Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 23, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Financial plan update, lane closure, construction projects, and new community standards bylaw approved

Today will be my second-to-last post about the July 23rd Langley City council meeting; the last council meeting before the summer break. I have posted about Langley City’s new community vision, future rail rapid transit, a new smoking bylaw, and community grants awarded in previous posts.

A Committee of the Whole was held for people to provide feedback about an update to the City’s financial plan, and for a lane closure as shown in the following map.

Lane closure near 55A Avenue and 196 Street, highlighted in red. Select image to enlarge.

I posted about the financial plan amendment which includes $1.5 million from TransLink to support our road network and active transportation in a previous post. The lane closure will allow for a realignment of the lane near 55A Avenue and 196 Street to prevent the lane from being flush to the sound wall along 196 Street.

There was no feedback provided by members of the public. Council gave final reading for the lane closure and the financial plan amendment.

Council also gave first and second reading to discharge land-use contracts for properties located at 4538 204 Street and 4945 205A Street to allow for secondary suites. Land-use contracts were used in place of zoning back in the 1970s. They create a lot of problems today as they supersede zoning. For more information, view the presentation “Terminating Land Use Contracts: Don’t Wait.

Langley City council approved tendering a contract for $610,391.32 to Mission Contractors Ltd. to replace the Muckle Creek culvert at 48 Avenue, and $609,000.00 to Mainland Civil Site Services Inc. to replace the Muckle Creek culvert at 50 Avenue.

Council also approved up to $12,000 to share 40% of the cost with the strata at 20897 57 Avenue to install a fence as shown in the following picture.

Location of proposed expanded metal fence at 20897 57 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council gave final reading to a rezoning bylaw and issued a deployment permit for 5471 & 5481 199A Street. You can read more about this development project in a previous post. Council also gave final reading to an updated Community Standards Bylaw, and bylaws that support it. You can also read about this in a previous post.

Monday, July 30, 2018

July 23, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: New smoking bylaw moving forward. Second round of community grants approved.

Last Monday was the final council meeting until August 23, and as such, there were a significant number of items on the agenda. You can read about our new community vision which was approved last week, as well as the City’s position on rail rapid transit.

Due to the pending legalization of the use of non-medical cannabis this fall, as well as updates to provincial legalization around smoking and vaping, Langley City council gave three readings to an updated Smoking Regulation Bylaw. The following major changes are part of the bylaw:

  • Including cannabis in the definition of smoking
  • Increasing the buffer from three metres to six metres away from all doorways, air intakes and open windows where people can smoke or vape
  • Prohibiting smoking or vaping of tobacco in a vehicle with children under the age of 16
  • Prohibiting smoking or vaping of cannabis in a vehicle
  • Restricting smoking or vaping in all parks and plazas, expect for smoking tobacco which will be allowed only in designated smoking areas.

Designated smoking areas will be clearly marked. The next step for this bylaw will be for it to be approved by Fraser Health before it can come back to City council for final adoption.

Langley City has a policy of providing a portion of the proceeds we receive from the casino back to community-based groups that provide programs and events that make our community a better place. This year, $168,000 was made available for community grants. Council approved $125,976 in grants to organizations back in February.

A second intake for community grants was opened, and last Monday council approved another $21,400 in grants to the following groups and organizations:

Organizations Grant
Boys and Girls Club of Langley $3,200.00
Canadian Animal Rescue & Extended Shelter Society(CARES) $500.00
Children’s Wish Foundation $1,000.00
HD Stafford Middle School $1,500.00
Langley Cares Foundation - Langley Lodge $2,500.00
Langley Children Committee - Data Research Day $600.00
Nicomekl Elementary School $5,000.00
Southgate Christian Fellowship $4,500.00
Weekend FuelBag $2,600.00

Since the inception of the Community Grant Program in 2006, council has contributed over $1.7 million to non-profit and community organizations that benefit Langley City.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the remaining items addressed at last Monday’s council meeting.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

While SkyTrain is preferred, light rail will serve the needs of Langley City

Monday night was the last Langley City council meeting until August 23. Over the last few days, I have posted about our community’s new vision “Langley City: Nexus of Community” and its accompanying implementation plan which was adopted at that meeting. Over the next week, I will be posting about other items covered at that meeting.

Back in the summer on 2016, Langley City council received presentations about the merits of light rail and SkyTrain as solutions for providing high-quality, rail rapid transit between Downtown Surrey and Downtown Langley along Fraser Highway. At the end of the presentations, council asked staff to investigate what would be the prefer technology from our community’s perspective.

Langley City staff did an evaluation of both SkyTrain and light rail technologies. They found that SkyTrain provided better overall safety, travel time, and reliability compared to light rail. Light rail performed better for overall accessibility and ability to integrate into the community due to ground-level stations. City staff found that SkyTrain would be better for Langley City, though both technologies would have a positive and transformative impact on Langley City.

Currently, it can take 70 minutes to travel between Downtown Surrey and Downtown Langley on bus. With the new Fraser Highway B-Line, it will take around 40 minutes. Light rail would take around 30 minutes, and SkyTrain around 20 minutes.

Beyond travel time, light rail or SkyTrain gives people a way out of congestion in a way that buses and B-Lines cannot; buses still share most of the road with other traffic. As our part of the region continues to grow, rail rapid transit will be the only way that we will be able to move people around effectively.

Offices, industry, and shops are choosing to locate near rail rapid transit as this is something that both employees and customers prefer. Rail rapid transit, combined with rental housing located near stations, supports more affordable housing and transportation options for all people.

Langley City’s new vision is based on having rail rapid transit in our Downtown. For our community to thrive, it will be imperative that we have rail rapid transit access.

There is a three-phase transportation plan for our region called “The 10-Year Vision” which is currently in phase two implementation. During the negotiations for phase two funding, Langley City council wanted to ensure that our community wouldn’t be forgotten.

There is a saying, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” Based on the funding available, and that Langley represents 5% of our region’s population, we didn’t want to be left behind in the 10-Year Vision. For example, there is a real possibility that SkyTrain could terminate at 160th Street with no rail rapid transit to Langley City in my lifetime.

As reported publicly, light rail between Downtown Langley and Downtown Surrey would cost $1.9 billion to build, and $18 million a year to operate. SkyTrain would cost $2.9 billion to build, and $26 million to operate.

I’m a pragmatic person, and while Langley City council will continue to advocate for SkyTrain, it is unlikely that an extra billion dollars will be found by the province and federal government. Langley City council made the following motion on Monday:

WHEREAS the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and TransLink Board have finalized more than $7 billion in transportation improvements under Phase 2 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision on June 28, 2018;

WHEREAS the approved funding for Phase 2 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision includes a $30 Million investment for project development and potential early works for the Surrey-Langley Light Rail Transit Line;

WHEREAS Langley City Council will continue to lobby the Federal and Provincial governments and TransLink to secure additional funding for SkyTrain Technology; and

WHEREAS Langley City Council fully expects the Federal and Provincial governments and TransLink to fulfill their commitment to fund Phase 3 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision to construct the Surrey-Langley Light Rail Transit Line within the next eight to 10 years;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Langley City Council publicly release the following resolution with respect to the extension of the light rail transit line from Surrey to Langley that was adopted by City Council at the December 11, 2017 Closed Meeting of Council, with amendments that remove confidential information:

WHEREAS Langley City Council supports the principle that the preferred South of Fraser Rapid Transit (SoFRT) be based on a comprehensive regional perspective and that the preferred rapid transit network selection criteria include performance, affordability, deliverability and connectivity.

WHEREAS Langley City Council concludes that the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley is superior to Light Rapid Transit (LRT) based on the perspective of safety, travel time, reliability and potential for future extensions.

WHEREAS Langley City Council recognizes the capital cost and annual operating cost differential between SkyTrain technology and LRT technology is significantly higher and that the Federal funding is based on a set allocation model which will not be increased if SkyTrain technology is chosen for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley.

WHEREAS Langley City Council would desire the Province and the region to secure the additional funds for the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley.

WHEREAS Langley City Council recognizes that securing the additional funds for the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley may not be forthcoming or possible and hence delaying the funding approval for the Phase Two Investment Plan.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Langley City Council accepts the LRT technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley, with the track being elevated between Willowbrook Mall and east of 200th Street, subject to the following conditions:

  1. Inclusion of funding to procure the Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley City as part of Stage 1 – Surrey City Centre to Guildford and Newton.
  2. Inclusion of sufficient road right of way width on Fraser Highway to facilitate cycling lanes in the future.
  3. Inclusion of adequate pedestrian connectivity and interface infrastructure between the terminus station and the proposed bus depot north of Fraser Hwy and east of 203rd Street.
  4. Inclusion of a park and ride facility adjacent to the terminus station.
  5. Provision of appropriate infrastructure at the terminus station to extend the rail line to communities east of Langley City.
  6. Consideration of a rapid transit maintenance facility in Langley City.
  7. Consideration of a rapid transit security satellite office in Langley City.

While SkyTrain is the preferred technology for Langley City, light rail will serve our community just fine if the conditions outlined in the motion are met. I certainly don’t want our community to be left behind because of a rail rapid transit technology choice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Overview of implementation plan for Langley City: Nexus of Community

Yesterday, I posted about the new comprehensive vision for our community called “Langley City: Nexus of Community” which was adopted by council on Monday. For a more high-level overview of the vision, please read my previous post. Today, I wanted to highlight the 24 recommended implementation tasks, grouped by the major themes in the vision.

It will take a lot of work by council, city staff, and the community to make this vision a reality. This is something that I'm excited to start working on.

Because we can’t do everything at once, the implementation plan includes suggested phasing. Some implementation tasks are to be completed in the next year, some in two-three years, and others in three-five years. Some tasks are on-going such as “Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting”. Other tasks can only be implemented as opportunities present themselves such as building a Community Health Centre.

Building a Strong Foundation

Official Community Plan: Update the Langley City Official Community Plan (OCP).

Zoning Bylaw: A Zoning Bylaw update should be considered in conjunction with OCP changes to address the Future Vision.

Capital Plan: Develop the City’s upcoming Capital Plan, or Financial Plan, in line with the Vision.

Expanding Development Services: Review staffing levels to ensure the City has sufficient resources to implement the Vision.

Advisory Design Panel: Create an ADP to review the design quality and integration of uses of major developments.

Community

Downtown and Transit Corridor Masterplan: Update the existing Downtown Masterplan and expand to include the Rapid Transit Corridor along Fraser Highway.

Neighbourhood Plans: Initiate a Neighbourhood Plan for the residential area south of the Nicomekl River that introduces gentle density and more housing options, undertaken with sensitive and inclusive community engagement.

Prosperity Fund: Establish a fund dedicated to projects that implement the Vision.

Development Cost Charges Review: Review the current City Development Cost Charges (DCCs) for opportunities to incentivize development within the Downtown core.

Pre-Zoning: Following a Zoning Bylaw update, the City should take a proactive approach by rezoning areas where it wants to encourage redevelopment.

Site Assembly: Explore opportunities for the City to provide large sites for large developers who can help transform the City and advocate positive change by leadership and special projects.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting: Develop an annual monitoring, evaluation and reporting system to record progress on the Vision Implementation.

Connected

Transit Hub: Develop a comprehensive plan for the Transit Hub, both to leverage from the improved rapid bus connection (2019) and to prepare for future fixed rail. This project could most effectively follow from the Downtown Master Plan and Transit Corridor update.

Review of Transportation Planning: Review the Transportation Master Plan to determine any conflicting objectives and use the Vision to establish future project priorities.

Economic Development: Consider an economic development function separate from the Development Services Department.

Education Partners: Initiate a partnered project, or series of projects with Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and other local tertiary education providers.

Business Partnerships: Continue to work closely with the Urban Development Institute (UDI), the Downtown Langley Business Improvement Association and the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

Experiences

Iconic Entertainment/Cultural Development: Provide an iconic entertainment or cultural development for the downtown.

Downtown Facade Program: Continue and expand the successful Downtown Fa├žade Program.

Neighbourhood Matching Fund: Develop a neighbourhood matching fund that is public realm focused. Establish a set amount of funding to support projects that aim to activate public space. Conditions are that the local group financially matches the payment through volunteer hours, fundraising or in-kind donations.

Integration

Housing Partners: Langley City should work with housing partners to implement housing pilot projects that address the “missing middle”.

Healthcare Partners: Seek partnerships with healthcare providers to create an innovative Community Health Centre that co-locates Public Health, Home Health (i.e.outreach) and Mental Health facilities in a single location with Rapid Transit access.

The full implementation plan which includes further details about the tasks can be downloaded from Langley City’s website. Two tasks not listed here relate to public awareness and engagement around the vision.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Langley City council adopts new comprehensive vision for community

Langley City: Nexus of Community

Langley Prairie was founded at the crossroads of Yale and Glover. The introduction of BC Electric Railway passenger and freight service turned Langley Prairie into a commercial hub in our region. Over 100 years later, rail service may once again transform our community with Langley City being a terminus for rail rapid transit.

Around a year ago, Langley City council and staff started the process of defining a vision for our community. With continued redevelopment, social challenges, changing demographics, and the future arrival of rail rapid transit, we decided that it was time.

While we have an Official Community Plan, and various other plans such as the Downtown Master Plan and Parks, Recreation & Culture Master Plan, there has never been an overarching vision that glued them all together.

Langley City: Nexus of Community was adopt at Monday night’s council meeting. The vision including four key themes:

Community
Community is the place where everyone knows you. The place where you say hello to your neighbours and the clerk at the local store. Where you raise your children. Where you grow old surrounded by your support network of friends and family. Where residents and visitors alike feel safe, capable, valued, and held up. Community is what gives us strength, feeds our hearts and minds, and supports us to reach our potential.

Connected
We are all looking for more from our cities. Young adults are seeking authenticity and uniqueness in their lifestyle and the desire to connect in a concrete and personal way. Employers are looking to locate in areas with transit-oriented developments because employees are demanding it. Connection requires easy access and pedestrian-scale, walkable areas across the city not just in the heart of downtown. Whether it is along the Nicomekl Flood Plain, or a residential street in Uplands we want to move between the different areas of our life with ease.

Experiences
People need a reason to come to our city. It is not enough to give them the means – we must also provide them with culture, entertainment, recreation and places to meet. Developing lifestyle is as important to a city’s health as developing infrastructure. Langley City experimented with destination entertainment, food, activities and retail and showed that it is possible. The key is to create things that are truly unique and appeal to locals and tourists alike and build on the work we have already done.

Integration
Integration is the comfort of knowing that your city possesses the employment and services to provide for all residents according to their needs. It is a place where you live, work and play, and a place where everything you need is close by. We strive for a city that is self-sustaining, efficient, and welcoming. A place where city government partners with business and industry to build places where people want to be, where it’s easy to do business and where community funds offer benefits to all.

This vision and its themes are just the beginning. There are 24 recommended implementation tasks that are associated with these themes. Moving forward will require collaboration with our residents and business community. As noted in the implementation plan, “a successful process will require extensive consultation and should not be rushed.”

This council has set the table with a new vision. I hope that the next council will continue to move forward with this vision. Langley City: Nexus of Community, and its implementation plan, can be downloaded for the city’s website.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the specific initiatives in the implementation plan.

Monday, July 23, 2018

More people ride TransLink buses per capita than New York City buses

It is no secret that Canadian transit agencies outperform their US counterpart, but it is still surprising to see by how much. Based on information provided by the American Public Transportation Association, I wanted to see how TransLink’s bus ridership compared to other agencies in 2017. Why bus ridership? While rail-based transit gets a lot of attention, buses are how the vast majority of transit riders get around (with the exception of New York City.) Buses are the backbone of the transit network.

When it comes to average weekday bus ridership in 2017, TransLink is comparable to Chicago in absolute numbers.

Average weekday bus ridership, largest bus transit agencies in Canada and US in 2017. Select chart to enlarge.

When looking at average weekday bus ridership per capita in 2017, Canada’s three largest regions outperformed US regions. King County, where Seattle is, has a similar population to Metro Vancouver. Metro Vancouver has more than double the bus ridership per capita.

Average weekday bus ridership per capita, largest bus transit agencies in Canada and US in 2017. Select chart to enlarge.

Looking at the recent investments made because of TransLink’s 10-Year Vision, and what will be coming in the next few years, our region is on pace to becoming one of the highest bus ridership per capita transit systems in Canada or the US.

Agency Population (Million) Average Weekday Ridership (Thousands) Average Weekday Ridership - per capita
Toronto - TTC 2.8 1,406.8 0.50
Montreal Island - STM 1.9 917.0 0.48
TransLink 2.5 789.4 0.32
New York 8.6 2,350.7 0.27
Chicago - CTA 3.5 805.5 0.23
Calgary 1.2 254.9 0.21
Seattle 2.1 323.9 0.15
Portland - TriMet 1.5 181.3 0.12
Los Angeles - Metro 10.2 896.4 0.09

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Langley City’s role as a commercial centre means lower property taxes for residents

Langley City residents pay some of the lowest municipal property taxes on average in Metro Vancouver.

2017 Municipal Property Tax Levy Survey. Select table to enlarge. Source: City of Langley 2018 Financial Plan

One of the reasons for this is that the casino helps fund our capital improvement program. In 2018, revenue from the casino funded about a third of Langley City’s $16.8 million capital improvement program.

Another reason for Langley City’s low residential tax is because we have an extremely health business community. Langley City may be 10 square kilometres, but we are the commercial centre for our part of Metro Vancouver.

One way to put this into perspective is by looking at the total assessed value of property by class. These assessed values are used to calculate the amount of property tax that is paid. Many people refer to this as the tax base. This information is available from the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing.

In Delta, 83% of their total property assessed value is from residential properties. In Surrey, 88% is from residential properties, 96% of property assessed value is residential in White Rock, and in the Township of Langley 85% of property assessed value is residential. In Langley City, that value is 73%.

Another way to look at this is by assessed value of commercial property per capita. As shown in the following chart, Langley City is a leader.

“Business/Other” Property Class Authenticated Roll General Taxable Values per Capita, by Municipality. Select chart to enlarge.

Langley City is a commercial centre. Because of this, we are also able to invest in our community while maintaining lower residential property taxes compared to the majority of municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rental zoning gives BC municipalities a new tool to support affordable housing

Langley City’s has a significant amount of rental housing in our community. Around 38% of households in Langley City are renters. This is the highest percentage of any community in the South of Fraser, including White Rock where 32% of households are renters according to census data. Rental housing is an important part of the housing continuum.

Housing continuum diagram which also shows BC Housing's annual contribution across the housing spectrum.

In Langley City, policies are in place to ensure that current rental buildings are not converted into strata units, but most of our rental housing stock is nearing its end-of-life. While some purpose-built rental is being built in Langley, communities throughout BC did not have any tools in place to require that new purpose-built rental units are created, or where those rental units should be located.

Metro Vancouver has done extensive research on affordability, and has found that it is ideal to encourage the construction of purpose-built rental housing near high-quality public transit.

As I posted about earlier this year, the provincial government was considering giving municipalities the ability to create rental zones. The provincial government moved forward with this idea, updating legislation to give municipalities the ability to create rental zones.

Representatives from the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing recently presented to the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Housing Committee on what this new tool allows municipalities to do.

Fundamental, rental zoning will allow communities to ensure that existing areas of rental housing are preserved, and require that some new housing units be rental.

The zoning can only be applied in areas where apartments, townhouses, or rowhouses are allowed. The zoning can also be applied at different scales such as by neighborhood, street, or building. For example, lots abutting a transit corridor such as Fraser Highway could be placed in a rental zone.

The rental zone doesn't need to be all or nothing, municipalities can specify the percentage or number of units in a building that must be rental.

If a municipality chooses to move forward with creating rental zones, the provincial legislation has measures in place to ensure that existing units occupied by the owners, and strata corporation bylaws or housing co-op rules that restrict rental are not impacted.

The new rental zoning enabled by the provincial government gives municipalities in BC a powerful tool to ensure that there is a health supply of rental units in our communities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Boardings and cost per boarding stagnant for Langley Community Shuttles

TransLink released its 2017 Transit Service Performance Review for bus routes in Metro Vancouver. The transit agency runs two types of fixed-schedule bus service. One type provides service where there is demand. The other type of service provides basic coverage to areas, even when there appears to be little demand for transit.

People are more likely to take transit if a certain set of conditions are met. Transit routes that are frequent and run in straight lines attract more riders than routes that are infrequent and are milk runs. Land-use also plays an important role. Areas that sprawl generally have lower transit ridership.

Yesterday, I posted about the success of Langley transit routes that are designed to attracting riders. Today, I wanted to look at TransLink’s basic coverage routes which used to be called “Community Shuttles.” TransLink is in the process of removing the “Community Shuttle” brand, dropping the “C” from these routes in Langley. For example, the C60 is now the 560. To see these routes, you can download the Langley transit routes map from TransLink’s website.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C60 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C61 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C62 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C63 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the C64 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

As shown, Langley’s former “Community Shuttle” routes underperform compared to other transit routes. These routes have seen little growth and are highly subsidized. The only exception might be the C62 which runs in straight lines between Langley City, Fort Langley, and Walnut Grove.

There is some good news. With phase two of TransLink’s Ten Year Vision fully funded, Langley’s former “Community Shuttle” routes will be restructured to provide more service and better coverage.

As I noted yesterday, a boarding is counted every time a person taps a Compass card, pays with another means, or uses a transfer. Service cost per boarding is the operating cost of the route divided by the annual boardings.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Boardings up, cost per boarding down for Langley transit routes

TransLink recently released its 2017 Transit Service Performance Review. The review includes detailed information about all bus routes in our region. Langley bus routes are of interest to me, so I thought I would create some charts of the major routes in our communities using the performance review data. The two statistics I looked at were annual boardings and service cost per boarding. A boarding is counted every time a person taps a Compass card, pays with another means, or uses a transfer. Service cost per boarding is the operating cost of the route divided by the annual boardings.

One of the trends for bus routes that service Langley is that ridership is trending up, while cost per boarding are trending down. This is a good thing as it shows that transit routes are serving areas where there is demand. Compass card bus fare is $2.30 today. Based on that number, most bus routes in Langley are subsidized.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 501 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 502 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 503 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 509 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 531 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 555 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

Annual Boardings and Cost per Boarding for the 595 bus route. Select chart to enlarge.

I want to call out two things. The 502 ridership dipped in 2014 because it was split into two routes with the creation of the 503 to service Aldergrove. The 595 was also changed to service the 208 Street corridor in the fall of 2016.

Route maps for the 501, 502, 503, 509, 531, 555, and 595 are available on TransLink’s website. Tomorrow, I will be looking at the community shuttle bus routes in Langley.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

July 9, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: $1.5 million from TransLink, a new Community Standards Bylaw, plus a summer of improvement projects and events.

On Tuesday, I posted about redevelopment matters. I posted about new, faster transit service coming to Langley City on Wednesday. Today, I will post about the remaining items covered at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting.

Langley City council gave first, second, and third reading to three bylaws relating to a new Community Standards Bylaw. The new Community Standards Bylaw consolidates three previous bylaws. It focuses on the upkeep and maintenance of properties, including the securing of unoccupied building from unauthorized entry. While mainly a housekeeping matter, the new Community Standards Bylaw makes it easier for the City to address problem properties. The Fees and Charges Bylaw and Municipal Ticketing Information System Bylaw were also amended as a result.

As capital projects move forward, more detailed costing becomes available. The City can also receive funding from the province, feds, or TransLink throughout the year. Because of these things, Langley City must amend its financial plan from time-to-time. One of the items that I wanted to highlight is that our community recently received a $977,000 grant from TransLink to help replace the Logan Creek Culverts under the Langley Bypass. Another highlight is that the City was awarded $284,000 by TransLink to support installing bike lanes on 208 Street, and $269,000 to support the installation of bike lanes on Glover Road. A full list of updates to the financial plan can be view on the City’s website. Langley City council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw that would amend the financial plan.

Council gave final reading to a new Business Improvement Area Bylaw which I posted about previously. Final reading was also given, and a development permit approved, for a townhouse complex located at the intersection of 56 Avenue and 196 Street which I also posted about previously.

Council received an update on our recreation programming over the summer. There is something happening pretty must every weekend. More information is available on the City’s website.

Council also received an update on parks and other capital projects on the go in our community. Some of the highlights include:

  • A new zip-line at Brydon Park that can support a person up to 250lbs
  • A renovated sports field at City Park
  • A replacement pedestrian bridge in the floodplain near 203 Street that recently opened
  • A replacement pedestrian bridge in the floodplain near 201A Street that is under-construction, and due to open at the end of August
  • A renewed Douglas Park playground that is under construction
  • A new washroom at Penzer Park which will be completed this summer
  • A new sewer main under 48 Avenue which is under construction

There are many other projects in our community that have been approved by council. You can see a list and maps of projects in a previous post.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fraser Highway B-Line to cut travel times almost in half with transit priority measures

On Monday night, TransLink’s Daniel Freeman who is the manager of Rapid Bus Projects, presented to Langley City Council on the future Fraser Highway B-Line which will run from Surrey Central SkyTrain to the Langley Centre bus loop on Logan Avenue. There will be a B-Line bus every 8 minutes during peak travel periods, and every 10 to 15 minutes during the rest of the day and night. Real-time next bus information signs will also be installed at all B-Line stops along the corridor.

Proposed Fraser Highway B-Line Stops. Select image to enlarge.

Fraser Highway is a significant transit corridor in Metro Vancouver. Around 27,000 transit passenger a day travel along Fraser Highway. 25% to 33% of people that travel along Fraser Highway between King George and 203rd Street do so on public transit; this is a significant number.

Congestion on Fraser Highway is extreme in the afternoon/evening peak travel period. From personal experience, my commute on transit between Langley and SkyTrain can take double the time in the afternoon compared to the morning. This is reflected in TransLink’s data about the corridor.

Transit and private vehicle travel times today, and with B-Line service in 2019, during the peak PM travel period. Select image to enlarge.

Transit can take between 58 to 69 minutes in the afternoon today. With the introduction of B-Line service, TransLink wants to speed up transit service. The agency has made funding available to install bus priority measures along the Fraser Highway corridor which if approved by Surrey, Langley City, Langley Township, and the BC Ministry of Transportation, could double the speed of transit during the most congested parts of the day.

According to Freeman, TransLink completed an extensive public consultation. He stated that TransLink found that 77% of people, whether in Surrey or Langley, supported adding transit priority measures along Fraser Highway.

Some of the measures that TransLink would like municipalities to consider are queue-jumper lanes (like on King George Boulevard), traffic lights that are timed to speed up buses, bus-only lanes, and HOV lanes. TransLink is also willing to pay for 100% of the costs to implement these measures to speed up transit.

TransLink is looking for Langley City to support adding queue-jumper lanes, HOV/bus lanes, and signal prioritization in our community as shown in the following map.

Transit priority measures under consideration in Langley City. Select image to enlarge.

One of the busiest sections of road in Langley City is Fraser Highway between the Langley Bypass and 200 Street. Our transportation system should be about moving people and goods in the best way possible. I asked Freeman how TransLink was going to ensure that the number of people and goods travelling through that section of road would be able to increase, especially given the at-grade rail crossing.

Freeman stated that they are looking into the advanced train warning system that is currently being installed which will direct people to the 204 Street and 196 Street overpasses when trains are coming. He also noted that Translink will be doing further research to ensure that there is adequate capacity for all modes of travel whether by transit, biking, walking, or driving along the Fraser Highway corridor.

I am looking forward to transit priority measures being implemented along the Fraser Highway corridor as it will give people a way out of congestion, getting people to where they need to be faster.

Langley City council unanimously passed the following motion:

  1. THAT Council receive the Translink presentation (delegation at July 9 meeting), ‘Fraser Highway B-Line Consultation Results & Transit Priority’; and
  2. THAT Council endorse the Fraser Highway B-Line & Transit Priority concept in the City of Langley; and
  3. THAT staff be directed to continue to work collaboratively with Translink and stakeholders to maximize B-Line opportunities for transit priority, assess traffic and possible parking impacts, and address concerns arising from the implementation of the project; and
  4. THAT staff report back with further details of recommended transit priority measures and the implications for all transportation users along the corridor.

Yesterday, I posted about development proposals in our community. Tomorrow, I will be posting about the remaining items covered at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

July 9, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Public Hearing on Four Development Proposals, Plus a New Mixed-Use Building Approved

Monday night’s Langley City council meeting had a packed agenda. There were four public hearing items and one “Committee of the Whole” where people could provide comments on rezoning and development proposals.

The first public hearing agenda item was for the properties located at 19727, 19737, 19755, & 19763 55 Avenue to accommodate a 3 storey, 36 unit townhouse development. There were two representatives from Huntsfield Green which is a 117 unit townhouse complex that is adjacent to the properties under consideration for rezoning. The representatives said that their complex was supportive of the proposed new townhouses. They commended the developer for working with them to come up with solutions that will preserve their quality of life. One example was using privacy glazing on the patios that abut Huntsfield Green. They were also supportive of the two-vehicle parking requirement which has been standard for townhouses in Langley City for at least the last 30 years.

Another person expressed concerns about construction projects in the area. He noted noise, mess, safety, and construction crew parking issues. The mayor instructed the person to leave their list of concerns with City staff for follow-up.

Council unanimously gave third reading to the rezoning.

The second public hearing agenda item was for property located at 20105, 20109, 20119, & 20129 53A Avenue to accommodate a 4 story, 48 unit apartment building. The proposed apartment would contain a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and two-bedroom plus den units.

Five people from the townhouse complex just north of the proposed apartment did not support the proposed rezoning. They were concerned that the proposed apartment would impact their quality of life. Some of the concerns were around parking, fire safety, and that the underground exhaust fans would be noisy.

At the meeting, I said that I live in a 48 unit apartment building which is adjacent to a 5 unit townhouse complex. I stated that our buildings have been able to co-exist with no issues for at least 15 years. I also noted the parking in my building is the same as the proposal, and that parking hasn’t been an issue in my building. I stated that for over 30 years, there was no on-street parking near our buildings on 53 Avenue. I did note, as did other members of council, that construction crews are taking up a significant amount of on-street parking spaces in the area. We asked the developer to work on a construction crew off-street parking plan. I asked staff to investigate with the developer options for low-noise underground parking exhaust fans.

Councillor van den Broek and Albrecht asked City staff about fire safety concerns. They were told that the project was approved by our fire department.

Council unanimously gave third reading to the rezoning.

The third public hearing agenda item was for a proposed 3 story, 13 unit townhouse complex at 5471 and 5481 199A Street. There were no members of the public that spoke about the project. Council unanimously gave third reading to the rezoning.

You can see renderings of the proposed projects in a previous post I wrote.

Back in June, Council removed the road dedication for a small section of lane adjacent to 204 Street and Park Avenue, retaining a continuous 6-metre cross-section from 204 Street to Park Avenue. One of the housekeeping matters was to zone that section of former lane to “C1 Downtown Commercial.”

Several people from the apartment building located at Douglas Crescent and Park Avenue expressed concern about the 6-metre cross-section being too narrow, creating a safety issue. I noted that research shows that a 6-metre lane is safe, and point to research out of the City of Toronto. Councillor van den Broek suggested that a mirror be installed at the intersection of the building and lane to improve safety.

Council unanimously gave third reading to the zoning.

Rendering of approved mixed-use building at 203rd Street and Michaud Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

The final opportunity for public feedback was for a mixed-use building at the corner of Michaud Crescent and 203rd Street. The project will contain one ground-level retail unit and 6 apartments above. There were no members of the public that spoke about the project, but there was one letter council received in support of the project.

I noted that the building had a good streetfront design which will support creating a vibrant, walkable downtown. In our downtown, developers can pay cash in lieu of providing on-site parking for commercial units. This money will be used to fund a future central parkade. I support building a parkade in our downtown as it will help maintain walkability while providing an adequate central parking supply. Without central parking, our downtown would end up looking like the Langley Bypass. The developer of this building is proposing to pay for parking in lieu of providing 3 on-site spots for the commercial unit.

The City recently completed a parking utilization study for our downtown. Within walking distance of the proposed building, there is an ample supply of on-street parking.

On-street public parking demand west of downtown core. Select chart to enlarge.

Council approved issuing the development permit for this building with Councillor van den Broek opposed.

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

South of Fraser sees largest percent growth in bus ridership in Metro Vancouver

The TransLink 2017 Transit Service Performance Review was recently released; transit ridership is continuing to increase rapidly in the South of Fraser. There were 43,311,000 annual bus boardings in 2017 which was up 8% compared to 2016. Even in South Delta, which includes Ladner and Tsawwassen, annual boardings was up 9%. Overall, bus transit ridership is growing faster in communities south of the Fraser River than anywhere else in Metro Vancouver.

Annual Bus Boardings by Sub-Region from 2013 to 2017. Select table to enlarge.

In the Performance Review, the 319, 363, and 96 B-Line were noted as seeing the strongest growth in the South of Fraser. As a daily user of the 502, I’ve noticed that this route has become somewhat less crowded. Due to more bus services along the route, the 502 is no longer in the top 10 most over-crowded routes in the region.

Top 5 Routes - South of Fraser Annual Boardings System-Wide Rank
319 - Scott Road Station/Newton Exchange 5,193,000 16
96 B-Line - Guildford Exchange/Newton Exchange 5,019,000 17
502 - Surrey Central/Langley Centre 2,833,000 31
321 - Surrey Central/White Rock 2,550,000 34
335 - Surrey Central/Guildford/Newtown Exchange 2,508,000 36

The 319 is the most utilities bus route in the South of Fraser, travelling along Scott Road. This corridor is in desperate need of B-Line service, and thanks to the recent approval of phase two of TransLink’s 10-Year Investment Plan, service is scheduled to start by 2021.

Annual Bus Service Hours by Sub-Region from 2013 to 2017. Select table to enlarge.

The performance review shows that there was a 23% decrease in bus ridership in the Northeast Sector. This was due to the 97 B-Line being replaced with the Evergreen Extension of SkyTrain.

All TransLink services saw an increase in ridership expect for the West Coast Express in 2017. This was due to the opening of the Evergreen Extension of SkyTrain. The following table shows that ridership at stations such as Maple Meadows, Port Haney, and Mission City increased in boardings. In fact, Mission City saw a 17% increase in boardings in 2017.

West Coast Express Average Weekday Boardings, Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. Select table to enlarge.

TransLink has been able to invest in improving bus service in Metro Vancouver over the last few years due to new funding being approved by local, provincial, and federal governments. “Build it and they will come” is certainly the case for transit service in Metro Vancouver.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Take the State of Local Government Survey

Young Regional Leadership Collective

Around a year ago, some friends of mine (and their friends) that are involved in government, urban planning, or civic advocacy decided to form the “Young Regional Leadership Collective.” We started this group to create a forum for people under 40 who are passionate about regional planning and governance issues in Metro Vancouver. One of the goals of the group is to research regional matters & gauging public opinion on current affairs.

On that note, we have launched a new survey. We want to better understand how different people from across the Metro Vancouver region perceive the state of local government services.

We know that local government is under growing pressure to find cost savings, while still providing a good level of public services. At the same time, there is also a growing desire for local government to increase services in specific areas.

Local government services have a profound impact on our lives and there may be a new growing interest in specific services. We’d like to hear from you about to learn about your thoughts on local government services, and the quality of life in your community.

Please take 5 minutes of your time to complete this survey between July 5th and August 3rd of 2018. Results will be published in September 2018.

Take the Survey

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Creating strong neighbourhood identities and knowing your neighbours key to safe, health community

Jane Jacobs was one of the great urban philosophers of the twentieth century. Her call to action was the destruction caused by mid-century century “urban renewal” which saw walkable neighbourhoods razed to the ground in favor of housing projects, highways, and parking lots.

In her seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs observed that one of the keys to healthy and safe neighbourhoods was the loose relationships that people formed with one another in those neighbourhoods.

It wasn’t that every neighbour was your best friend, but that people knew who lived in the neighbourhood, and could trust them. A Langley City example might be to trust your neighbour to water your plants and check your mail when you are away. Another example might be to trust them to walk your kids to school.

Langley City is taking a fresh approach to building a safe community. One of the first steps is to invest in building connections between neighbours, and to create a sense of place. You may have noticed the following banners throughout Langley City. This is one on ways to start building neighbourhood identity. Another is the “Know Your Neighbour” campaign which will be launching in a few weeks.

Blacklock Neighbourhood Banner. Select image to enlarge.

Alice Brown Neighbourhood Banner. Select image to enlarge.

As noted on Langley City’s website:

An important goal of Langley City Council is to foster strong community ties among residents in the City of Langley. Neighbourhood safety is a team effort and it is evident that when residents work together to improve community safety it results in a reduction in crime. To that end, Council mandated the Crime Prevention Task Group to develop strategies that will encourage residents to get involved and take an active role in helping to prevent and reduce crime in our neighbourhoods.

To realize this goal, the Task Group has developed the “Know Your Neighbour” campaign! An initiative that will have volunteers hitting the streets July 21 & July 28 (11am-3pm), going door to door to educate residents one household at a time, about crime prevention strategies and to share tips about how to easily improve neighbourhood safety. We want residents to get to know one another and help us build a strong, safe community.

If you’d like to volunteer to spread the message door to door, canvassers will be going out two Saturdays - July 21 and July 28, 11am - 3pm. Please contact Dave Selvage, Manager of Bylaw Enforcement by Friday, July 13 to sign up and help out! dselvage@langleycity.ca or 604-514-2822.

So far there has been a great response from people in our community, but we could always use more volunteers. Building a healthy and safe community starts at the neighbourhood level.

Here are more pictures of the neighbourhood banners that were recently installed in our community.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Contact information for discarded needle pickup program in Langley City

A few people have reached out to me over the last year, asking what to do if they see discarded needles anywhere in our community. While City staff members perform sweeps of our parks and public spaces for needles, Fraser Health funds a program for picking up discarded needles which is managed by the Lookout Housing and Health Society. For service, you can contact them by:

Phone: 604-812-5277

Email: langleyhror1@lookoutsociety.ca

In-Person: 102 - 5714 Glover Road

Langley City council has also requested that our staff investigate with Fraser Health, the possibility of a pilot program which would install needle drop boxes in areas where there is a pattern of discarded needles. These boxes have been effective in other communities. You can read more about this in a post I wrote in the fall.