Monday, September 24, 2018

Fraser Highway One-Way Designs Revealed. Your Feedback Requested.

As I posted about last week, the Fraser Highway One-Way is undergoing a significant renewal program. Because this section of street is in the heart of our downtown, extra attention is being paid to the public realm. Last weekend, and this Tuesday, there are open houses to gather feedback on people’s thoughts about two proposed options for Fraser Highway. You can also provide your feedback online until October 4th.

With public consultation in full-swing, information has been posted about the two proposed options for Fraser Highway between 204th Street and 206th Street.

Option 1: Angled parking on both sides with larger clusters of trees at key locations. Select image to enlarge.

Option 2: Angled parking on north side, parallel parking on south side, with continuous street tree corridor. Select image to enlarge.

The following table outlines the main differences between the two options.

 Option 1 Option 2
Traffic One-way with angle parking on both sides of street One-way from 204th Street. Two-way between 206th and east public parking lot. Angle parking on north side with parallel parking on south side.
Pedestrian Crossings Three crossings Four crossings
Sidewalk Width 2.7 meters wide sidewalks (similar to today) 4 meter sidewalks
Street Trees Cluster of large trees in key locations with ground level landscaping Linear corridor of columnar trees
Seating Areas Cluster of benches and public seating at key locations with limited opportunity for private patios Wider sidewalk areas allowing for benches and seating with more opportunity for small private patio spaces and goods display adjacent to building frontages

One thing to note is that both options have a similar number of parking spots. For more information on parking in Downtown Langley, please check out the July 10 council meeting notes.

I’m excited to see what people in our community will pick for the Fraser Highway One-Way renewal option. Pending budget approval, construction is slated to begin next year.

You can find our more information on the project at Langley City’s website. Please be sure to complete the online survey.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Election Update #4 - Improving Parks and Increasing Green Space

Some of Langley City’s greatest assets are our parks and greenspaces. In fact, the Nicomekl floodplain trail system was one of the deciding factors when I chose to settle here in our community over a decade ago.

Our parks were diamonds in the rough, and over the past several years on council, I’ve been proud to have supported reinvestment in our park systems. Our parks are starting to shine.

I will continue to support enhancing our parks, trails, and programming, along with improving infrastructure in the floodplain and Brydon Lagoon, to protect these ecologically sensitive areas.

It is important that we enhance our urban tree canopy, which is critical to ensuring a healthy community. I will continue to support moving forward with an urban forest study, and I look forward to supporting the implementation of its recommendations.

With your support, we can continue the positive momentum, bringing solutions forward for a better Langley.

If you are able to volunteer your time to help out on the campaign, or if you would like a lawn sign to show your support, if you haven’t already done so, please visit https://help.nathanpachal.com/.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 17, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Redevelopment, tax breaks, and fee changes

When redevelopment started in the Nicomekl neighbourhood west of 200th Street, it was bumpy. I remember that folks from the Huntsfield Green townhouse complex packed the council chamber to express their concerns about redevelopment, and its impact on their quality of life.

People attending Monday night's council meeting. Select image to enlarge.

Council expressed that the development community needed to work closely with people who already live in the neighbourhood, and work towards mutually agreeable solutions. For the past several projects in the area, the folks at Huntsfield Green have expressed their support of the redevelopment projects in the area.

Some of the other concerns that come up is the negative externalities associated with construction including dust, noise, construction traffic, construction parking, and litter left by construction workers. While the City must continue to be vigilant, and council must continue to remind developer to work to reduce these externalities, things are improving.

At Monday night’s council meeting, a person who normally expresses concerns about redevelopment in the area during public hearings, commended the City and contractors for listening to his concerns.

One item that I wanted to clarify was about parking for new townhouses. There seems to be some confusion that some townhouses have less than two parking spots. All townhouses in Langley City since the 1980s have required 2 parking spots, plus shared visitor parking for a complex.

Two projects that received first and second reading at the August 23, 2018 council meeting had a public hearing on Monday night and subsequently received third reading. The projects were for a 41 unit, 3 storey townhouse development on 55A Avenue, and an 78 unit, 5 story apartment development on Brydon Crescent. You can see more information about these projects in a previous post.

Council also heard from the public on two land-use contract discharge applications for 4538 204 Street and 4945 205A. Land-use contracts were created in the 1970s and have since been superseded by zoning. Land-use contracts haven’t been used for close to 40 years, and at the request of owners, the City will terminate these contracts. By 2024, all land-use contracts will be discharge as per provincial law.

When a land-use contract is discharged in single-family areas, our single-family zoning becomes effective which allows secondary-suites. Two people expressed concerns about secondary-suites in general noting that they are become “mini-apartments”. At the meeting, City staff noted that owners must occupy a house if there is a secondary suite, and that only one suite is allowed. If something different is happening, staff instructed people to call the bylaw department.

Every year, council must renew permissive tax exemptions for certain properties in our community. Churches that own land are automatically exempt from paying property tax under BC law. Municipalities can also exempt other organizations from paying property tax. The current council has taken the approach to grandfather current organizations with select properties that currently receive permissive tax exemption, but will not approve new exemptions. Council gave first, second, and third reading to approve permissive tax exemptions for the following organizations:

  • Global School Society
  • Southgate Christians Fellowship
  • Langley Association for Community Living
  • Langley Care Society
  • Langley Hospice Society
  • Langley Seniors Resource Society
  • Langley Stepping Stones
  • Langley Community Music School
  • Langley Lawn Bowling
  • Langley Community Services
  • Gateway of Hope (Salvation Army)

In 2018, permissive exemptions reduced revenue received by the city by $200,520.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to update the fees for various services that the City provides. The following table outlines some select price changes for common services that residents use:

Fee Previous Proposed
Male / Female Dog ‐ Discounted $85 $90
Neutered / Spayed Dog ‐ Discounted $33 $35
City Park Picnic Shelters & BBQ (per hour) $8 $10
Nicomekl Community Garden Plot (Fee made consistent with other community garden plots) $15 $50

Council gave final reading to two housekeeping bylaws including updating our Chauffeur Permit and Regulation Bylaw, and Highway and Traffic Regulation Bylaw which updated the definition of a “heavy truck”.

Council approved transferring $1 million from our main reserve to a new Prosperity Fund to support the implementation of our new Nexus Community Vision. Council also approved sending our Deputy Fire Chief to the 37th Annual Metro Fire Planners Conference.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September 17, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Craft Brewery proposal moving forward. New Old Yale Road Seniors District starts consultation process.

Yesterday was a very full council agenda. It was also one of the last three meetings before the general election on October 20th. Over the next week, I will be posting about the items that were covered.

First, I wanted to highlight two significant proposals that were heard by council. The first was for a craft brewery that is purposed to be located in the Highland Mall (next to the Value Village on 56th Avenue.) A public hearing was held for both the rezoning to accommodate a microbrewery, and for a new manufacturer brewery lounge license application.

The council chamber was full of supporters of the project. The Downtown Langley Business Association noted that it would create a social gather places for people in our community, and encourage more evening activity in our downtown. The site is near transit and is within walking distance for many people that live in the downtown area. It is proposed to include a 20-seat patio and 80-seat tasting room which will include a small stage.

The project also received overwhelming support from council, and the rezoning bylaw was given third reading. For more information on the proposal, please read my post on the August 23rd council meeting.

Council also gave first and second reading to a bylaw to amend our Official Community Plan to create an “Old Yale Road Seniors District” as well as gave first and second reading to rezoning several properties in the area to support an integrated seniors housing project that is purposed to include 28 long-term care units, 169 assisted living units, and 95 seniors fully independent living units. This type of facility would allow people to age in place.

Rendering of proposed Old Yale Road Seniors District and seniors facility. Select image to enlarge.

Amending the Official Community Plan requires a higher-level of consultation not only with residents of Langley City but also with other governments and organizations such as: the Township of Langley, Agricultural Land Commission, Metro Vancouver, Kwantlen First Nation, the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, and TransLink.

Site plan for proposed seniors complex at 20964, 20974, 21016, 21024 Old Yale Road. Select plan to enlarge.

The proposed “Old Yale Road Seniors District” does not encroach onto the Agricultural Land Reserve or environmentally sensitive areas, but is adjacent, so extra care must be given.

Area within the bolded black lines are part of the proposed Old Yale Road Seniors District.

The public consultation process will likely extend past the mandate of the current city council.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Fraser Highway One-Way Open Houses to Select Preferred Design

Fraser Highway is one of the original roads in our province, connecting New Westminster to the rest of the province. The Fraser Highway one-way section has seen many changes over the years, but much of the underground infrastructure such as water and sewer lines date back to the early-to-mid twentieth century. One of the unique features of this section of road is that it has a 20-inch base on concrete which was designed to handle tanks during World War II.

The City is doing a full renewal of Fraser Highway between 204 Street and 206 Street. During the summer, City staff was seeking feedback on what people would like the streetscape to look like. You can read more about this in a previous post.

Gather public feedback about the Fraser Highway one-way redesign at Community Day this summer. Select image to enlarge.

Staff have now had a chance to review the feedback, and have developed some design options. The City will be holding two public open houses to give people a chance to give feedback on the potential design options, with the intent to select and proceed with a detailed design of the preferred option. The two open houses will be:

Date: September 22, 2018
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Timms Community Centre, MPR 2, 20399 Douglas Crescent

Date: September 25, 2018
Time: 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Location: City Hall, Council Chambers, 20399 Douglas Crescent

There will also be an online survey for people who cannot make it to the open houses. I will post the link on this blog once it becomes available.

I am looking forward to seeing the one-way section of Fraser Highway being renewed. It is in the heart of our community and has the potential to become an iconic high street.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Election Update #3 - Creating a Vibrant Downtown Langley

As you know, Downtown Langley is the heart of our community, and you cannot have a healthy community without a healthy heart.

One of the things that I’ve heard from people time and again, is that they want a Downtown where there is always something fun happening, where there are places to spend time with friends and family. People want a place with cool local shops, a place to grab a craft beer, or attend a family-friendly public event.

In partnership with the Downtown merchants, Langley City council has started investing in more public events and activities such as the McBurney Plaza Summer Series which offers activities both during the day and in the evening.

Having people active and engaged in Langley’s Downtown helps to reduce negative activity.

As a member of council, I was proud to be able to support the renewal of 56th Avenue, as well as the upcoming Fraser Highway One-Way project which will turn that section of street into a destination in and of itself.

With your support, we can continue the positive momentum, bringing solutions forward for a better Langley.

If you are able to volunteer your time to help out on the campaign, or if you would like a lawn sign to show your support, if you haven’t already done so, please visit https://help.nathanpachal.com/.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Metro Vancouver’s new draft map shows how walkable your neighbourhood is

Walkability is critically important for creating happy and healthy communities. Walkable community are also required to be able to effectively support a diversity of transportation options such as transit, cycling, and car sharing.

Metro Vancouver’s regional growth plan is centred around creating walkable nodes that are connected by high-quality public transit. Langley City is one of those nodes.

Metro Vancouver has been working on the Walkability Surface Project, and recently released a draft map of the most walkable and least walkable areas in Metro Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Mission. The lightest colour gray are areas that are not walkable. This is OK because these are rural, agricultural, and protected areas. The second lightest gray areas are the unwalkable urban areas. The darker shades of gray areas are what I would consider walkable places.

Metro Vancouver walkability index at census tract level. Q1 and Q2 have a low walkability index. Select map to enlarge.

Langley City, north of the Nicomekl, is considered walkable while areas south of the river are not. This is not surprising as some areas don’t even have sidewalks. Langley City council has started investing in closing the sidewalk gap in recent years.

This map provides a good overview of how our region has been doing with creating walkable nodes, and where we need to improve. The Walkability Surface Project will be refining the data further, and it is anticipated that a final walkability index will be released later this fall.

The walkability index for an area is derived from a combination of datapoints such as net residential density, land use mix, retail floor space ratio, intersection density, and sidewalk presence and completeness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail Business Case Released

Last week, the federal and provincial governments, along with TransLink and the Mayors’ Council reaffirmed their support for light rail in the South of Fraser along King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue. As part of the announcement, the business case for the Surrey-Newton-Guildford (SNG) light rail project was also released.

Surrey-Newton-Guildford (SNG) light rail system map. Select map to enlarge.

One of the key considerations for the rapid transit project was travel demand. The following chart shows that most trips in the South of Fraser stay within the South of Fraser. The SNG project is meant to give more travel options for people to get to points within the South of Fraser.

South of Fraser Trip Breakdown. Select chart to enlarge.

One of the other key considerations is increasing road congestion.

Transportation Mode and Population Growth (2008-2011) Increase
Cycling +26%
Transit +17%
Walking +6%
Driving +4%
Population +6%

Even though driving is the slowest growing mode, it is still growing while road space is not. Because buses run in mixed-traffic, increased congestion due to driving will slow down buses. The business case suggests that if the 96 B-Line was to remain, its average travel time would increase from 29 minutes in 2014 to 38 minutes in 2030.

While TransLink did evaluate may different rapid transit options, bus rapid transit and light rail emerged as the top options for the King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue. One of the main reasons for choosing light rail was capacity.

The following chart from the companion “Strategic Options Analysis” report shows that bus rapid transit running every 5 minutes would be at capacity in five years. It would be at capacity in about a decade with the maximum frequency of every 3 minutes.

Light trail on the other hand would be able to function with single-car trains until around 2045, than be upgraded to two-car trains which would provide enough capacity beyond my lifespan.

Peak Load Forecast - BRT 5 minute and 3 minute – LRT 30m Vehicle and 60m Vehicle. Select chart to enlarge.

A business care summary was also released. It includes other options that were evaluated such as SkyTrain. The business case summary stated that SkyTrain was not selected because “forecasts for population, employment and transit ridership growth in Surrey do not warrant this additional capacity or cost. Additionally, SkyTrain is most effective when there are greater distances between stops, and requires stair/escalator access, resulting in lower accessibility and walkability benefits for customers.”

One of the key metrics for a project is the benefit-cost ratio. SNG light rail has a benefit-cost ratio of 0.70 which is similar to other light rail projects in Canada.

For all the background documents, please visit the Surrey Light Rail project website. SNG light rail will start construction in 2020.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Metro Vancouver’s apartment on-street parking study results surprise

Early in June, I posted about a Metro Vancouver study on parking utilization rates for on-site parking within apartment buildings throughout the region. They found on average that one space was used per unit in the South of Fraser. Some units used more parking, while other units used less parking. They also found that the closer apartments are to high-quality transit, the less parking is utilized.

Map of apartment locations used in parking study. Select map to enlarge.

On-site parking is only one part of the equation, there is also on-street parking to consider. Metro Vancouver looked at the same 73 sites, including one in Langley City, to examine on-street parking utilization. They looked at on-street parking utilization within up to 200 metres of the apartments survived. This translates to an up to two-minute walk. They observed on-street parking at the following times: weekday evenings around 6:30pm, weekday late nights around 11:00pm, and Saturday evenings arounds 6:30pm.

One of the golden rules of parking management is to ensure that there is no more than 85% on-street parking utilization per block. This means that there should always be about one or two parking spaces available per block at any point in time.

Of all the times survived, the following locations exceeded 85% utilization of on-street parking within 200 metres in more than one survey period. The Langley City site was not on that list.

Map of sites with more than 85% utilization of on-street parking in 2 or more survey periods. Sites highlighted in red. Select map to enlarge.

Based on both the on-street parking information and the on-site parking information from earlier, the following table was developed. There were no locations where there was both high on-street and on-site parking utilization. In fact, the majority of apartment sites had both low on-street and on-site parking utilization.

Table of on-street versus on-site apartment parking. Select table to enlarge.

These results don’t surprise me as there are whole blocks in my neighbourhood, which has a high concentration of apartments, with no cars parked on the streets most of the time.

The Metro Vancouver survey looked at one site in Langley City. It would be worthwhile to perform a in-depth study around parking in Langley City which could be used to updated parking policies and requirements in our community, looking at all housing and business types.

Townhouses were not part of the Metro Vancouver study. It would be interesting to have a region-wide study to quantify the typical on-street and on-site parking utilization rates for this type of housing form.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Election Update #2 - Working Towards a Safer Langley City

Everyone should feel safe in our City. Everyone should be comfortable visiting a park or walking down a street, no matter the time of day. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Langley City already has the second highest police-to-resident ratio in Metro Vancouver; we need better approaches to increasing safety. We need to bring positive activities into our parks, streets and in our downtown. We need to build neighborhoods where people know each other.

Over the past few years, City council has funded an increasing number of family-friendly and evening events in our Downtown, supported the “Know Your Neighbourhood” campaign, and helped with block barbeques. These are a few of the ways we can reduce negative activity in our community. However, there is still much more to do.

With your support, we can continue the positive momentum, bringing solutions forward for a better Langley.

If you are able to volunteer your time to help out on the campaign, or if you would like a lawn sign to show your support, if you haven’t already done so, please visit https://help.nathanpachal.com/.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Regional districts and municipalities: a healthy tension in our federated local government system

British Columbia has a unique form of two-tier local government. The concept of a municipality is well understood by most people, but the other tier that makes up local government in our province is not. Regional districts are that second tier, and outside of sparsely populated northwestern BC, everyone is in a regional district in our province.

Map of regional districts in BC. Select map to enlarge. Source: A Primer on Regional Districts in British Columbia

Every municipality is also in a regional district. Based on a formula, municipal councils have one or more members who sit on a regional district board. Outside of municipalities, people directly elect their regional district director. All regional district directors have weighted votes based on the number of people in their municipality, or the number of people they represent if outside of a municipality.

Regional districts have less authority than municipalities, but do provide services like municipalities. For people in Metro Vancouver, the major benefit of the regional district is that it creates a forum for municipalities to tackle challenges that we would not be able to complete as standalone municipalities. Some examples are providing clean drinking water, sewer services, solid waste management, and air quality control.

One of the other roles of regional districts is to provide regional land-use planning. This is where things get interesting. In Metro Vancouver, municipalities control our regional district. This means that anything Metro Vancouver approves is supported by directors who represent the majority of our population. This includes our regional growth strategy which is focused on preserving greenspace and industrial land.

Most people elected to council will say that preserving greenspace and industrial land is important, and the regional land-use plan helps keep them honest. This does create tension from time-to-time. Municipal land-use planning is about promoting the highest economic-value growth which sometimes conflicts with regional land-use objectives. This is a healthy tension, and most of the time it can be resolved in a way that meets both regional and local land-use objectives. Sometimes things can’t be worked out which is when things can get unclear.

Because regional districts were designed to be a federation of municipalities, their ability to impose upon a municipality is limited by the provincial government.

The Capital Regional District, of which Victoria and Saanich are a part of, is asking the provincial government to review the section of provincial law around regional growth strategy development, implementation, and enforcement.

Regional districts were designed to have “weak” power, and because of that original goal, regional growth strategies essentially require the universal support of all municipalities in a regional district to move forward. Provincial law provides a very limited toolkit for when a regional district and municipality can’t agree on land-use plans.

The process of adopting and enforcing regional land-use plans is complex, and a review of the process is warranted. One of the key considerations will be what level authority a regional district can have over a municipality. Our federation has worked relativity well in Metro Vancouver, and while there is room for improvement, it should remain a federation. While regional districts do need better tools around regional land-use, a hammer shouldn’t be the only tool available.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Election Update #1 - Building a Walkable Langley City

For many people, today marks the beginning of a new season. School is back in session for most students, and with vacations over, work is ramping up for the fall. It also means that in a month and a half, people will be choosing a new mayor and council.

As I announced earlier, I am seeking re-election to Langley City Council. About once a week, leading up to general election day, I will be sharing a new solution for a better Langley. The first video I’m sharing today is about building a walkable Langley City. Walkable communities are healthy and safe communities.

With your support, we can continue the positive momentum, bringing solutions forward for a better Langley. If you are able to volunteer your time to help out on the campaign, or if you would like a lawn sign to show your support, if you haven’t already done so, visit https://help.nathanpachal.com/.