Wednesday, November 20, 2019

November 18 Council Meeting: Aldergrove Regional Park’s extraterritorial area approved. 56 Avenue parking request received. Responding to the climate change emergency.

Yesterday’s post was part one of two about Monday night’s Langley City council meeting. Today’s post is part two.

Langley City, Langley Township, Matsqui, and Abbotsford where part of the Central Fraser Valley Regional District until 1995. Aldergrove Regional Park came into existence during the Central Fraser Valley Regional District era. When regional districts were redrawn in 1995, and Abbotsford became part of the Fraser Valley Regional District, it still participated in the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks system.

This changed a few years ago when Abbotsford withdrew from the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks system. Metro Vancouver transfer all its parks in Abbotsford to that municipality. Aldergrove Regional Park straddles the border of Langley Township and Abbotsford. Half the park was transferred to Abbotsford. From an operational perspective, this didn’t make a lot of sense. Abbotsford is now transferring its half of the park back to Metro Vancouver.

Because the Abbotsford section of Aldergrove Regional Park is in another regional district it is called an “extraterritorial area.” For it to be a Metro Vancouver park again, two-thirds of the municipalities in Metro Vancouver must consent to bringing all of Aldergrove Regional Park back into our regional parks system. Langley City council did its part on Monday night and consented.

Langley City is also part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library System. Council approved $25,000 to be used to renew furniture in our library branch.

Back in April, Ms. Damianos who lives and operates a business in the live-work building located at 19897 56 Avenue, asked council to consider providing full-time on-street parking in front of her business. Council passed a motion asking staff to explore this. The staff report came back not recommending full-time on-street parking along this section of 56 Avenue.

Council received a letter from Ms. Damianos asking that the curbside westbound lane of 56 Avenue be used for on-street parking between Noon and 7am. Staff did not recommend making this change as 56 Avenue is a major road. Council approved sending a letter back to Ms. Damianos noting that there will be no change to on-street parking along that section of 56 Avenue.

As a note, there is on-site parking at 19897 56 Avenue. This is similar to other commercial buildings in the area.

A photo from Councillor Wallace that she took at the Livable Cities Forum. Select image to enlarge.

Councillor Wallace recently attended the Livable Cities Forum in Victoria. She gave a presentation to council about her experience at the conference including about food security and upcycling programs in Victoria. She also read a statement from the forum about the need for local governments to take action to response to the climate change emergency.

Alex Speers speaking to council. Select image to enlarge.

Council also received a presentation from Alex Speers who is a grade 12 student at DW Poppy Secondary School. She thanked council for supporting her project to plant more trees at Hunter Park. Council thank her, and Mayor van den Broek presented her with a small token of our appreciation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

November 18 Council Meeting: Environmental Task Group, Reducing Red Tape, and Rosewood Seniors Centre Housing

Last night’s Langley City council meeting covered a lot of ground. Today will be the first of two posts about that public council meeting, focusing on some of the decisions made.

Langley City council establishes task groups that have a variety of mandates. One such task group is the Environmental Task Group which has the mandate to “prioritize, evaluate and develop a business case for the implementation of various environmental initiatives and programs” for council to consider.

The following recommendations were made by the task group for council to consider:

THAT mandate item four from the Environmental Task Group Terms of Reference be amended from:

“Promote landscape boulevards and environmental features on boulevards by residents, food production, bees/butterfly gardens” to

“Promote landscape and environmental features on boulevards by residents, businesses and developers, ie. food “security”, bee/butterfly gardens’

THAT the Environmental Task Group recommends Council receive a presentation from Green Teams Canada.

THAT the Task Group recommends that Council give funding to Green Teams of Canada to hold up to 3 events in 2020 at a cost of $2,000 per event.

THAT the Environmental Task Group recommend that City Council extend the term of the Task Group to December 31, 2020 in order to allow the group to fulfill their mandate.

To provide some context around the motion, task groups in the City are term-limited, and must be renewed. Green Teams of Canada previously held a successful event in Langley City where volunteers removed invasive plants from one of our parks.

Council approved the recommendations of the task group, modifying the funding request to be considered as part of the 2020 budget process.

Previously, if you were a contractor or other construction industry professional, you would need to get a business license in each community where you worked. This created red tape. To help streamline the process for people in the construction industry, municipalities came together to create the intermunicipal business license program. This means that only one business license is required from Delta to Hope for people in the construction industry.

Harrison Hot Springs and Merritt are joining this program. Council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw to help enable these municipalities to join the program.

Model of proposed development along Old Yale Road. Select image to enlarge.

Last October, council gave first, second, and third reading to an Official Community Plan update and Zoning Bylaw update to enable a proposed Rosewood Seniors Centre Housing development on Old Yale Road. You can read more about this proposed development project in a previous post.

The last step for this project to get started from a municipal policy perspective is the final reading of the bylaws, and approval of a development permit by council. For this to occur, City staff must be satisfied that certain conditions are met for these final approvals.

There is a one-year time limit between when third reading of a development-related bylaw is given, and when final reading of that bylaw must occur. If this time limit is exceeded, a development project proponent must go through the whole process again. Langley City allows for a 6-month extension of this one-year time limit. The proponent of this development project requested an extension “to resolve an existing tenancy and demolish buildings on the site.” This extension was approved by council.

Tomorrow, I will post about the remaining items covered at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Have your say on the future of Langley City by attending next week’s workshop and open house about land-use planning

Official Community Plan - Zoning Bylaw Updates Poster. Select image to enlarge.

One of the key planning documents for municipalities in BC is the Official Community Plan. Every municipality is required to have an Official Community Plan which details the “objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management.”

A municipality’s zoning bylaw is the companion to its Official Community Plan. It is about the prescriptive implementation of the policies and objectives found in the Official Community Plan.

Langley City’s Official Community Plan received its last major update several decades ago. Because Langley City council recently adopt its Nexus of Community vision, and because of the pending arrival of SkyTrain, both the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw are being re-written.

Since these are key documents for our community, getting people involved in the creation process of them is critical.

Next week, there is a workshop and an open house for all to attend. The details are as follows:

Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaw - Housing Forms Workshop

Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: Ballroom at the Coast Langley City Hotel & Convention Centre

It is recommended that you signup for the workshop.

Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaw - Housing Forms Open House

Date: Thursday, November 28, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: Timms Community Centre

There will be other opportunities to provide input as well, and I’ll be posting about them as they become available.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fixing the misalignment between creating a livable region and our employment zones.

Metro Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the most livable places in the world. One reason why is due to our land-use patterns of building walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible communities.

This land-use pattern is codified in our regional land-use plan which all 21 municipalities in Metro Vancouver adhere to. The following map shows urban centres, frequent transit development areas, and frequent transit corridors in our region. The region’s long-term goal is to accommodate 40% of all residential growth within these areas, and 50% of all job growth, between 2006 and 2041.

Map of urban centres, frequent transit development areas, and frequent transit corridors in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

When it comes residential development, we are meeting that goal. For jobs, we are not. Only 18% of job growth has occurred in these areas between 2006 and 2016. One of the reasons why has to do with our land-use planning. The following map shows the areas in our region that are zoned as “employment land”. These zones can accommodate anything from factories to office space.

Map of “employment land” zones in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

What might stand-out is that much of our “employment land” is outside of urban centres and frequent transit corridors. This wasn’t by mistake either, this is also codified in our regional land-use plan. The Metro Vancouver Regional District has now recognized that there is a misalignment between job growth objectives and land-use.

From a recent regional district staff report:

This suggests that new policies and tools may be needed to support the strategy’s objective to direct employment growth to centres and corridors served by transit. This could include new supports from the Provincial government, such as the creation of commute trip reduction legislation, similar to that implemented in Washington State that requires employers to take actions to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips; more research is needed on this and other possible directions. Staff also intend to explore how much employment growth is taking place on lands with an Industrial or Mixed Employment regional land use designation.

TransLink is updated its long-term transportation plan. This is a good opportunity to realign our land-use patterns and transportation network.

One idea could be to start serving these “employment land” areas with frequent transit. To support frequent transit, and to build more livable “employment lands”, mixed-use zoning could be introduced.

Given that most employment land-uses are quiet and produce little to no air contaminants, residential and retail uses could be introduced to these areas in the form of mixed-use buildings. An example could be an industrial/residential building. I remember attending a 2003 Sustainability by Design conference where this idea was explored. You can see an example of what this might look like for Langley.

I look forward to seeing how TransLink and the regional district will make our “employment land” more livable.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Traffic-related air pollutants highest near major roads, increases risk to human health

This may not come as a surprise to many people, but the closer you are to a major road, the higher your exposure to air contaminants. In fact, according to a new report from the Metro Vancouver Regional District “multiple traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) have been identified with adverse health effects. Living and spending time near a major roadway has been identified as a risk factor for a number of respiratory symptoms and cardiovascular problems.”

Approximately half the population of Metro Vancouver lives near a major roadway.

Major roadways have more than 15,000 vehicles per day using them. In Langley, examples include 200th Street, 208th Street, the Langley Bypass, and Fraser Highway.

Traffic-related air pollutants can be elevated up to 250 metres from major roads. Select image to enlarge.

The results of the study show that within 250 metres of a major roadway is where there is a significantly higher concentration of air contaminants.

The following chart shows the increase in air contaminants near major roadways compared to ambient air quality.

Traffic contributed to significant increases of measured air contaminants at the Clark Drive monitoring station, relative to the comparison station in the Metro Vancouver study. Select chart to enlarge.

Over other findings include:

  • Large trucks are a main contributor to the amount of air contaminants associated with major roadways
  • The highest concentrations were measured when the wind was blowing from a nearby major intersection
  • Concentrations near a major roadway can vary considerably from hour to hour and day to day based on traffic volumes and wind

The good news is that air quality has been improving overall in our region, and “these trends are expected to continue, as newer and cleaner vehicles, including electric vehicles, replace existing cars and trucks while use of public transit and active transportation increases.”

Even so, the regional district will be working to further help reduce people’s exposure to traffic-related air pollutants. This work will need to be supported by both the provincial government and municipalities.

For more information, please review Metro Vancouver Near-Road Air Quality Monitoring Study.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Electric River Bus Network for Metro Vancouver

SkyBridge - Fraser River

One of the ideas that gets floated from time-to-time is to make more use of the rivers and inlets in our region for public transit.

There are some good examples of this today with the SeaBus between Downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver, the Q to Q Ferry between Downtown New Westminster and Queensborough, and the small passenger ferries that ply False Creek.

TransLink is updating its long-term transportation plan called Transport 2050, and the agency is seeking feedback to help plan our region’s transportation network for the next 30-years.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Climate Action Committee is considering a recommendation that TransLink look at the idea of using electric “river buses” aka ferries as a way to serve communities along the Fraser River.

Some of the things that need to be considered according to the Metro Vancouver Regional District staff report include:

  • The member jurisdictions that would potentially benefit from a river bus service.
  • The suitability of the land uses and destinations that would benefit from the use of marine based passenger service.
  • The suitability to connect to the river bus service from the existing transit network.
  • The commercial availability of the technology for the application.
  • The locations for docking and charging infrastructure.
  • The cost compared to other transportation options being investigated.
  • The environmental impact compared to other options being investigated.
  • The ability of the service to reduce road congestion.
  • The employment opportunities generated from the new service.

There are examples of battery-electric ferries in operation today, including in Denmark and Sweden.

I would be interested to see a study of the feasibility of a “river bus” system. Would people take a “river bus” between Fort Langley and Sapperton SkyTrain? Or to get to Annacis Island? Would a route work between Haney and Port Kells?

All ideas are on the table, and I’ll be excited to see what Transport 2050 looks like.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Interactive charts show how Metro Vancouver is protecting green space and employment lands.

One of the major goals of our region is to protect our green space and employment lands. The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently released information on regional land-use based on data up to August 2019.

I wanted to visualize this information with some interactive charts.

The first chat is for the year 2011, and is the baseline. There are six regional land-use designations in Metro Vancouver. To make is easier to understand, I consolidated them into three major categories. If you want to drill into the specific zone, simply select one of the major categories on the chart.

Go Up

The second chart shows the change in regional land-use designations. The green highlights an increase in a category of land-use, while red highlights a decrease. You can drill down in the chart for more specific details.

Go Up

The good news story is that in Metro Vancouver we have protected green space and employment lands over the last decade.

You can hover over areas of the charts with a mouse to get more detailed information.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A photo tour of the new Langley Secondary School

Langley City council was invited by the Langley School District trustees and staff to tour the new Langley Secondary School (LSS). LSS is the primary high school for Langley City students.

My first observation of the new school was that it felt like many modern spaces for knowledge-based work such as at software companies or workshops. This design was deliberate, as it is meant to foster a collaborative learning environment which is how work is done today.

The following pictures are from the tour. You can select any picture to enlarge it.

Langley City council and school district trustees and staff. On the second floor of LSS.

Glass and flexible spaces are key design elements of the new LSS. 

Inside a classroom at LSS.

The library area at LSS, looking from the 2nd floor.

Langley City council, Langley school district trustees and staff. Looking at common area.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November 4 Council Meeting: Remembrance Day, Extending Task Groups, and Presenting Long Service Awards

Last night’s Langley City council meeting started with a presentation of long service awards for people that work at the City. People were recognizing for working at the City for five years, ten years, and 30 years. Each person had a bio read about them, and was then thanked for their service by council and senior City staff. One five-year award recipient used to work for the City, retired, then came back. This brought his total service to the City to around 45 years!

Langley City staff, family, and friends at the long service award presentation. Select image to enlarge.

The Remembrance Day Ceremony will be occurring at Douglas Park on Monday. The parade will arrive at the Cenotaph at 10:45am, with the ceremony starting at 10:55am. More information is available on the City’s website.

If you’ve walked around Downtown Langley recently, you may have noticed new banners that honour our war veterans. Councillor James noted that the Downtown Langley Business Association would like to give the previous banners to the families of people pictured. For more information, email the association at info@downtownlangley.com.

The City has several term-limited task groups which were created by council to work on specific tasks. Three of these task groups requested that council extend their term-limit to the end of 2020 to allow them to complete their mandate. The task groups are as follows:

Arts and Culture Task Group
To prioritize, evaluate, and develop a business case for the implementation of various arts and culture initiatives in Langley City.

Performing Arts and Cultural Centre Task Group
To continue the planning process, including developing a business plan, governance model, and funding model for a Performing Arts and Cultural Centre in Langley City.

Economic Development Task Group
To work at identifying ways to promote economic development in the City, and take action on targeted focus areas.

Council approved extending the terms of all three task groups.

Every Grade 5 student in Langley City public schools receives a workbook called “Getting to Know Langley City.” The workbook is used by approximately 500 students each year to help them learn about the history of Langley City, and how local government works. This workbook was recently updated. The most recent update can be viewed on Langley City’s website. This education program started in 2001.

As a housekeeping matter, council approved a new corporate identity and brand policy to replace a policy from the 1990s.

Council also approved its meeting schedule for 2020. The meeting dates will be posted on the City’s website.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Survey shows where people want new or improved crosswalks in Langley City

One of the common requests that I hear from residents in Langley City is for improved crosswalks. As there are many requests, and with both time and funding limitations, I wanted to see if there were any crosswalk request hot spots.

To help facilitate this, I created a simple survey website to allow people to select one location where they wanted to see a new or enhanced crosswalk built. Based on the results received, a heat map was created to help find locations where many people wanted to see a new or enhanced crosswalk.

There were over 180 results received from Langley City residents during the first week of September, and during this last weekend, from the survey. Survey participants were from all neighbourhoods in Langley City.

Based on the results that were received, several locations for building a new or enhanced crosswalk surfaced to the top based on the following heat map:

Heat map of locations where survey participants wanted to see new or enhanced crosswalks built. Select map to enlarge.

First Tier Locations Include:

45A Avenue @ 208 Street
51 Avenue @ 208 Street
Michaud Crescent @ 201A Street
Brydon Lagoon Trail @ 53 Avenue
48 Avenue @ 200 Street
Al Anderson Pool Entrance off 205A Street

Second Tier Locations Include:

47 Avenue @ 208 Street
48 Avenue @ 205 Street
Blacklock School @ 206 Street
Douglas Crescent @ 206 Street
Grade Crescent @ 201A Street

While not on the previous map, it was interesting to see that people also selected areas in the Langley Bypass area for crosswalks such as 62 Avenue @ 201A Street.

I want to thank everyone who took part in this survey. The results help to inform me where people want to see improvements made to crosswalks.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Changes in commuting over the last 20 years in Metro Vancouver. Neighbourhoods that generate congestion, neighbourhoods that don't.

Jens von Bergmann runs the Mountain Doodles blog where he shares data visualizations and insights based on Statistics Canada data. I’ve previous shared some of the visualizations that he has created in the past. His latest visualizations look at how people commute to work in Metro Vancouver based on neighbourhood-level census data.

One of the interesting visualizations is the change in the number of people driving to work between 1996 and 2016 which is the most recent census.

Change in number of drivers 1996 – 2016. Select image to enlarge. Source: MountainMath, Statistics Canada

The purple areas show where there has been a larger increase in the number of people driving to work, while the yellow areas show where there has been a decrease in the number of people driving to work.

In Langley City, we can see that in some neighbourhoods there has been no or a reduction in people driving to work in absolute numbers. In other Langley City neighbourhoods, there has been modest growth such as in the 198 Street/Brydon area over the last 20+ years.

Clayton in Surrey, and Willoughby in the Township of Langley, have seen a large increase in people driving to work over the same time period. This makes sense as these are new communities.

Another interesting map shows the net difference between driving and non-driving as the method of commuting to work over the last 20+ years.

Difference in change in number of non-drivers vs drivers 1996 – 2016. Select image to enlarge. Source: MountainMath, Statistics Canada

This is useful as it can show which neighbourhoods are more auto-dependent, even accounting for population growth and changes in the number of people that must commute to work.

Again, Langley City has neighbourhoods that range from transit-friendly to more auto-dependent. The most auto-dependent neighbourhoods near Langley City are Clayton and Willoughby.

There are two reasons for neighbourhoods being more auto dependent. One is a lack of transit service, and the other is urban design that doesn’t encourage walking. Most transit riders start their commute by walking.

The next census will be in 2021, so it will be interesting to see how things have changed. There is much more information Jens’ Commuter Growth post.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tips to make sure your vehicle is not a target for “prolific offenders”

I currently chair Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. One of the major goals of the task group is to provide education to both residents and business owners in our community about how they can help reduce the types of crime we see in our community. While Langley City is a safe community, we have a large amount of people stealing items from vehicles, and stealing vehicles. The people committing these crimes are a small number of what the RCMP calls “prolific offenders.”

While the RCMP works to catch these “prolific offenders”, they also provided our task group with a winter safety sense guide to share with others. This guide provides tips on how to help reduce these kinds of crime.

Below is some excerpts from the guide.

When parking your vehicle:

  • Never leave a wallet or purse in your vehicle
  • Look around your vehicle and see what items you’ve left in plain sight. Things that don’t appear temping to you, could be attractive to a thief. Items can include clothing, food, and loose change.
  • Report any suspicious activity around vehicles to the RCMP
  • Chose well-lit areas to park your vehicle. Park if possible in areas near high foot traffic.
  • Always close windows and lock doors
  • Use an anti-theft device
  • Keep your spare keys in your wallet, not in your car

When shopping:

  • See if a shop or mall has lockers to store purchases until you are finished shopping
  • Do not lock your purchases in your vehicle or in your vehicle’s trunk. Thieves often target parking lots watching for people to place items in their vehicle, and then leave their vehicle unattended.

At home:

  • Light your driveway all night
  • After opening your garage door or strata parking gate, watch out for thieves waiting to slip inside. Wait for the door or gate to close behind you.
  • If you see any suspicious activity around your parking area, call the RCMP

The Non-Emergency Line for the Langley RCMP is 604-532-3200.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Slicing and Dicing the Numbers: 2019 Municipal Property Tax in Metro Vancouver

The provincial government collects taxation information from municipalities, and provides this information online. They have recently posted this information for 2019 online. To help visualize this information, and provide some context, I’ve created some tables and charts.

The first chart looks at the per capita property tax in 2019. I used the information from the province’s Schedule 703, and combined that with 2018 population estimates. I’ve highlight Langley City for convenience.

2019 Property Tax Per Capita in Metro Vancouver by Municipality. Select chart to enlarge.

One of the things that stands out is that Surrey has a significantly lower per capita property tax. One of the things to consider is household size. For example, Surrey has an average household size of 3 while Langley City has an average household size of 2.1.

Municipality Population Total Property Tax Collected Per Capita Property Tax
Surrey 569,065 $364,429,422.12 $640.40
Anmore 2,389 $2,210,793.40 $925.41
Maple Ridge 88,626 $84,644,022.90 $955.07
Coquitlam 149,490 $151,087,559.85 $1,010.69
Langley City 27,577 $29,069,351.98 $1,054.12
Port Coquitlam 62,844 $66,549,258.31 $1,058.96
Richmond 216,300 $231,099,685.35 $1,068.42
Belcarra 684 $734,048.79 $1,073.17
White Rock 21,370 $23,163,637.99 $1,083.93
Langley Township 127,290 $138,325,635.12 $1,086.70
New Westminster 76,799 $83,939,035.07 $1,092.97
Burnaby 248,476 $273,684,820.07 $1,101.45
Pitt Meadows 19,772 $22,689,385.92 $1,147.55
District of North Vancouver 90,814 $104,615,821.97 $1,151.98
City of North Vancouver 56,741 $65,831,476.42 $1,160.21
Lions Bay 1,407 $1,634,595.33 $1,161.76
Vancouver 672,963 $823,944,278.13 $1,224.35
Port Moody 35,613 $45,406,517.80 $1,275.00
Delta 109,484 $144,196,476.30 $1,317.06
Bowen Island 3,977 $5,379,364.22 $1,352.62
West Vancouver 44,886 $73,837,205.17 $1,644.99

Another way to look at property tax is by a representative household. This is known as the province’s Schedule 704.

Property Tax on a Representative House in Metro Vancouver by Municipality. Select chart to enlarge.

Again, Langley City has been highlighted for convenience.

Municipality Property Tax on a Representative House
Belcarra $1,673
Surrey $2,028
Langley City $2,081
Pitt Meadows $2,110
Langley Township $2,126
Port Coquitlam $2,339
Burnaby $2,409
Maple Ridge $2,417
Bowen Island $2,426
Delta $2,449
Coquitlam $2,580
Richmond $2,592
City of North Vancouver $2,742
Anmore $2,838
Distrcit of North Vancouver $2,915
Lions Bay $2,923
New Westminster $2,949
Vancouver $3,059
Port Moody $3,346
White Rock $3,479
West Vancouver $4,802

Property tax bills also have charges that are set by the province, Metro Vancouver Regional District, and TransLink. There are also user fees for water, sewer, and solid waste. The proceeding tables only look at property tax set by municipalities.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Fall Regional Council of Councils: Water, Sewer, Parks, and Affordable Housing Updates

Two times per year, the Metro Vancouver Regional District hosts a Council of Councils meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for all 156 elected local government representatives in Metro Vancouver to receive updates from and ask questions directly to the regional district. Municipalities in our region appoint people to sit on the Metro Vancouver Board which is where regional decisions are made. Currently, there are 40 people on the Metro Vancouver Board.

On Saturday morning, all members of Langley City council attended the Council of Councils meeting.

Some of the topics covered are summarized below.

Strategic Plan

The regional district has updated its strategic plan based on a 30-year financial outlook. This plan guides the actions of the regional district. The plan focuses on strengthening the regional federation of local governments, continuing to delivery core services (water, sewer, solid waste, affordable housing, and parks), and improving regional planning.

35,000 people moving to our region every year, plus the impacts of climate change, mean that serious investment is needed to ensure that clean drinking water is available for everyone, wastewater is properly treated, and that our natural environment continues to thrive.

More Information: http://www.metrovancouver.org/about/strategic-directions/Pages/default.aspx

5-Year Budget Outlook

Metro Vancouver Regional District services are funded directly by property tax except for water and sewer services. Water and sewer services are purchased by member municipalities who are charged a rate based on consumption. In Langley City, we use water meters to pass this charge onto property owners based on individual consumption. The City also adds the cost to maintain the local distribution system which connects individual properties to the Metro Vancouver water main. This is charged based on a flat fee plus consumption.

5-year outlook, regional operation expenditures. Select chart to enlarge.

5-year outlook, regional capital expenditures. Select chart to enlarge.

Regional water and sewer services are by far the largest regional expenditures. These costs will be increasing over the next 5 years due to the massive investment needed to adapt to the impacts of climate change, keep the system in a state of good repair, and to accommodate population growth.

One of the big projects in Langley is the $537.6 million expansion of the Northwest Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant.

More Information: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/financial-services/programs-budget/BudgetPublications/MV2019-2023-5-YearOutlook.pdf

Regional Parks

Parkland acquisition is a priority as we need to protect the remaining green space that is currently undeveloped in our region. The 2020 regional budget proposes $7.6 million per year going forward to make this happen. The goal is to protect an additional 10% of the land in our region.

40% of the land in our region is protected from development. 10% of the land is unprotected and undeveloped. Select chart to view.

More information: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/parks/ParksPublications/RegionalParksLandAcquisition2050.pdf

Metro Vancouver Housing

The regional district is the second largest affordable housing provider after BC Housing in Metro Vancouver. 9,400 tenants living in Metro Vancouver Regional District Housing. There is an affordable housing crisis in our region.

To help respond to this crisis, the regional district is upping its housing budget by $4 million per year to build at least 500 new units of affordable housing. We were told at the meeting that this number could grow to 1,500 new units with partnerships likely to come from the feds and province.

Air Quality and Climate Change

Metro Vancouver is responsible for regulating air quality from stationary emitters such as factories, plus off-road vehicle emissions such as construction equipment. The regional district also provides statistics and advice to municipalities to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

More information: http://www.metrovancouver.org/climate2050

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Congestion increasing delays and decreasing reliability of bus service. RapidBus program to reverse negative trend.

If there is one thing that is certain, it is that the population will continue to increase in Metro Vancouver. With increased population can come increased congestion on major roads, but this is not always the case.

One of the only ways to give people a way out of congestion is to make walking, cycling, and taking public transit safe, fast, and inviting.

In places like New Westminster, road congestion hasn’t increased because of the investment in high-quality walking infrastructure and transit service in that community.

The South of Fraser, and other parts of Metro Vancouver, doesn’t have this same level of higher-quality transit service which is causing road congestion to increase. This means that the time it takes to get places whether by bus or by car is increasing. TransLink found that around 80% of bus routes are slower today than they were five years ago. With over 60% of all transit ridership in our region from bus service, this is a serious issue.

This slowdown in bus routes is bad news not only because it now takes people more time to get to where they need to go, but it also requires TransLink to provision more buses due to congestion, leaving less buses available to expand the transit network. In fact, congestion costs TransLink over $75 million per year to maintain bus service reliability.

TransLink recently released a map of the bus corridors that are the most impacted by congestion. The Fraser Highway corridor is on this map.

Top 20 most congested corridors that are delaying people riding buses in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

So how do you get buses moving to reduce congestion? Through TransLink’s RapidBus program, in partnership with municipalities, bus priority measures are being introduced throughout the region. The best way to get buses out of congestion is to introduce bus-only lanes and reconfigure intersections and traffic lights to prioritize buses. Some earlier work shows that this worked, including along King George Boulevard.

In Langley City, we will be changing current general travel lanes to restricted bus lanes along some sections of road in our downtown to help speed up bus service. While it may seem that switching general travel lanes to bus lanes would further increase congestion, it does the opposite.

Fast and reliable bus service actually causes people to stop driving and start taking transit. A good case study would be the Broadway corridor in the City of Vancouver.

The RapidBus program will be successful if municipalities continue to partner with TransLink to build out bus lanes and intersection improvements to keep transit service running on-time. This will give people a way out of congestion, and keep our economy moving.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

October 21 Council Meeting: Langley Community Hub, Fire Ops 101, and Cultural Connections Gallery

Sharing a healthy meal with friends or family is something that many of us take for granted, but for some people in our community this isn’t possible. Some people may not have the skills or tools to plan and prepare a healthy meal, some people may not have the finances, and some people could be disconnected and isolated from others for various reasons.

The Langley Healthier Community Partnership brings together our two municipalities, health care providers, and non-profit organizations to help improve the health of people in Langley. One of the initiatives of this group is to investigate a Community Hub.

The following video was shared at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting about what a Community Hub is.

Right now, the Langley Healthier Community Partnership is exploring what it would take to get a Community Hub going, including finding a potential central location that is accessible and includes an outdoor garden, commercial kitchen, and the opportunity for social enterprise.

IAFF Firefighters held a Fire Ops 101 programs which occurred during the most recent Union of BC Municipalities Convention. Councillor Albrecht took part in this program, and was recognized for his participation on Monday night by Langley City Firefighters Local 3253.

Councillor Albrecht being presented with a commemorative fire helmet for participating in Fire Ops 101. Select image to enlarge.

Fire Ops 101 is designed to give elected representatives and senior local government staff members a small sample of what it is like to be a firefighter, including putting out a fire and performing a rescue.

A slide about the Cultural Connections Gallery. Select image to enlarge.

Currently at Langley City Hall, there is the “Cultural Connections Gallery.” This exhibit which is on display until November 28th explores “first steps, first impressions, and first experiences” of newcomers to Canada.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

October 21 Council Meeting: $0.75 million investment into Brydon Park. Developing ridesharing regulations

Last night was the 43rd Canadian general election, and it was also a regular Langley City council meeting.

Recently, the provincial government enabled the framework to allow ridesharing companies to operate throughout British Columbia. While the regulation of these services is mostly a provincial responsibility, the following items are the responsibility of municipalities in regards to ridesharing:

  • Issuing business licences and setting business licence requirements
  • Regulating through street and traffic bylaws

Some examples of the types of things municipalities can regulate include passenger loading zones, and the age and types of vehicles used for ridesharing.

Council passed the following motion to ensure that we get regulations in place:

THAT staff be directed to provide a report regarding developing a ridesharing and ride hailing policy, appropriate regulations, and supportive business licensing frameworks, working with TransLink, Metro Vancouver, and other municipalities.

Before passing the motion, Councillor Albrecht noted the importance of making sure that ridesharing fleets are accessible for all people in our community. I noted that ridesharing can come with negative externalities such as increased congestion, reduced transit usage, and challenges with passenger loading. I stated that we should be considerate of these externalities when developing our policies, licensing, and regulations.

San Francisco is the heart of the ridesharing industry, and that city is taking measures to ensure that their streets are usable for all users, reducing some of the negative impacts of ridesharing. For more information, check out Better Market Street.

Council also gave final reading to the 2020 Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw. For more information about this bylaw, please read a previous post on the topic.

As I posted about earlier, work is underway to improve Brydon Park which is in one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in Langley City.

Brydon Park - Phase 1 Renewal Concept Plan. Select image to enlarge.

Council awarded a tender to Western Watershed Designs Inc. for their $633,425 (excluding GST) bid for phase one improvements to the park. Including design work, phase one investment into Brydon Park works out to $749,425.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the remaining topics from last night’s council meeting.

Monday, October 21, 2019

After voting today, complete the Langley City Community Survey and Child Care Action Plan Survey

If you are reading this post, there is a good chance that you have already voted or will be voting today if you can. A large voter turnout is important for a healthy democracy. As I’ve seen time and again, a handful of votes can make all the difference whether at the local level, provincial level, and today at the federal level.

When I first ran for Langley City council, I was 71 votes below the threshold to represent the community at City Hall. During the most recent BC provincial election, there were several recounts in ridings because the results were so close.

Since we are on the topic of civic engagement, there are other ways that you can make your voice be heard.

Every three years, Langley City holds a community survey to gather residents’ opinions about the community. The survey asks participants questions about their quality of life, city services, and other top of mind topics. The results help inform local policy.

You can read about the 2016 community survey results in part 1, part 2, and part 3 from several posts I wrote back in 2016.

This year, the City is also inviting residents to complete the survey online. The survey is open until the end of this month.

Start the Langley City Community Survey

In partnership with the Township of Langley, Langley City is completing a Child Care Action Plan. This plan is funded with the help of the provincial government.

As the first step of developing this plan, Langley parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to complete a survey before November 22. This survey will focus on experiences with child care in our community.

Start the Child Care Survey

There is also opportunities to attend in-person events as follows:

Parent & Guardian Meeting
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
6:00pm – 7:30pm
Multi-Purpose Room #1, Timms Community Centre

Pop-Up Parent Dialogue
Thursday, November 7, 2019
9:00am – 12:00pm
Reception, Timms Community Centre

More information about this survey is available on Langley City’s website.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Langley SkyTrain extension update. Where do federal parties stand on getting it built?

One of the things that people ask me regularly is what is the status of getting SkyTrain built to Langley. I’ve also noticed that there is some confusion about extending SkyTrain in general.

The cost to build a SkyTrain extension from King George Station to Downtown Langley is pegged at $3.12 billion. Currently, $1.6 billion is available to build the extension. This means that the extension as of today would need to be built in two stages. Stage one would go to 166th Street, and stage two would extend the line to Langley.

Map of proposed SkyTrain extension to Langley including station stops, and phasing. Select map to enlarge.

TransLink’s cost benefit analysis found that the extension of SkyTrain delivers the highest cost-benefit ratio if it is built to Langley. Currently, TransLink is working on a full business case for the extension to Langley. The business case is due to be released in January.

As per a report in the TransLink Board’s most recent agenda package “upon securing confirmation of funding and approval by the federal and provincial governments as well as the TransLink Board and Mayors’ Council through a project enabling Investment Plan, a procurement process (approximately 18 months in duration) would be launched, followed by construction then testing and commissioning (approximately 4 years in duration).”

In order to build the line all the way to Langley, TransLink and the Mayors’ Council are looking for a commitment from the federal government to provide stable long-term funding for transit projects. If this occurs, the SkyTrain extension to Langley will not need to be built in two stages, it could be built in one go.

We are nearing election day federally, and the various political parties have made different promises when it comes to funding transit projects in Metro Vancouver. Not all parties are on the record for supporting stable long-term funding for transit. Depending on which parties hold power federally in parliament after October 21 will determine if we get SkyTrain to Fleetwood in five year, or to Langley in five years.

For more information, please read the Mayors’ Council Voters’ Guide that summarizing each federal party’s position on funding public transit projects for our region.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Naming Metro Vancouver Regional Parks with both Indigenous and Anglicized Names

Current Metro Vancouver park sign. Select image to enlarge.

Knowing the history of where we live, and the names of places, is important as it helps ground us. Knowing about the past helps us understand the context of the present by allowing us to acknowledging past successes and mistakes. This helps us make better decision in the present, which helps support more positive outcomes in the future.

Recently Langley City council passed a motion to acknowledge that our municipality is in the traditional unceded territory of the Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nation.

I have posted about the importance of historic place name, and how Langley City is prominently highlighting the names of our original lanes in Downtown Langley.

One of the mistakes of the past was to erase the names of places that were well known by Indigenous people who have lived in what we now call Metro Vancouver for time immemorial. This was part of the cultural genocide of Indigenous people when the Canadian government worked to erase their history and identity.

One of the steps on the journey of reconciliation is to restore Indigenous place names. The Metro Vancouver Regional District is considering a policy of dual naming “places of significance for local Indigenous communities.” This includes the name of regional parks or features within regional parks.

The dual name would include both the Indigenous name and anglicized name.

The details of the policy are:

Any proposal for naming, renaming, and dual naming that includes an Indigenous name requires the support of the local First Nation(s) whose traditional territory(ies) upon which the regional park is located. If a regional park or park feature has significance to two or more First Nations and a consensus on the name or spelling cannot be reached, an interim name will be determined by the MVRD Board, until the time consensus can be reached and a new name is approved by the MVRD Board.

The names of places link us to the past. Being able to recognize both the Indigenous and anglicized names of places is critically important to our understanding of the history of where we live. I hope that the Metro Vancouver Board moves forward with this dual naming policy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Toxic Politics: A Cautionary Tale for Langley City

A few weeks ago, I was chairing a special general meeting for my strata building. The meeting was about some routine repairs, but surprisingly, it turned ugly. Later that week, I was at Langley City Hall to check my mail. I received two pieces of hate mail that targeted two different segments of people who live in our community. During the last local election campaign, I had someone yell at me for a good long while because they didn’t agree with an action that the City took.

I tell you these things, not because I believe Langley City is a hate-filled community, but because in our community, we respect people.

In Langley City, you can have a passionate discussion with someone who holds a different view than you without yelling over top of each other, or dehumanizing the other person.

Since being elected, I can say that 95% of the interactions I’ve had with people in Langley City has been positive, even if we don’t agree on an idea.

During the most recent election campaign, I knocked on the door of a resident who was not pleased with a change that the City made to a street. We had a 45-minute-long conversation about why I supported the change. The resident explained why they didn’t support the change. At the end of the conversation, we both understood each other’s view. We were even able to chat about how we could make that kind of change better in the future.

Langley City and the Metro Vancouver Regional District were studying an “urban farm” proposal for the BC Hydro right-of-way during my first term in council. The residents in the area did not want to see the plan proceed. They started a petition, they appeared at a council meeting, and they talked to members of council. No one was dehumanized, and no one was yelling; city council killed the “urban farm” plan.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that local politics has become ugly in some communities. I don’t want to see this happen in Langley City.

As someone who is elected, I’ve worked hard to focus on issues and ideas. If someone doesn’t agree with my point-of-view, I don’t make it personal. This is important because as someone who is elected, I play a role in setting the tone of politics in Langley City.

I also try to ensure that discussion can occur online in a way that treats people as people.

As citizens of Langley City, we all have a choice in how we engage with others. We can also talk with our close friends and family when they say things that are dehumanizing, to help them understand how this creates a toxic political culture.

I’m proud of Langley City and our strong spirit of community, though I have seen some cracks recently. We must all work together to ensure that our community remains a place where we can have healthy civic discourse.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sustainable transportation usage up in the South of Fraser. Walking way up.

TransLink recently released the results of its 2017 trip diary. This is a region-wide survey that has occurred for decades measuring how people get around in our region. These trip diaries were completed in 1994, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2011, and most recently in 2017.

These diaries are surveys, so they are based on a representative sampling of people in our region. For the 2017, TransLink adjusted the way it determined this sampling of people to “reduce transit bias due to the oversampling of transit users.” While TransLink adjusted the 2011 data as a result, data from previous years cannot be used in an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

While TransLink provides information by municipality, this is a regional survey. This means that municipalities like Langley City and White Rock have a small sampling of people which means that the accuracy for these municipalities is not as robust as at the regional or sub-regional level. This is why I only want to share information from the sub-regional level.

The South of Fraser which includes Surrey, Langley, and White Rock has seen an increase in sustainable transportation modes. These modes include walking, cycling, and transit. In 2017, 17.3% of all trips used sustainable modes.

Trips by mode in the South of Fraser (percent). Select chart to enlarge. 

Cars take up a lot of space. As our population continues to grow, we don’t have the space to widen or build more roads and parking lots in our region. Municipalities must invest in sustainable modes of travel. It is encouraging to see that sustainable transportation mode share is increasing in the South of Fraser.

It is also interesting to look at why people are travelling. While much attention is placed on commuting, the fastest growing reasons why people travel are for escorting and shopping. Escorting includes things like getting kids to soccer practice, and getting a parent to the doctor’s office.

Trips by purpose in the South of Fraser (total number). Select chart to enlarge.

One of the things we need to do as local governments is design our communities so that it is easier for people to do these personal trips via sustainable modes of travel. We need to design our communities to make walking to shopping easy, and our streets and parks in ways that parents feel safe letting their children bike to soccer practice on their own.

While many people believe that a majority of trips cross the Fraser River, they simply don’t. Around 90% of trips that start in the South of Fraser, stay in the South of Fraser.

For more information, please look at TransLink’s Tableau visualizations.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Discovering Fuller Lane in Downtown Langley. A brief history of our Downtown.

The location of Langley City has always been at an important crossroads. Whether it be for the First People who used the area to portage between the Salmon River and Nicomekl River, or the settlers who came in more recent times. Langley City as we know it today started because it was at the crossroad of Yale Road which provided access to the Fraser Valley and Interior, and Glover Road which provided access to Fort Langley.

Earlier this summer, I posted some aerial photos of what Langley City looked like in the mid-20th century. Some of our oldest streets have the name “Crescent” in them.

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

One of the other things that people might not know is that all of the lanes in Downtown Langley also have names. While Salt Lane is likely known by most people in our community, due to the large sign that you must go under, most people likely don’t know about the other lanes in our Downtown.

Fenton Lane is between Viva Mexico and Ten Thousand Villages. Locke Lane runs behind the Casino. Fuller Lane runs between Douglas Crescent and Fraser Highway. Recently, the City has installed a sign at McBurney Plaza to give better visibility to this lane.

Locke Lane sign. Select image to enlarge.

If you walk along Fuller Lane between McBurney Plaza and 204th Street, you’ll be treated to some fun murals.

Fuller Lane in Downtown Langley. Select image to enlarge.

In the future, I can see Fuller Lane becoming a shared lane similar to lanes on Granville Island. There is opportunity for pop-up retail along this lane, and for transforming this lane into a great public space.

Names are important, and I believe it is important to know the history of our community. I’m happy to see that we are making the names of our historic lanes in Langley City more visible.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October 7 Council Meeting: Vandalism at Penzer Park, trail network upgrades, housing needs report, and library funding

Last night’s Langley City public council meeting was a shorter meeting as it was held one week from the last council meeting. Normally, public council meetings are held every two weeks.

Langley City council received an update from Rick Bomhof about the departments that he looks after.

One of the gems in our parks system is the recently upgraded Penzer Park which includes an outdoor parkour playground. Langley City has invested significantly into this park, but it has been experiencing a rash of vandalism lately. Most recently, this included destroying a park bench, lighting a garbage can on fire, damaging a tree, and trashing the band-new washroom. The City is working with the RCMP to find the person or people that are responsible for this vandalism.

A slide showing the recent vandalism at Penzer Park. Select image to enlarge.

If you see people actively damaging City property, which is our collective property, please call the RCMP at 911. If you have any tips, please call the RCMP at 604-532-3200.

One a positive note, City crews have recently upgraded the Pleasantdale Creek trail which runs from the Nicomekl Floodplain, via HD Stafford, to the BC Hydro right-of-way. The upgrade has received positive reviews from people in our community.

A slide showing recent trail network upgrades. Select image to enlarge.

Along with this upgrade, the City is enhancing trailheads throughout our community. You will notice that garbage cans and more prominent trailhead markers are being rolled out throughout our community. For more information, please read Langley City’s Nature Trail Network Plan.

As I posted about recently, City Park has received extensive upgrades. While a grand opening is scheduled for the end of the month, the updated areas, including the dog off-leash area, is now fully open.

The City has also been working to improve the health of the Nicomekl River by stabilizing sections of bank, and by removing debris that restricts the flow of the river.

City council has increased funding over the last few years to help keep our streets and walkways in a better state of repair. You should be noticing improvements throughout our community.

The City owns and maintains a water reservoir. In the past, someone would have to dive into the reservoir to clean it. Now, the City uses robots to keep the reservoir clean.

In 2009, funding was cut to public libraries in BC. Libraries throughout the province are calling for the restoration of those funds. The following video outline some of the important services that libraries provide.

As required by the province, all municipalities must complete a housing needs report. This report is meant to help identify gaps in housing within a community. This can include affordable housing, rental housing, special needs housing, seniors housing, and family housing by income percentile.

The province has made funding available to complete these reports via a grant program that is administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. Council approved submitting a grant request, and getting the ball rolling on creating the housing needs report.

For more information about housing needs reports, please read a previous post I wrote on the topic.

If the mayor is unable to chair a meeting or attended a public event, the deputy mayor can take over. In Langley City, we rotate this role among members of council. The following 2019/20 schedule was approved last night:

Nov.1-Dec.31, 2019 - Councillor Storteboom
Jan.1-Feb.28, 2020 - Councillor James
Mar.1-Apr.30, 2020 - Councillor Pachal
May 1-June 30, 2020 - Councillor Albrecht
July 1-Aug.31, 2020 - Councillor Martin
Sept.1-Oct.31, 2020 - Councillor Wallace

As a fun fact, I’ll be deputy mayor on my birthday.