn with people about the plebiscite.

One of the first things I noticed was that people under the age of 35 were strong supporters of the Mayors’ Council plan. They got how important transit is. In fact, several people told me that the plebiscite was a dumb idea and showed a weakness in government where a bold action would have been better.

One of the interesting things I noticed was that older people had reservations about the plan. Oddly, one older person told me that service was poor in Langley which is why he was voting no. Voting yes will increase service, voting no will not. This position is paradoxical.

The older you get, the more important transit becomes to maintain an independent, high quality of life. It seems that many older people do not see this link yet.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people at the transit exchange supported investing in more transit service. I was proud to see our Langley mayors talking with people about why voting yes is critical for the future of Langley.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Infographic: Why I'm Voting Yes

Over the past month, I’ve been posting infographics about the upcoming transit and transportation plebiscite, and why I think it is a good deal for people in Langley and for all of Metro Vancouver.

While I’ve had fun doing up these infographic, this will likely be the last one about the plebiscite. At the end of the day, people have make a choice. Will people vote Yes for a better quality of life, or will they vote No which will result in their quality of live slowly deteriorating. It will be a close vote because voting for a better future can be derailed by our feelings in the present.

Select infographic to enlarge.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Health authorities find link between healthy communities, built-form, and active transportation

My Health My Community is a partnership between the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Fraser Health Authority, and the eHealth Strategy Office at UBC. This partnership was formed to survey how our communities and transportation system are built, and how that impacts our health in Metro Vancouver. My Health My Community recently released the results of the survey which was conducted between 2013 and 2014.

Land-use and transportation are intrinsically linked, and how we get around impacts our health. Active transportation means taking transit, walking, or cycling to get around--43% of all trip to work and school in Metro Vancouver are by active transportation modes.

The survey found that people who use active transportation have a lower body mass then people who primarily drive to get around. People who use active transportation also eat healthier, walk more than 30 minutes a day, and get more exercise in general. People who drive less also tend to smoke less.

People with lower incomes, visible minorities, and recent immigrants currently use transit more than the regional average.

One of the things that I found really interesting about the survey results is that people who spend a long time commuting to work by driving, have a lower sense of community belong.

Vancouver Coast Health also put together a map which shows where active transportation in higher and lower than the regional average. What I like about this map is that it excludes the Agricultural Land Reserve which tends to skew results in the South of Fraser.

Walking, cycling, and public transit use in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

It is interesting, but not unexpected, to see that communities that are designed to be walkable have a higher than average amount of people that use active transportation modes. When looking at Langley City, you can see that the Downtown core is highly walkable.

Some people have been critical of the recent development in Willoughby in the Township of Langley. It seems like the Township of Langley is on the right track in creating a walkable community. For example, the area around 72nd Avenue and 200th Street was one of the first new areas to be developed in Willoughby, and according to the survey has a higher rate of active transportation users. It is also served by the 501 and 595 bus routes. I expect that in another 5 years, you will see the same result in the Yorkson/Carvolth area.

One of the challenges for the South of Fraser is how to build walkable, transit-friendly communities without transit service. It is extremely difficult to do. Clayton Heights in Surrey is a good example of how tricky that task can be. One need only bring up the topic of parking to get people hot under the collar in that community.

For more information, visit the My Health My Community website.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Infographic: Voting Yes means more free time for drivers too

Yesterday, I posted a few Langley-specific infographics about the time savings that people who use transit would see if the region votes Yes to the Mayors’ Plan in the upcoming transit and transportation plebiscite.

While improving transit is key to creating jobs and allowing our aging population to live independent, dignified lives, for the time being the majority of people in Langley drive to get to other parts of the region.

Based on the same modelling data I obtained for transit time savings, I’ve posted the estimated time savings for people who use their cars to commute. Spending less time in traffic should be reason enough to vote yes.

Time saving for people who drive from Langley City or Aldergrove. Select infographic to enlarge.

Time saving for people who drive from Fort Langley or Willoughby. Select infographic to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Infographic: What would you do with extra time in your day?

One of the main reasons for voting yes in the upcoming transit plebiscite is to reduce congestion on our roads and improve transit service. This will reduce people's commutes, leaving more time to spend with their family and friends.

Just how much time will you save? I was able to obtain some time-savings information based on modelling done for the mayors’ plan. The following infographics look at the time savings for transit users who live in various parts of Langley. Tomorrow, I will post infographics that show the time savings for people who drive if the region votes Yes.

Time saving for people who take transit from Langley City. Select infographic to enlarge.

Time saving for people who take transit from Willoughby. Select infographic to enlarge.

Time saving for people who take transit from Aldergrove. Select infographic to enlarge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

No shoes, no shirt, no swimming: Langley City's Parks Bylaw

At the last City of Langley Council meeting, Council adopted an update to its Parks and Public Facilities Bylaw. Under the old bylaw, a person could be fined and/or imprisoned, after going through the courts, for breaking the bylaw. Under the new bylaw, the City added the ability to ban someone from a park or public facility for a fixed period of time. This seems more reasonable, and less costly.

When I was looking over the new bylaws, I noticed that it says:

No person shall:
(i) act in a disorderly, dangerous or offensive manner in a park or public facility;
(ii) enter or remain at a public facility without being attired with shoes and a shirt;

Now these rules were in the previous bylaw, and the City is actually allowed to selectively enforce bylaws, but it did get me thinking.

For one, you could only use the water park at Douglas Park or the Al Anderson Pool if you were wearing shoes and a shirt. That would make for an unpleasant time for many people. Sun tanning or even playing a “shirts vs. skins” game would also technically be against the bylaw. I wouldn’t be surprised if the no shirt/shoes thing was put into place back in the day to prevent hippies in parks.

Another thing that I question is why the City uses the term “offensive”. The City of Langley might call something offensive, but in doing so might end up violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For something to be offensive, it has to pass the following test:

1. That, by its nature, the conduct at issue causes harm or presents a significant risk of harm to individuals or society in a way that undermines or threatens to undermine a value reflected in and thus formally endorsed through the Constitution or similar fundamental laws by, for example:
(a) confronting members of the public with conduct that significantly interferes with their autonomy and liberty; or
(b) predisposing others to anti-social behaviour; or
(c) physically or psychologically harming persons involved in the conduct, and
2. That the harm or risk of harm is of a degree that is incompatible with the proper functioning of society.

It seems that it would be very trick for City Council, bylaw officers, or the parks department to determine what is offensive.

As I noted earlier, these items have been on the books for some time, but I have to wonder why these two items were included in the latest update to the bylaw.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Last Night’s Mayors’ Plan Information Event

I wasn’t sure how many people would turn up, but I was happy to see that about 40 people took the time out of their busy schedules to attend an information evening I put together for people to learn more about our region's mayors’ transit and transportation plan.

I gave a brief introduction, then we heard from Mike Buda who is the executive director for the Mayors’ Council. He started by busting some myths about TransLink, and then did a deep-dive on the mayors’ transit and transportation plan.

Mike Buda from the Mayors' Council talking about the transit and transportation plan.

After, Interim Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Victoria Lee talked on how the Mayors’ Plan will make people healthier. She said it was important that the mayors' plan was approved as it will support improving the quality of life for everyone. She noted that seniors have the most to gain as far as quality of life is concerned. Dr. Lee said that the plan will not only improve the physical health of seniors, but also their mental health. Transit will allow more seniors to independently get around to visit their friends, go shopping, and have access to all required services.

At most of these types of events, people line up at the end to ask the presenters questions. I’ve never really liked that format as you don’t get a chance to have good discussions.

At the end of the presentations, I invited people to the front where information posters where available. Mayors’ Council reps, Mike Buda, Dr. Victoria Lee, and I were then able to have some good conversations with people.

Some people asked to see the map of transit improvements for Langley which is part of the Mayors’ Plan, and the slides from Mike Buda’s presentation. I have posted them below.

Langley Transit Improvement Map

Select Map to Enlarge.

Download Map PDF.

Mayors' Council Presentation

Download Presentation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Infographic: What would you do with $300 per year?

One of the interesting things about the upcoming transportation and transit plebiscite is that people will be voting yes to raise the PST in Metro Vancouver by 0.5% to pay for better transit and roads. Now intuitively you’d think it would mean more money out of your pocket. Interesting enough by voting yes, you’ll actually be putting money into your pocket. Building better transit and improving our roads will cut the time it takes your to get around. As they say, time is money. But besides time savings, there is actual savings to be had a well.

If you drive your car, you’ll actually save real money just because there is less congestion. If you can get rid of your car or drive less, you could save thousands of dollars per year. What would you do with that money?

I put together this infographic, based on some of the information contained in the recently released report “Household Cost Savings From the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan.” If you can switch to using transit, the saving are even larger.

Select graphic to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

TransLink’s HandyDART Service Satisfaction Increased in 2014

TransLink’s HandyDART service has been in the news over the last little while, but most of the stories haven’t been positive. HandyDART provides door-to-door service for people with physical or cognitive disabilities who would need assistance using regular public transit.

Since 2010, TransLink has commissioned Ipsos Reid to perform an annual customer service performance survey. Ipsos Reid contacted current HandyDART users to find out what they think of the system. The goal of the survey is to find out what users think of the system, their usage of the service, and what could be done to improve service.

Performance of HandyDART among past month users. Select graphic to enlarge.

When it comes to providing a safe, welcoming environment for users, TransLink's HandyDART service gets an “A”. HandyDART drivers are trained to assist users who have disabilities. Overall service satisfaction has been steadily climbing from 66% in 2010 to 73% in 2014.

Interesting enough, South of Fraser HandyDART users score the service higher than other HandyDART users.

On-Time reliable, service availability, and ease of booking of HandyDART are areas where improvements could be made. This is no surprising considering that TransLink has limited financial resources to keep up with the demand for HandyDART service. Interesting enough, a “Yes” vote in the upcoming Transportation and Transit Plebiscite would result in a 30% increase in HandyDART service. For more information, check out the full 2014 HandyDART Customer Service Performance Survey.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Infographic: What’s in it for Langley if people vote yes

Over the past several weeks, I have been posting infographics to help people in Langley make an informed decision for the upcoming Transportation and Transit Plebiscite. Ballots are being mailed out shortly, and people who live in Metro Vancouver can start voting on March 16th.

There just isn’t a lot of information getting to people about the Transportation and Transit Plebiscite. I would guess that a good amount of people do not know what is in the Mayors’ Plan. In the past week, I’ve talked to two different people who were going to vote No until I told them what was in the plan. In Langley City, one person didn’t realize that the Mayors’ Plan included light rail to Langley.

With that in mind, this week’s infographic focus on what’s in it for Langley if people vote to approve the Mayors’ Plan.

Voting Yes to the Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax means more transportation options in Langley. Select infographic to enlarge.