Thursday, November 29, 2018

A brief history of bus service in Langley City - Pacific Stage Lines

Between 1910 and the early 1950s, you could take a train from Downtown Vancouver to what was then known as Langley Prairie, all the way out to Chilliwack. If the system still existed today, I could have walked 8 minutes to the train stop at Glover Road and Fraser Highway with my final stop being the terminus in Downtown Vancouver. This system was called the Interurban. Ripping up this system was one of the biggest transportation mistakes made in our region in the mid-twentieth century.

You can read more about the Interurban on my blog and look at some of the old line maps. Ironically, we are rebuilding these old rail lines today, but with SkyTrain technology, and for a whole lot more money.

At the end of October, Greyhound Canada stopped providing bus service to Langley City. Its former bus depot is located across the street from the current TransLink Langley Centre bus loop. Greyhound Canada took over Pacific Stage Lines which was the replacement service provided when the Interurban rail network was shutdown.

Former Greyhound Bus Depot in Langley City. Select image to enlarge.

I was digging through TransLink’s “The Buzzer” archive and found an article from April 23, 1954 about the former Langley bus depot (I believe originally located at Douglas Crescent and Park Avenue.)

Branch Manager Dave King confers with Mrs. Maxine Irwin, Pacific Stage Lines agent, outside the new Bus Depot and BCE Offices at Langley. The $80,000 depot, fifth completed in the Fraser Valley since the was, opens Monday. Select image to enlarge.

Shortly after 11 a.m. next Monday, Reeve Brooks of Langley Prairie will wield a pair of shears on a ribbon and the new Pacific Stage Lines Bus Depot and B.C. Electric Offices will be officially open.

It’s a smart and modern building which makes generous use of brick, plate glass and concrete block — a handsome addition to a rapidly growing community.

The new building is one of five new depots which the company has erected in the Valley since the war. Chilliwack, Mission, Cloverdale and White Rock… Now Langley.

Later this year two others will be completed at Abbotsford and Haney.

This “first-class service in first-class quarters” bus system latest in Langley City for 64 years. I look forward to the day when I can once again take a train from Langley City to other points in our region.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

TransLink’s Original Strategic Transportation Plan: A Decade in the Desert for Bus Service Expansion

In 1999, TransLink took over from BC Transit as the provider of public transit service in Metro Vancouver. The original purpose of creating TransLink was to transfer control of transit delivery and planning from the provincial government to the region. I wrote a three-part series on the history of TransLink; it has been a bumpy journey.

I stumbled upon one of TransLink’s original strategic transportation plans which was created a year after the organization took over transit services in Metro Vancouver. I thought it would be interesting to look at what bus service was supposed to look like by 2005 in that original plan, and where we are today.

By 2005, the original strategic transportation plan envisioned that there would be 4.79 million hours of conventional bus service deployed throughout our region (including SeaBus). More bus service hours means more frequent bus service, and bus service in more locations.

TransLink was unable to expand bus service because our local and provincial governments were at an impasse for close to a decade on how to fund transit in our region. It took until 2009 for bus service hours to reach the original 2005 vision. There was a small bump during 2010, then bus service hours remained unchanged until last year. In 2017, 5.12 million hours of conventional bus service was delivered.

The current 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation is why we are seeing an actual increase in bus transit now. As I noted yesterday, bus transit is the backbone of the transit network.

Two interesting maps from the original strategic transportation plan focused on bus service. The following map is of proposed B-Line services. Some lines took a bit longer to get implemented than originally envisioned.

Map of proposed B-Line bus routes from 2000 Strategic Transportation Plan. Select map to enlarge.

The strategic transportation plan also called for express buses to service certain corridors. This would be similar to the kind of bus service in South Delta, and between the SkyTrain and Carvolth Exchange in Langley. Some of these routes never materialized.

Map of proposed express bus routes from 2000 Strategic Transportation Plan. Select map to enlarge.

With the recent changes in some municipalities, I am concerned that some in local government may try to open up the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation for new debate. It took close to a decade to get transit expansion restarted in our region. While the plan is not perfect, it is good. I hope that the current Mayors’ Council works hard to ensure that the final phase of the 10-Year Vision gets funded.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TransLink’s Accountability Centre shows positive impacts from increasing bus service

Over the last few years, TransLink has been adding statistics to a section of their website called the Accountability Centre. The Accountability Centre shows some key performance metrics about the agency such as ridership, customer satisfaction, safety, and efficiency. It is similar to the Accountability Center which is part of the King County Metro Transit website.

One of the metrics that most people look at is transit ridership. The Accountability Centre provides both detailed year-over-year statistics, and high-level historical statistics.

Monthly Boardings. Select chart to enlarge.

Historic Ridership Trends. Select chart to enlarge.

The chart that I find most interesting is boarding by service type. This chart shows the number of times people enter a fare paid zone which includes buses, trains, and boats.

2018 Boardings by Service Type. Select chart to enlarge.

Around 62% of boardings occur on buses in our region. This is a significant number. While SkyTrain may generate 90% of the headlines, it is really the bus system that is the backbone of transit service in Metro Vancouver.

Currently transit service is seeing its biggest expansion in several decades. While it hasn’t gotten much attention, major investments are being made to expand bus service.

Currently funded is an 18% increase in bus service throughout our region which includes 7 new B-Line routes. If the Mayors’ Council can figure out funding, their will be an additional 7% increase in bus service which includes a further 5 new B-Lines.

Over the coming years, it will be interesting to see if a higher portion of boardings will occur on buses in our region as increased service continues to be rolled out. I’ll certainly be checking the Accountability Centre. I also look forward to even more performance data being made available online by TransLink.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Smaller, more accountable local government possible because of regional service delivery

Over the weekend, I met with someone who is politically involved in the Township of Langley. The topic of amalgamation was brought up by the person who I was having coffee with. I asked them how does amalgamation benefit Langley City residents?

One of the reasons why people believe that amalgamation is a good idea is because they believe that it will lead to more cost-effective delivery of services. More often than not, this doesn’t materialize. The Fraser Institute, which is a conservative advocacy organization, states that amalgamation “weakens incentives for efficiency and responsiveness to local needs.” They believe that there should be more, smaller municipalities.

In some cases, it makes sense to provide services at a larger scale. Some examples include police, water, sewer, and transit service delivery. In Metro Vancouver, we have a federation of municipalities who work together to delivery these services.

For example, Langley City would not be able to deliver water or sewer services on its own. Delivering clean water to businesses and residents is a major operation in our region with a planned operating budget of $289 million, and a $231 million capital projects budget in 2019. The regional sewer service is also a large-scale operation with a planned 2019 operating budget of $308 million, and a capital projects budget of $564 million. These two regional services employ over 900 people.

It would make zero sense to have a Langley City transit agency as most people travel between municipalities daily. TransLink, which delivers transit service in our region, has an operation budget of over $1 billion.

Even policing services are currently highly integrated. Langley City and Township have a joint RCMP detachment which utilizes regionally funded teams, such as for homicide investigation, when required.

Regionalization allow communities like Langley City to focus on local matters such as parks, roads, recreational and cultural opportunities, and land-use planning. Because of our size, members of council and city staff are highly aware of local geography, concerns, and solutions. Our smaller size allows us to quickly respond to local matters. It also leads to more accountable and transparent government.

The delivery of services where large-scale is important is already regionalized in Metro Vancouver. Having some of the larger municipalities split into several smaller municipalities might actually provide for even better government in our region.

A study about the capital region on Vancouver Island was released last year. It noted that amalgamation wasn’t the answer, but the better coordination of services where larger-scale is important. This is something that we do relatively well in Metro Vancouver today.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

November 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Langley City’s Nexus vision implementation progressing. Updates to the capital budget approved.

This summer, Langley City council approved our new vision called “Langley City: Nexus of Community”. This is a comprehensive framework that will guide all aspects of community planning over the next decade. To make this vision become a reality, action will need to be taken. In a previous post, I outlined some of the key action items that will be required to implement the Nexus vision.

A presentation slide about the progress made on implementing “Langley City: Nexus of Community” to date. Select image to enlarge.

On Monday, Langley City council received an update on the steps that are already underway to move forward with the Nexus vision as follows:

Communication Plan

  • Communication plan approved by council
  • Community outreach throughout 2019

Building a Strong Foundation

  • Official Community Plan update starting in 2019
  • Zoning Bylaw update starting in 2019


  • Downtown and Transit Corridor Master Plan starting in 2019
  • Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood plan starting in 2019
  • Property Fund approved by council


  • Economic Development Commissions task group will start in 2019


  • Performing Arts and Culture Centre task group will start in 2019

Council also approved some changes to our capital budget to align with the Nexus vision, and to address some other matters that have surfaced during this year. These changes do not directly impact property taxation.

Directly Supports Nexus

  • Official Community Plan Update - $150,000
  • Zoning Bylaw Update $60,000
  • Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood Plan - $100,000
  • Transit Hub Design - $30,000
  • Performing Arts Centre Feasibility Study, Phase 2 - $50,000
  • Prosperity Fund for Land Acquisition - $1 million
  • Rogers Hometown Hockey Event - $25,000
  • Community Day Event - $6,000

Other Matters

  • Traffic Signal Upgrade, 200 St & Logan Ave - $122,000
  • Pedestrian Button Replacement at Crosswalks - $30,000
  • Traffic Calming in School Zones - $75,000
  • 203 St Fibre Optic Cable, Douglas Crescent to Fire Hall - $40,000
  • Capital Asset Appraisal - $30,000
  • Municipal Insurance Association Risk Management Plan - $16,630
  • Wire Theft Deterrents - $15,000

The next four years will be exciting as this is the first time that Langley City has ever started to implement a comprehensive plan for our whole community. I look forward to consulting with members of our community as we move forward.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

November 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Discovery Langley City’s contract renewed until end of 2022, plus an update on capital projects in our community

Yesterday, I posted about re-zoning bylaws and development permits that were heard at the Monday night Langley City council meeting. Today, I will be posting on some of the other matters that were on the agenda.

Around this time last year, Langley City in partnership with its hoteliers launched Discover Langley City to promote our community as a destination for visitors in Metro Vancouver. The City sent out an RFP for anyone who was interested in becoming the service provider for the Discover Langley City brand. The Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA) was the successful bidder, and a one-year contract was awarded to that organization. Based on the performance of the DLBA, City council extended their contract to deliver destination marketing services until December 31, 2022.

One of the primary purposes of Discover Langley City is to promote people spending the night in Langley City as it is mostly funding by a surcharge on the price of hotel and an Airbnb rooms in our community.

Due to our community’s size, the people who would most likely visit our community are people that already live in Metro Vancouver or people who are already visiting Metro Vancouver for another reason. Discovery Langley City will be ramping up marketing to people in our region to visit Langley City.

In 2019, Discover Langley City plans to continue to work on attracting and promoting new multi-day events in our community. Some of the events in the works next year include Rogers Hometown Hockey and the Canadian Festival of Chili and Barbecue.

For more information about Discover Langley City, please visit their website.

City council also received an update on the various projects that are happening in our community. One of the things that you will have noticed over the last few years is that the City has been busy replacing and repairing water mains. Some of our water mains contain asbestos in the concrete. Under normal use, this is perfectly safe, but special training is required when doing repair work. Our City crews received specialized training around working with this type of pipe recently.

City crews recevied training around working with asbestor cement pipes. Select image to enlarge

If you walk around Downtown and Douglas Park, you’ll notice that there are new Christmas lights and decorations that have been installed.

New Christmas lights around Downtown and Douglas Park. Select image to enlarge.

Work is continuing on adding new trails at Conder Park, and completing the new sidewalk along 46A Avenue. The Duncan Way multi-use path has also been recently completed with more sidewalks coming soon to that area.

Work will be finishing up shortly along Douglas Crescent between 206th and 208th Street except for paving which will be completed in the spring when the weather is consistently above 10°C.

Upgrades were recently completed to create a public outdoor patio at City Hall. Water mains in our community are currently being flush to ensure that our water quality remains top-rate. The culvert across 50 Avenue was also recently completed.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the progress to date on the implementation of our new Nexus community vision.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November 19, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Townhouse and apartment projects moving forward, plus a new process for rezoning bylaws

Monday night was the first meeting of the new Langley City council where we got back into the business of city governance. With a new mayor and council, comes a new process for dealing with rezoning bylaws.

To rezone a parcel of land, four “readings” of a bylaw, plus a public hearing is required. Previously, first and second reading were given at one council meeting. At a subsequent council meeting, a public hearing and third reading was given. After all conditions from the city were met, a final reading would be heard for possible adoption of a rezoning bylaw.

The public hearing and third reading will now happen on two different nights. This will allow for feedback from the public and council to be addressed in more detail before debating the merits of a rezoning at third reading. I think that this is a good move.

There was a public hearing on Monday night about a proposed rezoning of the property located at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street to accommodate a 40-unit, four-storey apartment building. Of the 40 units, 8 units will include three bedrooms. This will help provide move affordable housing options for families.

Render of proposed apartment building at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street. View from 208th Street. Select image to enlarge.

Render of proposed apartment building at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street. View from Douglas Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

There were two residents who spoke at the public hearing, and one resident who submitted a written list of concerns. One concern expressed by the residents was the loss of trees along Douglas Crescent, east of 208th Street. The primary concern regarding the trees is that the people who live in the apartments across the street would lose privacy. They were also concerned that there would be a reduction of on-street parking. Finally, one resident was concerned about the construction period noise and parking for tradespeople.

Staff informed the residents at the public hearing that the trees will need to be removed to accommodate the underground parking. The proponent of the project noted that they will be incorporating new layered trees and shrubs to provide privacy. As far as on-street parking, staff noted that there will be no reduction in on-street parking.

Landscaping plan for proposed apartment building at 5398, 5410, 5448 208 Street. Select image to enlarge.

I asked the proponent of the project to bring their construction parking management plan for the third reading of the rezoning bylaw.

Later in the meeting, council gave final readings and issued development permits for the following projects:

Tomorrow, I’ll be continuing my update on the matters that were addressed last night.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mayors’ Council halts light rail along King George and 104th Avenue; moves forward with two-phase SkyTrain extension to Langley

As I posted about on Wednesday, important decisions were made at the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation inaugural meeting. I listened to this meeting which was live-streamed on Thursday morning.

One of the first orders of business was to choose a new chair and vice-chair for the Mayors’ Council. People who serve as the chair and vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council are also automatically appointed to the TransLink Board, so these positions are very important.

Mayor Jonathan Cote of New Westminster was nominated by other mayors to be the chair, and Mayor Jack Froese was nominated as the vice-chair. Both Mayor Cote and Froese are good choices for these positions.

New Westminster and Langley City are very similar as we are both compact urban centres. I know that Mayor Cote is also a strong supporter of building compact urban centres that are connected by high-quality transit. This is what we are working towards in Langley City with our Nexus Vision.

Mayor Froese will provide a strong voice for the South of Fraser. He is pragmatic, and I know that he will work to ensure that we will get rapid transit built to Langley.

Not surprising, the Mayors’ Council did vote to halt building light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue. Importantly, they also voted to keep moving forward with the 10-Year Regional Transportation Investments Vision with the exception of Surrey rapid transit.

After much debate, they also voted to proceed “immediately with planning, design and procurement readiness works for the SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project. And, concurrently, initiate a planning process to refresh the Surrey-Newton-Guildford rapid transit, consistent with the 10-Year Vision of building 27 km of rapid transit along both corridors.”

It was confirmed that SkyTrain along Fraser Highway will likely be built in two phases due to the increased cost of using this technology compared to conventional light rail. The first phase will likely terminate somewhere in Fleetwood. It will be extremely important that funding is approved to ensure that there is a phase two of SkyTrain that will run to Langley.

The Mayors’ Council also approved their work plan for 2019 which includes:

  • Securing all remaining funding from the federal and provincial governments to complete the 10-Year Vision, including SkyTrain to Langley
  • Getting funding to complete a SkyTrain extension to UBC
  • Continuing to moving forward with exploring mobility pricing

While not explicitly stated, moving forward quickly to complete the 10-Year Vision will also mean that the Mayors’ Council will need to approve increased regional revenue to pay for the vision. This will likely mean property tax and gas tax increases.

Over the next few months, more details will become available on the implementation of rapid transit in the South of Fraser, including the timing of implementing B-Line routes. Information will also become available on how to get SkyTrain to UBC.

As I stated last week, I believe that the Mayors’ Council has their work cut out for them. They will need to accelerate and find significant new funding to build transit in our region. I hope that this new Mayors’ Council will move quickly as people in our region are tired of waiting for transit service to be expanded.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Two Events to Get You into the Christmas Spirit

I know that it is still the middle of November, but the Christmas season is quickly approaching. There are a few events that are coming up that are sure to get you into the spirit of the season.

The first event is the 2018 Langley Children's Wish Breakfast.

Children's Wish Breakfast

Stop by Newlands Golf & Country Club on November 27th with a new unwrapped toy, and enjoy a free breakfast with live entertainment. I was at this event last year, and it really reminded me of the generous spirit of our community. The toys will be used by the Langley Christmas Bureau for families in need.

Date: November 27, 2018
Time: 6:30 am - 9:30 am
Location: Newlands Golf & Country Club, 21025 48 Ave, Langley, BC

If you would like to volunteer or have any questions, please contact

The next event is the annual Magic of Christmas Day on Saturday, December 1st.

Langley City's Magic of Christmas

You can start the day with a kid-friendly Breakfast with Santa from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Douglas Recreation Centre. You must pre-register for this event online or by calling (604) 514-2940.

In the afternoon, you can drop by McBurney Plaza to take part in family-friendly activities from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm.

The annual Christmas Parade starts at 6:00 pm, so be sure to grab a spot along the Fraser Highway One-Way.

After the parade, the Christmas Tree at McBurney Plaza will be lit and carolling will ensue.

For more information, please visit Langley City’s website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Future of South of Fraser Rapid Transit on the Table Thursday

Thursday morning will be the first meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation since the local government elections. Normally, inaugural meetings including items like appointing chairs, allowing people to get up to speed on the details of the current work plan, and developing a work plan for the coming year. With 75% of the mayors serving their first term, this would be a significant meeting with just those items.

With the new mandate in Surrey to halt development of light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue, and build SkyTrain along Fraser Highway instead, this meeting will also lay the groundwork for the future of transit for the over 800,000 people that call the South of Fraser home.

A typical cross section of SkyTrain as proposed for Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Mayors’ Council staff is asking mayors to approve the following recommendation:

  1. Endorse TransLink’s decision to suspend the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Project, stopping all expenditures of money and resources on the project, based on the request from the City of Surrey;
  2. Use the 10-Year Vision as the basis for South of Fraser rapid transit planning, recognizing the City of Surrey request to change the technology and timing of the Fraser Highway project from LRT to SkyTrain, and draw only on the available funding currently allocated for South of Fraser rapid transit in the Phase Two Plan, and the financial framework for the Phase Three Plan.
  3. Request the additional analysis and a work plan on “Option 2” in this report, for consideration at the December 13, 2018 meeting of the Mayors’ Council to:
    1. Start immediately with planning, consultation, design and procurement readiness works for the SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project, building on the 2017 SkyTrain design study; and concurrently to,
    2. Initiate a planning process to refresh the South of Fraser transit strategy.

What this means is that if the resolution is approved, Mayors’ Council staff would start the process of implementing SkyTrain along Fraser Highway in two phases. There is currently $1.6 billion available to build SkyTrain along Fraser Highway. The total cost to build SkyTrain is around $2.9 billion.

As noted in the report, “given the funding available in Phase Two [today], management advises that is likely that SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley would have to be constructed in two phases, the first using available Phase Two funding, and the second phase to complete the line to Langley, commencing once the Phase Three Plan is funded and approved.” Planning for SkyTrain along the whole corridor would start right away if the resolution is approved.

Additionally, there could be impacts to the timing of the Fraser Highway B-Line which was scheduled to start service in 2019.

In order for SkyTrain to make its way to Langley, new funding will need to be approved. Ideally, the federal and provincial governments would commit to an accelerated funding program. The Mayors’ Council would also have to approve a regional funding component which has historical been sourced by increasing property tax and gas tax.

Building SkyTrain to UBC has been expressed as a priority for the City of Vancouver. The Mayors’ Council will also need to figure out the priority of this project, how much it will cost, and how it will be funded. There is also the question of the future of rapid transit along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey that will need to be answered.

The new Mayors’ Council will have a full plate over the next few years. If all the pieces fall into place, SkyTrain along Fraser Highway could start construction in 2021/22.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Battery-electric and double decker buses coming to a transit route near you

Every year, the federal government distributes around 2 billion dollars to municipalities throughout Canada. This program is called the Federal Gas Tax Fund, and can be used for a broad range of infrastructure projects. In Metro Vancouver, municipalities decided that 95% of the fund be dedicated for public transit projects. This funding is used almost exclusively to purchase new buses for TransLink.

Every year, TransLink submits a list of projects to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board for approval. This year TransLink is looking to purchase the following:

Project Vehicles Cost (Millions)
2020 Conventional (Double Decker) Bus Purchases for Modernization 25 double decker diesel buses $32.32
2020 Conventional 60’ Hybrid and 40’ Battery Electric Bus Purchases for Expansion 62 60‐ft hybrid buses, 6 40‐ft battery electric buses $109
2020 HandyDART Vehicle Purchases for Modernization 42 gasoline vehicles $6.45
2020 HandyDART Vehicle Purchases for Expansion 10 gasoline vehicles $1.6
2020 Community Shuttle Purchases 9 gasoline vehicles $2.22

One of the interesting purchases is for 25 double decker diesel buses which will replace the current yellow highway coaches that run on routes such as the 555 between Carvolth Exchange and Lougheed Town Centre.

TransLink is also proposing to buy 6 40-ft battery electric buses. These buses are proposed to run on the 100 between 22nd Street Station and Marpole Loop. These battery buses could use rapid-charging stations on-route. You can read more about this in a previous post that I wrote.

Map of bus route 100, Marpole Loop/22nd Street Station. Select map to enlarge.

In total, 87 vehicles will be used to expand transit service in our region, and 67 vehicles will be used to replace end-of-life buses.

Transit expansion is dependent on the region still proceeding with the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision. We will know more in the coming months about any modifications that will be made to the vision per the wishes of the new Mayors’ Council.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Property Tax, TransLink, and funding the major road network in the South of Fraser

When most people think of TransLink, it’s buses and trains that come to mind. What many people don’t know is that TransLink is also responsible for enhancing and maintaining the major road network, and funding projects that support improving cycling and walking in the region.

Map of the Major Road Network in the South of Fraser. TransLink funded roads are in blue. Select map to enlarge. Source: TransLink

In Langley City, TransLink helps fund the maintenance of 200th Street, and sections of the Langley Bypass and Fraser Highway. TransLink is also responsible for the 204th Street Overpass. In addition, our community has received funding for projects such as for the 203rd Street corridor enhancements.

TransLink has three major sources of revenue: fares, fuel tax, and property tax. The following chart shows the amount of property tax that the agency received from municipalities in the South of Fraser in 2017.

Property Tax 2017
Delta $14,131,700
Langley City $2,699,413
Langley Township $12,801,000
Surrey $43,692,000
White Rock $2,210,261

The following table shows the funding that TransLink provided in 2017 to South of Fraser municipalities to fund the major road network, and other cycling and walking projects.

Road Network, Cycling, and Walking Funding 2017
Delta $2,834,243
Langley City $871,865
Langley Township $5,235,952
Surrey $10,000,757
White Rock $69,000

This final table shows the percentage of property tax directly collected in each municipality that is used for road, cycling, and walking projects in that community.

Percentage Returned to Communities 2017
Delta 20%
Langley City 32%
Langley Township 41%
Surrey 23%
White Rock 3%

Around a quarter of property tax revenue is invested directly into non-transit projects by TransLink in the South of Fraser.

The majority of funding does go into transit service. In Langley, we get more transit service than we fund via property tax and gas tax. For more information, please look at an infographic I created a few years back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Transit on-time performance for first half of this year mostly favourable

TransLink recently released its on-time performance metrics for the first half of this year.

On-time performance of SkyTrian and West Coast Express. Select chart to enlarge. Source: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

Compared to previous years, on-time performance for rail service has remained consistent. This is mostly due to the fact that rail transit runs in its own right-of-way and is not subject to general traffic congestion.

Bus on-time performance is trickery to maintain as most buses in our region run in mixed traffic. This means that they are subject to the same delays that people driving single occupancy vehicles experience and cause. Even with that in mind, TransLink has been trying to improve the on-time performance of the bus system.

In the first six-months of this year, 76% of frequent transit routes and 81% of all other routes where on-time. It was 76% and 79% respectively during the first six-months of 2017.

One of the best ways to improve on-time performance of bus services is to have them operate in their own bus lanes with traffic signal prioritization. A good example will be the pending Fraser Highway B-Line. One of TransLink’s asks is that both Surrey and Langley City implement bus priority measures which include some dedicated bus lanes. This is something that I will support wholeheartedly.

TransLink defines on-time for SkyTrain as staying within 3 minutes of schedule, and staying within 5 minutes of schedule for West Coast Express. Bus service must not leave at scheduled stops earlier than 1 minute or arrive later than 3 minutes for it to be considered on-time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

November 5, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: The Inaugural Meeting

Like most municipalities in Metro Vancouver, last night was the inaugural council meeting for Langley City. The meeting started with a welcome and honour song from Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel, her husband Kevin Kelly, and her son Michael Kelly Gabriel.

The inaugural council meeting is a celebratory event, but it also contains a key regulatory component in which the mayor and rest of council take the oath of office. The oath of office affirms that:

  • No member of council knowingly took part in vote buying or intimidation in relation to their election to the office.
  • Council members will faithfully perform the duties of their office, and will not allow any private interest to influence their conduct in public matters.
  • Council members will disclose any direct or indirect pecuniary interest they have in a matter and will not participate in the discussion of the matter and will not vote in respect of the matter.

A pecuniary interest means a matter that is tied to a monetary gain or loss. In local government, this generally relates to property where a decision of council could favor members of council, but not a neighbourhood as a whole. A good example would be if a member of council was selling a piece of property to the City.

The following pictures are from last night’s inaugural meeting.

Mayor Val van den Broek receiving the Chain of Office from former Mayor Ted Schaffer. Select image to enlarge.

Council taking the Oath of Office. From left-to-right, Rudy Storteboom, Rosemary Wallace, Gayle Martin, Teri James, Nathan Pachal, Paul Albrecht. Select image to enlarge.

Signing my oath of office. Select image to enlarge.

After the meeting, a reception was held outside of the council chamber.

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Primer to Governance at the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board

One of the things that I noticed when talking with people at the door during the recent election campaign was that most folks had limited knowledge about how the Metro Vancouver Regional District functions, especially the governance structure. This makes sense as the regional district, with the exception of regional parks, doesn’t directly provide services to people in our region.

Unlike counties in the US, regional districts are not another level of government. Regional districts only have as much power as member municipalities give them. One of the more controversial services that a regional district provides, as per provincial law, is a regional growth strategy that dictates land-use at a macroscale. Even this requires the consensus of all member municipalities.

For historical reasons, the Metro Vancouver Regional District consists of the regional district itself, the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District, the Greater Vancouver Water District, and the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation. While they are different legal entities, they function like one unit.

Each municipal council in our regional appoints one or more of its council members to the Metro Vancouver board. It is based on a weighted voting system. For every 20,000 people in a municipality, the board member gets one vote. One board member can have a total of five votes. For every five votes, a new board member is appointed by their municipal council to the board. The following table shows the current number of votes and board members for each municipality in our region.

Community Total Board Members Total Votes
Vancouver 7 32
Surrey 6 26
Burnaby 3 12
Richmond 2 10
Coquitlam 2 7
Delta 2 6
Langley Township 2 6
Maple Ridge 1 5
North Vancouver District 1 5
New Westminster 1 4
North Vancouver City 1 3
Port Coquitlam 1 3
West Vancouver 1 3
Langley City 1 2
Port Moody 1 2
Anmore 1 1
Belcarra 1 1
Bowen Island 1 1
Electoral Area A 1 1
Lions Bay 1 1
Pitt Meadows 1 1
Tsawwassen First Nation 1 1
White Rock 1 1

Based on this weighted vote system, regional district board members appoint a chair and co-chair of the regional district. All matters at the board can be subject to this weighted voting system.

One of the unique features of regional districts is that they act as de facto municipalities outside of municipal borders. People outside of municipalities elect directors to regional district boards. In our region this includes people who live at UBC, the University Endowment Lands, Barnston Island, and sections of Howe Sound and up Indian Arm.

The regional district system in BC gives a forum for municipalities to come together for the mutual benefit of each other. Because regional district boards are not another level of government, the amount of finger pointing that stands in the way of getting things done is limited.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Regional water and sewer utilities: big dollar, critical services for Metro Vancouver

Unless you’ve visited a regional park, there is a good chance that you’ve never directly interacted with the Metro Vancouver Regional District. Besides regional parks, two of the services that people benefit from directly each and every day are water and sewer services. Water services have been provided regionally since 1926 and sewer services since 1956.

Municipalities are responsible for the pipes and local reservoirs that are between the property lines of businesses and residences to Metro Vancouver mains. The following maps show where these water and sewer mains are for Langley City.

Map of Metro Vancouver Sewer Mains in Langley City. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver GIS.

Map of Metro Vancouver Water Main that serves Langley City. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver GIS.

With the possible exception of the North Shore, the rest of the region would be in a pickle if water and sewer services were not regionalized.

Water and sewer services are capital intensive; it takes a lot of money to build and renew these services. Recently, the regional district presented its financial plan for 2019. 37% or $308.6 million of the regional district’s budget is planned to go towards sewer services operations, and 35% or $289.1 million towards water services operations.

$231.4 million in project expenditures are planned for 2019 to maintain the regional water system and to accommodate growth. Many of the projects support the growth occurring in the South of Fraser.

$564.9 million in project expenditures are planned in 2019 for the regional sewer system. Two major multi-year projects that directly support the South of Fraser are the expansion of both the Annacis Island and Northwest Langley wastewater treatment plants.

These projects are paid for with funding from regional district operations, other orders of government, and debt financing. Over the next decade, the amount of money annually required to maintain and growth both water and sewer services is projected to increase.

While little attention is paid to water and sewer services, some of the most critical and expensive projects in our region are to ensure that taps work and toilets flush.

For more information, please check out the Metro Vancouver 2019-2023 Financial Plan Presentation Slides.