Thursday, February 28, 2019

Council of Councils: An Overview of Metro Vancouver Regional District Services - Part 2

Last weekend, I attended Metro Vancouver’s Council of Councils meeting. This meeting is held semi-annually, and provides an opportunity for all elected representatives from local governments throughout our region to learn and ask questions about the regional district.

On Monday, I posted some general information and highlights from last Saturday’s meeting, focusing on the regionalized utilities that provide water, sewer, and garbage services that make up the bulk of the regional district’s budget.

Today, I’ll be posting some highlights about the remaining services that we received information about at last Saturday’s Council of Councils meeting.

Regional Parks

Metro Vancouver maintains a system of regional parks and protected areas. This is likely one of the services that most people in Metro Vancouver associate with the regional district.

Map of Metro Vancouver Regional District Greenspaces. Select map to enlarge.

Metro Vancouver’s mandate for its parks system is to connect people with natural ecosystems, not provide sports fields and playgrounds. Because of this mandate, the parks system provides an opportunity to protect threatened plants and animals in our region.

As I posted about earlier this year, one of the key strategies of Metro Vancouver is to purchase property with sensitive ecosystems to expand its parks and conservation network. One recent example is the purchase of 3.95 hectares of property to expand Campbell Valley Regional Park.

Currently there are 32 parks, greenways, and protected areas that the regional district manages.

Regional Planning

The regional district is required by provincial legislation to have a regional growth strategy. The provincial government has a good overview of what regional growth strategy do on their website. All municipalities in our region must have their official community plans consistent with regional growth strategy objectives. This is done mostly by consensus and cooperation.

The current regional growth strategy, Metro Vancouver 2040, is due for an updated. One of the major projects for the regional district will be to update our regional growth strategy. It is expected that this update will be completed sometime in 2021.

TransLink is also updating their long-term regional transportation strategy. Both TransLink’s and Metro Vancouver’s long-term strategies will be developed to align with each other.

Air Quality and Climate Change

The Metro Vancouver Regional district is unique in our province as it has regulatory powers to manage emissions from industrial emitters and other sources of air pollution such as wood burning stoves and construction equipment. It maintains an air quality monitoring network.

The district also provides resources to support its federated local governments adopt to climate change and reduce emissions. A new Climate 2050 roadmap is being developed by the regional district to provide a strategy for how our region moves forward to tackle climate change.

Metro Vancouver Housing

The regional district is one of BC’s largest affordable housing providers. It provides 9,400 people on 49 sites in 11 municipalities a place to call home. Their housing is geared towards families, seniors, and people with disabilities. The below market rents are indexed to tenants’ income. A process is underway to expand their supply of affordable rental housing by redevelop their existing sites.

I asked if they would be building additional affordable housing in municipalities that currently don’t have regional district sites. I was told that if municipalities can provide land, the district would be willing to look at building affordable housing in those municipalities.

The regional district also provides resources to help municipalities plan for affordable housing such as the recent Affordable Housing Strategy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

February 25, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Updates to the Advisory Planning Commission. Development Projects Approved.

Yesterday, I posted about the proposed 2019 Langley City budget and community grants that were approved at Monday night’s council meeting. Today, I will be covering the remaining items that were on the agenda.

George Garrett, former CKNW report, presented about the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society. He noted that around 3 years ago the Canadian Cancer Society stopped funding their volunteer driver program which provided a way to transport people who otherwise couldn’t get to cancer treatment. Garrett stated that his organization picked-up where the Canadian Cancer Society left off, and now provides about one-third of the volunteer cancer driver trips in our province. He requested that Langley City provide a community grant to the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society to support their program.

Council also received an update about recreation services from its director, Kim Hilton. She stated that Family Day long weekend programming was well received, including a family art drop-in program at Timms Community Centre where 125 people attended. She noted that the family art drop-in will be back. For a list of recreation opportunities, please visit the City’s website.

Council gave third reading to bylaws to support a proposed 4-storey, 14 unit "stacked townhouse" development at 20172-20178 53A Avenue; and, a proposed 5-storey, 104-unit apartment at 5470, 5480, 5490, 5500, 5510 199A Street. Council also gave final reading to discharge a land use contract for 5139 209A Street. You can read more about these items in a previous blog post.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to update the Advisory Planning Commission Establishment Bylaw. The Advisory Planning Commission provides advice to council about proposed development projects in our community. All development projects are reviewed by this commission before going to Langley City council for review.

The commission is made up of six voting members from the community, and one voting member who is an Accessibility Representative. There are other non-voting members on the commission including a representative from the school board, RCMP, and City council. Members serve a one-year term.

The proposed updates address some housekeeping matters and also clarify details about how the commission should go about reviewing development proposals. The commission can provide advice on most aspects of a development proposal to council including the overall design of a proposal, the relationship of a proposal to its surrounding, parking layout, siting of a building, building materials used, and overall quality. This is not an exhaustive list. If the updated bylaw receives final reading, the next step will be to appoint commission members for 2019.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

February 25, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Budget receives third reading and community grants approved

Currently, Langley City is in the process of adopting its 2019 budget and financial plan. Around 7 residents attended the financial plan open house last Wednesday. Of the people that I talked to, the concerns I heard were around the assessed values of their properties. The value of property is determined by the independent BC Assessment Authority. The authority does provide a way to appeal their assessment determinations though the period to appeal for 2019 has passed.

A Committee of the Whole was held at the beginning of last night’s council meeting to give people an opportunity to provide feedback directly to council about the proposed 2019 financial plan. Council received no written comments and no members of the public were present to speak to the financial plan last night.

Mayor van den Broek proposed some amendments to the financial plan to delay implementation or eliminate some of the proposed service level increases. These amendments did not move forward. The unamended financial plan received third reading last night. The final reading of the financial plan will occur in March. If approved, the 2019 budget and financial plan will be adopted.

For more information about the financial plan, please read my budget overview post, a post about the proposed service level increases, and a post about the proposed capital works budget.

Langley City received $7.8 million in casino proceeds in 2018. Every year council allocates a portion of these proceeds to provide community grants to support non-profit organizations and events that benefit our community. Council also distributes scholarships to support Langley City high school students.

Council adopted an amendment to the community grant policy on Monday night to require that organizations that receive a grant, provide an acknowledgement regarding this support.

Council also approved distributing $157,430.65 in grants last night as follows:

Bard in the Valley - $11,285.40
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley - $3,000.00
Blacklock Elementary School (PAC) - $1,500.00
Boys and Girls Club of Langley - $3,600.00
Canadian Chili and BBQ Society - $10,000.00
Canadian National Racquetball Championship - $1,000.00
Children of the Street Society - $1,000.00
Christmas Parade Event - $11,500.00
Codependents Anonymous 12 Step Group - $491.50
Critter Care Wildlife Society - $2,500.00
DLBA – Arts Alive Event - $10,000.00
Douglas Park Charity Pickelball Tournament - $4,000.00
Douglas Park Community School Society - $4,000.00
Elijah Place - $3,465.00
Encompass Support Services Society – Best Babies - $6,187.59
Fibromyalgia Well Spring Foundation - $1,000.00
Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives – Black Book - $2,000.00
Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards - $750.00
KPU / Kiwanis Fraser Valley Music Festival Society - $5,500.00
Langley 4H District Council - $150.00
Langley Amateur Radio Association - $262.60
Langley Baseball Association - $8,000.00
Langley Cares Foundation – Langley Lodge - $3,000.00
Langley Community Farmers Market Society - $4,500.00
Langley Community Services Society - $5,000.00
Langley Field Naturalists - $1,600.00
Langley Flippers Swim Club - $3,066.00
Langley Fundamental Secondary School - Dry Grad - $500.00
Langley Girl’s Softball Tournament $2,500
Langley Hospice Society - $2,062.00
Langley Lawn Bowling Club - $1,300.00
Langley Literacy Association - $2,500.00
Langley Pos-Abilities Society - $1,261.31
Langley Royal Canadian Legion – Remembrance Day - $4,750.00
Langley Scholarship Committee - $4,500.00
Langley Secondary School – Dry Grad - $500.00
Langley Senior Resources Society - $15,000.00
Langley Ukulele Association - $1,650.00
Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society - $2,627.00
Mountain Secondary School Dry Grad - $500.00
Parkinson Society BC – Langley Chapter - $236.25
Pitch In Canada - $425.00
Pucks Powerplay Foundation - $2,500.00
Seniors of Langley - $355.00
Shape Your World - $4,906.00
Youth Parliament - $1,000.00

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the other items on Monday night’s council meeting agenda.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Council of Councils: An Overview of Metro Vancouver Regional District Services - Part 1

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is a federation of municipalities, Tsawwassen First Nation, and unincorporated areas. Each local government appoints members to the Metro Vancouver board. Because the majority of councillors in our region do not actively participate in the regional district’s committees and boards, twice a years, a Council of Councils meeting is held. This is a town-hall format event where local elected representatives receive updates about the regional district, and have an opportunity to ask questions.

Map of Metro Vancouver Regional District including other local governments. Select map to enlarge.

I attended the first Council of Councils meeting since the fall election on Saturday. Because there are many new people elected in local government, the focus of this Council of Councils was on providing a high level overview of the regional district and the services it provides.

Metro Vancouver is home to 53% of BC’s population. Services started being regionalize in 1914 with sewerage and drainage services, followed shortly by water services. The regional district has a proposed 2019 budget of $831.4 million.

Water, sewerage, and drainage services require a significant amount of funding to operate and maintain. The following is a sample of some of the $200 million plus projects that the regional district is working on:

  • Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Stage 5 Expansion - $538.3 million
  • Northwest Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion - $537.6 million
  • Second Narrows Marine Crossing - $351 million
  • Coquitlam Main No. 4 - $236 million
  • Annacis Marine Crossing - $217 million

The Council of Councils meeting lasted about 3 hours, and with the density of information provided, it was like drinking from a firehose a points.

I will be posting some highlights from this meeting in two parts. Today, I will focus on the regional district’s utilities which represent about 85% of its expenditures. Later in the week, I’ll be posting about the remaining services.

Water Services

Metro Vancouver has the largest water filtration facilities in Canada. Water services require a high level of investment. Metro Vancouver’s website provides information on their three reservoirs. The proposed 2019 budget for water services in the region is $289 million.

Langley City buys water from Metro Vancouver which is then fed into our water system before connecting to housing and businesses in our community.

Demand for water has been relatively flat even as our region grows due to conservation efforts, but the district is starting to see demand grow now. This means that the regional district will need to double-down on conservation efforts, and also start to plan for further expansion to make sure that water is available for everyone as the region continues to grow. The regional district is about to start work on a 30-year infrastructure plan to help guide investments required.

Liquid Waste-Sewerage Services

As I noted earlier, sewerage services have been regionalized for over 100 years. While people don’t think much about sewers today, they are one of the key components of the public health system.

The proposed 2019 budget for liquid waste services is $309 million to support five wastewater treatment plants including significant upgrades to accommodate population growth and new environmental standards which require secondary treatment of wastewater. The cost of upgrading these treatment plants will have a large impact on property tax in the coming years. Like the water utility, a 30-year infrastructure plan is being developed.

Solid Waste Services

Metro Vancouver residents, buinessines, and visitors generate around 3 million tonnes of garbage per year. While our region is a leader in North America with 63% of garbage being diverted into recycling and organics streams, this is a long way from the region’s goal of 80% garbage diversion. Beyond diverting garbage, one of the keys is to reduce waste from being created in the first place. The good news is that there has been a decline in garbage even as our region is growing. The regional district is working with other communities and organizations throughout Canada to help further this decline in garbage generation.

Two areas that the regional district is working on is how to better handle construction and demolition waste which can be voluminous, as well as working on an action plan to reduce single-use item waste such as food containers.

Metro Vancouver operates a waste-to-energy facility which consumes about a quarter of the garbage that would otherwise end up in landfill. A 30-year infrastructure plan is being developed for solid waste services. The proposed 2019 budget for these services is $107 million.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

SFU competition brings students together to pitch solutions to reduce congestion in Metro Vancouver

It is very unusual for both my role as a Langley City councillor and role in my day job at a local software company to come together, but it did yesterday at SFU’s CaseIT Business Case Competition. This competition is run out of the Beedie School of Business. The competition focuses on creating business cases for ideas that bridge business and technology. The company that I work for was a sponsor of the event, and I was there as a TechMentor to provide guidance and advice to the teams that were in the competition.

I was surprised to learn that the teams had to develop a business case on how to reduce congestion in Metro Vancouver. This is something that I spend a lot of time thinking about in my role as a city councillor.

Lunch break at CaseIT competition. Select image to enlarge.

Many of the teams pitched solutions that focused around road pricing to reduce congestion by providing incentives to travel outside of peak travel periods and disincentives to travel during peak periods.

Other teams thought about expanding bike-share programs region-wide, and providing safe bike parking at SkyTrain stations. One team thought that the region needed to build more park and ride lots at SkyTrain stations.

Some teams focused on creating apps to make car-sharing, cycling, and transit easier for people. One team pitched an app that would tell you the best way to get around the region, including using multiple travel modes such as using rideshare and transit, that could be customized by options such a price, environmental impact, and accessibility.

Instead of private companies providing ride-hailing services, one team pitched a solution where TransLink would use ride-hail technology to help provide fast, frequent mini-bus service to areas that currently cannot support 15 minute or better bus service. This was one of the ideas that I thought could have an application in Langley.

While many of the teams focused on moving people around, one of the teams that I TechMentored wanted to look at how communities could reduce congestion by providing more information to municipalities.

Currently information about our transportation network exists in many places. Crash data is available through ICBC. Many private companies have real-time traffic information. Traffic signals are controlled by various municipalities and the province. The short of it is that there is a lot of information available that could be used to help municipalities build roads that reduce crashes which reduces congestion, or optimize traffic signals and routing, but they are all in disconnected locations.

If you are a big municipality like Vancouver or Surrey, you can hire a team to develop custom solutions, but this is not possible for most municipalities in our province. All municipalities have GIS mapping systems which allow the public and municipal staff to look at things like property lines, aerial photos, roads, pipes, parks, and streetlight locations. Adding traffic information into these mapping systems is just another layer that could be made availalble. One of the teams pitched creating a solution that would tie various disconnected data sources into these GIS systems through software that would be broadly available to municipalities of all sized.

I found the experience of attending CaseIT refreshing. It was encouraging to see students working towards solutions to help reduce congestion and the need for single-occupancy vehicles in Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Creating safer streets in Langley City. 80% drop in crashes on 203 Street.

The majority of streets in Metro Vancouver have been built and are maintained by municipalities. As I posted about in early January, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of fatalities in our province and a leading cause of hospitalizations. These statistics are alarming and unacceptable. These statistics are unacceptable because street design is directly linked to both the severity and number of crashes. Street design can be changed.

Many municipalities in North America are adopting “Vision Zero” principles to reduce the severity of injuries from crashes and to eliminate fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes.

While Langley City has not official adopted Vision Zero principles, the City has nonetheless being making changes to our street network to reduce speeding and conflicts at intersections which help to reduce the frequency and severity of collisions.

Over the past several years, there has been a significant redesign of two streets in our community that have been completed to improve safety for all street users: 203rd Street and 53/51B Avenue, east of 204th Street.

Have these street redesigns been successful in creating safer streets?

203rd Street at 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Between the beginning of April 2016 and end of March 2017, there were 12 collision on 203rd Street between Michaud Crescent and Grade Crescent according to RCMP data. Between the beginning of April 2017 and end of March 2018, there were 2.

Between the beginning of February 2017 and end of January 2018, there were 4 collisions on 53/51B Avenue between from 204 and 208 Street. Between the beginning of February 2018 and end of January 2019, there were 2.

There have also been various smaller traffic calming projects implemented throughout Langley City in the past few years. Headlines were made in 2017 when there were several vehicles that crashed and flipped along 50 Avenue near Condor Park.

Before traffic calming was installed along this section of 50 Avenue, there were 4 collisions between the beginning November 2016 and the end of October 2017. Between the beginning of November 2017 and end of October 2018, there was 1 collision.

Most of the changes that have been made to Langley City streets in the last several years seem to be reducing the number of collisions. The means safer streets which results in a happier and healthier community.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Langley City 2019 Budget: A look at the $10 million capital works plan

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been posting about the proposed Langley City 2019 budget and financial plan. There are two main parts of the financial plan, the operating budget and the capital budget. The operating budget is generally where ongoing expenditures are accounted for. Some examples would include labour costs for providing policing services, paying for electricity, or purchasing paper towels for City washrooms. The operating budget is the largest part of the Langley City financial plan.

A slide of the larger items in Langley City's 2019 proposed capital budget

The other major part of Langley City’s financial plan is the capital budget. The City is proposing to invest close to $10.1 million in the 2019 capital budget. The capital budget is generally used to pay for one-time projects, or to pay for creating or renewing a tangible asset such as building a new playground, replacing an old water main, or building a bridge.

Langley City’s capital budget is funded from revenue received from the casino, fees and contributions from developers, funding from the federal and provincial governments, and property tax.

Today, I wanted to highlight some of the larger items that are being proposed in the 2019 capital budget.

RCMP Detachment Repairs - $905,000
Help fund the renewal of the fire suppression and electrical systems, heating/cooling system, enhance security, and general improvements.

Baldi Creek Bridge - $745,000
Funds the construction of a pedestrian bridge across Baldi Creek, connecting Brydon Crescent with the BC Hydro Right of Way Trail.

Brydon Park Masterplan, Phase 1 - $700,000
Funds upgrading the park to include a water play area, sand volleyball court, picnic area, new washroom building, outdoor fitness equipment area, dog off-leash area, and perimeter trail lined with trees. See a previous blog post for more details.

Road Rehabilitation - $575,000
Funds various repaving projects throughout the community.

203 Street between Fraser Highway and Logan - $550,000
Funds renewing the sanitary sewer, repaving, and adding transit lanes.

Future Land Acquisition - $540,000
Funds used to help the City purchase properties for strategic purposes. An example could be to expand a park.

SCADA Upgrade - $340,000
Funds upgrading the communication system used to control the water system.

Douglas Recreation Centre Soffit Repair - $300,000

Bicycle Facilities - $200,000
Funds projects such as expanding bike lanes and installing bike racks.

Nicholas Park Washrooms - $200,000

City Park Picnic Shelter - $200,000
Funds replacing current wooden shelters with three new all-metal picnic shelters.

Water Meter Replacement Program - $200,000
Funds replacing aging water meters that may read water consumption inaccurately.

Eliminate Pipe Twinning - $200,000
Funds removing unneeded pipes to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Langley City 2019 Budget: Helping to increase safety, address social matters, and keep our parks and streets in a state of good repair

During the election campaign, and over my last term on council, there were common themes that I heard from residents in our community. They wanted Langley City to reduce property crime, address homelessness, and continue investing in our parks and streets. While we need the federal and provincial governments to partner with us to address some of the more complex social challenges in our community, the proposed 2019 budget addresses these themes heard. I wanted to highlight some of the proposed service level increases, and their annualized costs, found in the Langley City 2019-2023 Financial Plan.

Langley City budget presentation


Bylaw Officer - $90,000
Will allow the hiring of an additional bylaw enforcement officer to provide additional enforcement to support the growing community, and to address matters relating to camping in our parks.

Vandalism\Wire Theft - $30,000
Will allow the City to address the increased cost of cleanup and repairs due to vandalism and wire theft.

Additional Firefighters - $456,130
Will allow the hiring of 3 additional firefighters to increase the number of fire prevention inspections and enhance daytime emergency response.


Recreation Office Supervisor - $73,400
Will allow for the Director of Recreation, Culture, and Community Services to focus on cultural planning and on developing programs that address the complex social needs of people who live in Langley City.

Community Outreach Facilitator - $48,300
Will allow the City to partner with the federal and provincial governments, and social service agencies, to address matters around: aging population, diversity and multiculturalism, new immigrant support services, inclusion, participation and social connectedness, and homelessness.

Building Maintenance Position Upgrade - $12,800
Will allow for the Timms Community Centre to remain in a state of good repair.

Parks and Streets

Enhanced Park Maintenance - $45,000
Will allow the City to keep parks up to standard including grass mowing and landscape maintenance.

Enhanced Tree Maintenance - $100,500
Will allow the City to address the increases in requests for service to address matters relating to trees, and help ensure that the City’s increasing tree inventory remains healthy.

Planning for the Future

Planning Assistant - $90,500
Will support the implementation of Langley City’s Nexus Community Vision.

Infrastructure Levy - $75,000
Will help ensure that the City’s aging infrastructure can remain in a good state of repair.

Unlike the federal and provincial governments, local governments are not allowed to run deficit budgets. To help increase safety, address the social challenges in our community, enhance our parks and streets, provide more recreation and event opportunities, plan for the future, and keep our infrastructure in a state of good replace, a property tax increase is required.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February 11, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Engineering projects on-the go to improve walking, cycling, and transit infrastructure

Because of the mostly mild weather this winter, Langley City public works projects have been proceeding throughout our community. Langley City council received an engineering department update at its Monday night meeting about what was on-the-go.

Rogers Hometown Hockey was a well attended event in our community this January. Behind the scenes, Langley City staff were working hard to ensure that this event went flawlessly. There was a significant portion of our Downtown that was closed to motor vehicle traffic. The traffic management plan was completed in-house by City staff and worked well.

There are many sections of Langley City that were built during a period of time when little thought was given to making walkable communities; there are sections of our community with no sidewalks for example. Today, we are correcting this oversight by slowly completing our sidewalk network. One project that was recent completed was the installation of a new sidewalk along 46 A Avenue, off 208 Street. The completion of this project has been well received, and the City has received positive comments from members of the community about this change.

Work is continuing for adding sidewalks in the Duncan Way Industrial Area. A multi-use trail along Duncan Way was completed late last year which connects from Glover Road to the 204 Street overpass. Work is currently underway to add a sidewalk in the rest of this area.

Just an important as building out a cycling network is to ensure that there are places to park bikes. While there are currently some bike racks in the Downtown Core, Langley City will be installing an additional 12 new bike racks in the area.

As our community and region grows, the number of people travelling around will continue to increase. Widening roads have been shown to be ineffective in reducing congestion. People need fast, safe, and convenient ways to get out of congestion instead. As part of improving transit service in Langley City, in partnership with TransLink, transit-only lanes will be coming to certain sections of our community. This will help speed up travel for transit riders, making it a more appealing travel option.

As part of the reconstruction of 203 Street between Fraser Highway and Logan Avenue, transit-only lanes will be installed. In addition, the sewer line will also be upgrades as well as a new traffic signal will be installed at Industrial Avenue.

Wire theft is on the rise in Langley City. This is costly to repair, so the City is starting to rollout the installation of deterrents to try to combat this increase in theft.

Wire Theft Deterrent Device. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City council increased the funding a few years back to help ensure that our streetscape remains in a good state of repair. The following picture shows some work done to ensure that a stop sign remains visible.

Boulevard Maintenance - Tree Trimming. Select image to enlarge.

Other projects on-the-go include:

  • Developing the Michaud Crescent Greenway Design
  • Developing the Grade Crescent Design
  • Updating the subdivision and development bylaw
  • Upgrading water mains along 197A Street, south of 46 Avenue; and, Fraser Highway, between the Langley Bypass and Landmark Way.

Later during the meeting, council approved our CAO Francis Cheung to attend “the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators Annual Conference and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference in Quebec City, Quebec from May 26 to May 30, 2019 and from May 30 to June 2, 2019 respectively.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

February 11, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Public Hearing for Redevelopment Proposals and Funding Community Amenities

Last night’s Langley City council meeting started with a public hearing for three different bylaws around development.

As I posted about previously, there is a proposed bylaw which would allow for a 5-storey, 104-unit apartment building located in the 199A Street cul-de-sac off Brydon Crescent to be constructed. The project’s proponent noted some of the proposed features of the building at the public hearing including a terraced concrete foundation to reduce the building’s perceived height. Also, all underground parking spots will be roughed-in to accommodate electric vehicles.

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

As a condition of a subdivision or building permit to be issued, Langley City imposes Development Cost Charges. While these charges are mandatory, they are very restrictive in how they can be used under BC law. As part of a rezoning application, the City also negotiates Community Amenity Charges with developers to help provide additional required amenities beyond what can be funded via Development Cost Charges. The currently policy is set at $2,000 per multi-family residential unit approved to help mitigate the impacts of the development.

In this proposed development, in addition to contributing $208,000 as per council policy, the project’s proponent is contributing $200,000 to help fund a pedestrian bridge as shown on the following map which will link Brydon Crescent with our trail network.

Location of proposed bridge connecting Brydon Crescent to the trail network. Select map to enlarge.

Some of the issues that council hears regularly from residents about at public hearings are around construction traffic and parking. The project’s proponent submitted a traffic management plan to help mitigate these issues.

At the public hearing, there was one resident who expressed some concern about parking for visitor who have larger pickup trucks, and the need for more affordable housing in general.

The second proposed bylaw at the public hearing would accommodate at 4-storey, 14-unit stacked townhouse complex. This is a new concept in Langley City which you can read more about in a previous post. Council received a writing letter from an individual who was generally concerned about higher-density development. This proposed project will also have a traffic management plan.

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

The final bylaw on the agenda of the public hearing was to remove a land-use contract from the property located at 5139 209A Street. Land-use contracts were planning tools used in the 1970s that are no longer used. The owner of this property has a pending request to our Board of Variance for a setback relaxation. This request cannot more forward until the land-use contract is removed/discharged. There were no members of the community that spoke to this matter. Later during the council meeting, third reading was given by council to discharge the land-use contract.

Tomorrow, I’ll be continuing to post about Monday night’s council meeting.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Policing expenditure increases, prevention, and Langley City’s proposed budget

Over the next little while, I will be posting about Langley City’s 2019 – 2023 Financial Plan and budget. Policing expenditures are a significant partition of our City’s budget, and this has been the case for at least a decade.

The following table shows the increase is property tax budgeted from 2009 until this year.

Year Budgeted Percent Change
2019 $29,191,145.00 7.66%
2018 $27,113,085.00 5.46%
2017 $25,710,425.00 4.73%
2016 $24,549,430.00 4.18%
2015 $23,565,270.00 3.42%
2014 $22,785,750.00 4.25%
2013 $21,856,465.00 3.03%
2012 $21,214,045.00 2.96%
2011* $20,603,182.00 3.26%
2010 $19,952,130.00 5.83%
2009 $18,852,505.00 0.00%

The next table shows the increase in policing expenditures over the same period.

Year Police Expenditures† Percentage of Budget
2019 $12,907,040.00 44.22%
2018 $12,261,750.00 45.22%
2017 $11,725,840.00 45.61%
2016 $11,023,910.00 44.90%
2015 $10,596,570.00 44.97%
2014 $10,317,425.00 45.28%
2013 $10,065,385.00 46.05%
2012 $9,589,110.00 45.20%
2011* $8,427,799.00 40.91%
2010 $8,715,645.00 43.68%
2009 $8,357,740.00 44.33%

Policing expenditures have consistently used around 45% of property tax revenue received. In fact, policing costs are proposed to increase by $0.6 million dollars this year. This investment maintains the number of police officers and does not increase the number of police officers. While we get a great value from the RCMP and our joint detachment with the Township of Langley, increasing the number of police officers would have a significant impact on our budget and property tax.

This is why it is important to invest in programs, people, and infrastructure that will reduce the number of incidents that police need to attend.

This means investing in our parks and recreation departments to ensure that young people have positive opportunities in our community, or by giving community grants to organizations that help parents in our community nurture their children and by giving community grants that help ensure that young people can receive nutritious meals, so they can succeeded at school to become productive members of society. This helps reduce police calls for service over time.

It also means investing in our parks and public spaces to get more people outside which results in more eyes and ears on the street. It also helps create a sense of ownership in our community which further helps reduce police calls for services.

Ensuring that our buildings, parks, and public spaces use Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principals is also critical.

Finally, implementing traffic calming and redesigning our roads to reduce speeding also lowers the amount of police calls needed.

Programs and projects that are focused on prevention help lower the number of police calls for service. This has a direct impact on the number of police officers required which affects the City’s bottom line and your wallet.

If you do see suspicious activity, please call the police every time.

*This is the actual, not budgeted amount.
†This does not include capital works projects.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

“Secret” Free Parking in Downtown Langley

When people are looking for a place to park their vehicle when visiting Downtown Langley, the first place that most people look is along the Fraser Highway One-Way. During certain parts of the day, finding a spot on the One-Way can be tricky. While there is also on-street parking available on 56th Avenue and Douglas Crescent, there are a few parking areas that many people are unaware can be used.

The Downtown Langley Business Association provides a map of all parking that is available in the Downtown core.

Map of parking in Downtown Langley. Select image to enlarge. Source: DLBA

The first area where parking is available is at the Timms Community Centre/City Hall. You can park for up to 3 hours while visiting the Downtown core.

The other “secret” parking area is between 56th Avenue and Fraser Highway, just west of 206th Street. Many people believe that this is a paid-only parking lot or is a private parking lot. While there is some paid parking, there is also free 3-hour parking as well.

Parking lot off 56th Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Parking lot off 56th Avenue, view from lot. Select image to enlarge.

Over the past few years, I’ve told people about these two parking options. Many people were surprised that they were available for general parking use when visiting Downtown Langley. Hopefully now that this information is shared, it will also be useful for more people. These parking options are a few minutes walk to the One-Way, and will save time, reducing the need to hunt for a parking spot.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

First look at 2019 Langley City budget

Langley City staff and council have been busy over the past several months working towards a proposed 2019 financial plan and budget. An open house about the financial plan will be occurring shortly as noted below:

Date: February 21, 2019
Time: 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: Finance Department Foyer (main floor), Langley City Hall

You can drop in any time during the open house to ask Langley City staff questions about the budget and provide feedback. There will also be a more formal opportunity to speak to council during a Committee of the Whole meeting:

Date: February 25, 2019
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Council Chambers, Langley City Hall

The following table shows the high-level changes between the 2018 financial plan and the proposed 2019 financial plan.

High-level overview of proposed 2019 financial plan. Select table to enlarge.

There is a proposed $3.8 million increase in expenditures for 2019, and I’ll post more details about why in future posts. The short of it is that it will result in a 6.98% increase in property tax. Because of how property taxes work in our province, not all property owners are impacted the same. You can read more about why this is the case in a previous post.

On average, single-family home owners ($886,095 average assessed value) would see an increase of $58 dollars in their property tax and user fee bill in 2019. Townhouse and apartment owners ($407,050 average assessed value) would see an average increase of $164 dollars. The proposed average increase for townhouses/apartments seems step compared to single-family as proposed in the 2019 financial plan, but as shown in the follow tables, over time this isn't the case.

Year Average Change
2014 $0
2015 -$22
2016 -$39
2017 -$20
2018 $106
2019 $137
Total $162.00

Year Average Change
2014 $50
2015 $92
2016 $71
2017 $105
2018 -$7
2019 $2
Total $313.00

There were a lot of priorities that I heard during the campaign this fall from people about what they wanted addressed. I look forward to sharing over the next month or so about how the proposed 2019 budget will address those priorities.

*Does not include users fees such as water and sewer charges.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Reducing the number of single-use items that end up as waste

Street Bin in Langley City

Single-use containers make up a significant portion of the volume of discarded materials in street bins. In fact, a City of Vancouver study found that around half of the materials in street bins were lightweight foodware. When I walk through our community, it is these single-use containers that appear to make up a significant amount of litter on the streets, in our parks, and in our protected areas.

Metro Vancouver is looking at ways to reduce the amount of single-use items that end up getting discarded. Some of the approaches available that the regional district is looking into include:

  • “By request-only” regulations
  • Mandatory fees
  • Restrictions on sale/distribution

“By request-only” regulations means that businesses would only distribute single-use items if explicitly asked for by a customers. An example would be that coffee shops would default to “for-here” cups instead of “to-go” cups.

A mandatory fee is another option that could be applied to single-use items. We see this today with shopping bags where people have to pay 5 cents per bag. In the Metro Vancouver report, it is noted that charging a fee for single-use containers would be more effective in reducing usage than providing a discount for people who use reusable containers.

Another proposed option would be an outright prohibition on the sales and distribution of certain single-use items. This option would likely have unintended consequences including creating different types of waste, and impacting people who require single-use items.

Another option that I’ve seen trialed is a deposit on single-use containers. For example, a 5 cent deposit could be applied to single-use items. This has been highly effective in keeping beverage containers from becoming litter or landfill.

While Metro Vancouver and municipalities can advocate for solutions to reducing the number of single-use items that get discarded, the provincial government is ultimately responsible for implementing laws and regulations around discarded materials such as single-use items. To be most effective, a province-wide single-use item reduction strategy would be required.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Surrey Langley SkyTrain Project Website Up

With the switch from light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey to SkyTrain from King George Station to Langley City, TransLink has set up a new website about the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain Project.

Map of proposed SkyTrain stations along Fraser Highway. Select map to enlarge. Source: City of Surrey.

The website currently has a limited amount of information, but I expect that as this project continues to move forward, more information will become available. The current information on the site includes some of the preliminary reports such as a report about the cost to build SkyTrain to Langley. There is also an FAQ page with some information.

For example, on the FAQ page it is stated that it will take “approximately 15 months until spring 2020” to develop the project plan for SkyTrain. “Following this, a procurement process would take another 15 months, and construction would take approximately four years.” If all goes to plan and funding is found, it would take about six to seven year for the SkyTrain to be operating past King George Station.

Over the next year, the full cost of the project will become known. Currently, the estimated cost is $2.9 billion.

One of the key aspects of the website appears to be signing people up to a mailing list to stay up to date about the project. If you are interested in this project, I suggest that you take a look at the site and consider signing up to the mailing list. I’ll also be following this website, and will be posting information as it becomes available.