Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 29, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Crime stats show Langley City is safe. City passes 2018 financial audit.

Langley City council was presented with a wealth of information at its meeting last night. Today, I’ll be posting about two of the agenda items.

Every year, Langley City’s must have its financial records audited by an independent entity as per provincial law. Kristine Simpson, who works for BDO Canada, completed the 2018 audit for our municipality. She stated that the Langley City audit “is her favorite to do” because our staff are so well organized. Our 2018 financials passed muster.

Darrin Leite, who is the Deputy Chief Administrative Office, provided a high-level overview of Langley City’s 2018 Consolidated Financial Statements. The City had $64 million “in the bank” at the end of 2018. This $64 million will be used to fund capital works improvements and other longer-term costs that will be incurred by the City.

One of the other important metrics is the dollar amount of tangible assets. Tangible assets include things such as roads, pipes, street lights, municipal buildings, and park improvements. At the end of 2017, the City had $250 million in tangible assets. The City had $257 million in tangible assets in our community at the end of 2018. If this number went down, it would be an indicator that the City is not keeping up with maintaining our assets. I will be posting more about our 2018 financials in a future post.

Council also received a quarterly update from Superintendent Murray Power, Officer in Charge of the Langley detachment of the RCMP. He reviewed our community’s crime statistics. Generally, Superintendent Power noted that crime trends have been flat. He stated that there has been a decrease is theft from auto because of the RCMP’s work which has resulted in several prolific offenders now being in jail. He noted that most property crime is committed by a small number of individuals.

Number of person offences from April 2018 to March 15, 2019 from RCMP presentation. Select image to view.  

Superintendent Murray Power stated that Langley City is an extremely safe community. There have been no murders or attempted murders in the City over the last year. In addition, he noted that the violent crime rate is extremely low. The “Assault – Aggravated or with Weapon/CBH” saw between 2 and 10 occurrences per month. This category includes bar fights, muggings, and altercations between people who are living together, among other things. According to Superintendent Power, the vast majority of this category of crime is between people who already know each other. He noted that he could count on his hand the number of times this category of crime has happened between strangers.

I noted to Superintendent Power that according to the stats, people have less that a 0.03% chance in any month of being a victim of physical violence in our community. I asked if he believed our community is safe. Superintendent Power stated that Langley City is a safe community.

Number of property offences from April 2018 to March 15, 2019 from RCMP presentation. Select image to view.

One of the challenges in Langley City is that we have a higher than average property crime rate. This is because we are the commercial centre in Langley, but we have a small population. Most property crime, such as theft from auto, occurs in commercial areas downtown and along the Langley Bypass.

While not an item on last night’s council agenda, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group is working to get monthly property crime maps available online for people to view. This should help people get a better understanding of where property crime occurs in our community.

Superintendent Power also shared about the day-in-the-life of a typical frontline RCMP member in Langley City. He stated that about 95% of calls received are attended by RCMP members, and stressed the importance of calling in all suspicious activity. The non-emergency line for the RCMP is (604) 532-3200.

Tomorrow, I’ll continuing posting about the items that were addressed at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, April 29, 2019

South of Fraser Bus Boardings Way Up. Langley City on Top 10 List.

TransLink recently released its 2018 Transit Service Performance Review which contains ridership information based on routes, municipalities, and sub-regions. One of the things that I hear often is that people in the South of Fraser don’t take transit, and that our communities are not designed to accommodate transit. According to TransLink’s latest data, this is not the case.

Between 2017 and 2018, the number of annual bus boardings in the South of Fraser increased from 43.3 million to 50.1 million. That’s a 15.6% increase! Surrey, Langley, and White Rock combined have the second highest bus ridership outside of the City of Vancouver/UBC.

A new metric that TransLink has presented this year is annual bus boardings by municipality. The results might be a bit surprising.

Municipality 2018 Population 2018 Boardings 2018 Boardings Per Capita
Vancouver 672,963 146,602,000 218
New Westminster 76,799 11,086,000 144
Burnaby 248,476 31,608,000 127
North Vancouver, City 56,741 6,658,000 117
West Vancouver 44,886 4,527,000 101
Richmond 216,300 18,113,000 84
North Vancouver, District 90,814 6,864,000 76
Surrey 569,065 40,235,000 71
Langley, City 27,577 1,358,000 49
Coquitlam 149,490 7,027,000 47
Delta 109,484 4,917,000 45
Port Moody 35,613 1,262,000 35
Port Coquitlam 62,844 1,969,000 31
White Rock 21,370 451,000 21
Maple Ridge 88,626 1,832,000 21
Langley, Township 127,290 2,556,000 20
Pitt Meadows 19,772 370,000 19
Belcarra 684 6,900 10
Bowen Island 3,977 40,000 10
Anmore 2,389 19,000 8
Lions Bay 1,407 8,500 6

I was surprised to see that Langley City has higher bus ridership than most municipalities in Metro Vancouver. Compared to White Rock and Port Moody, communities that are similar in size and character, we had significantly more bus boardings. What was also interesting to see is that North Shore communities have some of the highest bus boardings per capita in Metro Vancouver.

2018 Bus Boardings Per Capita by municipality. Select chart to enlarge.

While Langley City has a way to go compared to communities like New Westminster for per capita transit boardings, the numbers show that we are on the right track. With the cost of fuel at record levels, it is more important than ever that governments invest in public transit, and in building walkable and bikeable communities.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

South of Fraser SkyTrain and Rapid Transit Update

About a month ago, I posted about the proposed SkyTrain extension from King George Station to Langley City based on the most recent information available from TransLink’s Mayors’ Council. It confirmed that the extension will be 14.3 kilometres, have 8 stations, and cost $2.9 billion (2017) to build. It also noted that there is a $1.3 billion gap between the funding available and funding needed to build the line. Today, the Mayors’ Council will be receiving another update on South of Fraser rapid transit.

TransLink is concurrently working on two plans for this sub-region: the SkyTrain Project Development Work Plan which is estimated to be completed in the spring of 2020, and the South of Fraser Transit Strategy Work Plan which is estimated to be completed this fall.

The South of Fraser Transit Strategy work plan will look at how SkyTrain along Fraser Highway will meet the objectives for rapid transit in the South of Fraser. It will also look at technology choices for future rapid transit along 104th Avenue and King George boulevard including bus rapid transit, and how it will interact with SkyTrain along Fraser Highway. The strategy will include updates around the overall transit network in the South of Fraser, and the interaction between transit and land-use in the South of Fraser.

The objectives for South of Fraser Rapid Transit include:

  • Ensuring predictable transit travel times
  • Increasing transportation choice
  • Feeling comfortable and safe when using transit
  • Ensuring reliable driving time for motor vehicle commuters
  • Facilitating the efficient movement of goods and services
  • Limiting climate change and air pollutants
  • Supporting economic development and job growth
  • Making efficient use of public money
  • Minimizing construction impacts
  • Protecting green space and reducing urban sprawl
  • Supporting an affordable and desirable community

This is a long list of objectives that rapid transit for the South of Fraser will have to meet. One of the objectives that is interesting is “ensuring reliable driving time for motor vehicle commuters.” It is a metric that I don’t normally see for transit systems. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the design of rapid transit in the South of Fraser. Hopefully it will not have a negative impact on building a transit system that supports creating walkable and bikeable communities as this is the only way to give people a way out of congestion as our region continues to grow.

For Fraser Highway SkyTrain, there should be a draft business case for the full line between King George and Langley City by this summer. Also this summer, we will know what can be built within the current $1.6 billion that is available today for rapid transit in the South of Fraser.

One of the other issues that will need to be resolved is the matter of the $50 million that was spent on the now cancelled light rail line for Surrey, and how that will be reimbursed back to the region by Surrey.

It looks like by this summer, we will have a clearer picture of what the transit network will look like in the South of Fraser over the next decade.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Paying for expanding free and discounted transit passes should rest with the province

Every so often, discussions in our region bubble up about if transit service should be free, the cost of transit fares should be reduced for everyone, or if existing discount programs should be expanded to encompass a larger group of people. Generally, the status-quo prevails.

King George SkyTrain Station

Today, children 4 years old and younger can use transit for free. Children and young people between the ages of 5 and 18, people 65 years and older, plus HandyCard holders pay a lower Concession fare which is 12% to 70% lower than regular adult fares depending on the product.

People who attend public post-secondary initiations receive a discounted U-Pass.

TransLink also sells the provincial government Concession-priced transit passes to support the BC Bus Pass program which provides annual transit passes to people with disabilities and low-income seniors. The province charges $45 per year to people who are eligible for the BC Bus Pass.

There is currently a wide variety of discounted and near-free transit access programs that are available for people in our region. Even so, TransLink estimates that there are currently about 45,000 active transit users in our region who live in households with incomes below the low-income cut-off, and who are not eligible for the current subsidized programs.

TransLink estimates that it would cost between $25 to $40 million per year to provide near-free transit passes to all people who live in households with incomes below the low-income cut-off. If the region was going to provide near-free transit access to all people with low-incomes without the help of the province, it would require an increase in property tax that all property owners pay between $14 and $22 per year, per household on average.

When TransLink completed its Transit Fare Review last year, it found that the majority of people were supportive of expanding discounted transit access programs. When asked if regular fares should be increased to make up the loss of revenue, that support reduced to 47%.

At tomorrow’s TransLink Mayors’ Council meeting, the following recommendations are being proposed for endorsement by the region’s mayors:

  1. Reaffirm the existing policy position of the Mayors’ Council and TransLink Board that expanding transit fare discounts for low-income residents, children and youth are social policy objectives and are best funded and administered by the Provincial Government.
  2. Publicly advocate to the Province for funding to expand discounts to: (a) more low-income residents than are currently eligible under the existing BC Bus Pass Program; and (b) children and youth on the basis that the Province pays all associated TransLink incremental costs.

While there is clearly a desire to increase travel choice for all people in our region, it is the responsibility of the provincial government to expand these discounted programs. The provincial government is ultimately responsible for funding social programs in Metro Vancouver as it has the financial resources.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Transport 2050: Metro Vancouver and TransLink look into the crystal ball

TransLink is in the process of updating the Regional Transportation Strategy for Metro Vancouver. This is a long-term strategy which is meant to set the framework for investment into transportation infrastructure for the next 30 years. This strategy is updated somewhat regularly with the last major update occurring in 2008. The original regional transportation strategy, Transport 2021, was completed in 1993.

Long Range Transportation System Concept – Transit from Transport 2021 which was created in 1993. Select map to enlarge.

Because transportation systems are not independent of land-use, these transportation strategies and Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy are companion documents which feedback off each other.

30 years is a long way into the future, and with the combination of climate-change, geo-political tension, and the potential mass automation of the transportation network and jobs, TransLink and Metro Vancouver have developed four high-level scenarios about what our region could look like in 2050. The four scenarios are:

  1. Current economic, growth and development trends continue.
  2. Automation-driven job losses and outmigration result in a regional economy in decline.
  3. Barriers to global trade spur a more self-sufficient local economy.
  4. Automation drives a new economic boom led by new creative & knowledge sectors.

The following summary table presents some of the metrics evaluated in these scenarios.

Four Possible Futures Compared - 2050 Scenarios. Select table to enlarge.

There is no “ideal” scenario in the Regional Long-Range Growth and Transportation Scenarios Report. What becomes apparent is that there is significant differences between all four scenarios. There is one thing that is consistent across all the scenarios, and that is the impact of climate change.

As shown in the following map, the impact of sea level rise would wipe out a significant amount of industrial, agricultural, and conservation lands if no mitigation measures are implemented.

Potential Coastal Flood Extent (with a 1 Metre Sea Level Rise). Select map to enlarge.

These four scenarios will help inform the creation of the new Regional Transportation Strategy to build and maintain a resilient transportation system for our region no matter the scenario. For the summary report, please see the latest Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation Agenda Package.

Starting this spring until the beginning of this fall, consultation and public engagement will be occurring to help further inform the development of the new Regional Transportation Strategy.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Video: Discovery Langley City's Parks and Trails

Learn about two of my favourite places in Langley City: The Pleasantdale Creek Trail and Sendall Gardens. These places provide an escape from the busyness of urban life.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Stats show that Langley City's Library Branch is Busier than Ever

In 2018, Langley City council budgeted to invest $1.59 million into our library branch in 2018, and plans to invest $1.68 million this year. While libraries are still a great place to get access to books and other resources, they also provide other valuable services to our community.

Langley City’s library branch is a safe place for all people in our community to visit, learn, or participate in events. It is one of the few indoor spaces in our community that is accessible to any person who is respectful of others.

Langley City is a member of the Fraser Valley Regional Library system which is one of the largest library systems in Canada. This gives Langley City residents access to 881,000 items to borrow as well as access to programs and other services that wouldn’t be possible if Langley City went it alone. The Langley City branch was open 67 hours per week (excluding holidays) in 2018 which is longer than any other branch in the FVRL system.

In 2018, 382 programs where offered at the Langley City branch with over 8,800 people attending. That number represents around a third of Langley City’s population. As shown in the following graph, the number of people taking part in these programs has been increasing year-over-year.

Program Attendance - Langley City Library Branch from 2014 to 2018. Select chart to enlarge.

A quick search of the FVRL website yields a large selection of events in our branch. This is in addition to other programs and resources such as tools to create music and videos, to help learn how to program, to become an amateur astronomer, and to experience virtual reality. Other services include booking time with a librarian to help people navigate technology and help with research.

Another important service that is provided is access to computers and the Internet. There are 23 public computers at the Langley City branch with an average of 70 to 80 logons per day. There is also free WiFi access for card holders.

Around 52% of Langley City residents were active card holders in 2018. System wide, FVRL has seen the number of active card holders increase from 34.4% in 2014 to 42.7% in 2018.

Libraries are still a place that people use to access books, audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs. It’s no surprise that circulation of physical audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs has been declining. What is interesting is that while adult physical book circulation appears to have stabilized, the circulation of children & teen books, plus magazines has actually increased in Langley City. While the FVRL does not provide “by location” stats for e-books and other e-material, those e-materials have increased in circulation by 29% over the last five years.

Circulation by Format - Langley City Library Branch from 2014 to 2018. Select chart to enlarge.

Langley City’s library branch continues to be an important part of our community with more and more people taking advantage of the many services offered. Libraries are a place for continual learning, not just a place to check out books.

As a note, the Langley City branch was renovated in 2016.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Langley City Youth Week Events - May 1st to 7th

Youth Week 2019. May 1st through 7th.

Every year throughout BC, Youth Week is held from May 1st through 7th. Langley City’s Youth Committee plans and hosts a week of events throughout our community during that time. They have put together a packed schedule of events for younger people in our community. The following is the current schedule of events planned.

Unless otherwise noted, the events are drop-in and free. Check out Langley City’s youth web page or Instagram for more information and for the latest updates.

Fraser Valley Regional Library - Geocache Treasure Hunt
Wednesday May 1, 2019
Treasure hunt begins at 5pm
Langley City Library - Ardron Meeting Room
Grades 6-12
Discover the joy of geocaching! Learn the basics and find geocaches buried in and around the Langley City Library and Timms Community Centre. Free snacks provided by the library!

Bob Ross Painting & Free Dinner
Thursday May 2, 2019
Langley Youth Resource Centre
Ages 12-24
Drop-in for free at the Langley Youth HUB! Let’s paint some happy little trees, and remember... No mistakes, only happy accidents! After-school shuttle bus available run by Youth Unlimited!

Screenagers Movie Night
Thursday May 2, 2019
Langley Secondary School
Free tickets available at EventBrite.ca
For any age
Screenagers dives deep into how technology impacts kid’s development and the challenges of parenting in the digital world. Free popcorn provided by the Langley Youth Council!

Hawaii on Ice Teen Skate
Friday May 3, 2019
Canlan Ice Sports - Twin Rinks
Grades 6-12
Bust out your best tacky hawaiian shirts for our Hawaii on ice free drop-in teen skate! Live DJ on the ice, so get your song requests ready. Free snacks and refreshments for skaters.

Youth Glow Dance Party
Saturday May 4, 2019
Timms Community Centre
Grades 6-12
Dress up in white or neon, show up in glow paint, or wear your best LED accessories. Get ready to dance the night away, or just chill (and glow) with your friends! Free snacks!

Langley Walk Youth Booth
Sunday May 5, 2019
Entertainment starts at 12pm
Aldergrove Athletic Park
Register for free on site Participants can walk, run, or bike a 5km or 10km route and enjoy entertainment and activities including face painting, games, and bouncy castles.

Grades 6-8: 3 vs 3 Basketball Tourney
Monday May 6, 2019
H.D. Stafford Middle School
Grab a couple of friends and register your team of 3 for $3! All players must be in grades 6-8. Come watch the tournament! Prizes for top teams.

Grades 9-12: 3 vs 3 Basketball Tourney
Tuesday May 7, 2019
Timms Community Centre
Grab a couple of friends and register your team of 3 for $3! Two age categories: Junior & Senior. Come watch the tournament! 3-point shot competition. Prizes for top teams.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Water main construction along Fraser Highway starts soon

Fraser Highway is a major transportation corridor for Langley City. Not only does Fraser Highway moving people and goods, but it also moves water. Langley City’s primary connection to the Metro Vancouver water system is at Fraser Highway and 196th Street.

Map of Metro Vancouver water main to Langley City. Select map to enlarge.

While Langley City only has one connection to the Metro Vancouver water system, there are also interconnections with the Township of Langley’s water system that can be activated if the primary connection to Metro Vancouver becomes unavailable. Langley City also operates a water reservoir near 200th Street under the BC Hydro high-voltage power lines which can serve as a backup water supply.

The short of it is that what’s underneath Fraser Highway is critically important for our community.

Starting next month, and continuing throughout the summer, work will be done to rehabilitate the water main under Fraser Highway between 196th Street and Production Way. The following notice is from the Langley City website:

Motorists are advised that Langley City will be completing water main construction and road rehabilitation on Fraser Hwy from 196 St to Production Way. Hours of work will be from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday to Friday. Businesses will remain open and two lanes of traffic will be maintained during the course of construction. The City will strive to keep the streets open during normal business hours, although some traffic may be redirected from time to time. Traffic control personnel will be present to direct vehicles and pedestrians safely. Motorists should use alternate routes during this time if possible as there will be delays. Transit services will be available but pedestrians should plan ahead as temporary bus stop locations may be in effect.

Map of project area for Fraser Highway water main and road rehabilitation project. Select map to enlarge.

A route that I encourage people to discover is the 196th Street overpass and 56th Avenue as shown in the following image.

An example detour around Fraser Highway using the 196th Street overpass. Select image to enlarge.

Doing construction on a major road for several months is disruptive, but it will ensure that Langley City residents and businesses will continue to get clean drinking water for many years to come.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

April 8, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Pickleball court improvements at Douglas Park. Property tax mill rates set.

Throughout this week, I have been posting about Monday night’s Langley City council metering. On Tuesday, I posted about two development proposals; and yesterday, I posted about presentations that council received from members of the community and city staff. Today will be my final post about that meeting.

On March 11th, the council chamber was packed with members from the Langley Area Pickleball Dinkers who requested that the city renew the tennis courts at Douglas Park to support both tennis and pickleball. They noted at the meeting that they were planning a tournament between July 5th and 7th, and if this renewal request could be accommodated in-time for the tournament. Pickleball is a fast-growing sport that is age-friendly.

As a side note, multi-day tournaments are great for our community as they promote overnight stays at our hotels, and support our local businesses as tournament participants spend money at local restaurants and shops.

City council received a report from City staff asking to invest $25,000 to complete the following at the Douglas Park tennis courts:

Pickleball court lines in cyan. Select image to enlarge.

Repair surface cracks - Most are relatively minor and easy to repair; however, one crack is quite long (extends almost the full length of the tennis court) and wide (about ½”). The court was resurfaced about two years ago and it was surprising to see that a major crack has now developed. The crack can be repaired now but a detailed investigation should be undertaken to determine the cause of the crack if it reappears within the next year or two.

Paint pickleball court lines - Staff met with the pickle ball group and agreed to paint four courts per tennis court in addition to the tennis lines. They are equipped with their own nets, so they have not requested permanent nets. This would give them eight courts for competition play. The proposed lines are shown on the attached drawing.

The $25,000 would come from the City’s Enterprise Fund. This $168,000 Enterprise Fund receives annual proceeds allocated from casino revenue. The fund is used for emergent priorities in our community. Council believed that supporting pickleball was one of those priorities, and approved funding the renewal of the tennis courts.

I posted back in March that council unanimously approved Langley City’s 2019 budget. I provided links in that post about the various aspects of this budget including the required 6.98% increase in property tax. Even though the budget was approved, a tax rate bylaw must also be adopted. Council gave first, second, and third reading to the 2019 Tax Rate Bylaw on Monday. While people talk about property tax as percentages, it is legally set as mill rates as shown in the following table.

2019 Langley City Property Tax Mill Rates. Select table to enlarge.

The BC Assessment authority provides a guide on how to determine your property tax based on assessed value and mill rate.

One a separate note, 48.8% of property tax is collected from residential property owners with the remainder collected from commercial property owners in Langley City.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April 8, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: New ER, parking, Day of Mourning, and city project updates

Yesterday, I posted about re-zoning and development permit items that were on the Monday night Langley City council meeting agenda. Today, I will be posting about the delegations made to council, plus other updates received.

Any person or organization can apply to speak at a council meeting. There were two organizations and one person who spoke to council at the Monday meeting.

The first delegation was from Kate Ludiam of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation. She delivered a presentation about the new $30 million expansion of their ER department, plus a new MRI which will be coming soon to their hospital. She noted that the current ER department was built to handle around 25,000 visits per year, and that they are seeing around 47,000 visits per year currently. Ms. Ludiam stated that the new ER department will be able to accommodate 55,000 visits per year. Beyond providing more space, the new ER will be optimized for the different types of medial emergencies that people have. Ms. Ludiam noted that the new ER department will include a secured mental health area with its own entrance. She stated that the new ER is scheduled to open in 2020, and that the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation has setup a website about the new ER.

The next delegation was from Georgia Damianos who lives in the mixed-use/live-work building located at 19897 56 Avenue. She asked council to consider providing on-street parking for the businesses located in her building. While there is currently parking in the back of the building, she requested that the City remove the landscaping in the front of her building and convert it into parallel parking. Council referred this request to City staff for follow-up.

During the delegation, I stated that the landscaping is both on City property and private property. For projects that only benefit one building, I noted that the current City policy is to cost-share with the requestor of these types of projects. Councillor Albrecht noted that the City is currently working on a community-wide parking management plan.

When it comes to parking, I believe that we need to be making decisions based on best-practices for urban centres. I wouldn’t be surprise if staff recommend rolling up this request into the overall parking management plan for our community.

The final delegation of the evening was from the New Westminster & District Labour Council who presented about the Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job. This is something that Langley City currently observes. The representatives from the Labour Council also stated that they are advocating to update the minimum work age to 16 in BC. Currently in BC, children are allowed to work with authorization from their parents. They noted that thousands of children under the age of 16 are injury on the job every year in our province.

Engineering update about City Park renewal project. Select image to enlarge.

City council also received an update from Rick Bomhof who is the Director of Engineering, Parks and Environment about the following items:

  • Continued work on City Park renewal including ball field preparation for the season
  • Completion of the renewal of the stairs at Conder Park
  • Completion of annual cleaning at Sendall Gardens including installation of a new bench
  • Completion of bank stabilization and viewing area work at Brydon Lagoon
  • Continued conversion of all standard city-owned streetlights to LED
  • Removal of an old water pump near 200 Street and Grade Crescent
  • Installation of spring banners Downtown

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about the remaining items that were on the agenda of Monday night’s council meeting.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

April 8, 2019 Council Meeting Notes: Proposed development projects in Brydon area and Park Avenue

Last night’s Langley City council meeting started with a public hearing for a proposed 4-storey, 80-unit apartment building along 55A Avenue, between Brydon Crescent and 200 Street, as shown in the following rendering.

Render of proposed project at 19920, 19930, 19940, 19950, 19960, 19970 - 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

During the public hearing, the project’s proponent stated that they propose a stepped-down, landscaped terrace at the front of the proposed building to help reduce the perceived height of the concrete wall at the front of the building.

The proposed apartment building would contain a mix of 1-bedroom to 3-bedroom plus den units, including 4 units that meet the BC Building Code Adaptable Housing standards.

The original plan for the proposed apartment called for two fully-functional electrical vehicle parking spots. The City’s Advisory Planning Commission recommended that all underground parking spots be roughed-in for electrical vehicle parking. At the public hearing, the project’s proponent stated that they would accommodate this request. The Commission also requested that an accessible underground parking space be provide by the elevator. Again, the project’s proponent stated that they would incorporate this recommendation.

One of the questions that I asked City staff last night was if curb extensions to improve intersection safety will be built along 55A Avenue similar to what was done on 198 Street, and along Douglas Crescent between 207 Street and 208 Street. Council was told that the City is still finalizing the street standard in that area, but that it will likely include curb extensions.

While no one attended the council meeting to speak to this project, council did receive two written letters from residents who live in the area expressing general concern about development.

After the public hearing, there was a Committee of the Whole to seek public feedback on a development permit that would allow for a 6-storey, 93-unit strata building with 82 apartments and 11 townhouse units along the north side of Park Avenue. The original Downtown Master Plan called for residential units with individual street-level access along Park Avenue. This project will meet this original vision with the 11 townhouse units.

Render of approved project at 20427, 20437, 20445, 20453, 20463 Park Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

At the meeting, one resident from the apartment building that is at the corner of Park Avenue and Douglas Crescent stated that they were happy to see that this project’s proponent listened to their concerns around parking access and safety. The project’s proponent will be installing convex mirrors and will be widening the lane around the underground parking of the current building at Park Avenue and Douglas Crescent.

TELUS provided a letter stating that they wanted to work with the proponent to ensure that their telecommunication equipment is not impacted. A TELUS facility is located just west of this proposed apartment building. The TELUS letter was forwarded onto the proponent.

As part of this project, the City will be receiving a new mini-park where Park Avenue turns by Douglas Park.

Proposed mini-park along Park Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council approved issuing a development permit for the project along Park Avenue.

With the larger number of construction projects in our community, the City is now recommending to project proponents that they provide a traffic management plan, and that they make arrangements for off-site parking for construction crews to ensure that they are not using on-street parking. Both proponents of the two projects included these plans and arrangements. Council was further told that construction equipment would only be stored on-site, and not on the street by the proponents.

Tomorrow, I will be posting about other matters that were addressed at last night’s council meeting.

Monday, April 8, 2019

TransLink wants your feedback on proposed 503 B-Line Lite along Fraser Highway

Around this time last year, TransLink was revealing the details of the proposed Fraser Highway B-Line. This service was to provide limited-stop service every 10 minutes or better during peak periods, and every 15 minutes of better during the rest of the day. This Fraser Highway B-Line was cancelled after the fall municipal elections when light rail along King George and 104th Avenue was also cancelled, replaced by SkyTrain along Fraser Highway.

The Fraser Highway B-Line was supposed to use articulated buses, have bus prioritization measures to speed up service, and have better bus shelters with real-time information. The rational for cancelling the B-Line was that with SkyTrain construction along Fraser Highway starting in a few years, it wouldn’t make sense to invest money into things that would be torn up in less than a decade.

Currently, transit service is overcrowded along Fraser Highway. SkyTrain service to at least Fleetwood will be open in about 6 to 7 years at the earliest. With transit ridership continuing to increase, and with the current overcrowding of bus service along Fraser Highway, something needs to be done now to improve transit service along Fraser Highway.

To improve transit service along Fraser Highway, TransLink is proposing to change how the 502 and 503 operate.

Today, the 502 operates between Surrey Central SkyTrain and Langley Centre with local bus service every 6 to 8 minutes during peak periods, and every 15 to 30 minutes during the rest of the day.

The 503 operates between Surrey Central SkyTrain and Langley Centre as an express route, with local service between Langley Centre and Aldergrove. Currently, service runs about every 30 minutes throughout the day.

TransLink is proposing to make the 503 into a B-Line style route between SkyTrain and Langley Centre with limited stops at shown on the following map.

Proposed changes to 502 and 503 bus routes along Fraser Highway. Select map to enlarge.

This new 503 would run with articulated buses between Surrey Central and Langley Centre. It would run every 8 to 12 minutes during peak periods, and every 15 minutes during the rest of the day.

For 503 service that extends to Aldergrove, the service frequency would remain the same. As a note, this is better than the originally proposed Fraser Highway B-Line which would have required people going to/from Aldergrove to transfer at Langley Centre to maintain fast bus service.

The new 502 would continue to provide local bus service like it does today, but its frequency would be reduced to 12 minutes during peak periods, and every 15 to 30 minutes during the rest of the day.

As a daily transit rider along Fraser Highway, I’m excited to see these changes implemented as soon as possible. My only concern is that due to extreme congestion in the Green Timbers areas, bus service can become inconsistent during peak periods. I hope that TransLink and the City of Surrey can figure out a way to prioritize bus service along this section of Fraser Highway while SkyTrain is being built.

You can submit your feedback on these proposed changes to bus service along Fraser Highway online.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Langley City’s interactive map shows if your hedge is on your property, and what our community looked like in 2004.

From time-to-time, I receive questions from residents in Langley City about property lines and right-of-ways. As an example, some people have asked questions about whether hedges or trees were on their property, their neighbour’s property, or public property. In other cases, people have asked similar questions around fences and walkways.

Langley City provides an online interactive map which can answer these questions. The map includes up-to-date aerial imagery, property dimensions, right-of-ways, and easements. It also includes other features such as the location of water, sewer, and storm sewer lines. There is information about the parks system and trail network. Also useful is information on zoning. If you are really interested, you can even find out about the location of every City-owned streetlight!

All this information can be layered onto the interactive map by selecting “I want to…” then selecting “Change visible map layers.”

One of the other things that I like about this map is that it has historical aerial imagery that dates to 2004. The following images show certain areas of Langley City with current imagery, and imagery from 2004.

Nicomekl Neighbourhood in Brydon area, 2004. Select image to enlarge.

Nicomekl Neighbourhood in Brydon area, 2018. Select image to enlarge.

Western section of Downtown Langley, 2004. Select image to enlarge.

Western section of Downtown Langley, 2018. Select image to enlarge.

This online interactive map is available at map.langleycity.ca. Why not check it out, you might find something out about Langley City that you didn’t know before.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

More transit and clean energy vehicles, plus mobility pricing required to reduce climate change

As I posted about on Monday, greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings and transportation systems are responsible for about two-thirds of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Metro Vancouver. I previously posted about what can be done to reduce GHG emissions from residential buildings. Today, I’ll be posted about what can be done to reduce the 37% of GHG emissions that are caused by our transportation system.

As documented in a report in the Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee’s most recent agenda, both the BC Liberals and BC NDP had/have plans to reduce GHG emissions. When the Liberals were in power, it was the B.C. Climate Leadership Plan. The current BC NDP/Greens plan is called the B.C. Clean Growth Strategy.

Both of these plans call for an increase in public transit, and as shown in the following graph, while the current TransLink 10-Year Vision is having an impact on reducing GHG emissions, more is needed to reduce emissions further.

Metro Vancouver Personal Transportation GHG emissions. Hashed red line shows impact of 10-Year Vision. Yellow line is where we need to be. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

Not only do we need to invest more into public transit, but we must also look at a whole host of options to reduce GHG emissions caused from transportation. The following list shows the policies supported by the Metro Vancouver Regional District that are in the current provincial strategy.

  • Zero emissions vehicle mandate that would require automakers to report on their sales in 2019, meet targets starting in 2020 for new vehicle sales (increasing annually to at least 10% in 2025 and 30% in 2030), and a possible ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel light duty vehicles by 2040.
  • Continue incentives for the Clean Energy Vehicle Program until zero emissions vehicles make up 5% of all new light-duty vehicle sales.
  • Take measures to encourage charging station installations at businesses and other buildings.
  • Expand the Specialty Use Vehicle Incentive Program, which supports the purchase of clean heavy duty vehicles, buses, transport trucks, motorcycles, and heavy equipment.
  • Increase the stringency of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard by decreasing the average carbon intensity of fuels by 15% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
  • Continue to invest in transit and investment in clean transportation infrastructure that is inter-connected, providing easy access to clean options and reducing demand for vehicles.
  • Development of demand-management programs, which focus on finding ways to reduce traffic overall, so people ultimately drive less.

Mobility pricing has been shown to be an effective demand-management program to reduce congestion which reduces GHG emissions. A good examples of this is how removing tolling on the Port Mann Bridge caused an overnight increase in congestion and emissions.

While the current province strategy called for demand-management programs such as road pricing, it will be interesting to see if progress will actually be made.

Strategies are only helpful is they are implemented. I hope that the current provincial government makes significant progress in acting on reducing GHG emissions to preserve our communities and way of life.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Regulating air emissions from cannabis production in Metro Vancouver

It should come as no surprise to anyone who lives in BC that cannabis is odorous from cultivation, processing, and distribution to final consumption.

The Metro Vancouver regional district is responsible for regulating air quality and emissions in our region which includes the release of volatile organic compound and odours.

Since the recreational use of cannabis was approved by the federal government, regional and municipal governments have been having to play catch-up with laws, bylaws, and regulations.

Metro Vancouver is currently working on a proposed emission regulation framework for cannabis production and processing operations in our region.

While reviewing the proposal, I was surprised to see the level of VOCs that cannabis production creates. VOCs “may contribute to the formation of harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.” This can have an adverse impact on human health.

Example VOC emissions from some plants grown commercially in Metro Vancouver. Select image to enlarge.

Like other industrial and agricultural production, odour externalities generate a large amount of complaints from people who are exposed to them.

In Langley, with its large agricultural land base, odours from agricultural production has been an ongoing source of tension.

With one of the largest industrial areas, Campbell Heights which is located adjacent to Brookswood and near Langley City, there has been concerns expressed by people in the area about the impacts to air quality by industrial operations.

The cannabis production lifecycle can occur on both agricultural and industrial lands.

Metro Vancouver is exploring the following measures to control emissions from large-scale cannabis production:

  • Enclose all cannabis processing in structures, including waste management activities, with systems to prevent air from the inside of structures to be released without filtration to the outside.
  • Use activated carbon in possible combination with other filters to treat air inside production facilities, and air being released outside of facilities.
  • Prevent uncontrolled release of emissions from production facilities.
  • Require producers to provide a comprehensive air emission management plan to Metro Vancouver.
  • For outdoor cultivation, use temporary containment during periods of peak VOC emissions.
  • Restrict the use of odour masking and neutralizing agents outdoors.
  • Locate facilities at least 200 metres away from residential areas, hospitals, schools, daycares, playgrounds and seniors care facilities.

The next step for Metro Vancouver will be to get feedback on the proposed air emission regulatory framework. More information is available from Metro Vancouver’s latest Climate Action Committee agenda.

Monday, April 1, 2019

How much GHG emissions does your home produce? Find out with the Energy Explorer map

When talking about reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the conversation usually shifts to transportation; what can be done to build communities that support walking, cycling, and transit, while reducing the need to depend on automobiles to get people to where they need to be. In Metro Vancouver, 37% of GHG emissions are from transportation.

The next largest source of GHG emissions in our region is from buildings. About 25% of GHG emissions in Metro Vancouver are from buildings. Reducing the energy that is used in our homes for heating and cooling, as an example, has a significant impact on reducing GHG emissions.

Newer houses are more energy efficient than older housing. The following map from the Community Energy Explore was creating by the UBC Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning. This map show parcel-level details about energy use for residential properties throughout Metro Vancouver. One of the important metrics is energy use intensity (EUI). EUI is calculated based on energy per square foot per year. This metric helps people with apples-to-apples comparisons of different building types and sizes.

Example of Energy Explorer map showing EUIs around the Langley regional town centre. Select image to enlarge.

The map above shows the area around Langley’s regional town centre and Clayton in Surrey. The lighter orange colours represent more energy efficient residential buildings, while the darker purple colours represent more energy demanding residential buildings. The map shows that the newer buildings in Clayton have a lower EUI on average, generating less GHG emissions, compared to the older residential housing stock in Langley City.

Does this mean that all older housing should be torn down and replaced in order to reduce GHG emissions? No, many of these houses can be retrofitted, not only for energy efficiency, but to add additional “hidden” density. While the per building EUI is an important metric, so is GHG emissions per person. Have a 1960s single-family home adapted with a secondary suite creates less GHG emissions per person than if two single-family homes were required instead.

3 Rs for Single Detached Homes: Re-imagine, Retrofit, Renovate, Rebuild. Select image to enlarge. Source: UBC CALP

Most communities have a significant older housing stock. It makes sense to retrofit many of these properties. In Langley City, we currently allow for secondary suites to be built in single-family neighbourhoods, but not coach homes. Other communities in Metro Vancouver allow both secondary suites and coach homes to be retrofitted into existing single-family neighbourhoods.

For energy retrofits, the provincial government through BC Hydro provides cash rebates for upgrading things such as insulation, windows, doors, and heating/cooling systems.

While the BC government continue to update the building code to ensure that new buildings are less EUI intensive and create less GHG emissions, it is important to provide solutions and incentives to retrofit our existing housing which is the majority of housing stock in our region.