Tuesday, August 9, 2016

City of Langley Community Survey Results: 43% of women do not feel safe in Downtown Langley during the evening. What can we do about it?

The City of Langley commissions a community survey every three years to better understand how residents feel about their community, and the services they received from the municipality. Last week, I posted about quality of life in the City. Yesterday, I posted about the value people received for the taxes they pay to the City. Today will be my last post about the community survey, and will focus on Downtown Langley.

Perception of Downtown Langley Safety. Select graphic to enlarge.

During the day, people feel safe when they are in Downtown Langley. This makes sense as there are plenty of shops open, and many restaurants and coffee shops who's customers provides “eye and ears” on the street which discourages negative activity. On top of that Downtown merchants, the City of Langley, and various community groups host many events in Downtown during the day. This creates a positive atmosphere which brings even more people into the Downtown.

During the evening is a different story. 72% of men and 43% of women feel safe in Downtown Langley during the evening. If 43% of women don’t feel safe that means there is a problem.

One of the challenges is that many of the restaurants and coffee shops close early in the evening, removing “eye and ears” from the street. Because there is a limited amount of apartments above shops, the possibility to keep “eye and ears” on the street is further reduced.

Even the built-form of some of the areas in the Downtown create the perception of an unsafe environment. Empty parking lots become places where negative activity occurs in some parts of our Downtown.

So how can we improve the perception of safety in Downtown Langley? A critical step is to bring positive activity into the Downtown core during the evening. This is one of the reasons why I support an arts centre in Downtown as it will draw people into the core during the evening. In partnership with Downtown merchants, we should also think about hosting events in the evening such as a night market. Encouraging mixed-use buildings with apartments above shops will help provide “eye and ears” on the street. These things will also help create a critical mass which will encourage restaurants and coffee shops to stay open longer.

Another thing that we need to change is our built-form. Surface parking lots create dead spaces, and should be discouraged in our Downtown. Underground parking, or a common parkade to remove the requirement of surface parking, needs to be considered.

The City of Langley and Downtown merchants have done a great job of bringing positive activity to our core during the day, we now need to do the same during the evening.

No comments: