Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January 14, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Redevelopment continues in Langley City including a proposed "stacked townhouse" project

Last night was the first public council meeting for a little over a month; the agenda was full. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting about the items that were covered at the first Langley City council meeting of 2019.

Redevelopment is continuing to occur at an accelerated pace in our community. There were two re-zoning and development permit bylaws that were given first and second reading. This will allow for a public hearing to be scheduled about these two applications.

The first re-zoning and development permit application will accommodate at 5-storey, 104-unit apartment building located in the 199A Street cul-de-sac off Brydon Crescent. The proposed project would be the final re-development occurring in that cul-dec-sac as over the last year another apartment building and two townhouse complexes were approved.

Renders of proposed apartment project at 5470, 5480, 5490, 5500, 5510 199A Street. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of proposed apartment project at 5470, 5480, 5490, 5500, 5510 199A Street. Select image to enlarge.

There are two items from this proposed project that I wanted to highlight. If approved, the developer will contribute $200,000 towards the Baldi Creek Pedestrian/Cycling Bridge project which will connect Brydon Crescent with the trail that runs between Michaud Crescent and 53rd Avenue. Another developer contributed $200,000 to support this bridge in late 2018. The other item is that all parking access will be off the alley to the east of 199A Street.

The second proposed project is for a stacked townhouse complex which is something that hasn’t been done in Langley City before. This 4-storey, 14-unit project would have 7-units on the first/second floor and 7-units on the third/fourth floor. The project is also proposed to have underground parking. The property location is at the corner of 201A Street and 53A Avenue.

Renders of proposed stacked townhouse project at 20172 - 20178 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave first and second reading for a proposed discharge of a land-use contract for 5139 209A Street. If approved, this would permit an addition to be built onto the current house on that property.

Tomorrow, I will continue to be posting about the remaining items cover at last night’s meeting.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Some facts about 10 square kilometre municipalities in BC

When people think of Langley City, usually the size of our community comes to mind. When your neighbours are two of the largest municipalities in British Columbia (both in land area and population), it can lead to a distorted perception our community’s scale.

How does Langley City compare in land area to other municipalities in our province? How does our population and density compare?

Comparing population density and land area in square kilometres. Municipalities in BC. Select chart to enlarge.

There are six municipalities in BC that are around 10 square kilometres. The City of North Vancouver has the largest population and highest density of the group. Langley City has the second larger population and density.

Municipality Land Area (Sq. Km) Population Density
Ladysmith 11.99 9,417 785
Nelson 11.95 11,313 947
City of North Vancouver 11.85 56,741 4,788
Oak Bay 10.53 19,228 1,826
Grand Forks 10.43 4,324 415
Langley City 10.22 27,577 2,698

The are 21 municipalities in BC that have a land area under 10 square kilometres.

Municipality Land Area (Sq. Km)
Osoyoos 8.5
Creston 8.47
Clinton 8.19
Nakusp 8.05
Telkwa 7.04
Lumby 5.93
Belcarra 5.5
Oliver 5.5
Armstrong 5.22
White Rock 5.12
Sidney 5.1
Enderby 4.26
Chase 3.77
Fruitvale 2.7
Lions Bay 2.53
Duncan 2.07
Pouce Coupe 2.06
Warfield 1.89
Montrose 1.46
New Denver 0.87
Slocan 0.78

With Langley City’s recently adopted Nexus community vision and the eventual arrival of rail rapid transit, the population of our community will continue to increase. Looking at the City of North Vancouver, Langley City have room to growth, even within 10 square kilometres of land.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

This weekend’s Rogers Hometown Hockey event schedule

Rogers Hometown Hockey is coming to Downtown Langley this weekend. There will be two days of family-friendly activities starting at noon on Saturday until the evening, and on Sunday starting at 11am until the evening. Nothing seems more Canadian than an outdoor hockey festival. Now if only we had some snow!

There will be activities throughout the day including the following scheduled activities:

Saturday, January 12

Noon – Live Music: Brookswood Country Band
Noon – Stanley Cup Viewing
12:30 – Autograph Signing with Kirk McLean
12:45 – The Hockey Circus Show
1:30 – Rogers Hometown Hockey Trivia
2:00 – Dr. Oetker Find Giuseppe
2:30 – Scotiabank Legacy Cheque Presentation and Jersey Reveal
2:30 – Autograph Signing with Bo Horvat
2:45 – Live Music: Brookswood Country Band
3:30 – Rogers Hometown Hockey Trivia
3:45 – Playmobil Word Play
4:00 – Scotiabank Hotstove featuring Tara Slone with Kirk McLean
4:30 – The Hockey Circus Show
4:30 – Autograph Signing with Kirk McLean
5:15 - Live Music: Brookswood Country Band

Sunday, January 13

11:00 – Live Music: Jessica Barbour
11:00 – Autograph Signing with Kirk McLean
11:30 – Thank You Presentation to Langley City
11:45 – The Hockey Circus Show
12:30 – Dr. Oetker Find Giuseppe
12:45 – Dodge Family Face-Off
1:00 – Playmobil Word Play
1:15 – Live Music: Jessica Barbour
1:30 – Autograph Signing with Kirk McLean
2:00 – The Hockey Circus Show
3:00 – The Parade of Champions
3:00 – 50/50 Draw in Support of Minor Hockey
3:30 – Rogers Hometown Hockey Pre-Game Show with Ron MacLean and Tara Slone
4:00 – Rogers Hometown Hockey Game: Florida Panthers @ Vancouver Cancucks

The activities will be focused around Innes Plaza at Fraser Highway and Glover Road. The follow map shows the areas in Downtown Langley that will be closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Map of road closures in Downtown Langley. Select map to enlarge.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Results from fall public consultation on Fraser Highway One-Way redesign

The water and sewer lines that are under the one-way section of Fraser Highway between Glover Road and 206th Street are in need of replacement. Because this will require extensive roadwork, Langley City decided that it would make sense to upgrade the streetscape/public realm while the underground infrastructure is being renewed.

During the summer, Langley City reached out to business owners, residents, and people who visit our downtown to ask what they would like the public realm to look like along the renewed Fraser Highway One-Way. Based on that feedback, two preliminary options were presented:

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.

In September, the city gathered feedback from people about these two options. Recently, the results of this feedback were made available.

Based on the responses received, 54% of people preferred option one. The primary reason was because people thought option one had more parking than option 2. Both options have the same amount of parking. When adjusted for this fact, option two became the preferred option. Neither option stood-out as the clear choice from people that provided feedback.

The top reasons why people liked the proposed designs were due to:

  1. Parking Changes
  2. Wider Sidewalks
  3. Increased Patio Space
  4. 206 Street Entrance to Parking
  5. Catenary Lighting (Like in McBurney Plaza)
  6. Raised Pedestrian Crossings
  7. Columnar Trees
  8. Curbless Design

The biggest concern for people was around the changes in parking proposed in the options. Some people were concerned about the removal of 40 parking spaces, and the proposed introduction of 1-hour parking along the one-way. Langley City commissioned a parking study that suggested with better wayfinding to point people to underutilized off-street, long-term public parking, this would not be a concern. I would like to see a parkade in Downtown Langley though this is out of the scope of this project.

Some people thought that all motor vehicle traffic should be banned from the one-way.

Another area of concern was around the reduction of accessible parking from the current 10 spaces to 8 spaces.

Finally, people were also concerned about how allowing westbound motor vehicle traffic from 206th Street to the one-way would function. This will require more education.

Based on the feedback received, more work will be done to develop a preferred option for the Fraser Highway One-Way public realm.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

One residential mill rate causes uneven property tax changes in Langley City. Find out why.

Yesterday, I posted about changes in the assessment values of residential properties in Langley City. Between last year’s assessment and this year’s assessment, the average price of a single-family house in our community increased by around 2%. The average value of townhouses and apartments (multi-family units) increased by around 24%.

These changes in assessment values have a direct impact on property tax. The follow table shows the average value of a single-family home and the average value of a strata unit in Langley City in 2017. It also shows the average City-controlled property tax that people paid per property in 2018.

Assessment Value Mill Rate Property Tax
$827,788.00 0.0025 $2,069.47
$325,616.00 0.0025 $814.04
Total: $2,883.51

The City levies property tax by determining how much property tax is needed to balance the budget, and then applies a mill rate. The mill rate multiplied by the assessment value of a property determines how much City-controlled property tax a property owner pays.

The next table shows the impact of the average change in value of single-family and strata units in Langley City in 2018.

Assessment Value Mill Rate Property Tax Change
$844,343.76 0.00231 $1,950.43 -$119.04
$403,763.84 0.00231 $932.69 $118.65
Total: $2,883.13

If the City’s budget remained the same, the City’s would decrease the mill rate to maintain the same amount of property tax collected. Because properties appreciate at different rates, on average a single-family property owner would pay less tax while a multi-family property owner would pay more tax.

This final table shows how the mill rate would be adjusted if the City wanted to increase the property tax collected by 5 percent.

Assessment Value Mill Rate Property Tax Change
$844,343.76 0.00242 $2,043.31 -$26.16
$403,763.84 0.00242 $977.11 $163.07
Total: $3,020.42

One of the challenges in BC is that municipalities are only allowed to apply one mill rate for all residential properties. This can lead to very uneven changes in property tax. Langley City has lobbied for many years to have two different mill rates, one for single-family and one for multi-family to even-out property tax changes. To date, the province has not listened.

As a note, about 50% of the property tax charged in Langley City is controlled by the municipality.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Langley City sees largest percent increase in average residential property values in South of Fraser

Last week, property owners started receiving their BC Assessment notices. While the headlines stated that the average price of single-family housing decreased in the City of Vancouver, this wasn’t the case in the South of Fraser. The average pricing of housing continued to climb, and nowhere was that more pronounced than in Langley City.

The following table compiled from BC Assessment information shows the average change in residential property values between last year’s and this year’s assessment period for South of Fraser communities. The average residential property values combine both single-family and multi-family housing.

City Change in Value
Langley City 14.39%
Langley Township 8.17%
Surrey 5.98%
Delta 1.91%
White Rock 1.18%

As you can see, Langley City saw the highest percent increase in average residential property values. BC Assessment also provides a more detailed breakdown of average property value changes, broken down by single-family and multi-family (strata) housing. This is important to note as more than half of the people in Langley City live in multi-family housing.

Percent change of average single-family housing value by quarter in Langley City. Source: BC Assessment

Percent change of average multi-family (strata) housing values by quarter in Langley City. Source: BC Assessment

Historically, single-family housing appreciated at a higher rate than multi-family housing such as apartments and townhouses. In Langley City, this swapped, with multi-family appreciating at a higher rate starting in 2017.

Langley City was historically one of the more affordable communities in our region. It seems that our community is now “catching up” with the price of housing in our neighbouring communities.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about what this means for property tax.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

How to design roads that reduce fatalities and serious injuries in Langley City

Yesterday, I posted about how motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries in our province. When over 21,000 people, a mid-size city’s population, who use our road network are being injured each and every year, we can’t continue doing business as usual when it comes to the design of our road network.

Shared space for people walking, cycling, and driving in Gastown. Select image to enlarge.

In Sweden, they decided to change how they design their roads. They adopted Vision Zero in 1997 with the statement that “it can never be ethically acceptable that people are killed or seriously injured when moving within the road transportation system.”

There are three major principles of Vision Zero:

  1. The designers of the system are always ultimately responsible for the design, operation and use of the road transport system and thereby responsible for the level of safety within the entire system.
  2. Road users are responsible for following the rules for using the road transport system set by the system designers.
  3. If road users fail to obey these rules due to lack of knowledge, acceptance or ability, or if injuries occur, the system designers are required to take necessary further steps to counteract people being killed or seriously injured.

Vision Zero sets the following safe speed limits:

  • If people walking or cycling, and motor vehicles share the same space (including at intersections and crosswalks), the speed limit should not exceed 30km/h. The road design should encourage people to travel 30km/h or slower.
  • If there is a possibility of side impact between only motor vehicles at an intersection, the speed limit should not exceed 50km/h, and the road design should encourage people to travel at 50km/h or slower through the intersection.
  • If there is a possibility of frontal impact only between motor vehicles, the speed limit should not exceed 70km/h, and the road design should encourage people to not travel faster than 70km/h.

The only time that speeds can be faster than 70km/h would be when there is zero chance of side or frontal impacts between motor vehicles, and zero chance of impacting a person walking or cycling. This would be for limited-access freeways.

Langley City is responsible for the local road network in our community. What does Vision Zero look like for our community?

A good example of Vision Zero in action would be 203rd Street between Grade Crescent and the Langley Mall. The intersection at 203rd Street and 53rd Avenue is a roundabout. That roundabout encourages motor vehicle speeds of around 30km/h. This makes it safe for people driving, walking, and cycling. At crosswalks, the road is narrowed which encourages people to drive slower. People walking and cycling are also separated from motor vehicle traffic outside of intersections which is why the speed limit can be higher than 30km/h, and still be compatible with the principles of Vision Zero.

The Fraser Highway One-Way is another example of a road that follows the principles of Vision Zero as its speed limit and design results in people driving 30km/h or slower.

A safer crosswalk at 54th Avenue and 204th Street in Langley City. Select image to enlarge.

An example of a road in Langley City that doesn’t follow the principles of Vision Zero is 208th Street. While the posted speed limit is 50km/h, people exceed 50km/h regularly. People do not drive at 30km/h through intersections or at crosswalks. People cycling are not separated from motor vehicle traffic.

Could a road like 208th Street become a Vision Zero road? It could if certain design elements where implemented. The first would be to ensure that people cycling are separated from motor vehicle traffic (like on 203rd Street). Ideally, the intersections with traffic lights would be replaced with roundabouts. If that is not possible, the traffic lights could be set to allow people walking and cycling to start crossing the road while all other traffic has a red light. Before the crosswalks, design measures could be put in place to ensure that motor vehicle traffic is traveling at 30km/h while passing through the crosswalk area.

Due to its success in saving lives and reducing serious injuries, Vision Zero has been implemented in many places, and is slowly making its way into policies of cities, provinces, and states in North America. Our province has released a guide about moving towards Vision Zero which also includes some case studies from throughout the province.

While enforcement is an important component of Vision Zero, it is impossible to have universal traffic enforcement. If enforcement was all that was needed, we would not have 21,000 people being injured due to motor vehicles crashes in 2017. We need to design roads that naturally cause people to travel at safe speeds; this is the third principles of Vision Zero. If a road has a 50km/h speed limit, but has a traffic flow of 70km/h, the problem is with the road design, not enforcement.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in BC

One of the things that has been on my mind recently is how to make our roads safer for all people no matter their mode of travel such as walking, cycling, scotering, transiting, or walking.

In 2017, 276 people were killed due to motor vehicle crashes and 21,039 people were injured in British Columbia. To put that into perspective, that is about three low-rise condo buildings of people being killed in our province in 2017, and around the population of White Rock that are being injured due to motor vehicle crashes.

Crashes are one of the top external factors that lead to death in our province along with suicide and illicit drug usage.

Major causes of unnatural deaths in BC from 2010 to 2017. Source: BC Coroner Services.  

Motor vehicle crashes are also one of the top three reasons why people are hospitalized in our province.

Number of acute hospitalizations in BC 2016/17. Source: BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit. 

The human cost of crashes is high, and so is the economic cost. In 2018, the cost of crashes was estimated to be $8.4 billion dollars in BC. This is more money that the cost of building SkyTrain to Langley along Fraser Highway, and building the SkyTrain extension from Commercial-Broadway Station along Broadway to Arbutus.

Speed is a significant factor in the amount and severity of injuries due to crashes, and the amount of fatalities. It is not just “speeding” that is a factor, but even the posted speed limits on our roads. Research shows that each 1% increase in speed “would lead to a 2% change in injury accidents, a 3% change in severe injury accidents and a 4% change in fatal accidents.”

The following graph shows the difference speed makes in the survivability of someone who is walking if they are involved in a crash with someone who is driving a motor vehicle.

A graph of the probability of fatal injury for a pedestrian colliding with a vehicle. Source: EU Mobility and Transport.

If speeds are below 30km/h, there is a high chance of surviving a crash. At 50km/h, you have a 50/50 chance of surviving. Beyond 60km/h, the likelihood of surviving a crash with a motor vehicle is low.

While these statistics are somber, there are ways that we can improve the safety of our roads. I will be posting about that tomorrow.