Thursday, June 28, 2018

Langley City Stats: Crime Down, City Events Up. Plus, Where Do People Work?

Langley City recently released its Annual Report for 2017. This report contains information on our municipality’s priorities, operations, financial position, and statistics. There are three groups of statistics that I wanted to highlight from the annual report.

Crime Type 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
All Property Offences 2,666 2,825 2,140 2,269 2,428
All Persons Offences 455 428 365 353 365

Langley City’s largest category of reported crime is property-related crime. In 2016, a full 90% of property-related crime was either shoplifting, theft from a motor vehicle, or theft not from a motor vehicle; all under $5,000. Reported crime stats are influenced by the number of people that actually report crime to the RCMP. Over the last few years, we have been encouraging people to report all crime. In 2017, reported property-related crime trended down.

An effective way to address property crime under $5,000 is by getting more people out in our community doing positive activities, and creating connections between people who live in the same neighbourhood. Over the last few years, Langley City has been increasing funding to support more events in our community.

 2017 2016
Events - City Free 37 24
Events - City Paid 7 7
Events - Outside Organizations 40 35
Tournaments 12 8
Seasonal Programming 88 37

The Timms Community Centre provides an opportunity for younger people to take part in positive activities. This reduces the likelihood of younger people taking part in negative activities. Youth drop-ins at Timms Community Centre increase 38% from 12,630 in 2016 to 17,377 in 2017.

On a different topic, many people believe that most Langley City residents must cross the Fraser River to get to work. This is not the case. 2017 stats show that a full two-thirds of Langley City residents never have to cross the Fraser River to get to work.

Location Residents Precentage
Surrey 2,945 22.3%
Langley Township 2,775 21.0%
Langley City 2,540 19.2%
No Fixed Workplace 2,080 15.7%
Other Location 585 4.4%
Vancouver 495 3.7%
Abbotsford 455 3.4%
Delta 445 3.4%
Burnaby 415 3.1%
Richmond 350 2.6%
Coquitlam 140 1.1%
Total 13,225

A full copy of the 2017 Langley City Annual Report can be download from the City’s website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 25, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Traffic calming near HD Stafford approved, City financials including remuneration posted

Yesterday, I posted about redevelopment bylaws that were on the agenda of Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. Today, I will be posting about other items that were addressed at that meeting.

Simply put, traffic calming makes our streets safer and more inviting for all road users. Traffic calming reduces crashes, the severity of crashes, and road fatalities, plus increases the number of people who walk and cycle.

Langley City council unanimously approved implementing traffic calming measures by HD Stafford Middle School on Grade Crescent as follows:

Grade Crescent traffic calming fronting HD Stafford Middle School. Select image to enlarge.

Based on public feedback, of which more than 80% supported traffic calming, the City will also be adding a zebra crosswalk at the eastern school driveway entrance, and around 25 meters of sidewalk to provide better connections at the front of the school.

Every year, the City posts information about council and staff remuneration, plus information about payments to suppliers of more than $25,000. This is as per the provincial Financial Information Act. The following table shows council remuneration, expenses, and benefits for 2017.

2017 Langley City council remuneration, expenses, and benefits. Select table to enlarge.

Council also gave final reading for two housekeeping animal control bylaws which included updating the definition of “run at large.” More information is available on a previous post.

Langley City council approved its 2017 Annual Report. The report can be downloaded from the City’s website, and includes information about municipal services and operations, financial data, and other statistics.

Council heard from Weekend Fuelbag founder Brady Lumsden about how this program helps students, including at HD Stafford Middle School, have access to meals. Lumsden explained that in some parts of Langley, over 40% of people under the age of 17 live in poverty. If you are hungry, your ability to learn is inhibited. This makes it much harder to break the cycle of poverty. Council encouraged Lumsden to apply for a community grant.

People aged 17 and under in low income families based on 2015 census tracts in Langley. Select map to enlarge. Source: sparc bc

Council also heard from Rosemary Wallace on behalf of the Langley City Terry Fox Run Committee, encouraging the City to form a team to take part in the run on Sunday, September 16.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 25, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Redevelopment, pedestrian access, and parking

Last year was the busiest year of the last 20 for residential redevelopment in Langley City. This year looks to be continuing at a similar pace.

Building permit values in Langley City, 1998-2017. Select chart to enlarge.

Last night at the Langley City council meeting, three rezoning applications received first and second reading to allow them to move forward to a public hearing. The first rezoning bylaw was for a 3-storey, 36-unit townhouse development located along 55 Avenue as shown:

Rendering of proposed development located at 19727, 19737, 19755, 19763 55 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Location of 19727, 19737, 19755, 19763 55 Avenue. Select map to enlarge.

The second rezoning bylaw was for a 4-storey, 48-unit condominium apartment located along 53A Avenue as shown:

Rendering of proposed development located at 20105, 20109, 20119, 20129 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Location of 20105, 20109, 20119, 20129 53A Avenue. Select map to enlarge.

The third rezoning bylaw was for a 3-storey, 13-unit townhouse development located in the 199A Street cul-de-sac as shown:

Rendering of proposed development located at 5471 and 5481 199A Street. Select image to enlarge.

Location of 5471 and 5481 199A Street. Select map to enlarge.

Council also gave first and second reading to allow a public hearing to be scheduled for zoning an unused section of lane by Park Avenue to Downtown Commercial. You can read more about this former lane in a previous post. Final reading was also given to remove an unused lane along Brydon Crescent.

Council gave final reading, and approved issuing a development premit, for a 3-storey, 64-unit townhouse development located along 55 Avenue and 198 Street. The public hearing was held back in March. You can read more about this project in a previous post.

With rapid redevelopment occurring along Brydon Crescent, there is a need to ensure good walking connectivity to that neighbourhood. Easy walking access to our park system is important. Councillor Albrecht, who is Vice-Chair of the Advisory Planning Commission, noted that City staff is evaluating pedestrian access options.

On the topic of the Advisory Planning Commission, Commission members unanimously asked City Council to review tandem parking. Most townhouse units approved in our community use tandem parking; where one car is parked directly behind another. Parking is controlled by our zoning bylaw which is currently under review. A tandem parking policy review will now be incorporated into the overall bylaw review.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Working with other municipalities to deliver value for Langley City residents and businesses

One of the comments that some people tell me is that they believe Langley City residents and businesses would get more value if we were part of a bigger municipality. Working with other municipalities to deliver services can create value. Langley City currently partners with other municipalities to deliver services for our residents and businesses.

The following charts are based off the 2018 operating budget for Langley City. The blue represents services that are delivered in partnership with other municipality, and the orange represents services that are delivered directly by the City.

Chart showing percentage of services delivered directly by Langley City (orange) or in partnership with other local governments (blue), based on the 2018 operating budget. Select chart to enlarge.

Chart showing dollar values of services delivered directly by Langley City (orange) or in partnership with other local governments (blue), based on the 2018 operating budget. Select chart to enlarge.

Langley City and Langley Township partner to provide protective services including the RCMP, Youth & Family Services, and other programs such as the Langley Emergency Program.

We are provided drinking water, sewer treatment, and solid waste disposal services as a member of the Metro Vancouver Regional District which includes 21 municipalities and one treat First Nation.

Langley City is part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library System which is funded by 13 municipality and 2 regional districts.

There are other items that aren’t captured in the charts. For example, we receive funding from TransLink to maintain the major road network in our community. Transit service is also provided by TransLink.

Fire services, though we partner with E-Comm, are provided directly by the City. Parks, recreation facilities, local roads, street lights, sewer, and water lines are also operated and maintained directly by Langley City. Planning, zoning, and building permitting is controlled by Langley City. This list is not comprehensive.

Working with other municipalities to deliver services together makes sense when there is a value for all parties. Currently, half of Langley City’s operating expenditures are delivered in partnership with other local governments.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

426 hectares of sensitive ecosystem lost in Metro Vancouver core over last five years.

Metro Vancouver completed a sensitive ecosystem inventory in 2013. Sensitive ecosystems include areas such as old and mature forests, waterways, estuaries, and wetlands. The following map shows these sensitive ecosystems.

A map of ecosystems in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

This ecosystem inventory was recently updated with an eye to see what loss has occurred in these ecosystems. The update looked at both losses in the regional core, and throughout the whole region. The regional core is the area that is hashed in the following map.

A map showing the Metro Vancouver Regional Core which is hashed. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

The three sensitive ecosystem types with the greatest loss in the regional core were mature forests where 223 hectares (2.9%) has been lost, 122 hectares (1.8%) of wetlands has been lost, and 74 hectares (0.9%) of riparian river bank area has been lost to development. To put this into perspective, the loss is three times the size of all parkland in Langley City. The following pictures show an example of this loss.

An example of riparian loss. Select image to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

Not all areas where loss occurred provided the same ecosystem services; some areas have higher value than others. Metro Vancouver will be performing further analysis to quantify the loss based on ecosystem quality, and by sub-region.

An example of a high-quality ecosystem. Select image to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

An example of a low-quality ecosystem. Select image to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

This further analysis will be extremely useful for governments throughout our region, allowing them to focus on protecting and enhancing high-quality, sensitive ecosystems to prevent further loss.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Richmond, Tsawwassen First Nation, Delta Transit Plan includes direct connection to Langley

TransLink staff have been working on an updated transportation plan for Richmond, Tsawwassen First Nation, and Delta, known as the Southwest Area Transport Plan. Each sub-region within Metro Vancouver has an area plan. For example, the South of Fraser Area Transit Plan covers Surrey, White Rock, and Langley. These plans are updated every decade.

One of the features of the Southwest Area Transport Plan is that it not only covers transit service, but also regionally-significant cycling corridors, walking access to transit, and the Major Road Network. This new plan is being presented at the TransLink board meeting tomorrow.

With new funding available for bus service improvements, the Southwest Area Transport Plan contains some significant increases in transit service levels. The plan places these proposed set of recommendations into three tiers. Tier One recommendations would be implemented first. Tier Two and Tier Three recommendations would be implemented as opportunities present themselves.

The following map shows all the changes proposed during the life of the plan.

Map of recommended transit changes from the Southwest Area Transport Plan. Select map to enlarge.

As a transit rider, I know first hand that getting between Langley and Delta on transit is not convenient at all. While it is in the third tier, TransLink is recommending providing direct transit access between all regional urban centres, including between Langley and Ladner.

Map of Metro Vancouver Urban Centres. Select map to enlarge.

The transit system was originally setup to move people between Downtown Vancouver/Surrey Central and everywhere else. This is changing. As an example, TransLink introduced transit service between Langley and White Rock in 2012. This service has doubled in ridership since its introduction. I also use this route; it is extremely convenient.

The following tables outline the recommended changes to transit service.

Tier One transit recommendations from the Southwest Area Transport Plan. Select table to enlarge.

Tier Two transit recommendations from the Southwest Area Transport Plan. Select table to enlarge.

Tier Three transit recommendations from the Southwest Area Transport Plan. Select table to enlarge.

As noted earlier, the plan includes recommendations for other modes of travel as well. You can read the whole plan starting on page 137 of the June 21 TransLink Open Board Meeting Report.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The number of seniors who live in poverty is increasing, and not where you’d expect

Recently, SPARC BC and the United Way of the Lower Mainland released a report on Seniors’ Poverty in BC. The report found that 8.8% of people over the age of 65 in BC were living under the low-income measure in 2015.

The low-income measure has different values for different household sizes. As an example, a one-person household after-tax income of less than $22,133 would be considered below the low-income measure in 2015. A two-person household would be considered below the low-income measure if they had an after-tax income of less than $31,301.

The report contains maps that show the percentage of seniors who live below the low-income threshold in 2015. The darker the colour, the larger the percentage.

Percent of seniors in low income in Metro Vancouver based on census tracks, 2015. Select map to enlarge.

The largest percentage of seniors who live in poverty also live in the largest communities in Metro Vancouver. In the South of Fraser, 16.5% of seniors in Surrey, 8.9% of seniors in Delta, 5.0% of seniors in Langley, and 4.5% of seniors in White Rock live below the low-income threshold.

Percent of seniors in low income in Langley based on census tracks, 2015. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City has a higher percent of lower-income seniors in the Douglas Neighbourhood. As seen on the following map, 10.2% of seniors in that area are living in poverty. A higher percentage of seniors in Willoughby and Aldergrove live below the low-income measure in 2015 than Langley City.

Housing is considered affordable if people are spending less than 30% of their income on shelter costs which include rent or mortgage, utilities, and property tax. For a single-person household, the total monthly costs could be no higher than $640 per month, or $902.10 per month for a two-person household, to be considered affordable in 2015. Langley City has traditionally had some of the lowest rents in the region. Poverty is exacerbated for people living in an area with higher rents.

As the report used data from 2015, I would image that the number of seniors living in poverty has only increased.

By tackling housing affordability, government can provide relief for low-income seniors. Local government can create rental-only zoning to encourage more rental units to be built in urban cores, near shops, services, and transit.

The provincial government must continue to strengthen the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) rent-suplement program by creating a more granular and nimble program to ensure that seniors never pay more than 30% of their income for basic accommodation.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Help shape the Fraser Highway One-Way redesign

Fraser Highway was one of the first highways in our region, following the path of the Yale wagon road, connecting New Westminster to the interior of the province. Where the Fraser Highway One-Way begins has always been a significant intersection. It provided a connection to Fort Langley and the Hudson’s Bay Company Farm. All this to says, there are some really old pieces of infrastructure underneath Fraser Highway.

Langley City will be renewing the underground infrastructure such as water and sewer lines on the section of Fraser Highway between 204 Street and 206 Street. Because of the legacy of Fraser Highway, this whole section of road must be dug-up for the renewal. This makes it an ideal time to reimage the One-Way section which is the heart of our community.

The City is currently seeking ideas and feedback on what people would like to see for the new One-Way. At Community Day this weekend, I stopped by a booth that the project team setup to gather people’s thoughts.

People had the chance to indicate what objectives were priorities for them. Select image to enlarge.

One of the ways that the project team gathered input was by asking people to drop marbles into jars for objectives that they would like to see the One-Way redesign achieve. One of the big things that I noticed was that creating a great outdoor space, such as by incorporating room for patios and trees in the public ream, was important for the people who took part in the exercise.

Gather public feedback about the Fraser Highway One-Way redesign at Community Day. Select image to enlarge.

People were also asked to place “leafs” on a tree to let the project team know what they needed to keep in mind. Again, there were many comments about creating a pedestrian-focused, green street that serves as a gather place. Providing a nightlife was also a recurring theme on the “leafs” which is something that we critically need in Downtown. Having more eyes and ears on the street will reduce negative activity in the evening, and help build a stronger sense of community.

Community Day wasn’t the last day to provide input, you can also share your ideas for the One-Way by completing an online survey which will be up until July 16. If you haven’t already, please consider taking some time to complete this survey.

Launch the Survey

As a note, the City is working with BC Hydro to see what would be involved to get the utility poles removed from the One-Way. If all goes well, the project could start construction next year.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What’s with the grey curb paint? A quick primer

Over the last little while, I’ve had a few inquires about the grey paint that has been showing up on curbs around our community. Today’s post will explain what's going on.

An example of a curb with grey paint. Select image to enlarge. 

Another example of grey paint on a curb. Select image to enlarge.

Up until 2008, Langley City used to put yellow paint on curbs to mark areas where parking was not permitted. The City also used signs to mark no parking and no stopping areas.

Painting curbs does have a cost (around $3,000 per kilometre.) If a no parking area needs to be removed, there is also a removal cost, plus excesses wear on the curb due to the removal process. Signs are more cost effective to install, and easier to move as regulations change.

Langley City council decided in 2008 that it would stop marking no parking areas by putting yellow paint on curbs, opting to exclusively rely on signs. The yellow paint was allowed to wear. Just before I was elected, council decided to reinstate painting yellow curbs in Downtown Langley.

To remove confusion in the rest of the community about yellow curbs, the City investigated various ways to remove the curb paint. Because the old yellow paint contains lead, it is costly to remove as both the environment and people need to be protected during the whole removal process. As a cost-saving experiment, the City has painted grey over some yellow curbs.

While the grey paint is noticeable today, the hope is that it will fade over time, blending in with the curb while still masking the yellow.

You should always follow posted regulation signs. If the posted sign differs from the curb marking, follow the sign. Grey paint does not have any regulatory meaning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 11, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Policing costs, government downloading, and other matters

I posted about land-use matters, and the approval for upgrading Douglas Crescent, which were on the agenda of Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. Today, I’ll be posting about the remaining items covered at that meeting.

Langley City contracts out municipal policing to the RCMP. The Langley RCMP detachment is cost-shared with the Township of Langley. One of the requirements of the contract is to provide approval in principle to RCMP headquarters for the coming year’s policing contract budget which can include changes in headcount. The current plan is to leave the RCMP member headcount the same as this year. Even with no change, this will result in an increase of the RCMP contract budget by $194,489 in 2019. Council supported this approval in principle.

Currently, the Province of BC grants 100% of the traffic fines it collects in Langley City back to the municipality. We use this revenue to help fund the salaries of three RCMP members. The provincial government is looking at amending this grant as it is planning on installing speed enforcement camera at high-risk intersections, and potentially keeping all revenue from those cameras.

Council passed a motioning asking “the Province continue to provide 100% of the traffic fine revenues to municipalities including fines generated by the proposed speed enforcement cameras located at high risk intersections.” If the province does claw-back this grant, it will be yet another example of government downloading with the costs being transfer to your property tax bill.

Council adopted a new “Council Procedure Bylaw.” This bylaw governs council meetings and how members of council can behave at meetings. While most of the changes are housekeeping in nature, the new bylaw explicitly calls out bullying, harassment, negative comments about other people’s character, and generally rude behaviour as grounds for a council member to be asked to leave a meeting.

Council also approved amending the 2017-21 Financial Plan. As another housekeeping matter, once the City receives its audited year-end financial results, it must update the Financial Plan bylaw.

2017-21 Financial Plan amendment. Select table to enlarge.

The Animal Control Bylaw and accompanying section of the municipal fine bylaw know as the Municipal Ticketing Information System Bylaw were giving first, second, and third reading to update wording consistency around having an animal at large. The update also included some minor formatting changes in the fine bylaw.

Council also approved requests from our Fire Chief Rory Thompson to attend the 2018 Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs Annual Conference, and Paul Gilbert who is the Manager of Revenue and Business Systems to attend the Unit4 Business World User Conference.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 11, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Lane closures, Douglas Crescent renewal, and a rezoning application

Last night’s council meeting had a significant number of housekeeping items that were addressed, as well as a public hearing for a rezoning application to accommodate a 30-unit townhouse development along Brydon Crescent.

Render of a proposed townhouse project at 5454, 5464, 5474, 5484, 5490 Brydon Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

The proposed townhouse development for the site will have electric vehicle charging, and the units fronting Brydon Crescent will have double garages. I know that people prefer double-wide garages over tandem-parking garages, so it was good to see a significant number of units with the preferred garage configuration.

No members of the public spoke at the public hearing about the rezoning application. As the proposed rezoning was consistent with our Official Community Plan, council gave third reading for the rezoning application.

Access to apartment and townhouse complexes for vehicles should be provided from a lane as a matter of good urban design. In Langley City, there is an extensive lane network north of the Nicomekl River. Whenever possible, access to new buildings is provided via this lane network.

The City has been “closing” several lanes over the last little while. At last night’s meeting, three separate lanes were going through this process. These sections of lanes have never been used, so the ability to provide access to buildings via lanes will not be compromised.

A map highlighting the proposed lane closure located near 55A Avenue and 196 Street. Select map to enlarge.

A map highlighting the proposed lane closure located near 5423, 19900, 19910, 19920, and 19930 Brydon Crescent. Select map to enlarge.

A map highlighting the lane closure located adjacent to 204 Street and Park Avenue. Select map to enlarge.

Council gave final reading to close a section of lane near 204 Street and Park Avenue. Council also gave first, second, and third reading to bylaws to remove sections of lane near Brydon Crescent, and 55A Avenue near 196 Street that were never used. Councillor Albrecht noted that pedestrian access should be provided between Brydon Crescent and the Hydro ROW trail in the area; this is an idea that I support.

Council also approved issuing a contract to Targa Contracting for $2.3 million to upgrade Douglas Crescent between 206 Street and 208 Street. The upgrade will include new water and sewer lines, more streetlights, and a new road surface.

Tomorrow, I will post about the other items that were addressed at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Community Shuttle routes in Langley being renamed

TransLink adds, modifies, and/or removes bus routes four times per year. The next scheduled change will occur on June 25, 2018. Since phase one and two of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation is fully funding, delivering a 16% increase in bus service hours, there will be an increasing number of changes being made to our region’s bus network over the coming years.

Bus stop in Langley City with temporary signage. Select image to enlarge.

While no new bus service hours are being added in Langley this time around, three community shuttle routes are being renamed as follows:

C62 renamed to 562 Langely Centre/Walnut Grove

C63 renamed to 563 Langley Centre/Fernridge

C64 renamed to 564 Langley Centre/Willowbrook

The C60 and C61 routes are being replaced with a new 560/561 route. The new route will operate the same as the old routes except that the destination signs will change. According to TransLink “customers can remain on the bus when the route number changes at 208th and 48th Ave.”

New 560/561 bus route map. Select map to enlarge.

A list of bus service changes for the whole region can be viewed on the TransLink website.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Apartment parking underutilized in South of Fraser. An opportunity for lowering housing costs.

When we talk about affordable housing, one of the components that is often overlooked is the cost of parking. In a typical wood-frame apartment building, a parking spot costs about $20,000 to build. Langley City requires around 1.5 parking spots per apartment unit which adds more than $30,000 to the price of a unit.

I know that on-street parking can be a contentious issue in most residential areas in Metro Vancouver. Are people parking on the street because communities don’t require enough apartment parking? I know that for my building this is not the case, but is that an exception?

Metro Vancouver recently updated it apartment parking study which surveys buildings throughout our region.

In the South of Fraser, the results show that apartment residents use less than 1 parking space on average per unit. This means that there is an oversupply of on-site parking in most buildings in the South of Fraser. The study also found that the demand for on-site parking has been going down over the years.

Apartment residential parking supply and utilization, by year of survey. South of Fraser apartments highlighted. Select chart to enlarge.

The study also found that the closer people are to high-quality transit in Metro Vancouver, the less on-site parking is utilized.

Strata apartment residential parking supply and utilization, by transit proximity. Select chart to enlarge.

People who rent also use less parking than people who own throughout our region.

Market rental apartment residential parking supply and utilization, by transit proximity. Select chart to enlarge.

Given this information, communities in the South of Fraser could lower the required number of parking stall per unit in most apartment buildings. These numbers could be even lower for buildings near high-quality transit, and rental buildings.

By reducing parking requirements for apartments, significant cost savings can be achieved which can be passed along to people buying or renting units.

As a note, buildings were surveyed from all municipalities in the South of Fraser. The study did not look at single-family housing or townhouses parking utilization. This study can be viewed starting on page 177 of the June 8, 2018 Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee agenda.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Upcoming Learning & Networking Day for Langley Seniors

I received an email about an upcoming workshop which will be taking place on Wednesday, June 20 that I wanted to share.

The workshop will be held at the Langley Seniors Resource Centre from 10am until 3pm, and includes free lunch and door prizes.

The morning session will focus on “what do you do when less formal ways of responding to elder abuse and neglect have not worked.” The afternoon session will focus on using online tools for community-based seniors’ services.

The following poster contains more information.

Poster about upcoming workshop. Select poster to enlarge.

To register for the workshop, you can call 604-530-9111 or 604-541-8653.

The workshop is hosted by: Langley Seniors Community Action Table, BC Community Response Network, Langley Senior Resources Society, BC Responsible & Problem Gambling Program, and Comfort Keepers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Proposed traffic calming solutions for Grade Crescent near HD Stafford Middle School

As I posted about earlier, Langley City is implementing traffic calming solutions throughout our community. One areas slated for traffic calming is around HD Stafford Middle School. Similar to Michaud Crescent, this street has been a speedway where people driving regularly exceed the speed limit. Also similar to Michaud Crescent, Grade Crescent will be getting a more permanent upgrade in the coming years pending future budget approval. In the meantime, temporary traffic calming solutions are being proposed.

On May 31, Langley City held an open house to get feedback on the proposed interim traffic calming solutions as shown in the following bird’s eye view.

View of proposed traffic calming solutions around HD Stafford Middle School on Grade Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

Two speed tables are being proposed for the section of Grade Crescent west of the school. A speed table is also being proposed near 205 Street on Grade, and a raised crosswalk at 204A Street on Grade. Flexible delineators are being proposed to narrow the intersection at 204A Street and Grade Crescent, making people who use the crosswalk more visible to people driving, while also reducing the amount of time people are exposed to motor vehicle traffic.

The City is seeking feedback on the proposed traffic calming package until June 11. You can find the feedback form and contact information for this project on Langley City’s website.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Learning from Halifax: Public washrooms at major transit exchanges

I’ve done a fair amount of travelling, and have used many different transit systems through Canada, the US, and the world. For a region our size, Metro Vancouver punches above its weight when it comes to transit ridership and the quality of transit service. We have a good system, but it does have areas of weakness. While TransLink has public washrooms at SeaBus terminals, you will not find public washrooms at any other station or transit exchange.

Over the past five days, I’ve been in Halifax for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference. The conference is a gathering of over 3,000 elected local government representatives and staff from throughout our country. One part of the conference is study tours. One of the study tours that I was on was about the work that Halifax Transit is doing to enhance accessibility for their transit network. Dartmouth Bridge Terminal is a major bus exchange for the Halifax transit system. It was one of the nicest bus exchanges that I’ve seen.

The bus exchange, which was opened in 2012, includes the full complement of accessibility features including tactile pads, braille, high-contract signs, ramps, and an elevator. It also includes another important accessibility feature, public washrooms.

I asked the study tour guide what Halifax Transit’s experience has been with public washrooms on their system. Halifax Transit closed public washrooms in the past due to vandalism, but has since switch course. They are opening public washrooms throughout their system. As another example, they recently renovated the washrooms at their downtown ferry terminal.

Entrance to Men's Washroom at Dartmouth Bridge Terminal. Select image to enlarge.

Vandalism doesn’t simply disappear, I asked how they reduced vandalism. Halifax Transit builds high-quality washrooms that instill a sense of pride in the facilities. They also have extensive cleaning schedules. At the Dartmouth Bridge Terminal, they have a staffed security/information desk across from the washroom entrances. Like some of our SkyTrain stations, there is a shop within the bus exchange to put more eyes and ears in the facility.

Inside Men's Washroom. Select image to enlarge.

Shop inside transit exchange. Select image to enlarge.

For people such as seniors or young children, having access to public washrooms is important for longer journeys. Public washrooms allow people to travel independently and with dignity.

While I would not expect TransLink to open up public washrooms at all SkyTrain stations and transit exchanges throughout the region, they should open public washrooms at the busiest locations. If Halifax Transit can operate public washrooms, surely TransLink can.