Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Metro Conversations: The Future of Transportation - Recap and Video

Last night, the fifth Metro Converstations was hosted back in New Westminster at the Anvil Centre. The topic of the evening was the future of transportation. The three panel members who participated where Mayor Jonathan Cote, Shazeen Tejani, and Adrian Bell.

Left to right: Adrian Bell, Shazeen Tejani, and Jonathan Cote.

Besides being the Mayor of New Westminster, Cote completed a Master’s Degree, researching the interaction between urban development patterns and major transit infrastructure.

Shazeen Tejani is a Community Planner at the District of North Vancouver. She started her career as a municipal transportation planner, and is currently part of a team that is implementing B-Line transit service on the North Shore.

Adrian Bell is the Principal at Activate Planning. Originally from the UK, Bell is a Civil Engineer with a Masters in Transportation Planning and Management. He has worked in public and private sector transportation planning for nearly three decades.

The conversation was recorded; you can watch it below, but I also wanted to highlight some broad themes from the evening.

One theme that emerged during the conversation was that privately-owned autonomous vehicles will not usher in a new era of transportation utopia. Parking and congestion will still be issues, and could be exacerbated by autonomous vehicles.

Panel members agreed that how will build our cities will still dictate the types of transportation that people use, even with autonomous vehicles. If we build walkable, bikeable, and transit accessible communities, people will still walk, bike, and take transit.

There was also discussion about semi-autonomous vehicles, and how they could create additional safety challenges. An example given to highlight these challenges was auto-pilot. If pilots relied on auto-pilot expect for only the most extreme situations where a manual intervention is required, pilots would not be able to respond as needed because their skills would have atrophied. Panel members noted that we shouldn’t be entertaining the idea of semi-autonomous vehicles.

Panel members agreed that local governments should not have to bear the cost of retrofitting communities for autonomous vehicles.

The general thinking from panel members was that fleets such as taxis, buses, and delivery vehicles will be the first to go fully autonomous. There was good discussion about what autonomous vehicles mean for jobs in the transportation sector.

Finally, there was also a brief discussion about how autonomous vechiles could serve communities that have marginal or no transit service, and how it they could help paratransit users.

Over the next little while, we will be working on a Metro Conversations podcast series. Be on the lookout for it in the next few months.

These on-going conversations are organized by Patrick Johnstone from New Westminster, Nathan Pachal from the City of Langley, Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge, and Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver. These conversations are made possible with the generous support of SFU Public Square. This conversation would not be possible without the support of the City of New Westminster.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What happened at the Cascades Casino bingo relocation public meeting

Last night, Langley City hosted a public meeting for people to learn about, and provide feedback on, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment’s proposal to relocate its existing bingo operation from Playtime Langley that was located at 64 Avenue and 197 Street, to the former Summit Theatre at Cascades Casino.

A handful of people turned up to the public meeting.

A view of the people who attended the public meeting. Select image to enlarge.

BCLC staff provided a brief overview of the regulatory environment for gaming in our province, and the role of local government. BCLC provides more information about the approval process on their website.

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment staff presented information on the bingo relocation. They also stated that they will be renovating the current convention space to be able to accommodate up 600 people for music events. Gateway staff noted that because the convention space is located outside of the casino, it will allow for all-age events. Gateway staff noted that they believe there will be no conflict between programming the convention space for its current uses, and as a music venue. They also stated that they did a poor job of communicating the Summit Theatre to convention space transition for music events to Langley City residents.

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment projects that the bingo operation will result in an additional $78,905 in proceeds to Langley City.

Slide on incremental revenue from the relocation of bingo operations to Cascades Casino. Select image to enlarge.

There were two members of the public that spoke at the meeting, both expressing concern that there would not be enough accessible parking.

As part of the approval process, the Township of Langley and City of Surrey must also provide feedback on the bingo relocation. This can take up to 30 days to receive. Once feedback is received, Langley City council will then decide if it will give approval to host the bingo operation in our community.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Pop-Up Planning: Abbotsford’s leadership in public engagement

Several years ago, the City of Abbotsford decided to update their Official Community Plan (OCP). An OCP is the main policy document that drives how communities grow and develop in our province. There were two things that stood out to me about Abbotsford’s OCP called Abbotsforward.

The first thing was that the OCP was bound to population growth, not time. The second was the degree of public engagement throughout the process of developing the OCP. I wrote about Abbotsforward in more detail back in 2015.

Building off Abbotsforward, the City of Abbotsford is applying the same process to update their neighbourhood plans.

Before a long-term plan goes to council for approval in Abbotsford, it goes through a comprehensive process of creation and community engagement:

  1. Background Research: Review existing conditions, plans and strategies, and provided early community engagement activities.
  2. Explore New Concepts: Extensive community engagement, including online surveys, road show events, citizen circles, and neighbourhood walks on new concepts and ideas.
  3. Create the Plan: Based on information gather in steps 1 and 2, propose several options for the community. Engage with the community once again to determine their preferences. The results from the research and engagement guide the creation of a draft plan. Draft plan presented to Council.
  4. Complete the Plan: Receive final feedback from residents, council, and other stakeholders to finalize a plan. The plan then goes through the legally required public hearing process, and is ultimately adopted.

The City of Abbotsford is currently developing a new City Centre plan. They are currently in Step 3 of their process.

Sevenoaks Mall Entrance. Select image to enlarge.

Engagement with the community means meeting people where they are at. In Abbotsford, this means setting up a pop-up shop at Sevenoaks Mall. On Saturday, I decided to take a trip out to Abbotsford to see how this was working out.

City Centre Neighbourhood Plan Pop-Up Shop. Select image to enlarge.

Inside pop-up shop. Select image to enlarge.

Patrick Oystryk, a planner with the City of Abbotsford, is leading the engagement process for developing his community's new City Centre plan. He was at the pop-up shop on Saturday chatting with residents. Talking with Patrick, he noted that they have received over 700 completed survey from people who have dropped into the pop-up shop.

People inside the pop-up shop. Select image to enlarge.

I spent some time listening-in on the conversations that folks were having with each other about the City Centre plan. Given the amount of engagement involved with the plan up to this point, it was no surprise that people appeared to be supportive of the ideas presented.

A concept plan for South Fraser Way. Select image to enlarge.

Local governments traditionally hold open houses, usually at a City Hall, to get people’s feedback on a topic. Unfortunately, this often results in only hearing from people who have the strongest opinion on the given topic.

When it comes to meaningful public engagement, Abbotsford is certainly a leader.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

February 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: $125,976.79 in community grants awarded

So far this week, I have posted about development proposals and the upcoming public meeting on the proposed bingo hall relocation at Cascades Casino. These items were part of Monday night’s Langley City council meeting agenda. Today, I will be posted about the remaining items that were covered.

Council heard two presentations. The first presentation was from Tim Cheung and Simon Lau of Unifor 2002. Their union is advocating for a federally supported, universal Pharmacare program. This idea has received support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Cheung and Lau requested that Langley City send a letter of support for universal Pharmacare to our MPs and MLAs. Council agreed to send a letter of support.

A presentation from ICBC on its distracted driving awareness campaign. Select image to enlarge.

Leanne Cassap from ICBC delivered a presentation to council on its districted driving awareness campaign. She thanked the City and our staff for supporting the campaign.

Over the past month, the 2018 budget has been making its way through the process of getting adopted. On Monday, the 2018-22 Financial Plan received final reading, and was adopted by council. You can read more about the budget in previous posts.

Last year, the Langley City Crime Prevention Task Group asked council to pilot including a brochure as part of the business license renewal process, informing business owners about the free crime prevention assessment available through the RCMP. Due to the success of this pilot, the task group asked council to make including this brochure permanent. Council agreed.

The Langley Emergency Program is a shared responsibility of the City and Township of Langley. The Langley Emergency Program is interested in applying for a $25,000 grant from the provincial Community Emergency Preparedness Fund. This funding can be used for emergency operations centres, emergency operations training, emergency social services, evacuation route planning, flood risk assessment, flood mapping, flood mitigation plans, and structural flood mitigation. Council did our part, and supported the Langley Emergency Program’s request for this funding.

Langley City council dedicates a partition of the revenue the City receives from the casino for community grants. The following organizations and groups will receive grants this year:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

February 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Public meeting scheduled for proposed bingo hall at Cascades Casino

Langley City council was made aware via the local newspapers at the end of December that Gateway Casino & Entertainment was considering relocating Playtime Langley Bingo into Cascades Casino, replacing the Summit Theatre.

Proposed bingo hall at Cascades Casino. Select image to enlarge.

At the same time, Gateway is proposing to renovate the current convention space to “allow the ability to host live performances.” This would include modifying the ceiling of the current banquet hall to “allow for retractable sound and lighting; and the new configuration will allow for up to 600 guests, including those under the age of 19.”

More information on Gateway’s plan is included in the latest council agenda package.

Langley City council received a letter from BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) in January. BCLC is responsible for casinos in our province. The letter stated the proposed addition of the bingo hall at Cascades Casino is a “substantial change” which requires the following steps to occur before the bingo hall can being operation:

  1. Consult with potentially affected local government.
  2. Receive adequate community input.
  3. Provide formal written approval to BCLC and the Gaming Enforcement Branch.
  4. Comply with the objection and non-binding dispute resolution process outlined within the Gaming Control Act.

On Monday night, Langley City council approved sending a letter to both Surrey and the Township of Langley informing them of the proposed “substantial change”. At the same time, council approved holding a public meeting on Monday, February 26 at 7:00pm at the Langley City Hall Council Chambers.

The public meeting agenda is proposed to be:

  1. Representatives from BCLC and Gateway Casino & Entertainment will each make a presentation to provide information regarding the proposed “substantial change” to accommodate the bingo facility.
  2. After the presentations, attendees will be provided with the opportunity to provide feedback and to ask questions regarding the proposed “substantial change.”

Yesterday, I posted about rezoning bylaws and proposed redevelopment projects. Tomorrow, I will post about the remaining items from Monday night’s council meeting.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Rezoning west of 200 Street, new build proposed at Langley Mall.

The area west of 198 Street between 53 Avenue and 56 Avenue has seen a significant amount of redevelopment over the last few years. At last night’s Langley City council meeting, there was a public hearing for a bylaw to rezone property located at the end of 55A Avenue to accommodate a 33 unit, 3-storey townhouse development as shown in the following rendering.

Proposed townhouse development at the end of 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

There were no comments from the public provided during the public hearing. After the public hearing, council asked some questions about the proposed site plan to the project proponent. One of the requirements of the City is the inclusion of a connection between 55A Avenue and the parallel lane north of 55A Avenue at 196 Street. This new connection will include a 2-metre sidewalk as well as a 6-metre roadway. The sound-wall along 196 Street will remain. All vehicle access to the proposed development will be via the lane.

Council gave third reading to the rezoning to accommodate this project.

Later during the meeting, Council gave first and second reading for two additional bylaws to accommodate rezoning for other townhouse projects in the area. One rezoning application was at 56 Avenue and 196 Street. The other was along the south-side of 55 Avenue near 198 Street. A public hearing for these bylaws will now be scheduled.

Proposed townhouse project at 56 Avenue and 196 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Proposed townhouse project at 55 Avenue and 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Back in the fall of 2012, the owner of Langley Mall proposed adding a new retail building at the northwest corner of their property. Because this is in Downtown, it required a development permit. It was never built. 6 years later, the owner of Langley Mall proposed a slightly modified version of the 2012 building. This required that council approve issuing a new development permit.

Rendering of proposed building located along Douglas Crescent at Langley Mall. Select image to enlarge.

One of the basic tenets of creating a walkable, vibrant downtown is that retail businesses must have their primary entrance directly from a street. One of my primary concerns was that the building would turn its back to the street, providing primary access via the parking lot. During the meeting, the proponent of the building stated that it is designed in such a way that primary pedestrian access could be provided from Douglas Crescent. I tried to impress upon the proponent the importance of ensuring that pedestrian access is provided directly off Douglas Crescent. This building will not include a drive thru.

There was a resident at the meeting who spoke against the proposed retail building, citing concerns about noise, drug-use, and homelessness. The resident was also concern about increased traffic. Council also had concerns about the traffic patterns in the mall creating a hazard for both people driving and walking.

Council approved issuing a development permit, but required that the proponent complete a traffic engineering assessment as a condition of its issuance.

Council also gave final reading to a bylaw to allow the reconfiguration of the cul-de-sac on 199A Street.

There were many other items that were addressed at Monday night’s council meeting which I will be posting about throughout this week.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Metro Conversations: The Future of Transportation

Metro Conversations - Conversation 5: February 27

Metro Conversations is back in New Westminster as part of Innovation Week which runs from February 23 to March 3.

Elon Musk’s bold vision of electric autonomous vehicles, cargo missions to Mars, and a network of high-speed underground Hyperloop tunnels promises a future free of traffic, free of drivers, and cities on Mars. Yet, what infrastructural and ethical considerations do cities and policymakers need to make to ensure that this transition is not only possible, but that nobody is left behind in this race to the future? Join us for the fifth conversation on the future of transportation.

Metro Conversations offers a unique format that bringing experts in the field together with citizens for two-way dialogue and discourse within a strict 1-hour time limit. Beyond a lecture, it is a sharing of ideas.

The free event will take place on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00pm in room 417 at the Anvil Centre located at 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster. Doors open at 6:30pm and everyone is welcome.

Seating is limited, and it is recommended to register at the event’s Eventbrite page to help us manage seating.

For more information on Innovation Week, please check out:

These on-going conversations are organized by Patrick Johnstone from New Westminster, Nathan Pachal from the City of Langley, Kiersten Duncan from the City of Maple Ridge, and Mathew Bond from the District of North Vancouver. These conversations are made possible with the generous support of SFU Public Square. This conversation would not be possible without the support of the City of New Westminster.

Reserve your seat at Eventbrite

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Development proposal to add more land into the Agricultural Land Reserve

When Agricultural Land Reserve and development application are used in the same paragraph, the word exclusion is almost always present. Over the years that I’ve been following the state of the ALR in the South of Fraser, land has been either taken out of the land reserve for urban development, or been used in such a way as to remove the potential for farming. An example of this would be the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

Development proposal located near 0 Avenue and 184th Street. Select image to enlarge.

A proposal by Hazelmere Golf & Tennis Club recently came before the Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee. The proposed plan would see the following:

  • 41.9 acres of existing ALR land brought into agricultural production
  • 3.9 acres of land under BC Hydro Right of Way be included into the ALR
  • 20 acres of preserved and enhanced natural habitat and open space
  • 3 acres of new parks
  • 19.5 acres of existing golf course
  • 39.2 acre, 145-lot suburban single-family houses

The single-family housing area would be outside of the ALR, but would still require Surrey to rezone that area from “Agricultural” to “Suburban”. It would also require Metro Vancouver to change the regional zoning from “Rural” to “General Urban” in that area.

An argument could be make that this is essentially sprawl. What really set this proposal apart from other similar proposals —which have been approved in this part of our region in the past— is that ALR land will be expanded, enhanced, and brought into production.

The 41.9 acres of farmland, which is a significant parcel, is proposed to be transformed into a farming co-operative. The proponent is proposing to work with the Young Agrarians and their Land Matching Program to find suitable farmers. For the land that is outside of the ALR, about 30% will be preserved from development.

As development projects occurs at the edge of the ALR in our region, these projects should be required to contribute to making adjacent farmlands viable and productive. This proposed plan may be a good example of how these types of developments should occur.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Transit ridership growing faster than population in Metro Vancouver

Back in October, TransLink posted that they were seeing record-level growth in transit ridership in Metro Vancouver during the first half of 2017. With 2017 now a distant memory, full-year data has been released by the agency. The following table shows more detail on transit ridership in our region.

Year Boardings (Million) Percent Change
2017 406.84 5.7%
2016 384.3 -
2017 Boardings by Mode
Bus 247 3.2%
Expo/Millennium Lines 105 12%
Canada Line 46 6.3%
West Coast Express 2.32 -5.5%
SeaBus 5.84 7.3%

Not surprisingly, Expo and Millennium Line ridership saw double digit growth with the opening of the Evergreen Extension to Coquitlam. It was expected that some West Coast Express riders would switch to using SkyTrain as a result. West Coast Express ridership was down 5.5%.

Canada Line also saw strong ridership increases; TransLink increased peak hours service on the Canada Line in 2017.

SeaBus ridership peaked in 2010, and started a steady decline. In 2017, TransLink increased service frequent on the SeaBus. At the same time, there was strong growth in SeaBus ridership.

While bus service doesn’t capture the imagination of politicians, the media, or the general public as much as other modes of transit, over 60% of all transit ridership in our region is from bus service. Because of investments made due to the 10-Year Vision, and a strong economy, bus ridership also saw a strong increase in ridership.

Between 2016 and 2017, the population of Metro Vancouver grew about 1.1%. Transit ridership in our region grew 5.7%. This means that more people in our region are choosing to take transit to get around than over forms of travel. To put this into perspective, 14.3% of commuters used transit in 1996 in Metro Vancouver. In 2016, that number grew to 20.4%.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Newly restored Hunter Park in Picture

In the fall of 2016, Langley City staff discovered that Laminated Root Rot has spread to a significant number of trees in the Hunter Park area. Hunter Park is located near 200th Street at 45A Avenue. The park was acting like a mini-urban forest, but the root rot meant that the majority of trees had to be removed to prevent the disease from spreading, and to protect the safety of people and buildings in the area.

The Hunter Park Task Force was struck by the City. The task force included both City staff and local area residents who worked together to design a new Hunter Park. The task force approved a new design for the park at the beginning of April last year, with council approving the design at the end of April. Work started right away on restoring the park.

With the restoration of Hunter Park essentially complete, I recently visited the park. I took a few pictures which are below. While Hunter Park is not the same as it was, the newly restored park looks great, and should serve folks in the community well.

New Hunter Park entrance off 45A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

New grass area in the centre of Hunter Park. Select image to enlarge.

Information board along walking trail in Hunter Park. Select image to enlarge.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 5, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Smart City initiatives and traffic calming. Abbotsford leaving parks function of Metro Vancouver.

Over the past few days, I’ve been posting about Monday night’s council meeting including the committee of the whole to hear public feedback on the 2018-22 Financial Plan, and an update on Langley’s new Intensive Case Management Team which is working on getting people with substances use issues stabilized and housed. Today will be my final post about Monday’s meeting.

Rick Bomhof provided an update on the projects from the departments that he oversees. One of the larger initiatives is implementing traffic calming in speeding hot-spots in our community. Traffic calming is now being installed along 50th Avenue, including curb bulges in front of Conder Park. During the summer, there were several crashes in the area.

50th Avenue - Curb bulges in front of Conder Park. Select image to enlarge.

One of the buzz words going around is “Smart City”. This means using connected sensors to get real-time data about our city to help make better decisions. The City has been installing frost sensors in our streets. The latest batch were installed at 200th Street at 44th Avenue, and along the 5700 block of 198th Street. These sensors help the City know when crews need to provide winter maintenance for our roads, allowing the City to make more efficient use of crews as well as materials.

New Frost Sensors installed on 200th Street at 44th Avenue, and the 5700 block on 198th Street. Select image to enlarge.

City crews are busy installing water and sewer services for a new washroom at Penzer Park. Crews also recently installed a new water service to support the new Michaud Park Community Garden.

Other significant projects on-the-go include:

  • City Park Spray Park Expansion
  • 48 Avenue Sewer Replacement
  • Culvert Relining under Fraser Highway near Production Way, and under the Langley Bypass
  • Fraser Highway One-Way Redesign
  • Booster Pump Station Decommissions on 200th Street
  • SCADA System Upgrades (Supports Smart City)

Kim Hilton provided an update on recreation opportunities in our community. You can find out about these various actives, and signup online on the City’s recently redesigned website.

Later during the meeting, Council gave first, second and third reading to a bylaw to allow the reconfiguration of the cul-de-sac on 199A Street.

Plan for 199A Street cul-de-sac reconfiguration. Select image to enlarge.

Abbotsford is not in Metro Vancouver, but it is a participant in the parks function of the regional district for historical reasons. Abbotsford is looking to leave the parks function. This would see Matsqui Trail, Sumas Mountain Regional Parks, and the eastern portion of Glen Valley Regional Park being transferred to the City of Abbotsford. Two-thirds of Metro Vancouver regional district members must support this. Langley City council passed a motion in support of transition these parks to Abbotsford.

For non-profit societies to be able to conduct door-to-door canvassing, they need approval from council. Council approved door-to-door canvassing which will benefit: the Canadian Cancer Society, Word Vision, Red Cross, BC Children’s Hospital, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 5, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: ICM team getting people with substance use issues support and housing in Langley

Langley City council advocated to the provincial government for the past several years to get a specialized team together that can help people with substance use issues get support and housing on their road to recovery.

This fall, Fraser Health launched an Intensive Case Management team for Langley. The ICM team provides:

  • Substance use counselling and/or access to treatment
  • Housing brokerage and support
  • Daily living skills supports and skill building
  • Connections to primary, dental, and specialist care
  • Grocery shopping
  • Accessing vocational rehabilitation support
  • Connections to community resources
  • Transportation to appointments
  • Supporting and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, personal hygiene, short and long-term goal setting, and money management.

To aid the ICM team, BC Housing is providing 30 rent subsides.

At Monday night’s Langley City council meeting, Sanjeev Nand from Langley Community Services Society, and Corinne Blasius who is the program manager of the ICM team, provided an update on Langley’s new ICM team.

The following chart shows the number of people that have been referred to the ICM team. Currently, they have over 50 open files.

Number of community referrals to ICM team. Select image to enlarge.

One of the misconceptions in the community is that people who are being referred into the program, and need housing, are young. The ICM team has found that most of the people referred into the program are 45+.

Age of people referred to ICM team. Select image to enlarge.

The ICM team helps people that have substances use issues. Substances use issues and mental health issues are usually link, but that isn’t always the case. I asked how the ICM team helps people that don’t have a substance use issue. Council was told that they refer people to other programs for help.

One of the key things for me is to get people off the street and housed. In the last few months, the ICM team has worked to get four people housed throughout the community. One of the barriers to getting more people housed is waiting for the Quality Inn supportive housing facility to open in the Township of Langley.

Nand and Blasius stated that it would be irresponsible to house some people without the services that supportive housing provides such as “on-site, non-clinical supports, such as life-skills training, and connections to primary health care, mental health or substance use services.” BC Housing has more information on their website about what services are available at supportive housing facilities.

I also asked Blasius if 30 units of housing would be enough. Council was told that given the numbers of people referred to the program, they would likely need more units of supportive housing.

Getting people into supportive housing, and help with substance use issues, is the only way that we will be able to get people off the streets permanently. Council’s role will be to continue to be strong advocates for more supportive housing in Langley and our region, and to advocate to ensure that the ICM team has the resources they need.

Nand and Blasius concluded their presentation with several case studies of the people who the ICM team is helping. The following is one of the case studies:

Male, Early 40s

  • Divorced, father of two school aged children
  • Cocaine/crack use
  • Relocated to area to live closer to children, no community supports
  • Person with disabilities income of $600/month
  • Multiple physical diagnosis and prescribed medications
  • Was living in a barn
  • Now housed on a small hobby farm in a private residence
  • Substance use discontinued
  • Opportunity to earn small wage for part-time farm chores
  • Stabilized with ongoing support from ICM team

Tomorrow, I will be posting about the other remaining items that were covered at Monday night’s council meeting.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February 5, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Public input on budget, plus information on property tax deferral

Last night, 20+ people attended the Langley City council meeting. At the beginning of the council meeting, a Committee of the Whole was held to allow people to provide their feedback on the proposed 2017-22 Financial Plan. Four people spoke.

People at last night's council meeting. Select image to enlarge.

The first speaker said that the City did not advertised the financial plan, or about opportunities for public input. He stated that he only saw one newspaper article.

While local government doesn’t control the media, there were three articles in the local papers. One article went live on the Langley Times on January 24, another on the Langley Advance on January 29, and a video about the open house on February 1 on the Langley Advance.

January 25 Langley Advance newspaper ad about Langley City Financial Plan public input opportunities. Select image to enlarge.

In addition, Langley City advertised in the Thursday, January 25 edition of the Langley Advance, on the City’s website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Local governments are legally required to engage with the public during the budget process.

Another of his concerns was about the increase in RCMP policing costs which account for about 45% of property tax. I’m also concerned about why local government is responsible for policing costs given our minimal control of policing services.

The additional three residents that spoke were concerned that fixed-income seniors who have lived in single-family homes long-term, would no longer be able to afford to live in Langley City due to the rapid increase in their home values.

If you do own your house; are over the age of 55, a surviving spouse of any age, or a person with disabilities; you can defer your property tax up to 75% of the equity of your home. If you ever sell your home or transfer ownership, the deferred tax becomes due. Given the rise of home values in our region, most long-term residents would be able to defer property taxes for the remainder of their lives, and still have extra equity.

The average property tax increase for single-family homes is $45 this year.

Other general comments were that council needs to ensure that there is no “fluff” in the budget.

Council gave third reading to the proposed 2018-22 Financial Plan. Council will vote on adopting the financial plan at the February 19 council meeting.

For more information on the financial plan, please read my previous posts on the operating budget and capital works program.

Tomorrow, I will be posting about other items that were covered at the meeting.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Langley City Citizen Rhys Griffiths Passes Away

I met Rhys Griffiths for the first time around ten years ago on the Langley City Parks, Environment, Recreation and Cultural Committee. It was my first time on a City committee, and Rhys stood out. He was passionately talking about trees being inappropriately planted in the floodplain. I knew in an instant that this person was a strong advocate for the Nicomekl Floodplain, Brydon Lagoon, and Langley.

He knew pretty much every square inch on the floodplain; he represented the Langley Field Naturalists well. At the Parks meetings, he would regularly call out areas where he thought the City could do better to protect the floodplain. He was not afraid to take you to task! He was also willing to be a part of the solution. I learned more about our parks in those meeting from Rhys than from any other source. My passion for the floodplain, and our parks system in general, is directly attributed to Rhys.

Brydon Lagoon

I am almost certain that Brydon Lagoon would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for Rhys’ tireless advocacy for this special place in our community. Even though Rhys was already retired from the Parks Committee, he made special appearances for the Brydon Lagoon Task Force in 2014/15. Honestly, Brydon Lagoon should be called Griffiths Lagoon.

Rhys cared about people too. Rhys encouraged me to get more involved in Langley City, and supported me during my run for Langley City council. He would call me regularly, checking up on how I was doing, and would give me the latest news about the lagoon.

This weekend, Rhys passed away at the age of 94. There are some people who exemplify what it means to be a citizen in a community. Rhys was one of those people. He will be greatly missed in our community. I will miss him.

The Langley Times and Langley Advance both have stories about Rhys.

A celebration of life for Rhys will be held at St. George’s Anglican Church in Fort Langley at 2pm on Saturday, February 10.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Climate 2050: Adapting to climate change; reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The earth’s climate is changing. For our cities, regions, and society to survive these changes, we will have to adapt. The Metro Vancouver Regional District is internationally known for creating long-term plans and policies that are for the most part actionable and successful in meeting their objectives. The regional district is now in the process of creating Climate 2050, a climate action strategy for Metro Vancouver. This long-term plan will address both ways to adapt to climate change, and how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change is already occurring due to an increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. In Metro Vancouver, this means we will see warmer temperatures, longer summer dry spells, wetter falls and winters, more extreme precipitation events, decreased snowpack, and sea level rise.

What does this mean for our region and its economy?

Anticipated Climate Impacts in the 2050s in Metro Vancouver. Select graphic to enlarge.

Drinking water supply and demand: Reduced snowpack and hotter, drier summers could put strain on the existing water supply during times of the year when temperatures are high and water is in greatest demand. The risk of landslides affecting water quality in supply reservoirs may increase due to extreme precipitation events.

Sewerage and drainage: Wastewater treatment facilities will be impacted by higher influent volumes and sea level rise, increasing energy required for pumping. Sewers near the Fraser River and the ocean will be at risk of flooding due to sea level rise. Infrastructure will need to be upgraded to maintain current expectations of drainage and flood protection.

Ecosystems and agriculture: As the climate shifts, it will disrupt the fragile equilibrium in our natural environment. The plants, trees, and animals within the ecosystems that have historically thrived in our region will be impacted.

Air quality and human health: Increases in the number, extent and duration of wildfires will impact air quality in the Lower Fraser Valley. Air pollution expected in the Metro Vancouver region will include smoke from distant fires, and increases in ground-level ozone. Health impacts related to heat stress will also increase in a population not accustomed to higher temperatures.

Buildings and energy systems: Increasing summer heat will increase cooling requirements for occupied buildings, and therefore electricity demand. This in turn will impact the provincial energy infrastructure, which is designed for peak winter demand. Energy efficiency and passive cooling will become increasingly important in buildings, and the business case to build and retrofit to high efficiency standards will improve.

Transportation, recreation and tourism: Warmer winters and less frost may improve road safety and increase the opportunities to walk or cycle year round. However, warmer temperatures will mean less snow in the local mountains, which is a concern for the winter sport recreation industry.

In order to prevent more extreme impacts due to climate change, the following graphic shows the reduction in GHG emissions that must occur by 2050.

Getting to 80% reducing in GHG emissions by 2050 in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

The regional district is now in the process of engaging with stakeholders. Based on those results, Metro Vancouver staff will start the process of developing the actual long-term plan. The Climate 2050 long-term plan is expected to be completed at the end of this year.