Thursday, November 21, 2019

Christmas is coming to Downtown Langley

The Christmas spirit is in the air in Downtown Langley. In partnership with Cascades Casino, Langley City has done up Innes Corners Plaza for Christmastime for the first time that I can recall.

Langley City council was taking Christmas card photos last night, so I decided to take some pictures of holiday-mode Innes Corners Plaza.

Innes Corners Christmas

When you are in Downtown Langley next, be sure to check out this Christmas display.

Besides Innes Corners, there are several other events taking place in Langley City to launch the Christmas season.

The first event is the Langley Christmas Wish Breakfast on Tuesday, November 26th. Bring a new unwrapped toy to support the Langley Christmas Bureau who helps families in need. After, enjoy a free breakfast. For more information, please check out Langley City’s website.

On Saturday, December 7th, come and have Breakfast with Santa at Douglas Recreation Centre. There will be a pancake breakfast plus fun for the family. The price for the breakfast has been lowered to $5 per person with children under 3 being able to eat for free. More information is on the City’s website.

Later in the day, the Magic of Christmas comes to Downtown Langley and McBurney Plaza as follows:

Entertainment and Crafts: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Parade: 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Tree Lighting and Caroling: 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Again, more information is available on Langley City’s website.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Speers speaking to council. Select image to enlarge.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaw - Housing Forms Workshop

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

It is recommended that you signup for the workshop.

Official Community Plan & Zoning Bylaw - Housing Forms Open House

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

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From a recent regional district staff report:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over other findings include:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Electric River Bus Network for Metro Vancouver

SkyBridge - Fraser River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

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

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

I wanted to visualize this information with some interactive charts.

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

Go Up

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

Go Up

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A photo tour of the new Langley Secondary School

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

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

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

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

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

Inside a classroom at LSS.

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

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


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council approved extending the terms of all three task groups.

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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Tier Locations Include:

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

Second Tier Locations Include:

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

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

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