Thursday, September 19, 2019

September 16 Council Meeting: Population decreases in single-family neighbourhoods, Know Your Neighbour Campaign, the federal election, and housekeeping matters

This week, I’ve been posting about Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. You can read about council’s first steps on the path of reconciliation with the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations from Tuesday’s post. You can also read about the various City-funded projects that recently completed or are in-progress from Wednesday’s post. Today, I’ll be posting about the other items that were addressed at that council meeting.

Langley City provides neighbourhood profiles which can be viewed online. These profiles contain various highlights and statistics about our six neighbourhoods. The previous profiles where based on 2011 census data. Council received new neighbourhood profiles on Monday night based on the latest census data.

Langley City Neighbourhood Population Change between 2011-2016. Select map to enlarge.

One of the interesting things to note is that the population actually declined in the Simonds and Alice Brown neighbourhoods by 70 people between 2011 and 2016. There was modest population growth in the Blacklock and Uploads neighbourhoods of 30 people. The means these was a decrease in the number of people living south of the Nicomekl River. The population north of the Nicomekl River increased by 855 people in the same time period, with most of the growth occurring in the Nicomekl neighbourhood.

The updated neighbourhood profiles will be posted to Langley City’s website shortly.

Council approved door-to-door canvassing for our Crime Prevention Task Group’s “Know Your Neighbour Campaign” as follows:

Saturday, September 28, 2019: 10am – 12pm
Saturday, October 5, 2019: 10am – 12pm

If you’d like to volunteer to spread the message door-to-door, we will be going out two Saturdays: September 28 and October 5 from 10am to 12pm. Please contact Dave Selvage at dselvage@langleycity.ca or 604-514-2822 if you would like to help out. This is a fun activity.

Mayor van den Broek and Councillor Wallace sit on several Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) committees. FCM is the federal advocacy organization for local governments in Canada. Both recently returned from FCM committee meetings. Mayor van den Broek noted that people should visit the FCM website “Building Better Lives” to learn more about the federal parties during this election cycle, and what they promise to do to support local governments.

Council heard a presentation from Mervin Malish who does outreach work for Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community & Farm. This is a 62 bed, private abstinence-based recovery program 30 kilometres from Prince George. He provided an overview of his organization.

Council approved out-of-province travel for Firefighters Murphy and Rossnagel to attend the Flammable Liquids Emergency Rail Response training course in Pueblo, Colorado. This course is being funded by CP Rail. Given that we have one of the busier rail corridors in Canada, this is important training for firefighters in Langley City.

Langley City has a new Director of Development Services, Carl Johannsen. As a housekeeping matter, council appointed him as our new Approving Officer. This allows him to approve subdivision plans.

As another housekeeping matter, council rescinded the appointment of former Mayor Ted Schaffer, and appointed Mayor van den Broek as the voting delegate for the Municipal Insurance Association Annual General Meeting. This local government led organization provides liability and property insurance for local governments in BC.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

September 16 Council Meeting: Updates on City Park upgrades, new transit service, upcoming open houses, and other projects.

Summer is construction season, and there was no shortage of projects that were being worked on in Langley City. Council received updates about the various city-funded projects that are in-progress or recently completed at Monday night’s council meeting.

Council receiving a presentation about City Park upgrades. Select image to enlarge.

If you’ve visited City Park lately, you’ll have noticed that significant renewal is underway. The new dog off-leash area of City Park is scheduled to have its grand opening on October 21st at 3pm.

There is a trail that connects 208th Street near Douglas Crescent to the Nicomekl trail network. The entrance area was significantly improved recently.

A slide about trail entrance improvements at 208th Street, south of Douglas Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

Traffic calming has also been implemented near three elementary schools: Blacklock, Douglas Park, and Uplands.

The City is also piloting new ashtrays in our downtown core to help reduce the amount of discarded cigarette butts that pollute our community. These ashtrays are more vandal resistant than the previous design that was piloted.

City crews also completed drainage improvements along 50th Avenue, and riverbank erosion protection at the pedestrian bridge near 201A Street. Work was also completed near Brydon Lagoon.

Work is currently underway on replacing the sewer under 203rd Avenue between Fraser Highway and Logan Avenue. Once this work is completed, and the road repaved, a bus lane will be implemented along this section of road. There will also be bus lanes on sections of 200th Street and Logan Avenue. It is expected that the bus lanes will be rolled-out by the end of November. For more information about these bus lanes that will speed up transit service, including the new Fraser Highway Express, please read a previous post that I wrote.

To support the now operating Fraser Highway Express, the bus exchange at Glover Road and Logan Avenue was upgraded to accommodate longer, articulated buses.

There are also some open houses to get public feedback on two proposals. The first open house is about a proposed Douglas Park community garden which will be near the lawn bowling area. The details are as follows:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Langley City Hall/Timms Community Centre

The next open house will be to gather feedback about Glover Road walking, cycling, and underground utility improvements between the Langley Bypass and 56th Avenue. The details are as follows:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
5:00pm - 8:00pm
Langley City Hall/Timms Community Centre

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

On the Path of Reconciliation: Katzie Nation, Kwantlen Nation, Matsqui Nation, Semiahmoo Nation, and Langley City

Last night was the first Langley City council meeting since the end of July. Like most municipalities in BC, there are generally no meetings held in August.

One of the items on last night’s agenda was a motion about “acknowledging the Traditional Territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations.” This is the territory where Langley City is located.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released several calls to actions, including actions that can support indigenous people and local governments moving toward reconciliation.

For how these actions relates to local governments, the Union of BC Municipalities has a section of their website called “Communities Reconciling.

Since I’ve been on Langley City council, there has been no formal process of reconciliation that I am aware of, though we do have a relationship with the Kwantlen Nation. As part of moving toward reconciliation, council passed the following motions unanimously following a good amount of discussion.

THAT at the beginning of each Council Meeting held in Council Chambers, the presiding member acknowledge that the land on which we gather is on the traditional unceded territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nation
AND

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Langley formally acknowledge that the City of Langley is on the unceded traditional territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations;

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to invite representatives from the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations to work with the Mayor and Council to develop appropriate protocols for the City of Langley to use in conducting City business that respect the traditions of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations.

This is a good first step forward on the path of reconciliation, and is a difficult journey that we must take.

More information about the calls to action for local government from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are available from the UBCM website. You may also want to read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that all levels of government adopt and implement.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Exploring ways to enhance our ecosystems in Metro Vancouver to improve human health

One of the key documents that the Metro Vancouver Regional District is responsible for is the Regional Growth Strategy. This document aligns our region’s 21 municipalities and Tsawwassen First Nation Official Community Plans with the provincial mandate “to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy.”

Boundary Bay Wetlands

The currently Regional Growth Strategy, Metro 2040, is under-review as work is proceeding on Metro 2050 which is the next version of the Regional Growth Strategy. One of the areas that is under review is the environmental protection policies in Metro 2040.

Between 2009 and 2014, 1,640 hectares of sensitive and modified ecosystems where lost. Some example of why they were lost include for agricultural uses, logging, and residential development. With this is mind, the regional district is exploring ways to build stronger business cases, policies, and tools to better protect these ecosystems.

The regional district held a forum this summer between policy experts and government as part of the Metro 2040 Environment Policy Review to find ways to plug gaps in current regional environmental policies. The following items were explored:

Improve how we protect our ecologically important areas in our region

  • Implement additional mechanisms to protect, enhance, and connect sensitive ecosystems.
  • Create tools that help place a value on ecosystem services provided by ecologically important areas and include in municipal accounting.
  • Improve information about ecosystem services (including health and economic benefits).
  • Apply consistent policies and approaches across the region.

Explore biodiversity-led regional green infrastructure

  • Develop a common definition of green infrastructure noting the co-benefits for both wildlife and people.
  • Strengthen biodiversity and green infrastructure policies at the regional level.
  • Create a pilot project on biodiversity-led regional green infrastructure.
  • Develop funding and implementation tools for green infrastructure to support projects at a regional and local scale.

Link green space in urban areas to human health.

  • Increase the priority of green space in urban areas (especially new development areas).
  • Coordinate work between local governments and health authorities on green space and human health.
  • Rank public green space and health levels across the region.
  • Set green space targets for municipalities to meet or exceed, require reporting.
  • Develop best practices to optimize health and ecological benefits of green spaces.
  • Increase awareness about the benefits of green space in urban areas.

More details about these three focus areas can be found in the latest Regional Planning Committee Agenda. They will help inform the updated Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy which will hopefully further help creating an healthier region.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Over a quarter of jobs in Metro Vancouver depend on industrial land. Possible measures to protect this land are being discussed.

Because we are a port region, a centre of innovation for technology and manufacturing, and have a large creative sector, industrial land is critical for our economy. For example, the recently announced 600,000 square foot film studio in Langley Township is in regionally protected industrial and employment lands.

Research done on behalf of the Metro Vancouver Regional District shows that 26% of jobs in our region are “dependent on industrial land (including transportation/warehousing/logistics, manufacturing, wholesale, construction, and resources).”

These industrial lands are under threat due to pressures such as being converted for general urban usage for residential, retail, or office space. Even within areas zoned as industrial, due to inconsistent zoning between municipalities in our region, big box retail, offices, and auto dealerships can be found in industrial zones.

Due to the demand for industrial-zoned land, and the encroachment of non-industrial uses into industrial-zoned areas, it is predicted that we will run out of industrial land in about 25 years in our region.

As such, the Metro Vancouver Regional District is looking at ways to preserve and enhanced the industrial land base. The following ideas are being floated as possible tools to ensure that there is enough industrial land into the future:

Provincial Industrial Land Reserve

Working with the province to consider the establishment of an Industrial Land Reserve in Metro Vancouver, similar to the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Strengthening Regional Policy

Improving the definitions and permitted uses on industrial lands, and make it harder to convert these lands to other uses.

Trade-enabling Zoning Districts

Working with the province to grant municipalities the power to define permitted forms of tenure on industrial land. This is currently possible in residential zones.

Zoning Consistency for Industrial Lands

Developing a consistent definition of ‘industrial’ across all municipalities in our region, and ensuring non-industrial uses are not permitted in industrial zones.

Regional Land Use Assessment

Identifying opportunities for more optimized locations and uses for industrial land in our region.

Encouraging Intensification

Loosening any unnecessary restrictions to density or height limits where appropriate in industrial zones.

Mixed-Use: Allowing Residential

Allowing mixed-use industrial/residential within industrial zones that are in immediately proximity to rapid transit as long as it does not result in a loss of available industrial land.

These options will be refined, and will likely be incorporated into a future update to our regional’s growth strategy which must be followed by all municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Only you can help reduce crime. Join Langley City’s Know Your Neighbour Campaign

I helped out during last year’s Know Your Neighbour Campaign.

Yesterday, I posted about last month’s crime statistics for Langley City. Langley City is a safe community, but we do have a challenge with people stealing items from cars and other crimes of opportunity. These are the types of crime that can be reduced when we have strong neighbourhoods where people know each other and look out for each other.

To help facilitate making these connections, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group and its volunteers will be going door-to-door in select neighbourhoods in our community. They will be talking with residents, and giving them information, on how to build strong neighbourhoods by getting to Know Your Neighbour.

The more volunteers that join, the more people that we can connect with to help build a healthier, happier, and safer Langley City.

We need you! Can you spare some time as follows?

Saturday, September 28th from 10am to Noon

Saturday, October 5th from 10am to Noon

Please contact Dave Selvage at dselvage@langleycity.ca or 604-514-2822 if you have questions about the Know Your Neighbours Campaign, or would like to sign-up as a volunteer.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Langley City August property crime map released. How you can help reduce crime.

Langley City is a safe community, and this is shown in the crime stats. The likelihood of you experiencing violence due to another person is extremely low. If you do, it is likely from someone you already know.

One of the initiatives of Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group (which I chair) is to raise awareness about the types of crimes that do occur in our community, and give people the tools to be part of the solution to reducing crime.

As a result of the Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group, monthly property crime maps will now be available to people that subscribe to the City’s monthly newsletter. The map shows both property crime and the location of Block Watch areas.

Langley City Property Crime Map - August 2019. Select map to enlarge.

There are two areas of concern: theft from auto and auto theft.

One way you can help reduce theft from auto and auto theft is by joining a Block Watch. Block Watch is “a community organized RCMP Crime Prevention Program. Neighbours look out for each other. They get to know who belongs and report suspicious activity.”

To join a Block Watch or find out more information, call 604-532-3213.

You can help reduce theft from auto by removing all non-attached items from your vehicle, including garage door openers, and by locking your vehicle.

If you don’t have a newer vehicle with a built-in electronic engine immobilizer, consider purchasing a vehicle alarm or steering wheel lock.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Metro Vancouver Regional District looking to build 500 new units of affordable housing

Metro Vancouver Housing - Sutton Place. Image source: Metro Vancouver Regional District

This weekend, I was at the Triple A Senior Housing Society’s HOPE4HOMES conference. This conference focused on what can be done to make life more affordable for seniors in Langley. Housing is a critical component when it comes to affordability. When people pay more than 30% of their income towards housing, they are living in unaffordable housing.

Seniors in our community who rent are the most vulnerable when it comes to the increasing cost of housing. They are on fixed incomes that are not keeping up with ever-increasing rents. At the conference, I learned that some 3,000 seniors live in unaffordable housing in Langley. Two-thirds of those seniors live in the Township of Langley.

The current federal government and provincial government have committed billions of dollars over the next decade for new purposed-built affordable housing. In BC, the commitment is to build 114,000 new units of affordable housing over the next decade.

The federal and provincial governments are not building this affordable housing, they are providing the funding. They are looking for non-profit housing societies and local governments to build and operate these new affordable housing units.

In Langley, there are around 250 new units of affordable housing being built and operated by non-profit housing societies that is funded through the provincial government. While this is a good start, if we have 3,000 seniors today that need affordable housing (and thousand of younger people who also need affordable housing), we need to be building affordable housing at a larger scale.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is a federation of municipalities from Langley to Bowen Island. As a collection of municipalities, we have a long history of working together to tackle big challenges.

The regional district provides affordable housing for some 9,000 people today in 49 sites throughout Metro Vancouver. This housing was originally built in the 1970s and 1980s with the support of the federal government. The feds got out of funding new affordable housing in the 1990s until a few years ago. This is one of the reasons why we have a housing crisis today.

With the renewed interest from the feds and province to building affordable housing, it is time that our region gets serious about building affordable housing at scale.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is looking to collect $4 million per year in new property taxes throughout the region to build at least 500 new units of affordable housing over the next decade. This money will be combined with significant federal and provincial funding, and land donated by municipalities. It is expected that 70% of these units would be low end of market rental, and 30% rent geared to income to ensure affordability.

This $4 million per year would translate to an additional $4 per year in property tax per household in our region.

If this program is successful in the first few years, I hope that the region scales it up because we need to be building thousands of units of affordable housing per year in our region.

I should note that the type of affordable housing in this post is not supportive housing for people transitioning out of homelessness, or who have complex needs. This type of housing with wrap-around services is being handled by other programs.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Take the Crosswalks within Langley City Survey

Crosswalk along 204th Street

Since being elected to Langley City council, I’ve heard from many residents requesting more visible crosswalks and new crosswalks in our community.

I wanted to find out if there are certain locations in our community where there is a strong desire from many people to improve an existing crosswalk or add a new crosswalk.

To that end, I’ve launched the Crosswalks within Langley City Survey.

If you are a Langley City resident, please consider completing this survey. It will take around two minutes of your time.

Thank you for your help!

Take the Survey

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Development Cost Charges: When growth doesn’t pay for growth

Yesterday, I posted about municipal finances and that municipalities in our province have reserve accounts that can be used to pay for things such as upgrading roads, sewers, parks, and the like. In Langley City, we had $34.9 million in reserve accounts at the end of 2018. For a more detailed look at how these accounts are used, please read my previous post. Municipalities also have another special reserve account which I didn’t post about yesterday: Development Cost Charges.

Since the 1950s, there was an understanding that new development projects in a municipality should pay for the services required to support them. Services can include upgraded roads, water lines, sewer mains, and/or park space. Various programs where tried, but the current system of Development Cost Charges was put in place at the end of the 1970s.

While Development Cost Charges are an important funding mechanism for local governments in BC, there are some challenges with the implementation Development Cost Charges.

In BC, the provincial government can technically do whatever it wants to municipalities. The tradition has been very hands-off when it comes to the province intervening in municipal matters. This means that municipalities have a high degree of autonomy when it come to finances.

For example, councils generally work with municipal staff annually to approve projects such as upgrading roads or building a new performing arts centre, and determine how these projects will be paid for.

Development Cost Charges are different. The provincial government must approve every project that will be funded by a Development Cost Charge; municipalities must create a bylaw for these projects for provincial approval.

Generally, Development Cost Charges can be used to widen roads, build bicycle infrastructure, build sidewalks, build water mains, build storm water mains, build sewer mains, and to acquire and improve parkland. This seems simple, but it is not.

The rules for what projects in these categories are eligible for Development Cost Charge funding is very complex. In fact, a 116-page guide is available from the provincial government on Development Cost Charge implementation.

An example of the complexity is that funding collected by Development Cost Charges can be used to build a washroom in a park, but can’t be used to build a spray park. A baseball diamond could be funding by a Development Cost Charge, but a tennis court could not.

Development Cost Charges are geared towards communities that are building new neighbourhoods, and not for communities like Langley City where redevelop is occurring. This means that in Langley City, projects which should be paid for by Development Cost Charges, can end up being paid for by general revenue from existing residents.

Langley City and other municipalities in BC are advocating to the provincial government to make the Development Cost Charge program less restrictive, especially when considering redevelopment.

At the end of 2018, Langley City had $17.6 million in restrict Development Cost Charge reserves.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

What’s with Langley City’s $297 million financial accumulated surplus?

When most people think of financial surpluses, putting money into bank accounts and investments is something that likely comes to mind.

In Langley City, we had a $12.7 million surplus in 2017 and an $11.3 million surplus in 2018. Does this mean that the City is placing tens of millions of dollars into savings accounts and investments every year, all while claiming we have limited financial resources? Absolutely not!

Municipal financial plans have two kinds of expenses: operating expenses and capital expenses. Operating expenses are for things that generally occur every year such as paying employee salaries, painting lines on the road, and paying Metro Vancouver for water and sewer.

Capital expenses generally occur for one-off items that generate a tangible asset. Tangible assets include things like roads, water pipes, sewer pipes, streetlights, playground equipment, park trails, and garbage cans.

When you look at Langley City’s “Expenses” of $45.3 million in 2018, these were operating expenses. The surplus section is mostly capital expenses; creating and renewing tangible assets.

So, what was the breakdown of Langley City’s accumulated surplus at the end of 2018?

$3.9 million was an operating surplus. This can occur due to things like snow removal budgets being used less than expected. This also occurs due to staff vacancies that occur during the years, and when new staff positions are created. Any operating surplus is generally transferred into reserve accounts where the surplus can then be used for capital expenses.

$34.9 million is Langley City’s reserve accounts. These accounts are generally used for acquiring capital assets.

Because some projects can take multiple years to complete, when council allocates funding for a capital project in a year, it doesn’t mean that the project will be completed within that same year.

For example, council is planning to upgrade Glover Road to include safer bike lanes. Each year, we are adding to our reserve accounts for this project until we have enough money to complete the project.

Once a project is completed, its dollar value is converted into “equity in tangible capital assets.”

In Langley City, we have $257.9 million in these tangible capital assets at the end of 2018. This represents 87% of our accumulated surplus.

This is the book value of our capital assets. For example, if we spend $10 million on a road project, and that road had an expected life of 20 years, each year $0.5 million would be taken out of the accumulated surplus.

If a city’s accumulated surplus is going down in value, the city's assets are falling into a state of disrepair. Even if a city’s accumulated surplus is increasing, it doesn’t mean that the state of a city’s infrastructure is healthy.

If there was no increase in population and no new development, the accumulated surplus should grow at the rate of inflation. Because of population increase and development, the accumulate surplus should grow at a rate higher than inflation.

In Langley City, our accumulated surplus is growing at the rate of inflation. This means that more investment is needed to keep all our existing infrastructure in a state of good repair. This is why we are now working on an asset management plan.

In a healthy community, the accumulated surplus should be increasing year-over-year. While some of this surplus is investments and cash that will be used to pay for things such as roads, pipes, and parks, the majority of this surplus represents the infrastructure that already existed in a community.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

An observation from Sweden: Independent mobility for people of all abilities is critical for a healthy community.

Over the past few days, I have been posting about my observations from being in a dozen or so small- to mid-sized cities in Sweden last week. When it comes to creating safe streets that reduce fatalities and injuries, and promoting walking and cycling, Sweden is ahead of us. There is one important caveat: you need to be able-bodied.

If you where a person with limited mobility requiring a chair or other aid, getting around cities in Sweden independently is challenging, and in many cases impossible. While many city centres in Sweden have been around since the 16th Century or earlier, the sidewalks and streets are modern.

Curb letdowns and smooth sidewalks are key ingredients to making an accessible community for everyone. The following are examples from Langley City.

An example of a modern sidewalk in Langley City. Select image to enlarge.

An example of an intersection in Langley City’s Downtown. Select image to enlarge.

In Sweden, I noticed that curb letdowns where generally wide enough for one bicycle, but not a wheelchair.

An example of a crosswalk in Sweden with a narrow curb letdown and a sidewalk with uneven pavers. Select image to enlarge.

I also noticed that they used a lot of pavers. While they are pretty, they are hard to navigate when using a mobility aid.

An example of a typical city square in Sweden with pavers. Select image to enlarge.

I noticed that people with limited mobility needed the help of friends or strangers to navigate in the places that I visited. While this might seem good, having to rely on other people to get around is not. As humans, we all need independence.

My observation about the lack of accessible access in most city centres in Sweden reminded me of the importance of making sure that we are building a community for all people in Langley City.

In Langley City, we have an accessibility representative on our Advisory Planning Commission which looks at all development proposals for our community. This is important because as an able-bodied person, there are things that I won’t get that someone with lived experience will be able to call out.

While there are many things that we can learn from Sweden about creating safer streets, we must not loose sight of the importance of building communities where people of all abilities can move around independently.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Treat walking and cycling the same way to create a safer, healthier community. Lessons from Sweden.

In BC, we tend to think of people riding bicycles in the same terms as people driving cars when it comes to the provisioning of transportation infrastructure, and the rules of the roads. In Sweden, they tend to think of people riding bicycles in the same terms as people walking. This mindset creates a very different experience for people riding a bike, and as a result, encourages more people to ride bikes for short trips around town.

In Sweden, people cycling and people walking are treated the same. Select image to enlarge.

In the dozen or so municipalities I visited in Sweden, ranging in size from White Rock to Abbotsford, I was surprised to see such a larger number and diversity of people riding bikes. I was especially surprised to see a larger number of seniors riding bicycles around town. There were also little kids riding bikes without parental supervision. Every demographic was represented riding bikes in Sweden.

This makes sense because the cycling infrastructure in Sweden is designed the same way as pedestrian infrastructure. While 203rd Street has some challenges with curb letdowns, it is close to what a typical major corridor looks like in Sweden. People ride bikes and walk across intersections the same way in Sweden. At roundabouts, people driving yield for people cycling and walking.

If 203rd Street was in Sweden, it would use the following sign at all crosswalks:

A pedestrian and cycling crosswalk in North Vancouver. Select image to enlarge.

Because residential side streets are 30km/h in Sweden, there is nothing special needed to make cycling safe on these streets.

One thing that I didn’t see was unprotected shoulder bike lanes in Sweden. This is the default design in BC because we tend to think of cycling like driving. Unfortunately, this kind of cycling infrastructure only attracts the spandex-wearing crowd. It makes cycling an unappealing option for most people.

203rd Street and the recently completed path on Duncan Way in Langley City is the kind of cycling infrastructure that is the default in Sweden for cities of all sizes. Because of this, cycling is an option that people of all abilities and ages take advantage of.

A shared-use path across a bridge in Sweden. A line in the path separates people walking and cycling. Select image to enlarge.

I’m happy that in Langley City, we are focusing on creating cycling infrastructure that is more in line with Sweden because what I saw in that country confirms that we are on the right path here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The three Ps of a successful downtown: public parking, public transit, and pedestrian priority. Lessons from Sweden.

Last week, I was in Sweden on holiday. I visited close to a dozen small to mid-sized municipalities while there. One of the things that I noticed was that these municipalities all had vibrant downtowns; I observed some commonalities which contributed to their success.

Before I get into that, vibrant downtowns are important for many reasons. One reason is that they give a community an identity and sense of place. When you live in a community with this, you are more likely to be invested in its success whether it be by being involved with volunteering or by keeping your eyes and ears on the street which reduces negative activity.

Downtowns also support higher walking, cycling, and public transit usage. This create a healthy and happy community where people know their neighbours and have more positive health outcomes. It also supports reducing private automobile usage which reduces congestion, is good for the environment, and is good for human health.

Finally, downtowns are small-business incubators. Small-business owners invest more back into their communities of operation than businesses owned by larger national or international corporations.

I should also point out that Sweden, like Canada, has big-box stores and malls outside of their downtowns as well.

An example of a shared surface parking lot at the edge of a Downtown in Sweden. Select image to enlarge.

Shared parking is critical to creating a walkable downtown core. In Sweden, there was little to no private parking on the sites of shops and offices in their downtown cores. Instead, there was municipally-owned surface parking lots and/or parkades which book-ended the downtowns in Sweden. I was never more than a 10-minute walks from shared parking. There was on-street parking on some streets as well, but it was paid parking. Most of the shared parking was also paid parking, but it was cheaper than the on-street parking to encourage longer-term parking in the book-ended shared parking.

In North America, we generally require that all new buildings provide on-site parking. This is inefficient as it leads to more congestion and unnecessary parking spots. Here is a local Langley example.

If you visit Downtown Langley, you park once and walk to all the stores. If you are visiting the Langley Bypass, and need to go from Indigos to Sleep Country, you are likely going to drive from one store to the other because each on-site parking lots require that businesses be spaces further apart. This means for one shopping trip, you will need to two parking spots and need to drive which creates congestion.

Every downtown was also the home of the main transit exchange for each community in Sweden, this provides people an easy way to get to downtown other than by car.

Because of shared parking, public transit, and good walking and cycling access from residential neighbourhoods adjacent to downtowns in Sweden, they created people-first areas. The following picture shows a good example of this.

An example of a people-first Downtown in Sweden. Select image to enlarge.

This supports the creation of a strong and vibrant downtown.

Downtown Langley has many of the characteristics of downtowns in Sweden though it is missing the shared public parking. Interesting, our current zoning bylaw encourages building commercial areas more in line with the Langley Bypass than Downtown Langley. Langley City is in the process of updating our zoning bylaw. I will be supporting a zoning bylaw that creates a vibrant people-first community. I will also continue to advocate for a parkade in our downtown core.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Visions Zero: Lessons from Sweden. Building safer roads and intersections.

I just got back from a holiday in Sweden where I visited at handful of mid-sized cities. While taking a holiday was the number one priority of the trip, I also was interested in seeing how Sweden designs safer streets. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cost of deaths and injuries here in BC and in Sweden.

In 1997, the Swedes decided to do something about this and launched Vision Zero. Vision Zero, in short, looks to change the design of roads to make them safer. The data shows that this has been working in Sweden to reduce deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes.

These principles have been adopted in other places either formally or informally. In Langley City, we have a good example of a street that follows the principles of Vision Zero, 203rd Street. It has seen a reduction of crashes since it was redesigned.

I wanted to share a few pictures from my trip which shows Vision Zero in action. Because Langley contains both urban and rural streets, I will show an example of both.

For higher speed roads where there is a high volume of traffic, centre barriers are used in Sweden. Even if it is a two-lane road.

An example of a rural road with a passing section. Note the centre barrier. Select image to enlarge.

If 16th Avenue was in Sweden, it would have a centre barrier like in the preceding picture. Sweden is a rural country, so they rely heavily on road design to keep their roads safe.

There is also a large stationary photoradar network in Sweden. I saw speed cameras everywhere in rural areas at speed transition areas.

In urban areas, the normal speed limit on major roads is either 40km/h or 60km/h in Sweden. In the Langley City context, Fraser Highway between 200th Street and Glover Road would be 40km/h. The Langley Bypass would be 60km/h. Side streets and downtown areas are 30km/h.

While speed bumps are the preferred traffic calming measure in North America, they are not in Sweden. Swedes use road narrowing and pinch points to slow traffic down. Unlike speed bumps which can cause people to slow to a crawl at the bump, and speed up between the bumps, road narrowing and pinch points cause people to drive at a consistent slower speed.

An example of an intersection in Stockholm. Notice there are no stop signs.

An example of a crosswalk. Note the centre island. Select image to enlarge.

Intersections are the most dangerous points of any road. Roundabouts are the safest form of intersection. Whether a four-lane or two-lane road, roundabouts are the preferred form of intersection in Sweden. Traffic signalled intersections are the least preferred form of intersection there. I only saw traffic signals when there were space constraints that prevented the installation of a roundabout such as in historic areas. The 203rd Street roundabout in Langley is typical of roundabout design in Sweden.

An example of an intersection with a roundabout. Select image to enlarge.

In Langley City, we have good examples of how to build roads that follow Vision Zero principles. Today, these are the exceptions and not the default.

Sweden has had a 20-year head start working on creating Vision Zero streets, and they started in the same place we are today. I’m hopefully that we will be able to make Vision Zero the default design in our community, and not the exception over time.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fraser Highway Express – Big Changes to Transit Start September 3rd

Thanks to the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision which is delivering a record-level of transit investments throughout Metro Vancouver, there will be some big improvements to transit along the Fraser Highway corridor.

Starting on September 3rd, there will be a significant enhancement to transit service along the Fraser Highway corridor from SkyTrain to Langley City (and onto Aldergrove).

Fraser Highway Express sign at Langley Centre Bus Loop.

The new Fraser Highway Express (503) is a limited stop service which is similar to TransLink’s new RapidBus network minus the fancy bus stops. Some bus trips will operate will longer articulated buses between SkyTrain and Langley City. Transit priority measures are also being rolled-out over the fall to keep the Fraser Highway Express on-time.

Fraser Highway Express Schedule:

Every 8 to 9 minutes during weekday peak periods
Every 10 to 15 minutes outside of peak periods
Every 30 minutes during the night

Fraser Highway Express Stops:

Surrey Central SkyTrain
King George SkyTrain
140th Street
148th Street
152nd Street
156th Street
160th Street
164th Street
168th Street
184th Street
188th Street
192nd Street
Willowbrook Mall
201a Street
Langley Centre

Map of service along Fraser Highway for 502 and Fraser Highway Express (503). Select map to enlarge.

The 503 becomes a local service route east of Langley Centre as it is today.

As a result, the 502 will see scheduling changes as well.

502 Schedule

Weekdays

Every 15 minutes in the early morning
Every 12 minutes during peak periods
Every 15 minutes outside of peak periods
Every 20 minutes during the night

Saturdays

Every 15 minutes 6am until midnight
Every 30 minutes from midnight until late

Sunday and Holidays

Every 15 minutes

In other Langley transit news, the 555 between Carvolth and Lougheed SkyTrain will started being served with double-decker buses starting in January 2020.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New housing needs report will help municipalities align zoning and better advocate for affordable housing for all

If you live in British Columbia, you are keenly aware that we are in a housing crisis. The housing crises might be the most keenly felt in Metro Vancouver where the price of housing whether apartment, townhouse, or detached house has skyrocketed. Even with the current damping of housing prices in our region, home ownership remaining unaffordable and unavailable for many people.

MLS Home Price Index Benchmark Prices for the Fraser Valley. Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

The rental market has also seen prices escalated due to extremely low vacancy rates caused by a limited supply of new purpose-built rental units.

While the federal and provincial governments are now just starting to catch up, there was a multi-decade long under-investment in subsidized housing, specialized housing for people with physical and mental disabilities, and housing for people dealing with addiction.

In order to advocate for housing that meets the needs of all British Columbians, local governments need to know where there are gaps in the types of housing required within their community.

To help municipalities and regional districts, the provincial government enacted legislation last year to require that local governments complete housing needs reports. The specifics of what must be included in these reports was released this spring. The provincial government also provided funding to help local governments complete these reports.

Local governments must complete their first housing needs reports by April 2022, then update the reports every five years.

At at least 50 unique points of data must be incorporated into a housing needs report.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District already has expertise collecting demographic and housing data on our region. As the regional district is a federation of local governments, the district will be preparing the approximately 50 unique points of data for each local government within Metro Vancouver. This will save both time and money when creating the 20+ housing needs reports for municipalities in our region.

Local governments like Langley City would use the data from the Metro Vancouver Regional District to prepare their own housing needs report. The report must include:

  • Statements about key areas of local need, including affordable housing, rental housing, special needs housing, seniors housing, family housing, and shelters and housing for people at risk of homelessness
  • The number of housing units required to meet current and anticipated housing needs for at least the next five years, by housing type. Housing ‘type’ is defined as dwelling size (number of bedrooms)
  • The number and percentage of households in core housing need and extreme core housing need

These reports are required to be publicly available, and their content needs to be consider whenever there is an update to an official community plan (zoning) or regional growth strategy.

These reports will provide the information local governments need to advocate to the provincial and federal governments for funding to build subsidized and special needs housing.

It will also help keep local governments honest about the link between zoning and housing required in their community. If the housing needs report says a community needs 1-bedroom rental units, but current zoning only permits single-family housing, hopefully local governments will update their zoning to encourage 1-bedroom rental units.

I look forward to the development and release of Langley City’s housing needs report.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Massey Crossing Project Update: 6-lanes with bus-only lanes and keeping the old tunnel shortlisted.

Back in 2015, the provincial government which was controller by the BC Liberals announced that they were going to build a $3.5 billion, 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. I was concerned about this project. It would have caused worse congestion on the Alex Fraser Bridge. There were serious geotechnical challenges which likely would have escalated the cost of this bridge project further. The project also did very little to improve public transit.

When the NDP came to power, they paused the project to complete a technical review of it. The review which was released early this year stated that a 10-lane bridge was not required, and that a more modest design could be used.

The province is now moving forward with a rebooted George Massey Crossing Project. Unlike the first version of this project, there appears to be more consultation with local governments. Items that are important to municipalities in our region include enhancing transit, cycling, and walking transportation options. The new Massey Project is putting a priority on these modes of travel.

The project has a “commitment to transit growth; including dedicated [bus] lanes.” It will also include a 3.5 to 4 metre cycling and walking path on both sides of the road.

Options that are currently being considered include:

  • A new 6-lane bridge or tunnel with the existing tunnel being converted to a 2-lanes road for use by transit or local traffic
  • A new 8-lane bridge or tunnel with dedicated transit lanes

Building more than 3-lanes in one direction would simply shift congestion from one area to another. For a perfect case study, just look at the Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1. The modelling for the new Massey Project also shows that more lanes simple cause more traffic. This is called induced demand, and is a well know impact of highway expansion projects.

Updated George Massey Crossing traffic forecasts for 2035 and 2050 based on 4-lane, 6-lane, and 8-lane configuration. Select chart to enlarge.

The next step for the project is to further study the short-listed options to come up with a preferred option.

The lower the lane count, the less a river crossing project costs to build. I’m hopeful that the province will choose a cost-effective option to make sure that funding is available for other transportation project and to reduce the impact of induced demand.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Volunteers needed for 2nd Annual Know Your Neighbour Campaign

When people know their neighbours, we end up with a safer community. People who have connections with other people in their building, complex, or neighbourhood, even if it is just saying a simple hello to the person who lives across the street or hall, helps create a sense of ownership.

When people have a sense of ownership in their community, they are more likely to notice when something or someone is out of place. This helps reduce negative activity. Beyond creating a stronger and safer community, knowing your neighbour also makes people happier. For a good book about this, read “The Happy City.

To give people tools to connect with their neighbours, including services available from the city to support these connections such as Block Watch and funding for neighbourhood BBQs, the 2nd Annual Know Your Neighbour Campaign is scheduled to hit the streets on September 28 and October 5.

Last year’s campaign was a big success. To make this year’s campaign even more successful, your help is needed.

The Know Your Neighbour Campaign is an initiative of Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. We need your help to go door-to-door for 2 hours either on Saturdays, September 28 and/or Saturday, October 5. The more people that volunteer, the more neighbourhoods we can visit.

I was handing out information in the Uplands neighbourhood during last year's campaign. Select image to enlarge.

I helped out last year; it was a lot of fun. To signup to volunteer, please contact Dave Selvage who is the Manager of Bylaw Enforcement at dselvage@langleycity.ca or 604-514-2822.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

RapidBus: Better B-Lines for Metro Vancouver coming this winter.

While rail rapid transit gets most of the attention in Metro Vancouver, it is the bus system that moves the majority of people who use transit in our region. As part of TransLink’s 10-Year Vision, significant investments are being made to bus service in our region. This includes investing in higher-quality bus service.

Most people in Metro Vancouver know that B-Lines are limited stop bus routes. Limiting the number of bus stops on a route increases the speed of a route.

Another key to speeding up bus service is to provide bus priority measures such as bus-only lanes and bus priority at intersections. Today’s B-Line routes have limited and inconsistent application of bus priority measures.

As it rains a lot in Metro Vancouver, bus shelters are important. Not all B-Line stops have shelters today.

As part of the 10-Year Vision, TransLink will be rolling out more and better B-Line routes.

Some of the meaningful enhancements compared to today’s B-Lines include consistent and targeted bus priority measures along routes, all-door boarding, and articulated buses. Bus stops will also be better as they will have real-time next-bus info and shelters at all stops.

An example of a RapidBus stop post. Select image to enlarge.

Because these routes will be better than B-Line today, TransLink is calling this service RapidBus. The following will be the new RapidBus routes which will be launching in January:

R1: King George Boulevard (Guildford Town Centre to Newton Exchange) – upgraded 96 B-Line
R2: Marine Drive (Park Royal to Phibbs Exchange)
R3: Lougheed Highway (Coquitlam Central Station to Haney Place)
R4: 41st Avenue (UBC to Joyce–Collingwood Station)
R5: Hastings (SFU to Burrard Station) – upgraded 95 B-Line

Bus service on these routes will run every 3 to 10 minutes in peak times, and 8 to 15 minutes at other times of the day. TransLink has posted information about these routes and RapidBus in general on their website.

The following maps show the transit priority measures being implemented on these routes.

R2 - Marine Drive: Map of Transit Priority Measures. Select map to enlarge.

R3 - Lougheed Highway: Map of Transit Priority Measures. Select map to enlarge.

R4 - 41st Avenue: Map of Transit Priority Measures. Select map to enlarge.

Fraser Highway between Langley City and Surrey Central was supposed to get RapidBus service too. Because of the extension of SkyTrain to Fleetwood, this was put on hold. Instead, this corridor will be getting RapidBus Lite service starting this fall. From what I can tell, the only meaningful difference is the lack of bus stop amenities such as real-time info and shelters at all stops. As I will be taking the new Fraser Highway service daily, I will be posting about my experience.

More RapidBus routes will be launched in Metro Vancouver beyond these five as the 10-Year Vision continues to roll out.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Local governments responsible for majority of infrastructure in BC, yet receive least revenue

Recently, the provincial government released its 2018-19 public accounts. This document is the annual financial report for the provincial government. The provincial government also collects financial information for regional districts and municipalities in our province. It has recently made this draft information available online for 2018.

The following pie chart shows the amount of revenue that the provincial government collected in 2018-19, and the total collected by regional districts and municipalities in our province in 2018.

This revenue also includes grants and transfers between governments. For example, the provincial government receives funding from the federal government, and local governments receive funding from both the federal and provincial governments.

As you can see, the provincial government receives the lion’s share of revenue in BC. This is not surprising.

While the provincial government provides important services to people such as health care, education, and social assistance, it is local governments (municipalities and regional districts) that operate services that require significant infrastructure such as water, sewer, roads, and parks.

The following chart shows that local governments are responsible for the majority of physical infrastructure in our province.

So why does this matter? There was a large investment in infrastructure that occurred in the mid-twentieth century. Most of this infrastructure is now coming due for replacement in the next decade or so. Given the limited amount of revenue that local governments collect, and the amount of infrastructure that needs to be renewed, we need to start talking about a New Deal for local governments in our province.

Either the federal and provincial governments have to increase their commitments to transfers and grants for local governments to fund infrastructure renewal, or the provincial government will need to enable new funding options such as expanding local government’s ability to collect developer charges, or new revenue steams such as a half-penny sales tax for local government.

I did not include the federal government in these charts as I do not have a breakdown of revenue collected from British Columbia by the feds, nor infrastructure directly owned by the feds in BC. I can say that the federal government owns less infrastructure in BC than the provincial government.

As a note, local government infrastructure value also includes land. These charts are interactive.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Learning about Metro Vancouver’s Regional Centres including in Langley

The idea that the Metro Vancouver Regional District should be made up of compact communities connected by high-quality transit has existed since the 1960s, becoming formalized in the mid-1990s under the Livable Region Strategic Plan (LRSP).

Under the LRSP, nodes of regional city centres were to accommodate the majority of new jobs and housing in our region. Because these regional city centres are relatively compact, concentrating jobs, shops, and housing into these areas creates walkable, bikeable, and generally accessible communities. This concentration makes it feasible to serve these centres with high-quality, frequent transit.

In 2011, these regional centres where further formalized into a hierarchy of regional city centres, municipal town centres, and frequent transit development areas.

Map of Regional City Centres, Municipal Town Centres, and Frequent Transit Development Areas. Select map to enlarge.

Regional City Centres are “major regional centres, serving Metro Vancouver’s subregions.” These centres are to be transit hubs.

Municipal Town Centres are “hubs of activity within municipalities.” These centres are to be connected via rapid transit or frequent transit.

Frequent Transit Development Areas (FTDA) are “focal areas for growth in alignment with TransLink’s Frequent Transit Network.”

Map of TransLink’s Frequent Transit Network. Select map to enlarge.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has created an Urban Centre and FTDA Profiles Dashboard to help monitor the alignment of these centres in relationship to regional objectives such as concentrating jobs and employment into these areas, and transit connectivity.

Langley City and Township share a Regional City Centre. The Urban Centre and FTDA Profiles Dashboard provides a breakdown of statistics for this Regional City Centre by municipality.

Map of Langley Regional City Centre. Select map to enlarge.

For example in the Langley City portion of the Langley Regional Centre, there are 13,045 total jobs based on the 2016 census. That number is 8,650 in the Township portion.

The Langley Regional Centre is one of only two regional centres that isn’t served with rapid transit today. Building SkyTrain to Langley will fulfill a critical regional objective of connecting regional centres with high-quality transit. Even so, 8.5% of people that live in the Langley City portion of the Langley Regional Centre take transit to work as of the 2016 census.

To learn more about Metro Vancouver’s Urban Centres and FTDAs, please explore the regional district’s dashboards.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The search for the meaning of “crescent” found in aerial photos of mid-20th century Langley City

Over the Canada Day long weekend, I posted a somewhat silly comment on Facebook noting that all roads called “crescent” in Langley City were not in fact crescents. A crescent is typically a road that connects a street to an avenue, or has two connections off the same road. The only “true” named crescent in Langley City is Brydon Crescent.

After I posted this comment, I started to wonder if these roads call “crescent” such as Eastleigh Crescent, Grade Crescent, Michaud Crescent, or Douglas Crescent where in fact true crescents at one point.

The provincial government has aerial photos that date back to at least 1936. Most of these photos are not online, so they need to be special ordered. I decided to special order some aerial photos from the time range between 1946 and 1953 around Langley City.

The following map shows what Downtown Langley City looked like in the early 1950s.

Aerial photo of mid-20th century Downtown Langley City with markup. Select image to enlarge.

The green line is 200th Street, the street marked with the heart is Michaud Crescent which ran south of the Interurban passenger and freight railway. The star denotes the beginning of the Fraser Highway One-Way which is marked in yellow. The lighting bolt marks the intersection of Douglas Crescent and 208th Street. If you look closely, you can also see Eastleigh Crescent.

Looking at this photo, it is clear that these roads were never crescents.

The next image shows all of Langley City in the same time period. The BC Hydro right-of-way is present in this photo. Grade Crescent, which used to be an old rail right-of-way, is also present.

Full aerial photo of mid-20th century Langley City. Select image to enlarge.

One of the other interesting things is that 208th Street used to go around a pond which is the current site of Nicomekl Park at 208th Street and Fraser Highway. It looks like when the 208th Street Causeway was built, the pond was drained. This is something that wouldn’t be allowed today.

As far as I can tell, the term “crescent” in Langley City really means original road.

As someone who values history, I was really happy to find out that the provincial government keeps historical aerial photos of our communities.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

529 Garage - Helping to reduce bicycle theft and increase recovery

A bicycle locked to a sign post.

As I’ve posted about in the past, Langley City is a safe community. Even so, theft in Langley City is something that occurs. By far, people stealing items from people’s (mostly unlocked) vehicles is the single largest category of reported crime in Langley City. Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group is working to help lower this category of theft in partnership with the RCMP and ICBC.

The theft of bicycles is also something that occurs in our community. Typically, around 6 bicycles are stolen each month in Langley City. Many of these bicycles are recovered by the police or municipal crews, but without any tracking information, these bicycles generally do not make their way back to their rightful owners.

I remember taking a tour of the City’s public works yard; there was a shipping container full of recovered bicycles with unknown owners.

To help reunite stolen bicycles with their owners, the RCMP is encouraging people to register with 529 Garage.

529 Garage is both a free app which allows you to register your bike, and a paid sticker that “provides an additional unique identifier for your bike, making it easy for law enforcement and unknowing buyers trace back to you if it is ever stolen.”

The stickers cost around $13 each. The RCMP also hosts registration events throughout Langley where the stickers are provided for free.

If your bike is ever stolen, you can simply create an alert on the app. If the RCMP or city crews recover your bike, they will have the required information to get it back to you.

By registering your bike, you can help reduce the likelihood of it being stolen. If your bike is stolen, there is a higher chance that you will get it back.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Acknowledging and accepting LGBTQ seniors in Langley City

For the third year in a row, the rainbow flag was raised in front of Timms Community Centre/Langley City Hall. The flag is raised to coincide with Vancouver Pride celebrations.

Seniors of Langley representatives, Langley City council, and others holding the rainbow flag. Select image to enlarge.

Speeches by a representative from MP John Aldag office, Mayor Val van den Broek, and the Seniors of Langley. Select image to enlarge.

In the past, the flag has been raised at the request of the Langley Friends of Dorothy LGBTQ youth group. This year, the flag request came from the Seniors of Langley which is a group for LGBTQ seniors in our community.

I had the honour of attending the flag raising yesterday. It reminded me of the struggles that LGBTQ seniors face in our community, even today.

It might seem surprising to some, but people could be officially discriminated against based on their sexual orientation until the mid-1990. It has only been around 15 years since LGBTQ people have had similar rights as their straight neighbours and friends.

LGBTQ people growing up in the 20th century faced many barriers. As youth, being kicked out of their house was a real risk if their sexual orientation was found out. Some LGBTQ people were forced to undergo conversion therapy. LGBTQ people lost their jobs because of their sexual orientation. Governments actively decimation again LGBTQ people, including raiding known LGBTQ establishments and arresting LBGTQ people up until the 1980s because of their sexual orientation.

The rainbow flag with the Canadian flag, BC flag, and Langley City flag.

Raising a rainbow flag for one week may seem like a small thing, but it is a big deal for LGBTQ people who have faced a lifetime of discrimination solely based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Canadian society is at its best when we accept and acknowledge people who are different than us. By accepting, and even celebrating our differences, it counterintuitively allows us to better see our commonality. The commonality that we all want to feel a sense of belonging and safety, and to have a good quality of life. By raising the rainbow flag for one week at Timms Community Centre, we acknowledge that people who are LGBTQ are welcomed members of Langley City.