Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June 10 Council Meeting Notes: Presentations on secondary suites, the climate crises, plastic pollution, and increasing provincial funding for libraries.

Today, I will be continuing posting about the items that were heard at Monday night’s Langley City council meeting.

There were four groups that presented to council on Monday. The first presentation was from Diane Gendron from Bard in the Valley. This organization has been presenting Shakespeare plays in Douglas Park and in other parts of Langley for 10 years. Gendron noted that in celebration of their 10th season, they will be bringing back “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was their first production. She thanked council for our on-going support of Bard in the Valley, and noted that of their 17 performances this year, 8 of them will be in Douglas Park. As always, the shows will be free to see in the park.

Council also heard a presentation from Andrea Baird who is a person that rents housing in our community. She stated that her family and another family live in one single-family house. The single-family house has a main area and a legal secondary suite. She stated that when she and the other family rented in the house, they didn’t know it was in violation of the City’s secondary suite bylaw which requires that all houses with secondary suites be owner-occupied.

In Langley City, one space in a single-family house can be rented out, but the other space must remain owner-occupied. Because this matter came to the attention of the City, the City had to enforce its bylaw. Baird noted that with the current housing crises in our region where less than 1% of all rental units are empty, the City should reconsider the owner-occupied requirement for legal secondary suites. She also presented a petition with 100 or so signatures.

She was concerned that she would not be able to find another place to rent and would have to up-root her family.

Langley City is currently in the process of updating its Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw. This includes reviewing the owner-occupied requirements for secondary suites. As this process will require the collaboration of the whole community, I do not know what the result of this process will be.

At the meeting, City staff confirmed that the information Ms. Baird submitted will be considered as part of the updating process.

Council heard from Chloe Arneson, Josh Park, Alexandra Munday, and Prabhasha Wickramaarachchi from Walnut Grove Secondary School about their proposal to “Stop The Ocean Plastic (STOP)”. They presented on their education plan around stopping the proliferation of plastic waste which eventually ends up in our oceans. This group of students received a $10,000 scholarship for their idea at the Langley School District’s I.D.E.A. Summit recently.

A presentation by Sustainabiliteens. Select image to enlarge.

The next presentation was from Sustainabiliteens “which is a group of teens from across Metro Vancouver organizing actions including climate strikes” around the current climate crises. They asked that council consider passing a motion declaring a climate emergency in Langley. This is a symbolic motion which has been passed in hundreds of other cities. They also called on the City to be more aggressive its own greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Councillor Albrecht and I asked that they present to the City’s new Environment Task Group to help flush out the details of their motion, and their proposal around emission reduction targets. Councillor Wallace and Albrecht chair the Environment Task Group. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the Sustainabiliteens collaboration with our new task group.

Currently, the provincial government provides grants to offset the cost of providing library services to communities. This includes a per-capita grant as well as grants to support programs such as the InterLINK program in Metro Vancouver.

For Langley City, the per-capita grant worked out to $46,081 this year. Across BC, $14 million in grants were provided by the province. This is a modest number.

The City of Victoria sent out a letter to all municipalities in the province noting that this per-capita grant has been frozen since 2009, and requested that councils call on their mayors to sent a letter “to the Minister of Education, the Premier, and all local MLAs strongly advocating for the restoration of library funding to a level that reflects both inflationary cost increases since 2009 and the value of this system to the Province.”

Councillor Martin put a motion forward to support Victoria's request which was unanimously approved by council.

Tomorrow will be my final post about Monday night’s council meeting.

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