Thursday, December 13, 2018

What will our transportation system look like in 30 years? TransLink trying to answer that question.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation will be meeting this morning. On the agenda are two important topics: South of Fraser Rapid Transit Planning (SkyTrain along Fraser Highway) and the Regional Transportation Strategy.

Visualization of what the future Regional Transportation Strategy should address. Select image to enlarge.

While much has been said about SkyTrain this week, there hasn’t been much focus on the proposed update to the Regional Transportation Strategy. This will be the topic of today’s post.

One of the legal requirements for TransLink is to prepare a rolling 30-year transportation strategy for Metro Vancouver. Transportation and land-use are linked. For example, walkable communities where people can access shops and services are required to support high-quality transit. TransLink’s long-term strategy must integrate the following objectives:

  • Regional land-use objectives
  • Provincial and regional environmental objectives, including air quality and greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives
  • Population growth in, and economic development of, Metro Vancouver
  • Provincial transportation and economic objectives

Sometimes these objectives may be at odds with each other. In the past, provincial transportation objectives have clashed with regional land-use objects. The complex nature of the long-term strategy means that it can take a few years to develop.

TransLink’s last attempt at creating a Regional Transportation Strategy was in 2013, but it was put on pause due to the 2015 transit referendum. In order for people to have had something to vote on, the Mayors' Council 10-Year Vision was put together. This has been the guiding document for regional transportation investments over the last several years.

With the final phase of the 10-Year Vision hopefully moving towards funding in the next year, a new long-term strategy is now required for the next 30 years.

This long-term strategy will be an opportunity for the region to “think big” about the future of transportation. For example, what role will autonomous vehicles play in the future? How will they integrate with walking, cycling, and public transit? Will buses be autonomous? How will they impact current on-site parking requirements for buildings?

Another big topic will be around what the future rail rapid transit, bus rapid transit, and frequent bus network will look like. Will we build rail transit lines on Scott Road and 200th Street, or a line out to Abbotsford for example?

As our region grows, the only way to get people out of congestion will be to continue to make walking, cycling, and taking transit convenient for more people. I’m looking forward to the process of developing this new long-term transportation strategy.

This long-term strategy will inform TransLink’s investment plans for the road and transit network for years to come. If all goes well, the new Regional Transportation Strategy will be adopted near the end of 2020.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Old map shows that Langley City was always at the crossroads of commerce in the Fraser Valley

Up until the 1990s, local governments in BC had less autonomy than they do today. The provincial government had to approve many matters which are handled locally today. While I am a strong supporter of local decision making, the one benefit of the province’s past control in local matters was the degree of historical records that are now available online. An Order in Council is similar to a council resolution; it is how governing bodies are able to direct the civil service, and update regulations or policies.

These Orders in Council are searchable online. Over the weekend, I was searching through these archives and found a few interesting pieces of history about Langley City.

One such peice is an old map of Langley City’s Downtown from 1967. It shows the community before the Langley Bypass and many other roads were built. The faded grey shows the proposed alignment of the yet to be built Langley Bypass.

Map of Downtown Langley City from 1967. Select map to enlarge.

Another interesting note is that the map shows when the railway (which provided passenger and freight service) literally when through the middle of Michaud Crescent, then up along Glover Road.

If you look closely, you can also see that all the roads were still named. Also interesting is that the current 203rd Street didn’t connect through and Logan Avenue/Production Way weren’t built.

More than anything, this map shows how the intersection of the BCER which was an interurban railway, Fraser Highway which was the Yale Wagon Road, and Glover Road which provided access to Fort Langley and the Hudson’s Bay Company Farm, were the reasons why Langley Prairie was established. Our community was and is the crossroads of the Fraser Valley.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 10, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Smoking Ban in Parks, Magic of Christmas Awards, Committee Appointments

Last night was the final public Langley City council meeting of 2018. The meeting started with a presentation for the Magic of Christmas Parade Entry Award winners. These awards went to the best of the best in the categories of corporate, private, and community group.




Back in the summer, council gave third reading to an updated Smoking Bylaw. As required by provincial law, it had to go to Fraser Health for review. Based the health authority’s feedback, council moved forward with an update Smoking Bylaw last night. The updated bylaw covers tobacco, vapour products, and cannabis. Major changes include:

  • Creating a no smoking zone within six metres of all doorways, air intakes, and open windows of any substantially enclosed public space and workplaces
  • Prohibit smoking in a vehicle with children under the age of 16
  • Ban smoking in parks

There is the option to create smoking zones in parks in the future is required. I asked what measures the City will be implementing to inform people of the smoking ban in parks including the possible use of signs. I was told that signs will not be placed in parks, but that the City will be engaging in a public education campaign.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to update the Municipal Ticketing Information Bylaw which is used for issuing fines. Someone could receive a fine in the amount of $150 for a first offence, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or each subsequent offence for smoking in contravention of the updated Smoking Bylaw.

Council approved renewing the animal control contract with the Langley Animal Protection Society for five years start in January. The cost of the contract is $97,895 per year, and will be adjusted annually based on the Vancouver Consumer Price Index.

Council endorsed the City applying for a $25,000 grant from UBCM. If successful, this grant will allow the City to “collect information regarding the child care needs of the community; create an inventory of existing child care spaces; identify space creation targets over the next 10 years; and identify actions that can be taken to meet those space creation targets.”

Council also gave final reading to adopt four bylaws. The first bylaw rezoned the properties located at 19727, 19737, 19755 and 19763 55 Avenue to accommodate a 36-unit, 3-storey townhouse development. A development permit was also issued for the project which you can read more about in a post from the summer.

Council also adopted updated Waterworks, Solid Waste, and Sanitary Sewer Bylaws by giving them final reading. As I posted about last week, utility rates are increasing in our community in 2019 due to the increased cost of services we receive from the Metro Vancouver Regional District.

Members of Langley City council sit on various city-controlled and external committees. The following list outlines which committees members of council will serve on in 2019.

Advisory Planning Commission

  1. Councillor Storteboom (Chair)
  2. Councillor Pachal (Vice Chair)

Committee of the Whole – All Council

Community Day Committee

  1. Councillor Wallace (Chair)
  2. Councillor James (Vice Chair)

Community Grant Committee – All Council

CPR Railway, Township and City Advisory Panel

  1. Councillor Albrecht (Co-Chair)
  2. Councillor Storteboom (Alternate)

Crime Prevention Task Group

  1. Councillor Pachal (Chair)

Discover Langley City

  1. Councillor Albrecht
  2. Councillor Storteboom (Alternate)

Downtown Langley Business Association

  1. Councillor Storteboom
  2. Councillor Albrecht (Alternate)

Economic Development Committee

  1. Councillor Albrecht
  2. Councillor James

Emergency Planning Committee

  1. Councillor James (Chair)

Finance Committee – All Council

Fraser Health Municipal Advisory Council

  1. Mayor van den Broek
  2. Councillor Martin (Alternate)

Fraser Valley Regional Library

  1. Councillor Martin
  2. Councillor James (Alternate)

Gateway of Hope Community Council

  1. Councillor Martin
  2. Councillor Storteboom (Alternate)

Healthier Community Partnerships

  1. Mayor van den Broek (Co-Chair)
  2. Councillor Wallace (Alternate)

Homelessness Action Table

  1. Councillor Martin

Joint School Board #35 / Municipal Liaison Committee

  1. Councillor Wallace
  2. Councillor James

Langley Christmas Bureau

  1. Mayor van den Broek (Chair)
  2. Councillor James (Alternate)

Langley Human Dignity Coalition

  1. Councillor Wallace

Langley Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Committee

  1. Councillor Storteboom

Langley Senior Resources Centre Society

  1. Mayor van den Broek
  2. Councillor James (Alternate)

Langley Walk Committee

  1. Councillor Albrecht
  2. Councillor Wallace (alternate)

Local Government Awareness Day

  1. Councillor Storteboom (Chair)
  2. Councillor Martin

Lower Mainland District RCMP Mayors Forum

  1. Mayor van den Broek

Langley Secondary School Round Table

  1. Councillor Wallace

Magic of Christmas Parade Committee

  1. Councillor Albrecht (Chair)
  2. Councillor Wallace (Vice Chair)

Metro Vancouver Board of Directors

  1. Mayor van den Broek
  2. Councillor Martin (alternate)

Performing Arts Task Group

  1. Councillor James (Co-Chair)
  2. Councillor Wallace (Co-Chair)

Youth Commission

  1. Councillor Wallace
  2. Councillor Pachal (Alternate)

Monday, December 10, 2018

A look at TransLink’s two billion-dollar 2019 budget

With 2018 ending, local governments and agencies are working on preparing their budgets for 2019. TransLink is no exception and presented its 2019 budget for TransLink board approval last week.

Due to the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision, TransLink has seen its revenue increase from $1.6 billion in 2017 to a proposed $2 billion in 2019. TransLink’s main sources of operating revenue comes from fares, gas tax, and property tax.

Fares have always been the number one source of operating revenue for TransLink. Gas tax has historically been the number two source. Over the years, the amount of revenue that TransLink receives from gas tax has been declining as less people drive in the region due to higher gas costs. Gas tax is predicted to be the number three sources of revenue in 2019, a drop of 5 percent.

The following lists from TransLink’s 2019 Business Plan outline the priorities for the agency next year.

Priority One: Implement the Mayors’ Vision

  • Implement four new Rapid-Service B-Line routes including: 41st Avenue, Fraser Highway, Lougheed Highway and North Shore Marine Drive-Main Corridor.
  • Receive and commission the third new SeaBus vessel as well as 178 new conventional buses aimed to replace existing aging fleet and expand service.
  • Recruit and train transit operators and support staff to support the expanded service levels.
  • Test, commission and deliver 56 new Mark III rail cars.
  • Modernize the Expo and Millennium Lines infrastructure to increase capacity and accommodate growth.
  • Provide technical support for into the design of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.
  • Construct new bus exchanges at Guildford.

Priority Two: Maintain a State of Good Repair

  • Support the replacement of the Transit Management and Communications (TMAC) bus radio system and supporting technology.
  • Implement the 8,000-kilometre internal Preventative Maintenance program at BCRTC in accordance with Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement requirements.
  • Install new fareboxes on Community Shuttle fleet.
  • Implement formal asset management plan and transform safety management system at British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd. (BCRTC) .
  • Develop and implement Emergency Response Plan through the IT Disaster Recovery Program.
  • Complete SkyTrain Noise Assessment Study and develop implementation plan.
  • Upgrade existing infrastructure and conduct ongoing preventative and corrective maintenance of bridges.
  • Implement a formal Safety Management System at TransLink Corporate.
  • Implement a Health and Safety Software system across the enterprise.

Priority Three: Enhance Customer Experience

  • Participate in the electric-battery bus demonstration and integration trial of the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) .
  • Receive and commission 32 double decker buses.
  • Implement new HandyDART travel training program and reservation system.
  • Implement McNeil recommendations (Independent Review of SkyTrain Service Disruptions) and deliver McNeil capital projects at the end of 2019.
  • Implement a tiered policing pilot utilizing Community Safety Officers (CSO) to enhance policing resources and improve efficiencies.
  • Expand marketing campaigns of the “See Something, Say Something” text 87-77-77 service.
  • Implement Passenger Information Displays on the SkyTrain system.
  • Make improvements to bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations such as new bus shelters, lighting, wayfinding, drive isle layouts and increases in bus capacity.
  • Support the implementation of the outcomes and Access Transit Service Delivery Review.
  • Enhance the Compass Card website and vending machine functions to improve the overall customer experience and respond to customer feedback.

The business plan outlines building the Fraser Highway B-Line and constructing a new bus exchange at Guildford. Given the recent shift to SkyTrain in Surrey, these priorities will likely drop off the list.

To accomplish its priorities, TransLink will be directly funding $1.7 billion in capital projects next year. Combined with federal and provincial money, this works out to $3.2 billion in new projects funded for 2019.

As I posted about last week, TransLink also grants money to municipalities for the major road network and to improve walking and cycling infrastructure. $56.5 million dollars will be made available for improving the major road network.

$13.4 million is being dedicated to fund new cycling infrastructure and $5 million for new walking infrastructure outside of the major road network. Langley City has been a recipient of this funding in the past for projects such as 203rd Street and the new multi-use trail on Duncan Way. We are also expected to receive funding for new cycling infrastructure on Glover Road and 208th Street from TransLink over the next several years.

TransLink has a bold 2019 business plan, and I look forward to seeing it being implemented.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Public washrooms may be coming to major TransLink stations and exchanges

Currently TransLink provides public washrooms at SeaBus terminals and on the West Coast Express due to federal regulations. Public washrooms are not provided at other stations or exchanges within the TransLink service area.

The primary reason why many transit agencies don’t provide public washroom is due to ongoing maintenance costs and the perception that washrooms will cause negative activity. This summer I was in Halifax, and I wrote about how Halifax Transit is able to provide safe and clean public washrooms at their major transit terminals.

TransLink completed a survey earlier this year. People were asked what TransLink’s priorities should be. While it is no surprise that people picked increasing service as their number one priority, their number two priority was to “increase the availability of washrooms on the transit system.”

Results from TransLink survey earlier this year. Preferences for TransLink priorities. Select chart to enlarge.

People who were older placed a higher priority on washrooms than people who were younger in the survey. As we age, the requirement for easy washroom access increases. Some transit trips can be over an hour, and not having a public washroom available could limit some people’s ability to move freely around our region.

The TransLink board is likely going to be adopting a public washroom policy this morning with the following objectives:

  • Increase the availability of washrooms for customers towards a long-term network: increase opportunities for most customers to have a washroom available as part of their transit journey.
  • Maximize accessibility: washrooms should be universally accessible and inclusive for transit riders of all ages, abilities and identities.
  • Foster safety and security: washrooms should be designed and delivered to foster safety and security for customers and staff who use or work at the washrooms.
  • Foster cleanliness, comfort and convenience: these key customer needs and expectations should be a focus of provision, operation and maintenance decisions.
  • Be affordable: washrooms should be provided and operated in the manner that meets the objectives and other guidelines through the most cost effective approach available.
  • Keep risks manageable: risks should be identified, considered and managed for both TransLink and our operating companies.

The focus will be to provide access to public washrooms at major transfer points and at locations where customers have long journey times. I look forward to this policy being adopted, so that public washrooms could open at locations such as Carvolth Park and Ride.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December 3, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: City Park Upgrades, Utility Rate Increases in 2019, and Building a Happy, Healthy Langley

Over the last year, Langley City’s Engineering, Parks, and Environment Department has been busy making our community happier, healthier, and safer. Rick Bomhof, who is the director of the department, provided a year-end update on the many projects that have been completed over the last year.

I’ve posted about many of these projects over the last year, so I won’t be highlighting all the projects that Rick touched on at the meeting. There have been several broad themes that the City has been focusing on. Langley City is an old community with end-of-life underground infrastructure. Replacing storm sewers, culverts, sewer and water mains has been one of the prioritizes over the last year. Reinvesting in our parks was also a priority with enhancements made to playgrounds and trails throughout our community.

One of the major programs that the Engineering department is actively working on is upgrading every City-owned streetlight to LED. This will make our streets brighter in the evening and at night, and will save taxpayer dollars due to less energy use. Rick noted that there was an issue with the initial order of LEDs which delayed the rollout, but things are now moving forward. To date, LED streetlights have been rolled out along Logan Avenue, 56 Avenue East, and 203rd Street. Many of the new black streetlights in downtown are also LED. In addition, the City has added improved lighting in lanes and streets where there wasn’t street-lighting in the past.

Giving people safe transportation choices has also been a focus over the last year. The City has installed new and improved walking and cycling infrastructure in our community. This is important because as our community grows, we must give people choices to get out of congestion. The City has also installed traffic calming measures in our community which has resulted in drivers slowing down which creates safer streets.

Langley City’s 2019 budget will be presented early next year, and I look forward to continuing the trend of infrastructure investment focus areas that we have been working towards over the last few years.

On the topic of budget, the Metro Vancouver regional district provides water, sewer, and solid waste management services to Langley City. As I posted about last month, the regional district is also upgrading their aging infrastructure. Water, sewer, and solid waste management rates will be going up for Langley City residents in 2019.

Langley City council gave first, second, and third reading to update these rates for 2019 as follows:

  • The water rate will increase by $1.31 per cubic metre. This works out to an increase of $26.40 for single-family housing, and $15.20 for apartments and townhouses on average.
  • The sewer rate will increase by $1.19 per cubic metre. This works out to an increase of $21.12 for single-family housing, and $12.16 for apartments and townhouses on average.
  • The solid waste fee will increase by $8 per household.

Langley City council also approved tendering a contract to Cedar Crest Lands (B.C.) Ltd. in the amount of $627,772 to continue with the renewal of City Park. The following map shows what will be completed.

A map of upgrades to City Park. Select map to enlarge.

The renewal of City Park is a multi-year program, so this is one of many contracts that will likely be tendered.

Next Monday will be the last council meeting of 2018.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

December 3, 2018 Council Meeting Notes: Long Service Award Ceremony, Budget Amendments, plus a Parking and Management Plan for a Proposed Construction Project

Last night was a special council meeting as it was an opportunity for the mayor, council, and senior city staff to acknowledge and thank people who have worked for the City for more than 10 years. There were several people who received a long service award for working at Langley City for 10 years, and several others that received a long service award for working at the City for 20 years. Every person who received the long service award had interesting stories about their commitment to our community. One interesting fact that we heard last night was that there are now second-generation people who work for the City. One person’s parent worked for the City, and now this person does.

People at the long service award recognition section of the council meeting. Select image to enlarge.

I posted last month about proposed amendments to the City’s 2018 capital budget to support our new Nexus Vision and other matters that surfaced during the year. You can read more about the additional projects in that previous post. Last night, opportunity was provided for people in the community to provide feedback on the amended budget. No one took advantage of that opportunity. Council gave final reading and approved the amended capital budget.

Last month, council held a public hearing for the proposed rezoning and development permit for the properties located at 5398, 5410, and 5448 208 Street to accommodate a 40-unit, 4-storey apartment building. Council asked the proponent of the project to provide a construction traffic management plan, construction parking management plan, and answer some specific questions about the underground parking.

Map from Construction Traffic Management Plan for the proposed project on the south-east corner of Douglas Crescent and 208th Street. Select map to enlarge.

The proponent provided the information requested by council. I was happy to see that the project’s proponent also secured off-street parking at St. Joseph's Church for the construction crew.

Redevelopment does have negative impacts to the community during the construction phase. I’ve heard from people who live near job sites about traffic, parking, garbage, and noise issues. By addressing some of these challenges, we can maintain the quality of life for current residents in our community.

Council gave third reading to the rezoning bylaw.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the other matters addressed at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, December 3, 2018

TransLink’s MRN expansion means more money for municipal road maintenance

One of the unique attributes of TransLink among transportation agencies in North America is that it is responsible for both providing transit services and maintaining a portion of our regional road network.

I posted about the funding that municipalities in the South of Fraser received in 2017 to maintain the Major Road Network (MRN), and to expand walking and cycling infrastructure, last month.

When a road is part of the MRN, TransLink provides a per kilometre subsidy to municipalities for:

  • street cleaning
  • snow removal
  • maintaining streetlights, traffic signals and signs
  • patching potholes, and
  • repaving

This subsidy worked out to $20,205 per lane kilometre in 2017. When a road is part of the MRN, it also becomes eligible for 50/50 cost-sharing between TransLink and the local municipality for projects that increase the flow of people or goods. This could include enhancing sidewalks, bike lanes, bus lanes, and even general travel lanes.

For a section of road to be eligible for inclusion in the MRN, it must these objectives:

  • Facilitates intra‐regional travel of people and transportation of goods.
  • Connects regionally significant destinations.
  • Forms an interconnected and complete network.
  • Moves high volumes of general purpose vehicles, transit passengers and/or trucks.
  • Maximizes safety of travel.
  • Maintains road and bridge structure conditions in a state of good repair to support all modes.
  • Minimizes adverse impacts to adjacent neighbourhoods.

As part of new funding that was unlocked by the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision, the Major Road Network will be growing by 10%. The following map shows the current MRN with the proposed additions to the network.

Current MRN in blue. Proposed additions to MRN in purple. Select map to enlarge.

In Langley City, additional sections of Fraser Highway and 203rd Street are being proposed to be included in the MRN.

Road network in Langley City. Provincial highways in red. Currently MRN in blue. Proposed additions to MRN in green. Select map to enlarge. 

If these additional sections of road are included in the MRN, the current local funding that is being used to maintain these sections of road can be reinvested to better maintain other parts of our road network in Langley City. With the new Fraser Highway B-Line in the works, it should make it easier for Langley City to cost-share implementing transit priority measures, and enhance cycling and walking infrastructure along Fraser Highway and 203rd Street.