Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Is Langley City on the right course to make our streets safer for walking, cycling, and driving? Take my 30 second survey.

Over the past year, there have been some significant changes to the road network in Langley City. These changes have been implemented to make walking and cycling safer and more enjoyable in our community.

Other changes have been implemented to slow down motor vehicle traffic to make our streets safer and to reduce collision hot-spots like along 50 Avenue.

Improving lighting, sidewalks, and crosswalks are key priorities for me. Implementing traffic calming where requested by residents in our community, and making cycling safer are also important to me.

With the changes made to our road network this year, I would like to know your opinion. What has worked well? What needs to be re-examined? Is the City on the right course?

Please take the 30-second survey that I’ve posted online, and let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Seniors' LGBTQ2 social group starting in Langley City

People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, or two-spirited are at a higher risk of being bullied, experiencing homelessness, and committing suicide. Much of this is because of a lack of systematic support in our society, with peers, and at home.

Support systems for people who are LGBTQ2 has improved over the last decade, though there is still much more work to be done. In Langley, there is some support for youth who are LGBTQ2, though many still feel that they must head into Vancouver to truly feel included and accepted.

While it is appropriate that there is a focus on helping LGBTQ2 youth in Langley, there is virtually no support services for LGBTQ2 seniors in our community. For many seniors, mobility can be a challenge; heading into Vancouver is simply not an option to get access to LGBTQ2-focused support and services.

Research from QMUNITY suggests that there are at least 25,000 people over the age of 65 in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley who identify as LGBTQ2.

As noted in their research, “LGBTQ seniors have faced a lifetime of systemic discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identities… Consequently, many LGBTQ seniors live in secrecy, hiding their identities and intimate relationships.”

Social connections are critical for people’s feeling of worth, and mental health. In Langley City, LGBTQ2 seniors will now have an option to connect with others to find inclusion and belonging.

New seniors' LGBTQ2 social group poster. Select image to enlarge.

The first seniors’ LGBTQ2 social gathering will be held on Monday, January 22, 2018 from noon until 2pm at Timms Community Centre.

For more information, please email

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Making developers pay their fair share for regional transportation expansion

Development Cost Charges (DCCs) are used to pay for improving infrastructure that is required to support new development projects. Municipalities can collect and use DCCs to pay for building or upgrading sewage, water, drainage system, and roads.

Municipalities can also use DCCs to pay for new park land and for improving parks. The Metro Vancouver regional district collects a DCC to help pay for expanding the sewerage system. School Districts also collect a DCC which is known as a School Site Acquisition fee which is used to purchase land for schools. The following table shows all these charges in Langley City.

Development Cost Charges in Langley City. Effective April 28, 2014. Select table to enlarge.

The idea is that growth should pay for growth, and that developers should pay their fair share for infrastructure required to support their projects.

New development projects also increase the usage of our regional transportation system which includes public transit. The Mayors’ Council and TransLink are looking for the provincial government to enable the collection of a regional transportation DCC which would start in 2020. This transportation DCC would pay for the capital costs of transit expansion projects. The draft initial rate is as follows:

Single family: $2,100 per dwelling unit
Townhouse/duplex: $1,900 per dwelling unit
Apartment: $1,200 per dwelling unit
Retail/service: $1.00 per sq.ft.
Office, Institutional: $0.50 per sq.ft.
Industrial: $0.50 per sq.ft.

In Langley City, this DCC works out to be around 10% of the DCCs that the municipality charges. This regional DCC is expected to generate between $20 million and $25 million per year.

There was discussion about making this proposed regional transportation DCC stepped, meaning that development projects closer to transit service would pay a higher DCC. The current proposal is to have a flat DCC throughout the region. This is to simplify the administration of this DCC. In the future, a stepped DCC could be considered.

One of the big concerns about the regional transportation DCC is that it will impact housing affordability. A report by Coriolis Consulting Corp titled “Will TransLink’s New DCC for Transit Infrastructure Affect Housing Affordability?” states, “Adding a new DCC, such as the one proposed by TransLink, will not directly increase the market price of housing. Prices in a region with strong demand and constrained supply are not determined just by adding up the costs.”

In addition, it is proposed that agricultural uses, affordable rental housing projects, and statutory places of worship projects will be exempt from this regional transportation DCC.

It is expected that the provincial government will support creating enabling legislation for the collection of this new DCC.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

TransLink bringing back independent access for all SkyTrain customers

When the fare gates on the SkyTrain system were finally closed in the summer of 2016, there were some customers that were no longer able to use the system independently. TransLink estimated that there were around 15 to 50 people with limited mobility who would now need SkyTrain staff to assist them to access the system.

Taking away a person’s independence is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and TransLink planned to upgrade the accessible fare gates at stations to give people back their ability to independently use the SkyTrain system.

If you look above the accessible fare gates at many of the SkyTrain stations, you’ll see a white rectangular panel. This panel is an RFID reader which will be able to detect a person who has a special card. If it senses this special card, it will open an accessible fare gate.

A new RFID reader installed at Main Street – Science World SkyTrain Station. Part of TransLink’s Universal Fare Gate Access Program. Select image to enlarge.

About 40% of SkyTrain stations now have these new RFID readers, and this new universal access system is scheduled to be fully rolled out by the end of 2018. According to a recent TransLink report, the agency’s management is now seeking board approval to start rolling out their “Universal Fare Gate Access Program.”

People who will be eligible for the program must meet the following criteria:

Resident of [Metro Vancouver] who is a person who travels independently and due to a disability, confirmed by a medical practitioner, is physically not able to tap fare media, without assistance, at a Compass Fare Gate, to use conventional SkyTrain and SeaBus.

TransLink management hopes that by starting the rollout of this program before the RFID readers are fully functional, they will be able to better tune the system based on the number of people that enroll in the program.

Our SkyTrain system used to be barrier-free, and over the years, TransLink worked to make the system fully accessible. When the fare gates were closed, accessibility was reduced which is unacceptable. Bringing back independent access for transit customers is critically important. I’m happy to see that TransLink is taking this matter seriously.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 11, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: City's own GHG emissions down, plus 48 Avenue sewer replacement moving forward.

Last night was the final Langley City council meeting of 2017. Two of the major items on the agenda were the receipt of the 2016 Corporate Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) Inventory, and tendering a contract to replace a section of sanitary sewer between 208 and 210 Street along 48 Avenue.

Langley City is a signatory to the BC Climate Action Charter. As such, we are committed to reduce our own GHG emissions by 134 tonnes between 2008 and 2018. The major incentive of being a signatory to the BC Climate Action Charter, and reducing GHG emissions, is that the City receives a 100% refund of any carbon tax that it pays.

The City has met its original target of reducing direct GHG emissions by 134 tonnes. The following table shows the year-over-year reduction throughout the last eight years. Most of the reductions in GHG emissions have been obtained by making municipally-owned buildings more energy efficient. There is still work to be done to make our vehicle fleet less GHG intensive.

Langley City direct GHG emissions. 2008 – 2016 Tonnes CO2e. Select chart to enlarge.

The City must also report GHG emissions from contacted services. In 2016, contact services added an additional 128 tonnes of CO2e emissions to our bottom line.

Some of the 2017 projects that the City is working on to further reduce GHG emissions include:

  • City Hall LED Lighting Retrofits
  • LED Streetlight Replacement (203 Street, 56 Avenue)
  • Vehicle Replacement (Plug-in Hybrid)

Over the next several years, the City will be replacing 100% of municipally-owned streetlights with LED lights. City staff is also developing a new 10-year GHG reduction plan.

Council also approved awarding a $495,000 contract to PW Trenchless Construction Inc. for the 48 Avenue sanitary sewer replacement.

City council adopted seven bylaws last night. Most of the bylaws were related to water, sewer, and garbage services. You can read more about these in a post I wrote last week. The other bylaw was a housekeeping amendment to the Council Procedure Bylaw.

Council appointed the following people to the Advisory Planning Commission for 2018: Trish Buhler, John Beimers, Jamie Schreder, Dan Millsip, Kimberley, Kim Mullin, and Ron Madsen. The Advisory Planning Commission “reviews development proposals while considering criteria that includes: overall design appeal, form and character, siting of the buildings and total site development in relation to its surroundings.” The commission provides advice to council and developers for consideration.

City council members sit on about two dozen committees. Council approved the list of committee appointments for 2018, as well as the finalized 2018 regular council meeting schedule.

Monday, December 11, 2017

TransLink Study: Traffic way up across Fraser River crossings, commutes slower

At the start of September, the provincial government removed the tolls from the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges. Transportation planners predicted that there would be a marked increase in vehicles across these two bridges. They were not wrong.

Port Mann Bridge: Source:

Preliminary data and personal anecdotes suggested that traffic ballooned across the Port Mann and Golden Ears. Unprompted, Langley residents have been telling me that they want the tolls back to make their commutes faster again.

TransLink staff crunched the numbers, and they found that traffic was up close to 30% on the Port Mann Bridge and 30% on the Golden Ear Bridge. They also found that traffic decreased by 11% on the Pattullo Bridge, 5% on the Alex Fraser Bridge, and 2% through the Massey Tunnel.

Truck traffic decreased 19% on the Pattullo Bridge. There was a 30% increase of truck traffic on the Golden Ears Bridge, and 15% increase on the Port Mann Bridge.

When all Fraser River crossings are considering, there was an overall average 7% increase in traffic during the weekdays and 9% increase on the weekends. That’s an extra 30,000 vehicles per day!

At the same time, transit ridership across the Fraser River has continued to grow at a similar rate as last year. These extra 30,000 vehicle trips materialized out of thin air. This is called induced demand. Simply put, more vehicle lanes produce more traffic.

How did this increase people’s commute times? Travel between New Westminster/Surrey or New Westminster/Coquitlam by car is now faster. Otherwise, travel times are longer.

TransLink’s Regional Transportation Model, which is used to predict traffic patterns, was “close to the actual outcomes on all three types of impact.”

The removal of the tolls at the Port Man Bridge and Golden Ear Bridge has been an excellent case study of tolling and its impact on congestion. The only way that our growing region will be able to reduce vehicle congestion along major corridors will be by implementing a system of fair tolls at all major crossing.

I believe that as a region-wide tolling system is implemented, gas tax should be lowered. This is one way to make the new tolling system fair.

The Mayors’ Council’s Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is looking a different decongestion road pricing options. Tolling is only one of the options that they are looking into. The commission will be presenting its recommendations early next year for the provincial government to consider.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December 4, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Council approves new $15,000 ongoing grant to Langley Senior Resources Society, improvement projects, and changes to council remuneration

Over the last few days, I’ve been posting about items that were covered at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. I posted about the library system on Tuesday, and about water, sewer, and garbage services on Wednesday. Today, I will be covering the remaining items.

Even though winter is only a few weeks away, Langley City crews are still busy making improvements throughout our community. Council received an update from Rick Bomhof, Director of Engineering, Parks & Environment. The 200th Street Bridge upgrades over the Nicomekl River is compete. There is still some work which will be done in the new year between 50 Avenue and Grade Crescent, including installing a new traffic light at 50 Avenue and repaving.

Traffic calming is currently being implemented near Linwood Park and Conder Park, with speed tables now in place. If you are around Timms Community Centre, you will see that the sidewalks to the centre are being replaced with concrete sidewalks which will improve accessibility.

On the topic of accessibility, Langley City is also replacing pedestrian buttons at traffic lights. While a small change, these new buttons are more reliable.

An example of a new pedestrian signal button in Langley City. Select image to enlarge.

Work is continuing along 56 Avenue, and it is expected to be wrapped up for the season in the next few weeks. Other projects on the go include the 48 Avenue sewer replacement, and culvert upgrades along Production Way and the Langley Bypass. Park improvements in progress include expanding the spray park at City Park, upgrading the sports fields at Rotary Park, and adding washrooms and a picnic shelter at Penzer Park.

Council also approved changes to our community grant policy, updating grants that are automatically given. The following outlines the changes:

  • Six scholarships to graduating students who reside in the City of Langley will increase from $600 to $750 each.
  • Support for the Youth Parliament will increase from a total of $600 to $1,000.
  • A new $15,000 grant for the Langley Senior Resources Society to be used to subsidize the membership packages for low income seniors living in the City of Langley and for upgrades and maintenance to the facility.

I’m extremely pleased that council decided to provide stable and consistent operating funding for the Langley Senior Resources Society which provides critical social and recreational services for older people in our community. Langley City has supported the society for many years. The City contributed $40,000 per year towards the society’s mortgage since 1998, paying it off fully in 2014.

Langley City council also approved an update to our own remuneration. Currently, one third of council salary is tax-free. The federal government announced that starting in 2019, they will be making the salary of local government elected officials fully taxable.

To compensate for this change, the mayor’s remuneration will be changing from 85% of the median of other municipalities in our region to 100% over the next two years. Other council member’s remuneration will increase from 40% to 45% of the mayor’s remuneration. There will be a temporary 11% increase to the mayor’s remuneration in 2019 that will be evaluated in 2020 to see if it is still warranted based on remuneration in other Metro Vancouver municipalities. These changes will result in a $53,000 increase in the City’s budget for 2018 which is about 0.1% of the overall budget.

Council voted to extend the Crime Prevention Task Group’s mandate into 2018, and also voted to approve the 2018 regular council meeting dates.

Council also gave final reading, and approved the issuance of a development permit for a townhouse project located along 55A Avenue.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December 4, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Updated water use restrictions, plus rate increases for water, sewer, and garbage services

With the end of the year, also come planning for water, sewer, and garbage services for 2018. Council gave first, second, and third reading to six bylaws relating to the delivery of these services on Monday night.

Metro Vancouver adopted a new Drinking Water Conversation Plan. This plan has four stages of water restriction:

Stage 1: reduces demand in summer months, and is automatically in effect on May 1 until October 15.

Stages 2 and 3: activated and deactivated by the GVWD Commissioner, are likely to be activated during unusually hot and dry conditions to maximize conservation.

Stage 4: activated and deactivated by the GVWD Commissioner during an emergency to immediately limit water use to essential needs only.

Metro Vancouver has posted a document online which outlines what water uses are restricted during different stages. Langley City is incorporating Metro Vancouver’s water conversation plan into our bylaws.

Langley City council also gave three readings to update our municipal ticketing bylaw which will see an increase in fines for unauthorized watering when restrictions are in place.

Stage 1 increased to $100 per incident
Stage 2 increased to $200 per incident
Stage 3 increased to $500 per incident
Stage 4 increased to $1000 per incident

Council gave three reading to update the City’s fees and charges bylaws to allow lawn sprinkling permits for new lawns, and existing lawns to receive nematode application during certain stages of water conservation.

Langley City garbage collection fees will be increasing by $10 in 2018. Council gave three readings to increase the flat fee to $190 per year. This is due to a 38% increase in green waste disposal costs, plus a 3% fee increase from Metro Vancouver for handling garbage. Langley City provides garbage collection services to single-family housing only.

Water and sewer fees are increasing in 2018. Council gave three readings to bylaws that will increase the water consumption charge by $0.07 per cubic metre, and $0.07 per cubic metre for sewer. These rate increases are primarily driven by Metro Vancouver who provides water and sewer services to municipalities in our region.

The proposed new water rate will be $75 per year, plus $1.23 per cubic metre of use. The proposed new sewer rate will be $75 per year, plus $1.11 per cubic metre of use.

On the topic of sewer, Langley City council authorized funding for upgrading the sewer line along 48 Avenue between 208 Street and 210 Street.

Yesterday, I posted about our library system. Tomorrow, I will be posting about the remaining items that were on the agenda of Monday night’s council meeting.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 4, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Mayor Schaffer not running again, plus the future of the library system.

At last night’s Langley City council meeting, Mayor Ted Schaffer announced that he will not be running in the upcoming 2018 municipal election due to health reasons. The Langley Time posted an article which goes into more detail about Mayor Schaffer decision. The next municipal election will be held on Saturday, October 20, 2018.

Langley City council heard from Nancy Gomerich who is the Director of Finance, and Scott Hargrove who is the CEO of the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL). Langley City is a member of FVRL which is the largest library system in BC, serving a population of 706,000 people in 2015. Member municipalities fund the library system. In 2015, Langley City residents contributed $1.5 million for library services through property tax.

As shown in the following picture, major library systems had local government contributions that were on-average $43 per capita in 2015. The FVRL per capita local government contribution was $32. For comparison, the Vancouver Public Library, which is the second largest system in BC, had a per capita contribution from the City of Vancouver of $62 in 2015.

FVRL total costs in 2015, compared to other large library systems in BC. Select image to enlarge.

Gomerich and Hargrove presented the FVRL’s budget for 2018 which will see Langley City’s contribution to the system increase by at least 1.35%. This will cover increases in staffing costs, and investments in IT and materials such as books. They also presented their 2018 to 2023 strategic plan called “Opening Minds, Enabling Dreams.

When most people think of the library, they think of books. Hargrove explained that books are certainly an important part of the library, but the library’s core mandate isn’t to loan books, it is to enabling literacy. He noted that there are different types of literacy including reading, comprehension, creativity, critical thinking, digital, and cultural as examples. Hargrove stated that the library’s role is to enable this boarder definition of literacy, and highlighted their program called “The Playground at FVRL” which is a makerspace.

The FVRL Playground has programmable robots, green screens, virtual reality, musical instruments, and KEVA planks that enable different types of literacy which is critical for people to thrive in the 21st century.

With this in mind, the FVRL’s new strategic plan has five major elements:

  1. INSPIRATION: Our staff, combined with our technologies and resources, encourage strong economic, creative and social growth in our communities, families and individuals.
  2. WELCOMING PLACE: Fraser Valley Regional Library is an essential destination connecting people living, working or studying in our communities. We provide a fun, friendly environment focused on knowledge, creativity and experiences that transform lives.
  3. PARTNERSHIPS: Our libraries are integral to sparking the potential of individuals and their communities through meaningful connections and relationships.
  4. ENGAGING STAFF: Our staff continue to grow their expertise and confidence needed to meet evolving customer needs.
  5. KNOW US. LOVE US: We are known and celebrated for providing a broad and dynamic range of services. Our customers appreciate the friendly and personalized Fraser Valley Regional Library experience. Those who know us, love us.

The full plan has been made available online.

Someone people think that libraries are for a time long past, but that isn't true. Modern libraries are vibrant places. I am pleased to see that our library system is forward thinking.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about other items that were covered at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, December 4, 2017

People in the South of Fraser spend way more time commuting on public transit than rest of region

On Thursday, I posted about transit mode share in Metro Vancouver, focusing on South of Fraser communities. The most recent 2016 census data shows that more people are choosing to take transit to get to work than ten years ago. In the South of Fraser, transit mode share growth is occurring at a greater rate than the regional average.

One of the key metrics for commuting is how long it takes to get to work. In Metro Vancouver, the average one-way commute to work by car is 27.3 minutes. With active transportation options such as walking or cycling, the average one-way commute to work is 17.4 minutes in our region. On average, people spend 43.6 minutes on transit getting to work in Metro Vancouver. How do South of Fraser communities compare to regional averages?

Average commuting duration in Metro Vancouver with a focus on the South of Fraser. Select chart to enlarge. Source: 98-400-X2016324 Data tables, 2016 Census.

For commuting by car, the South of Fraser is comparable to the rest of the region. Active transportation commute times are below the regional average outside of Langley City and Surrey. What really stands out is average commuting time on public transit.

Excluding Tsawwassen First Nation, which is an outlier, the average one-way commute on public transit in South of Fraser communities is 56 minutes. This is 28% higher, or 13 minutes longer, than the regional average. The South of Fraser lacks rapid transit throughout the vast majority of the sub-region. With rail rapid transit in the works along King George, 104th, and Fraser Highway, I would expect commute times to decrease once it is built-out.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

South of Fraser transit mode share growing faster than rest of Metro Vancouver

Statistics Canada recently released information on the primary mode of transportation that people use to get to work.

Over the last decade, there has been serious investments made into public transit in Metro Vancouver, and within the South of Fraser. These investments are paying off.

Commute to work by public transit in Metro Vancouver and the South of Fraser. Select chart to enlarge. Source: 2006 Community Profiles, 2016 Census Profile.

More people are choosing transit as their primary mode of getting to work. In Metro Vancouver, transit mode share has grown by 23% in the last decade. Transit mode share has grown 35% in the South of Fraser, faster than the regional growth rate.

Commute to work by public transit in South of Fraser communities. Select chart to enlarge. Source: 2006 Community Profiles, 2016 Census Profile.

Within the South of Fraser, the Township of Langley has seen the largest growth in transit mode share of any municipality, up 40%. Interestingly, White Rock saw a 13% decline in transit mode share.

TransLink’s numbers show that transit ridership is growing faster than population growth in our region. This is corroborated by Statistics Canada census data.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Digging into Langley City crime statistics: reporting suspicious activity and opportunistic crime

Last week, I posted about the crime statistics provided by the RCMP at the latest Langley City council meeting. Langley City is a 10-square kilometre urban core. Covering Downtown Langley, the Langley Bypass, and sections of Willowbrook, we are the commercial centre of Langley. We also have very real socioeconomic challenges in our community such as people living in poverty, and people who are homeless. These aspects of our community, combined with our geography and small population, mean that our crime rates will be higher than other communities.

What kind of reported criminal code violations do we see in Langley City? I decided to dig into the most recently available Statistic Canada data. This data covers up until the end of 2016. Before I get into the details, I wanted to provide a bit of context around these statistics.

People need to report crime and suspicious activity for it to show up as a statistic. The more crime that gets reported, the higher the statistic. In Langley City, we have been actively encouraging both residents and business owners to report crime and suspicious activity. While it might inflate our statistics compared to other communities, it helps the RCMP make Langley City safer.

The first table looks at total Criminal Code violations (excluding traffic such as speeding). The three broad categories are violent violations, property crime violations, and other violations.

All Criminal Code Violations (Excluding Traffic), Langley City. Source: CANSIM Table 252-0081.

Over the last five years, total violent violations have been trending down though there was an uptick in 2016. Violent violations are crimes committed against people such as assaults. Property crime and other criminal code violations have seen a marked increase. Digging deeper, what has caused these increases?

When it comes to property crime, theft under $5,000 is the largest driver in these stats with theft from automobile seeing a significant increase. Another category that has been on the rise is shoplifting.

Total Property Crime Violations, Langley City. Source: CANSIM Table 252-0081.

For other criminal code violations “disturbing the peace” has more than doubled in the last five years.

Total Other Criminal Code Violations, Langley City. Source: CANSIM Table 252-0081.

For both shoplifting and “disturbing the peace”, I would venture to guess that this is a result of an increase in people reporting crime and suspicious activity.

I know that the RCMP are aware of the increase in opportunities crime in our community, and are working to get prolific offenders off the street. At Langley City, we are encouraging people to continue to report crime and suspicious activity. We are also actively encouraging businesses to get free crime prevention assessments from the RCMP.

We are also working to get more eyes and ears on the street which reduces the kinds of opportunistic crime that we see in our community. By enhancing our parks, and providing more evening activities in our Downtown Core, we are getting more people out in the community.

Homelessness and poverty are serious issues in our community. Langley City council is continuing to advocate to the federal and provincial governments to ensure that all people in our community can get housing and the support they need. You can read a recent blog post about some of the concrete actions that are being taken on these matters in Langley.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Start off the Christmas Season this weekend in Langley City

Langley City's Magic of Christmas - Free Family Event
Select image to enlarge.

The Christmas lights are up in Downtown Langley, and with this weekend being the first of December, Langley City has a packed schedule to help you get into the Christmas spirit.

This Friday between 5:00pm and 7:00pm, you can carol in McBurney Plaza. Sing some Christmas classics with other carolers, and enjoy some hot chocolate. You can also merrily carol on December 9th, 15th, and 23rd at the same time and location.

Breakfast with Santa runs between 9:00am and 11:00am at Douglas Recreation Centre on Saturday. This is a family event. In addition to Santa, there will be crafts, face painting, and a magic show. Breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, bacon, juice, tea, and coffee. The breakfast is $10, and you can register at Douglas Recreation Centre or by calling 604-514-2865.

Later during the day, head to McBurney Plaza. There will be free entertainment and crafts starting at 4:00pm. At 6:00pm, the Magic of Christmas Parade starts. The parade route runs along the one-way section of Fraser Highway. The lighting of the Langley City Christmas Tree will occur at 7:00pm in McBurney Plaza, followed by carolling.

These events will occur whether the sky is clear, or it's raining. I look forward to this weekend every year. I hope you’ll get a chance to head to Downtown Langley, and rediscover the magic of Christmas!

Monday, November 27, 2017

People in Langley City drive less than people in neighbouring municipalities

Right now, there is a region-wide discussion occurring about decongestion charging, a form of mobility pricing in Metro Vancouver. This discussion is being guided by the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission which was assembled by the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation.

One of the documents that the commission released is called “Moving around Metro Vancouver: Exploring New Approaches to Reducing Congestion.” While I was reading the report, I saw a map labelled “Average Daily Vehicle Kilometres Travelled per Household by TAZ: 2016.” This map looks at how much people generally travel by motor vehicle during an average day.

Vehicle Kilometres Travelled per Household (2016). Select map to enlarge.

North of the Nicomekl River in Langley City is Downtown Langley. Pretty much everyone in this part of our town lives in apartments and townhouses. Langley City has been working to ensure that the transportation network, and the built-form of businesses and residences, support walking and cycling. Not that I am surprised, but the following map confirms that people driving less in this area.

Vehicle Kilometres Travelled per Household (2016). Focusing on Langley City. Lighter colour means less kilometres. Select map to enlarge.

In fact, our community is very similar to New Westminster which is a walkable community with five SkyTrain stations.

Even in the single-family housing area south of the Nicomekl River in Langley City, people drive less than the people who live in the community that surrounds the City on three sides.

How we design our communities has a direct impact on how people choose to get around in them. Langley City is a perfect example of how designing a community around people will result in less driving and less traffic.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A recap of Metro Conversations #4: Gender in Politics

Last night was the fourth in a series of Metro Conversations. This conversation was called “Nasty Women”: Gender in Politics. The M. Wright Art Gallery Room in Port Coquitlam was packed with people who came to talk about the challenges and barriers women face just become of their gender, and how we can make things better.

Last night's Metro Conversations in Port Coquitlam. Select image to enlarge.

Councillors Laura Dupont and Glenn Pollock from the City of Port Coquitlam, Bonita Zarillo from the City of Coquitlam, and Mayor Nicole Read from the City of Maple Ridge were the panel members.

The following video is of last night’s conversation. The audio is crystal clear; there should be no issue hearing all the participants.

Nasty Women: Gender in Politics

Nasty Women: Gender in Politics, featuring panelists, Mayor of Maple Ridge, Nicole Read, Councillors Laura Dupont & Glenn Pollock of Port Coquitlam, and Councillor Bonita Zarrillo of Coquitlam.

Posted by Metro Conversations on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I’ve had a few people say some mean-spirited things about me since being elected. What’s been said about me pales in comparison to what some people have said about Mayor Nicole Read. Mayor Read read some comments from social media about her out loud last night. It was truly distributing to hear. She noted that strong women are called a host of nasty names while strong men are celebrated. Disagreeing about policy is one thing, attacking people because of their gender is another.

Council Zarillo talked about the “old boys club” in local government, giving an example. After the end of council meetings, she said that her fellow council members would go to the mayor’s office to have an after-council drink. This made her uncomfortable, and wasn’t something she wanted to do. She said that she stopped going to this after council session for awhile, but that by not going, it alienated her from the rest of council.

Councillors Pollock’s main message was how men in power can support women in politics, and women who would be interested in entering into politics. He noted that there is not enough women who put their names forward to run in the first place, and that this must be addressed. Councillors Dupont talked about the need for women to work together, and the importance of having conversations like this one to ensure that we continue to move forward to having governments that are representative of our population.

Some of the people who attended the conversation talked about the challenges of being a visible or sexual minority, and how combined with being a woman, adds additional barriers in politics.

One of the key takeaways for me from the conversation was the power of language. It can be used to build up or tear down people, and is as powerful as physical acts. Talking about people respectfully is certainly a step in the right direction. People in power also have an obligation to call out others who use language that disempowers.

I strongly recommend that you listen to last night’s conversation. It was insightful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November 20, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: RCMP report, council procedure update, and emergency preparedness funding

Yesterday, I posted about the development permits that were approved at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. Today’s post will cover the remaining items that were on the agenda.

The Langley RCMP provided their most recent report to council. In the report, the RCMP noted that they now have a “Stalker” patrol radar system which allows officers to catch speeder both in front of, and behind, a police motorcycle.

Langley City’s Bylaw Department and the RCMP are working together to target problem residences in our community. They have been working to resolve issues at three of these properties during this reporting period. The RCMP and our bylaw officers continue to monitor and address homelessness matter, and are working with local agencies that can help people get off the street.

The following pie chart shows the types of files that the RCMP worked on in the second quarter of this year. Most files where around mental health matters, assisting the public, responding to suspicious occurrences, and executing warrants.

RCMP file breakdown by type in the second quarter of 2017. Other CC offences include impaired driving. Select chart to enlarge.

The following map shows crime “hotspots”. The hotspots were focused around commercial area in the second quarter of this year.

Langley City crime map for the second quarter of 2017. Select map to enlarge.

Every municipality is required to have a Council Procedure Bylaw. This bylaw establishes how council and council committees operate. Council voted to move forward with an update to our procedure bylaw on Monday. One of the major changes is to move the inaugural council meeting to the November right after an election, as local government elections have been moved to October. Other changes include updating the notification process for closed council meetings, how motions can be brought forward at council meetings, and some other various housekeeping items.

Council also approved our Fire Chief Rory Thompson to attend the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference, and our CAO Francis Cheung to attend the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators Annual Conference.

Council supported a grant application for $25,000 from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund which is managed by the Union of BC Municipalities. If we are successful in getting the grant, the funding will be used to purchase supplies and equipment to set up group lodging kits. These kits would include shelter tents, cots, blankets, pillows, generators, heaters, and lighting equipment.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November 20, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Casino expansion, plus two apartment complexes approved

At last night’s Langley City council meeting, there were three development applications on the agenda for consideration: a 188-unit, five storey strata apartment project at Eastleigh Crescent and 56 Avenue; a 69-unit, six storey strata apartment project at Park Avenue and 204 Street, and an expansion to the Cascades Casino. At the council meeting, members of the public were also given the opportunity to comment or ask questions about the projects.

The Eastleigh Crescent project consists of two buildings that will be constructed in two phases. The project will have 10 accessible units.

Eastleigh Crescent - 56 Avenue project artist rendering. Select image to enlarge.

One of the common concerns expressed by residents is that construction crew members fill-up on-street parking, and that some developers are not good neighbours (leaving a mess on the street, or letting debris loose.)

Because this project will be built in two phases, the developer will be able to provide constructions crew parking on site. Members of council, including myself, also reminded the developer about the importance of being a good neighborhood during the construction period.

As a note, the old cenotaph park area right at the corner of Eastleigh and 56 Avenue is on a different piece of property, and isn’t part of this development project.

The next project at Park Avenue and 204 Street has one of the bolder architecture styles that I’ve seen proposed in our community. This project will use cross laminated timber which is a renewable alternative to concrete and steel. This material was used to build an 18-storey building at UBC recently. This project will also include 4 accessible units.

Park Avenue - 204 Street project artist rendering. Select image to enlare.

This project will have the underground parking completely below grade, unlike most buildings in the City. This means that ground-level units will be at street level.

Instead of asphalt, the developer is proposing to use pavers for the surface parking and other areas. I also confirmed that the sidewalk will be continuous along Park Avenue.

Two residents from an adjacent building expressed their concerns about the construction phase of the project as well as the height of the building. As with the Eastleigh Crescent project, council reminded the developer that they should have a construction management plan to ensure that they remain good neighborhoods during construction.

Around this time last year, the operators of Cascade Casino were issued a development permit for a proposed expansion of their facility. That permutation of the project didn’t move forward. The casino operation proposed a new plan that was reviewed on Monday. The new plan is a streamlined version of the original, with the architecture simplified in areas.

Casino expansion renderings. Select image to enlarge.

Last year, council requested that the operator consider making the pedestrian entrance off Fraser Highway more prominent. This was reflected in this updated plan. The landscaping will also be enhanced along Fraser Highway, and new sidewalks will be built along Fraser Highway and Glover Road around the perimeter of the property.

Casino expansion landscaping plan, focusing along Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

All development applications were approved by council. Tomorrow, I will be posting about the remaining items that were addressed at the council meeting.

Monday, November 20, 2017

An update on Langley City Crime Prevention Task Group initiatives moving forward

Last Thursday, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group met for the last time this year. The task group has a set of eight objectives to accomplish. The group was able to complete many of these objectives over the last eight months, but some remain incomplete. The task group will be asking council to extend the group’s mandate into 2018 to allow the group to finish off the remaining tasks.

One of the initiatives of the task group is to provide stickers for residents which would include RCMP non-emergency contact information, and a space for people to write their own address. These stickers would be targeted for distribution to seniors in our community. The stickers would help people remember their address in a pinch, and would remind people to call the RCMP to report all suspicious activity. City staff are working on the final details for these stickers, and I expect a final design to come to council for possible approval early in the new year.

On the topic of reporting suspicious activity to the RCMP, I’ve heard from some people in our community that they don’t feel their information is used, or that it is worthwhile to call in. One of the questions from the task group to the RCMP was how does the police let people know that information provided is useful. Inspector Shawn Boudreau noted that RCMP members will get back to people if more information is needed after they call in suspicious activity. Even if the information doesn't appear to be used, it is used to plot crime trends in neighbourhoods. If a crime analysts does notice a trend, the RCMP can adjust policing accordingly.

Boudreau did note that a recent phone call by a resident, reporting suspicious activity, led to the arrest of robbery suspects. More information about this can be found in a recent RCMP press release.

One of the mandates of the task group is to partner with the Downtown Langley Business Association and Chamber of Commerce to introduce an incentive program for property owners to implement crime prevention strategies. The task group has representatives from the Downtown Langley Business Association and Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce. These representatives were able to secure a discount for businesses that want to install a monitored alarm system and/or motion sensor lights. The representatives will now be working on promoting this incentive program though the local business community.

On November 6, Langley City council was informed that a brochure will be included as part of the business license renewal process, informing business owners about the free crime prevention assessment available through the RCMP. This brochure was an initiative of the task group, and the group was informed that the brochures have now be distributed.

New crime prevention brochure for businesses - outside. Select image to enlarge.

Another initiative of the task group was to have the City launch “a crime prevention campaign to encourage residents and businesses to share information and reduce crime by signing up for existing RCMP community programs such as Block Watch, Business Link and Crime-Free Multi-Housing.” This campaign launched on November 1 for Crime Prevention Week.

The task group will not be meeting in December, but if council approves an extended term, will be meeting in the new year.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

TransLink looking at building better B-Lines

TransLink uses the B-Line brand for its limited stop, high frequency bus service in our region. This service is successful. The 99 B-Line, which operates along the Broadway corridor, has higher ridership than many rail rapid transit systems in North America.

Unfortunate, on-street customer amenities are non-existent. Things like on-street fare validation and all-door boarding become critical to ensuring that these routes remain reliable as they become busier. Better amenities also attract new customers to transit service.

A 99 B-Line stop. Select image to enlarge. Source: Wikimedia Commons

As our streets become more congested, bus priority measures must be implemented to ensure that bus service stays on schedule and travel times don’t increase for riders. For example, Surrey recently added queue jumper lanes on King George Boulevard to speed bus service through major intersections. On Broadway in Vancouver, the parking lanes are converted to bus lanes during peak travel periods.

As part of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit & Transportation, 11 new B-Line routes are in the works. The current customer amenities and bus priority measure planned for these routes were to be similar to the 96 B-Line which is to say, limited. This might be changing.

As TransLink has been planning for the implementation of these new B-Line routes, they’ve heard from the public and other stakeholders (like local government) that bare-bones B-Line won't cut it for a quality, speedy, frequent bus service. The Mayors’ Council will now be discussing making new B-Line service better. The following slide is from the latest Mayors’ Council agenda package.

Options for making a better B-Line. Select image to enlarge.

The consensus is that people want to see “Better 2” service across all B-Line routes. This includes all door boarding, information kiosks, shelters, read-time info, and bus lanes and/or other priority measures along major corridors.

In order to help fund these improvements, TransLink is proposing to match municipal contributions for “Better 2”. This of course needs to be confirmed, and it is expected that there will be a final discussion on whether to build better B-Line service in early 2018.

This is what better B-Line service could look like. The examples are of RapidRide bus service in Seattle.

A RapidRide information kiosk with real-time information and off-bus fare payment. Select image to enlarge. Source:

A RapidRide bus stop which includes enhanced customer amenities. Select image to enlarge. Source:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Metro Conversations presents “Nasty Women”: Gender in Politics

Trump’s now infamous remark calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” has become a rallying cry for women across the political spectrum to take a stand against the sexism and misogyny they face in politics because of their gender.

On Wednesday November 22nd, the fourth Metro Conversations will be addressing this topic. Metro Conversations was started by a group of four like-minded elected officials from across Metro Vancouver. Rather than a lecture format, panelists will speak about their experiences and audience members will be encouraged to add their voice to help shape the conversation.

“Most people outside of politics aren’t aware of the blatant misogyny women have to contend with in their role as elected officials” says Councillor Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge who is the main organizer of this event. “It creates an unsafe working environment which inherently discourages women from getting involved in politics”. Councillor Duncan credits her colleagues Councillors Nathan Pachal from the City of Langley, Patrick Johnstone of New Westminster, and Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver for coming up with the idea.

“It’s surprising how normalized misogyny is, many people don’t even realize they’re being inappropriate,” says Councillor Pachal.

“What was acceptable 20 years ago isn’t acceptable today, times have changed,” notes Councillor Johnstone. “Many older elected officials have a hard time adjusting to this.”

Councillor Bond hopes that women interested in running in next fall’s municipal elections will consider attending, hoping that this event will give them insight into some of the challenges they will face. Panelists include Councillors Laura Dupont and Glenn Pollock from the City of Port Coquitlam, Bonita Zarillo from the City of Coquitlam, and Mayor Nicole Read from the City of Maple Ridge.

This free event will take place:
November 22nd at 7:00pm (Doors open at 6:30p)
M. Wright Art Gallery Room at the Gathering Place
200 - 2253 Leigh Square Place, Port Coquitlam

Everyone is welcome. Seating is limited, and it is recommended to register to reserve your seat.

Reserve your seat at Eventbrite

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Metro Vancouver looking to study single-use coffee cup deposit system

Would you be willing to pay a small deposit on single-use cups or food containers? Most single-use cups and containers are recyclable, but they still end up in the garbage or discarded onto the street.

Light-weight foodware which includes cups and containers make up 10.7% of the material that ends up in street bins by weight in Metro Vancouver based on 2016 data. The City of Vancouver found that this translates into 50% of material by volume in their street bins. This is significant.

In contrast, containers with a deposit make up 4.4% of the material that ends up in street bins by weight. 2.4% of that is glass which is heavy. Our deposit system is helping to effectively recover certain types of containers. Our region has a binners community whose members collect containers that have deposits from our street bins and other public spaces.

Tides Canada is a national charity which supports initiatives across the country that support positive environmental and social change. In our region, one of their initiatives is the Coffee Cup Revolution where a pop-up coffee cup recycling depot at Victory Square is setup for a few hours.

Slide from Binners’ Project presentation delivered to Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee. Select image to enlarge.

In 2016, 175 binners collected 50,000 coffee cups to receive 5 cents per cup in a few hours. 210 binners collected 53,783 coffee cups within three hours on October 16, 2017.

One of the major goals in the Metro Vancouver Regional District Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan is to reduce waste. As such, the regional district is looking to support the Coffee Cup Revolution initiative with $6,000 annually for three years. This funding would be used to improved data collection, develop a waste characterization study, support round-table discussions, and provide a portion of the coffee cup refunds and pop-up recycling depot costs.

63% of waste was diverted from going to a landfill, or ending up in a waste-to-energy facility in our region in 2016. The street bin diversion rate was only 40% in 2016. There is still much more work to be done.

Considering the contribution of single-use cups and containers to our region’s waste, I could see the regional district advocating to the provincial government for an expanded deposit refund system for containers in Metro Vancouver.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Langley City Traffic Calming Progress. Making Streets Safer.

Earlier this year, Langley City council approved funding to implement traffic calming measures in three areas of our community. Based on neighbourhood feedback received this summer, traffic calming measures will be moving forward as noted in the following images.

Traffic calming around Condor Park. Select image for more details.

Traffic calming around Brydon Park and along 198 Street. Select image for more details.

Traffic calming around Linwood Park. Select image for more details.

Work will now begin to implement these traffic calming measures. Over the next week, speed bumps will be installed. The remaining traffic calming measures such as curb extensions, signage, bollards, painting, and fencing will be completed by the end of this winter. These projects are weather dependent and traffic delays are expected.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November 6, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: Fire-Rescue Service call volume increasing. Crime prevention review for Langley businesses.

Monday night’s Langley City council meeting was chockablock with reports and information. I posted about some of the items covered yesterday. Today, I will be posting about the remaining significant items that were on the agenda.

Langley City Fire-Rescue Service continues to be extremely busy. Fire Chief Rory Thompson provided an overview of the overall trend in the number of calls that the Service responds too.

Langley Fire-Rescue Service call growth since 2011. Select image to enlarge. 

The opioid overdose crisis that is hitting all BC communities is resulting in increased call volume, but there are other factors at play at well. Chief Thompson noted that more investigation will be necessary to find what other factors, such a population grow, are contributing to increased call volume.

The following table shows more details about the types of calls Langley City Fire-Rescue Service has responded to over the last seven quarters. Medical emergency and motor vehicle crash calls are the largest category of calls. One of the areas where there has been an almost double of calls is for hazmat response.

Langley Fire-Rescue Service call statistics (2016-2017). Select image to enlarge.

Considering the large amount of medical emergencies and motor vehicle crashes that Langley City Fire-Rescue Service responds to, could anything be done to reduce these types of calls while maintaining the same level of service?

The opioid overdose crisis response is lead by Fraser Health and the provincial government. It will take their leadership to reduce the number of overdose incidents in our community.

The City has a direct roll to play in decreasing the amount and severity of motor vehicle crashes and incidents. Speed, impairment, and distraction are contributing factors to around 85% of crashes in BC.

Introducing traffic calming and narrowing streets will slow down traffic. Langley City is working to change the geometry of some streets in our community. By making our community more accessible via non-motor vehicle modes of transportation, we can give people safer ways to get home if they have a drink or must check social media. The City is working to build a mixed-use downtown, and is investing in enhancing sidewalks throughout the community.

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) works. One of the recommendations of Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group is to promote CPTED reviews in our business community. The RCMP provides free CPTED business assessments. As part of the upcoming business license renewal process, Langley City will be distributing the following brochure.

New crime prevention brochure for businesses - outside. Select image to enlarge.  

New crime prevention brochure for businesses - inside. Select image to enlarge.

I am hopefully that businesses in our community will take advantage of this free program to help reduce crime.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 6, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: More evening events coming to Downtown Langley. Improving Langley City streets and parks

While no decisions were made a last night’s Langley City council meeting, the agenda was dense with updates from community organizations and our municipality’s departments.

Before council heard the updates, two long service awards were presented to Langley City staff members.

Mayor presenting long service awards to Langley City staff members. Select image to enlarge.

The first presentation heard by council was for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Katrine Chow, who represented the organization, outlined the services they provide, and the number of families they help. As an example, in 2016, 715 families were helped by their programs with 44% of families coming from the Fraser Valley. 20 families lived in Langley. Most children are in their programs for 3 years. Chow also invited council to attend their Gift of Love Gala which is schedule for Saturday, February 17, 2018.

The next update from the Downtown Langley Business Association/Discover Langley City was presented by Teri James. She reviewed the 2017 McBurney Summer Series and Duelling Pianos Evening events. Both the daytime events and evening event were successful. Duelling Pianos in the Plaza, a 19+ event, was sold out within four days.

For 2018, James outlined that they will be focusing on bringing high-quality entertainment for families during the day, and will be hosting an additional 19+ evening event with high-quality entertainment. Bringing positive evening activities to our downtown core is something that I believe is critically important. Not only does it help build community, but it also reduces negative activities in the evening.

Between the McBurney Plaza Summer Series and other events, there will be something going on pretty much every weekend next summer in our community’s core.

June 23: McBurney Plaza Summer Series — Day
July 7: McBurney Plaza Summer Series — Day
July 14: McBurney Plaza Summer Series — Evening
July 28: McBurney Plaza Summer Series — Day
August 11: McBurney Plaza Summer Series — Evening
August 18: 25th Annual Arts Alive Festival
August 25: Fork and Finger Event

As was reported this summer, planning for a night market is still in the works for 2018 which will bring even more positive activity to our downtown in the evening.

Later in the presentation, James introduced Melissa Phillips who is heading up Discover Langley City, our new destination marketing organization. Phillips comes from Richmond Tourism.

Rick Bomhof, Director of Engineering, Parks & Environment, updated council on the activities in his departments.

In 2017, council approved additional funding for an on-going corridor improvement program. Bomhof shared some pictures of the enhancements that were funded via the program.

Example of street improvement on 53 Avenue near 203 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Example of enhanced sidewalk maintenance in Downtown Langley. Select image to enlarge.

Bomhof also noted that work is almost completed in Hunter Park. For more information, please visit the City’s website.

Another major project is the 200th Street Bridge deck replacement. This project is scheduled to be completed in the next few weeks.

Other projects on-the-go include:

  • New Baldi Creek corrugated steel culverts for better fish passage
  • 53/51B Avenue bike lanes
  • Ongoing road patching and repaving
  • Spray park expansion at City Park
  • 56 Avenue Project: Glover Rd to Langley Bypass
  • 48 Avenue sewer replacement
  • Culvert relining on Fraser Highway near Production Way
  • Langley Bypass culvert replacement
  • Rotary Park sports field upgrades
  • New Penzer Park washroom & picnic shelter

Our City crews have been, and continue to be, extremely busy making our community awesome.

Tomorrow, I will be posting about the remaining topics covered at Monday night’s council meeting.