Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 12, 2016 Council Meeting Notes: Combating Climate Change, City Services Usage, and Increased Rail Traffic thru Langley

During the month of August, there were no City of Langley council meetings. While there was no council meetings, it was still busy at city hall ensuring the success of events like the Cruise-In, and working towards reducing homelessness.

With September, council meetings have started up again. Yesterday night was the first meeting after more than a month, and the agenda was surprisingly light.

There were no delegations or development related items on last night’s agenda. The meeting started with an update from Councillor Rudy Storteboom about the Metro Vancouver regional district as he is a director on the district board. As there was no Metro Vancouver meetings in August, he did note that he attended a Climate Action Committee meeting last week. He said that the Government of Canada is having a public consultation around what actions to take around combating climate change. You can find out more information on the Government of Canada’s website. He also talked about BC's Climate Leadership Plan.

I asked Councillor Storteboom if Metro Vancouver has taken a position on the new provincial plan, and was told not as of yet. There is some concern about the plan as many believe it does too little, so it will be interesting to see what the region has to say about the plan.

Councillor Martin gave an update on Langley Tourism. 2015 was a record year for tourism in Langley with an 18% increase in hotel room occupancy. In the first half of this year, this grew another 8%. Martin noted that because many hotels are now fully book during the summer months, Tourism Langley is now working on launching a marketing campaign to promote people visiting Langley during the off-peak winter and spring seasons.

Next, Rick Bomhof who is the Director of Engineering, Parks and Environment gave an update on engineering activities in the City.

Putting decorative wraps around utility and traffic signal boxes helps reduce vandalism. The City is installing a new series of wraps which highlight various parks and public spaces.

Before the summer break, council voted to change all reverse back-in angle parking to front-in parking. The parking area near Glover Road and Fraser Highway has now been changed.

Within the floodplain, the City has finished reinforcement work around the banks of the Nicomekl River, and has also removed a beaver dam, relocating the beavers out of the region.

This City of Langley is installing wayfinding signage along our trail network, including in the floodplain. I asked how this work is coming along. I was told that work will be resuming within the next few weeks. Work within the floodplain has to be scheduled when it has no impact to salmon, and minimal impact to other sensitive species in the floodplain.

The Parks department has been busy with major restoration work in Sendall Gardens including a new boardwalk. The sports court in Douglas Park has also been restored. New ramps to improve access at Brydon Lagoon have been installed.

One of the most visible projects under construction right now is along the 203rd Street corridor. The City is also working on traffic calming near Simonds Elementary School.

The City is replacing a water main on 51 Avenue east of 208th Street.

Kim Hilton, Director of Recreation, Culture and Community Services, provided an update for the services within her purview. This year, the City of Langley will be supporting some 65 events in our community and 18 free family-friendly activities in our parks. These events include the McBurney Plaza Summer Series, Community Day, Tri-It Triathlon, and Langley Walk to name a few.

The programs that the City provides are well-used by people in our community. Langley City has the lowest household incomes in the region of any municipality, and the recreation and community services we provide are a lifeline to many.

For example, 1,970 young people were enrolled in our summer camp program at Douglas Park Recreation Centre this summer.

Year-to-date, 45,987 drop-in visits have been made to Timms Community Centre in the first six months of this year. The games room and walking track are the most popular opportunities provided at Timms.

After the various updates, council gave first, second, and third reading to bylaws 2991 and 3001. These were housekeeping bylaws. The solid waste (garbage, recycling, organics) bylaw wasn’t updated since 1994. One of major changes is the addition of language to prevent people from putting recyclables or organics into garbage whether or not they have private collection service. The Municipal Ticket Information System Bylaw was updated to reflect these changes.

The final item that council addressed was to approve a letter to be sent to the federal Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, and our MLA and MP regarding the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project. This container terminal expansion will have a major impact for the City of Langley as the amount of trains going through our community could more than double to about 40 trains per day.

As I noted earlier, Fraser Highway and 200th Street would basically be at a standstill if there is no grade separation between rail and other traffic.

Councillor Albrecht said that the letter should not only call for the Port to mitigate the impacts from increased container traffic going through our community, but also address the increase in GHG emissions as a result. I agreed, and also asked that the letter request that the scope of the environmental assessment include our community. Councillor Storteboom also noted that we should ask that the regional environmental impacts as a result of the proposed expansion be mitigated.

There is a high likelihood that this letter will fall on deaf ears, but it is important that as a council we express our desire to see the negative impacts from port expansion mitigated in our community, and throughout the rest of the region.

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