Monday, December 21, 2020

Merry Christmas. See you in 2021.

I’ll be taking a break from blogging over the next few weeks. I’ll be back posting on January 4th.

Though our holiday season is different this year, I hope that yours is merry.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

TransLink to purchase 205 new SkyTrain cars for $723 million

Today the TransLink Board will be meeting for the last time this year. On the agenda is purchasing 205 new SkyTrain cars. These cars will replace the ageing original Mark I cars and provide enough new cars to support the Millennium Line's Broadway Subway extension.

Even compared to the latest SkyTrain car model, there will be new and improved features such as:

  • The trains will be in a 5-car configuration versus 4-car seen today
  • Provisioned for passenger Wi-Fi
  • Better HVAC with extra cooling
  • Better seating arrangement and design
  • Equipped for new in-train next stop/information displays
  • Enhanced bike racks
  • Fold-down hostler seats
  • On-board computers enhancements
  • Provisioned for a new communication system
  • Enhanced LED headlights
  • Extra middle interior light for door status
  • Additional fault detection lights on each door
  • New end cap design
  • 15% reliability improvement

The total cost for these new cars is $723 million. TransLink is also securing an option to purchase 400 more SkyTrain cars to support future expansion, including the extension to Langley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

December 14 Council Meeting: Development matters including a proposed apartment on Eastleigh Crescent

On Monday afternoon, Langley City council addressed two development proposals and their associated enabling bylaws.

Renderings of proposed apartment project at 20689 & 20699 Eastleigh Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

Council gave first and second reading for an Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment and rezoning bylaw to accommodate a 6-storey, 88-unit apartment located along Eastleigh Crescent on a currently vacant site. An OCP update is required because the proposal doesn’t align with the current OCP. However, it will align with the proposed new OCP, designed around building a walkable, bikeable community with SkyTrain.

The City’s Advisory Design Panel reviewed the proposed project and recommended the following additional actions:

  • Ensure snow management keeps accessible and other parking spaces clear
  • Consider additional fenced parking areas on surface parking level
  • Utilize secure fencing materials (discourage chain link fencing)
  • Provide access between indoor amenity room to outdoor amenity area
  • Ensure parkade area is well-lit
  • Add additional benches, seating and garden plots in amenity area
  • Utilize reflective roof materials
  • Encourage additional installed EV stalls.

The proponent of the project is incorporating the recommendations of the design panel. The proponent noted that six level-2 electric vehicle chargers would be included. All other parking stalls will be roughed-in for future chargers.

Residents along Eastleigh Crescent have told me that the lack of loading zones creates problems such as people illegally parking and parking in other building’s parking lots. Council was told that this proposed apartment project would include a loading zone.

Also of note is that the project will step down towards the back of the site and is a T-shape. This will reduce shading on adjacent buildings. The large trees at the back of the site (though on adjoining property) will also be retained.

The proposed project will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units.

Council also gave third reading for a rezoning bylaw, and to discharge a land-use contract, to accommodate a 6-storey, 213-unit apartment on the former West Country Hotel site on 56 Avenue/Michaud Crescent. You can read more about this proposal in a previous blog post and post about its public hearing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

December 14 Council Meeting: Virtual Christmas Events, Crime Prevention Videos for Business, Not a “Ghost Town”

Yesterday afternoon was the last Langley City council meeting of the year.

Council received an update from Kim Hilton, Director of Recreation, Culture and Community. She noted that limited indoor recreation options are available at City facilities with information posted on the City’s website.

She also highlighted some of the virtual Christmas events that are occurring this year, including the Elf on the Shelf Countdown to Christmas, Holiday Lights Virtual Tour, and Langley Youth’s 12-Days of Christmas Giveaway Contest.

To help celebrate Christmas Eve, the City is asking people to jingle bells for 2 minutes at 6 pm outside to help spread some holiday cheer.

Dave Selvage, Manager of Community Safety, presented a video series produced by the RCMP Langley Detachment about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. This is an initiative of the City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. The City will post a series of 5 minutes videos to its YouTube page to highlight what businesses can do to help reduce crime. Some examples include tips on cleaning up tagging/vandalism and securing outdoor areas such as around garbage, organics, and recycling bins. The videos were kept short, recognizing that many business owners are extremely busy, especially this year.

Council enthusiastically endorsed this series and to work with the RCMP, Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Langley Business Association to spread these videos throughout Langley. I will post a link to these videos once they are up.

Langley City council also approved staff to apply for a grant from the federal government’s COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Program to cover the cost of a $486,00 project to implement flood mitigation along 46 Avenue between 206A Street and 207 Street in 2021. This area has been subject to flooding over the last several years. If the City does not receive the grant, construction of this project will occur in 2022.

The area along 46 Avenue that is subject to flooding.

Councillor Wallace presented a motion declaring a climate emergency in Langley City. This motion will be discussed at a future Council meeting.

Councillor Martin brought up the topic of Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen calling our community a “ghost town.” Members of council refuted that claim. After a robust discussion, council agreed to send a letter to the MP asking for an explanation of what she meant by “ghost town” and to meet with City council.

While 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses, our community is resilient. This weekend, I walked around both Downtown Langley and the Langley Bypass. I noticed lineups on the streets and full parking lots. We can best support our business community this holiday season by shopping local.

Monday, December 14, 2020

People are already walking to the Langley Bypass. Let’s make it a walkable corridor.

Over the last year, I’ve done significantly more walking throughout Langley City. One of the areas that I walk to regularly is the Langley Bypass area. The Langley Bypass isn’t a pedestrian-friendly area. In some respects, the design of the corridor actively discourages walking and other active forms of transportation. Yet, whenever I go to the Langley Bypass, there are always people on the sidewalks.

People waiting to cross at 200th Street and the Langley Bypass. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City is a compact community. It is only about 1 kilometre between the Langley Bypass/Willowbrook Mall area and Downtown Langley. For most people, that is a 10-minute walk.

Research suggests that most people will choose to walk to a destination if it is a 10-minute or less walk away.

Langley City is in the process of updating our official community plan. This is the document that will guide the development of our community over the coming decade. One of the big focuses of the new official community plan is to prepare for the arrival of SkyTrain.

With SkyTrain, the goal is to make it safe and inviting for people to walk or cycle to a SkyTrain station. This means that our streets need to be great places to walk and cycle.

This summer, the City posted a draft land-use concept plan online. The land-use concept proposes to add green space to the northwest section of our community. The SkyTrain guideway will run down Industrial Avenue. Part of the guideway construction could include creating a linear park similar to the BC Parkway in Burnaby for example.

This would create a pleasant walking and cycling corridor for people to get to shops and services along the Langley Bypass and Willowbrook Mall.

As our community grows, people must have transportation choices to get out of congestion. People are already choosing to walk to a place in our community that is not the most pedestrian-friendly. The updated official community plan will allow the City to embrace the walking that is already occurring in the Langley Bypass area. An area that traditionally would not be considered a walkable corridor.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Call to Artists: Langley City Virtual and Storefront Gallery

Langley City is inviting artists to submit up to two art pieces to be displayed virtually on the City's website, or if 2-D/3-D to be displayed in the storefronts of local businesses.

As per the City's Application Information:

  • Maximum of two submissions per artist
  • Digital photographs should be 300dpi and 2-5 MB in a JPEG format
  • All 2-D and 3-D artwork must be gallery quality and ready to hang or display
  • Langley City will adjudicate the work to determine which pieces will be shown at local businesses

This exhibit will run from January 18 to January 31, 2021.

Please visit Langley City's website, where you can learn more about the exhibit and download the application form to participate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

December 7 Council Meeting: Updates on plans and projects in Langley City. 2020 was a busy year.

Monday afternoon was the penultimate Langley City Council meeting in 2020. The meeting started with Councillor Paul Albrecht reading a statement about why he voted for Councillor Gayle Martin for the City’s representative on the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board.

Councillor Martin gave an update about the Fraser Valley Regional Library, of which Langley City is a member. Currently, eBook loans are up 55% compared to the same time last year, and physical material loans are up 6%.

Picnic Shelter Slabs at City Park

Rick Bomhof, Director of Engineering, Parks and Environment, provided an update to Council as follows:

  • 62 Avenue sidewalk and curb project near 200 Street is complete
  • Concrete slabs poured for the new picnic shelters in City Park
  • New iconic signs installed at Innes Corners Plaza and Douglas Park/Spirit Square
  • Pavement renewed at Fraser Highway near 201A Avenue
  • Annual water main flushing is in progress
  • Drainage improvements completed in Penzer Park
  • Christmas lights around Downtown Langley are up

Francis Cheung, Chief Administrative Officer for the City, provided an update on implementing the Langley City: Nexus of Community vision.

In 2020, the City implemented a new Advisory Design Panel that includes architects, landscape architects, RCMP, an accessibility representative, and representatives from the business community and the community. This panel provides feedback on all projects that require a development permit in the City.

Also nearing completion is:

  • A new Official Community Plan
  • A new Zoning Bylaw
  • A new Downtown and Transit Corridor Masterplan
  • New neighborhood plans

It has been a busy year at City Hall implementing the Nexus vision.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Public Hearing for the redevelopment of the West Country Hotel to a rental apartment building

Last night Langley City Council held a Public Hearing for a Zoning Amendment Bylaw, Development Permit, and Land Use Contract Discharge for a proposed 6-storey, 213-unit rental apartment located at the site of the former West Country Hotel located at 20222 56 Avenue.

You can read more about this proposed redevelopment in a previous post.

Council received several pieces of written correspondence about the redevelopment proposal, and four people from the general public attended the public hearing virtually.

There were three major themes that I heard from the people who provided feedback for the hearing.

One theme was around the building’s height and its impact on the surrounding apartment buildings. The applicant noted that they would be retaining the trees on both the west and east sides of the property to create a buffer. The applicant also provided a shadow study, which shows that shadows would directly impact the property east of the proposed development from the spring equinox to mid-summer around 10 am daily. Otherwise, shadowing is minimal.

Shadow study for the proposed development at 20222 56 Avenue/20237 Michaud Crescent.

The second theme was that the proposed public lane on the east of the property would create rat-running and be high-speed. The lane itself is 6.5 metres wide with a 1.5 metre wide sidewalk for a total of 8 metres. The width of the lane is a requirement of the fire department.

If the redevelopment moves forward, the applicant will be incorporate traffic calming along the lane as part of the servicing agreement process.

Site plan showing the trees that are being retained and expansion of community garden.

The third theme was about the impact on the community garden. The applicant noted that the current community garden plots are staying in place and would be expanding from 18 to 29 plots.

This applicant is working with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to fund this proposed project. The CMHC requires that 20% of the proposed units have below-market maximum rents equal to 30% of Metro Vancouver’s median income. I asked why it wasn’t 30% of the Langley City median income. The applicant told me that using the median income for Metro Vancouver was required by the CMHC.

No votes occur at public hearings. Whether to give a third reading for the Zoning Amendment Bylaw will occur at a future council meeting.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Municipalities, Pension Plans, and Fossil-Fuel-Free Bonds

On November 2, Langley City Council received a delegation from World Beyond War. One of their requests was for municipalities to divest from companies involved in the fossil-fuel industry.

In BC, municipalities and regional districts are limited to where they can invest funds. Investment is limited to products offered through the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA). Local governments can also invest in provinces, other local governments, and the federal government. Local governments can put money in savings accounts or guaranteed investment certificates (GICs.)

The Municipal Finance Authority is “owned” by all local governments in BC and had $3.2 billion in pooled short-term investments on behalf of local governments.

For 2-5 year investments, municipalities can invest in fossil-fuel-free bonds or bonds that could include companies involved in the fossil fuel industry.

Metro Vancouver Regional District board recently passed a policy to no longer invest in the fossil-fuel industry. The MFA’s fossil-fuel-free bonds enable this option.

People elected to local governments have been calling on the MFA to provide fossil-fuel-free investment options.

Another major investor that is “part-owned” by all local governments is the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP). The MPP holds close to $60 billion in investments used to support municipal workers’ pensions.

In 2015, people elected to local governments called for the MPP to study divestment from the fossil fuel industry. The MPP recommended against this, and instead proposed a Climate Action investment strategy.

Currently, the MPP is signed on to the Climate Action 100+ program to “engage systemically important greenhouse gas emitters and other companies across the global economy that have significant opportunities to drive the clean energy transition and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

The program’s goals are to “improve governance on climate change, curb emissions and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures.”

For more information on why the MPP took this approach, please read “Primer on Fossil Fuel Divestment.

Municipal governments can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions directly through how we build our communities and where we put our money.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Langley City’s Elves on the Shelf Ally, Timmy, and Doug countdown to Christmas. Keeping Christmas Bright Downtown.

Usually, this weekend would be the start of Langley City’s Christmas events. This year, things have to be different as public gatherings and events are not permitted at this time.

To help keep you in the Christmas spirit, Langley City has solicited Ally, Timmy and Doug to help countdown to Christmas. You can follow their antics on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can also visit the City’s Magic of Christmas webpage.

Here is what they were up to yesterday.

This morning we were just hanging around so we decided to add some additional decorations to the lobby at Timms Community Centre / Langley City Hall. If you visit the weight room or the library, don't forget to look up. #LCelfontheshelf

If you find yourself in Downtown Langley during the evening, check out the Christmas lights at City Hall, Innes Corners Plaza, Douglas Park, McBurney Plaza, and along the streets. City staff went all-in this year to help keep Christmas bright.

Innes Corners Plaza

McBurney Plaza

Douglas Park

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Metro Vancouver remains a recycling leader, but more needs to be done for multi-family housing

One of the things that we can be proud of is that we have been steadily reducing the rate of materials that end up in landfills or incinerated.

The following graph shows that over the past 25 years, the amount of recycled waste has been steadily increasing.

Regional recycling rate for waste from all sectors.

The next graph shows the tonnes per capita of waste generated, recycled, and disposed of into landfill/incineration.

Total waste generation, disposal, and recycling rates per capita.

Disposal and recycling per capita have swaps positions. The total amount of waste generated per capita has remained stable. The good news is that less waste is being disposed of today in absolute numbers than 25 years ago even with an increasing population.

Ideally, we should be moving towards reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place. Paper and plastic are the top recycled items in our province. It is easier said than done, but reducing the amount of product packaging would go a long way to reducing waste generation rates.

Another area for improvement is for people that live in apartments and townhouses (multi-family). People living in single-family homes recycle 63% of waste. People living in multi-family homes have a 36% recycling rate.

I live in an apartment with easy organics and recycling collection. Yet, I still see recyclable items in the garbage bin.

Overall, our region is doing well with reducing waste, but we do have areas where we can improve. For more information, read the 2019 Metro Vancouver Recycling and Solid Waste Management report.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

COVID-19 Impacts on Mobility. Driving back to before levels. Ferries and transit below.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how we travel. Before the start of the pandemic, I commuted to work in Downtown Vancouver by transit. I’ve now been working from home since mid-March.

I would also explore various parts of our region during weekends in the past. I’ve made a conscious choice to stay within Langley City now.

Instead of taking transit almost daily, I’ve taken transit about four times since mid-March. I don’t own a car, so my primary mode of getting around the 10 square kilometres of Langley City is on foot.

I took a vacation to the Okanagan and Kootenays this summer, but that has been it for travel.

When I’ve been around Langley City, I’ve certainly noticed more people walking and cycling. I’ve also seen that motor vehicle traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has a COVID-19 Response Task Force. At their recent meeting, they looked at changing mobility patterns.

The first slide shows major bridges’ traffic volumes as of November 9. These bridge volumes are a good proxy for overall traffic volumes in the region.

Bridge Traffic Volumes. November 9, 2020. Source: BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure.

BC Ferries passenger and vehicle volumes are below.

BC Ferries Volumes. November 6, 2020. Source: BC Ferries.

From news reports, transit ridership is at about 40% of pre-pandemic levels. I would expect transit levels to return to normal levels once people start going back to work in offices.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Homelessness in Langley: a more complete picture. Final data from March 2020 homelessness count available.

In August, I posted about the preliminary data from the 2020 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver. The final data report has been released.

The preliminary numbers have not changed. The top three communities where people are experiencing homelessness are Vancouver (2,095), Surrey (644), and Langley (209), representing 80% of the people counted.

In Langley, there was a marked increase in people experiencing homelessness between 2014 and 2017. However, it appears that the number of people experiencing homelessness had stabilized when the count was completed in March.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 likely means an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.

The final data report provides a more complete picture of people experiencing homelessness in Metro Vancouver and Langley.

Around 50% of people experiencing homeless in Langley are not in shelters. These people stayed outside, in vacant buildings, in vehicles, or were couch-surfing. In 2017, 79 people were unsheltered in Langley. There were 108 people unsheltered on March 4, 2020.

Due to systemic racism, Indigenous people are overrepresented in the population of people experiencing homelessness. In Langley, 24% of people who were counted in March were Indigenous.

Homelessness also knows no age. In Langley, the age of people experiencing homelessness is as shown in the interactive pie chart.

Youth is under 25 years of age. Adults are 25-54, and Seniors are 55 and older.

In Langley, the Gateway of Hope (The Salvation Army) and Ishtar Transition Housing Society provide shelter spaces. Langley includes both the City and Township.

Supportive housing is considered permanent housing.

Because the Homeless Count is a point-in-time count, the number of people experiencing homelessness is likely higher. For example, most people who are living with friends or couch-surfing will not be counted. Also, volunteers will not be able to cover every corner of a community or enter vacant buildings.

What this report does show are overall trends. In Langley, we still have more work to do as over 50% of people experiencing homelessness are not sheltered. I know that our shelter spaces are maxed out, as is supportive housing to transition people toward independent living. There is much work left to be done in Langley.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

November 23 Council Meeting Notes: Recreation Update, New Bylaw Ticketing System, and Motion to Stop Nuclear Weapons

This week, I posted about a rezoning bylaw to accommodate a 6-storey, 213-unit rental apartment at the former West Country Hotel site. I also posted about Langley City’s new Asset Management Policy. Today, I will cover the remaining items that were addressed at Monday night’s council meeting.

Council gave final reading to amend the Financial Plan for 2020-24 after receiving no public input on the amendment. It is common to amend the financial plan throughout the year, as projects and revenue sources can change. For more information, please read the staff report.

The Director of Recreation, Culture and Community Services, Kim Hilton, provided Council with an update on recreation services. With the dynamic nature of public health orders, Langley City’s recreation services are still available, but limited. For current information about what recreation services are available, please visit the City’s COVID-19 Updates page.

She also noted that the City would be launching a social media Countdown to Christmas, so be sure to check out the City’s Facebook, Insta, and Twitter starting in December.

As a housekeeping item, Langley City is moving from our current bylaw enforcement system, managed under the “Municipal Ticketing Information System” to the streamlined “Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act.”

The streamlined system means that people no longer have to go to court over minor bylaw contraventions. Suppose someone wants to dispute a bylaw enforcement ticket, such as a parking ticket. Under the new system, they will be able to go through an adjudication process. This new system is fair and straightforward for people who want to dispute a ticket and cost-effective for the City as it no longer involves going to provincial court.

Council requested “the Ministry of Attorney General to add the City of Langley to the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Regulation to allow for the City to practice adjudication under the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act.”

On November 2, Council received a delegation from people representing the World Beyond War. As a result, Councillor Storteboom put forward a motion “that Langley City supports the Mayors For Peace Appeal and send a letter to the Government of Canada to break the unacceptable status quo regarding a tolerant nuclear weapons policy by taking decisive steps toward the global elimination of nuclear weapons of war.”

Council approved this motion on Monday.

While it has been well reported, Council officially released the appointment results to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board and Fraser Valley Regional Library Board. All members of Council can put their name forward to serve on these paid boards. Every year, Council votes on who will serve for a one-year term. This year, the appointments are as follows:

Metro Vancouver Board Primary: Gayle Martin
Metro Vancouver Board Alternate: Paul Albrecht
Fraser Valley Regional Library Board Primary: Gayle Martin
Fraser Valley Regional Library Board Alternative: Rosemary Wallace

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

November 23 Council Meeting: The unsexy but necessary Asset Management Policy

Talking about asset management policies and programs would likely work as an effective sleeping aid to most people. For municipalities, asset management is essential to ensure that we keep our infrastructure well maintained for the least amount of money over each infrastructure component's whole life.

Langley City maintains water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer lines. The City also maintains roads, sidewalks, pathways, streetlights, street signs, bus stops, and traffic lights. The City maintains parks, playgrounds, pools, and culverts. The City looks after community centres, city hall, a fire hall, an operations centre, and fleet vehicles and machinery. The City is also responsible for digital infrastructure.

This City has been maintaining infrastructure with traditional methods for many years. City staff are now working on a modern asset management program with more advanced policies than traditional infrastructure maintenance programs.

Take installing a water main. In the past, the City might have purchased the cheapest water mains using the lowest cost method to install. Because of this choice, the pipe might only have a useful life of 50 years. The installation method might have been the cheapest, but it could result in the pipe being more susceptible to future damage. This means that while the initial cost of the pipe was cheap, there are higher on-going costs.

Modern asset management would call for buying a pipe that lasts for 100 years and spending more money on the initial installation to reduce future damage. While the initial cost of the pipe was higher, the on-going cost would be lower. Unlike the 50 year pipe, it would also not need to be replaced in 50 years, ensuring a lower total lifecycle cost.

This is just a simple example of one part of a modern asset management program.

City council adopted a formal Asset Management Policy on Monday. This policy aligns all municipal departments towards modern asset management practices.

The City has been working towards a modern asset management program for many years. One of the first steps in a modern program is to identify all your assets, including their condition.

To date, the City staff have inspected:
Storm sewer mains: 31km of 82km (38%)
Sanitary sewer mains: 70km of 94km (75%)
Water mains: 0km of 101km
Pavement: 112km (100%)
Vehicle Bridges: 7 (100%)
Pedestrian Bridges: 10 of 16 (63%)
Buildings: 0 of 25
Parks: 0 of 26
Vehicle Fleet: 0 of 102

A modern asset management program is on-going. It will help improve decision-making to ensure that the City is maintaining assets with the lowest total life costs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

November 23 Council Meeting: West Country Hotel proposed redevelopment to include below-market rental and expanded Michaud Park

Early this year, the West Country Hotel shut its doors for good. On Monday night, Langley City council gave first and second reading to a zoning bylaw to accommodate a 6-storey, 213-unit rental apartment in its place. There are several items of note for this proposed redevelopment.

Rendering of the proposed project looking from 56th Avenue (20222 56 Avenue). Select image to enlarge.

If approved by council, the developer will build a through-lane that connects 56th Avenue to Michaud Crescent. This lane will travel along the eastern side of the property. This lane will run along a City easement, which will ensure that this lane will be open into the foreseeable future for the public to walk, cycle, or drive.

Rendering of the proposed project’s new public lane. Select image to enlarge.

Because this new lane will require the gravel path on the Michaud Community Park’s east side, the project’s proponent will undertake a land exchange if this development proposal is approved. This land exchange will allow 11 new community garden plots to be created at Michaud Park for a total of 29 plots.

Rendering of the proposed project looking from Michaud Crescent (20237 Michaud Crescent) including community garden expansion. Select image to enlarge.

This project’s proponent is also applying to the CMHC as part of the Federal Rental Housing Construction Financial Program. If council approves this project, at least 20 percent of the proposed units will be below-market rents. These rents will be set at 30% of the median income in Metro Vancouver.

A housing agreement may be created between the City and the project’s proponent to ensure that these units remain affordable over time.

This proposed project will have 142 one-bedroom units, 65 two-bedroom units, and six studio units. These units include accessible (10% of total units), adaptable (2% of total units), and universal design units (1% of total units).

EV charging stations within the underground parking is part of the proposed design.

The next step will be a public hearing for people to provide feedback on this proposed development.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Making the Christmas Season brighter, literally. Help #StopVandalism.

This Christmas season will be like no other in recent memory. One of the days that I look forward to is the Magic of Christmas, which occurs on the first Saturday of December. The day starts with Breakfast with Santa, followed by an afternoon of family-friendly activities at McBurney Plaza, and finally, the Christmas parade. The culmination of the day is the Christmas Tree lighting and carolling.

This year, there will be no events or gatherings hosted by the City. Still, Langley City crews, staff, and council want to help make this Christmas brighter for people in our community.

Innes Corners Plaza in the early morning. Select image to enlarge.

McBurney Plaza, Innes Corners Plaza, and Douglas Park will have extra fabulous Christmas light displays this year.

A decorated tree in McBurney Plaza. Select image to enlarge.

The streetlights will also be decked out more than usual this year in our Downtown core.

Unfortunately, there are those who vandalize and steal the Christmas lights and displays in our City every year. The City wants your help to catch those people who would try to make our Christmas season a little darker.

A red holiday-themed #StopVandalism sign in Innes Corners Plaza. Select image to enlarge.

If you see someone actively vandalizing a Christmas display or lights, please call the RCMP Non-Emergency Number at 604-532-3200.

If you would like to report vandalism to the City, please call 604-514-2910 or use the City’s Request for Service site.

A yellow holiday-themed #StopVandalism sign in Innes Corners Plaza. Select image to enlarge.

Together we can make this Christmas season brighter.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Help make Christmas memorable for all families by supporting the Langley Christmas Bureau

More than ever, the Langley Christmas Bureau needs your support to ensure that all families in Langley can enjoy the Christmas season.

Typically, the Langley Christmas Bureau plans to provide a Christmas hamper which includes food and gifts to 650 families, including 1,700 children. This year will be an exceptional year. The number of clients of the Langley Christmas Bureau will likely increase.

This year, every child will receive a toy gift card. Every family will receive a food voucher to ensure clients’ and volunteers’ safety.

The goal this year for the Langley Christmas Bureau is to raise $280,000.

Click to Donate

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Metro Vancouver releases new management plan for Campbell Valley Regional Park

At a little over 5 square kilometres or half the size of Langley City, Campbell Valley Regional Park is a significant recreation and conservation area in our region.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District just completed its Campbell Valley Regional Park Management Plan. This management plan will guide the vision for this park over the next 20-years.

The vision for the park is to "connects people to natural and cultural landscapes. Its river valley, forests, and grasslands contain a diversity of ecosystems and experiences where visitors recreate, discover, and experience nature."

Based on the vision, regional district staff developed the following four goals to guide management of the park:

Recreate and Connect with the Park
Provide high quality and safe facilities that offer a variety of opportunities for visitors to recreate and connect with nature while protecting the park's significant natural and cultural features.
Connect Visitors to the Park's Cultural and Natural Heritage
Enhance visitor experience and understanding by providing opportunities to learn about the park's cultural and natural heritage.
Protect and Enhance the Park's Diverse Ecological Values
Develop approaches for ongoing monitoring, protection, enhancement, and adaptive management of the park's diverse ecosystems and habitats.
Foster Relationships and Collaborate with the Park's Community
Provide opportunities for community involvement through learning, stewardship and engagement.

More details about how these goals will impact the management of the park are in section 6 of the plan. The management plan also includes an overall concept plan map and detailed maps for the park's key activity areas.

Concept plan for Campbell Valley Regional Park. Select map to enlarge.

Concept plan for South Valley activity area. Select map to enlarge.

Concept plan for South Upland area. Select map to enlarge.

Concept plan for Little River Bowl/Historic Langley Speedway. Select map to enlarge.

The last management plan for Campbell Valley Regional Park was completed in 1998. This updated management plan will be going to the Metro Vancouver Regional District board for approval.

The regional district also recently completed a management plan for Aldergrove Regional Park.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Obtainable steps for creating a carbon-neutral region by 2050

The provincial government’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% in 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050. Meeting these targets will take some serious effort to accomplish.

Metro Vancouver Regional District staff have released a preliminary GHG model that shows our emission reduction trajectory based on current policies and plans.

Business as planned scenario. Select graph to enlarge.

They have also produced a model that would meet the provincial GHG emission reduction goals, but requires significant policy changes.

Carbon neutral scenario. Select graph to enlarge.

The two largest sources of GHG emissions are from transportation and buildings in Metro Vancouver.

To reduce transportation-caused GHG emissions to meet the province’s goals, the following would need to occur:

  • Require 100% of new passenger vehicles be zero emissions by 2030 rather than 2040 as currently planned
  • Establish steadily increasing sales targets from medium and heavy-duty zero-emissions vehicles
  • Steadily increase renewable fuel blended gasoline and diesel with targets that increase to 100% for gas and 80% for diesel by 2050
  • Reduce passenger vehicle usage by implementing mobility pricing and improving walking, cycling, and transit infrastructure

The following would need to occur to reduce GHG emissions from buildings:

  • Require all new buildings to meet stringent low GHG emissions performance standards starting in 2025
  • Require all retrofits to meet stringent low GHG emissions performance standards starting in 2025 that must be met for all existing homes and townhomes by 2045
  • Require existing large buildings to report out energy use and meet increasingly stringent GHG emissions performance standards starting in 2025

While these are some significant policy changes, they are obtainable. Creating these new policies will take political will, but it will reduce GHG emissions by 80% in 2050 in Metro Vancouver.

For more information, including what would need to change in the industrial sector, please read “Modelling a Carbon Neutral Region.

Monday, November 16, 2020

October COVID-19 Cases by Municipal Area in South of Fraser/Fraser Valley

Since the summer, I have been following the monthly new COVID-19 cases by Local Health Area. The BC Centre for Disease Control provides a “Cases by Local Health Area” map that shows the year-to-date COVID-19 cumulative cases. I compared the current and previous maps to get the number of cases for October.

You can read my previous posts from the end of August and end of September to see the changes in COVID-19 case rates month to month.

In Langley, the monthly case rate was 51 in August.

Data is from the BC CDC, and the 2019 municipal population estimates.

Municipal Area Population Cumulative Cases - End of September Cumulative Cases - End of October October New Cases Rate per 100,000
Mission 43,202 185 210 25 58
Ridge Meadows 110,950 159 285 126 114
Langley 158,642 280 472 192 121
Chilliwack 94,534 66 194 128 135
Abbotsford 158,457 655 880 225 142
Delta 109,490 207 428 221 202
Surrey/White Rock 605,553 1980 4291 2311 382

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A decrease in calls for service to RCMP in Langley City due to COVID-19

Previous to the COVID-19 Pandemic, calls for service from Langley City businesses and residents to the Langley RCMP was trending up. A call for service is recorded whenever anyone contacts the RCMP, typically via 911, the RCMP non-emergency line at 604-532-3200, or via the online crime reporting tool.

An increase in calls for service does not necessarily mean there is more crime in a community. For example, a campaign to report all suspicious activity to the RCMP could increase the number of calls for service, but not lead to an increase in reported crimes.

Since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency, calls for service to the Langley RCMP from Langley City has decreased significantly.

2019 2020 % Change
January 1163 1113 -4.3%
February 1093 1150 5.2%
March 1246 1269 1.8%
April 1152 1084 -5.9%
May 1256 1072 -14.6%
June 1129 965 -14.5%
July 1358 1175 -13.5%
August 1359 1110 -18.3%
September 1248 1046 -16.2%
October 1301 1101 -15.4%
November 1272 - -
December 1200 - -

As I posted in the summer, overall report crime is also down in Langley City. It would seem that the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in less calls for service and less reported crime in Langley City.

There are two theories that I’ve heard. One is that with more people at home, the opportunity to commit property-related crime is down. The second theory is that with COVID-19 benefits from the federal government, some people may not be committing crimes to make ends meet. It would be interesting to see more research on this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Langley City Holding Virtual Remembrance Day Ceremony

Usually, people visit the Douglas Park cenotaph to “mark the sacrifice of the many who have fallen in the service of their country, and to acknowledge the courage of those who still serve.”

2019 Remembrance Day Ceremony in Douglas Park.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Provincial Public Health Order restricting public gatherings, Langley City has produced a pre-recorded, local Remembrance Day Ceremony.

The ceremony will be available on November 11th at

For more information on Remembrance Day, please visit the Importance of Remembrance hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Acknowledging and addressing systemic racism in Metro Vancouver, a forum hosted by the regional district

This Saturday, I virtually attended a forum on systemic racism facilitated by the Metro Vancouver Regional District. The forum started with a keynote presentation by Dr. Handel Wright, a professor in the Department of Educational Studies at UBC.

Dr. Wright started by saying that while Canada has an image of “too nice for racism problems,” systemic racism does exist in our country, province, and our communities.

Dr. Handel Wright, Professor, Department of Educational Studies, UBC

He noted some of Canada’s official past racist immigration policies such as the “prohibition of Asian race,” limiting immigration to ‘white’ countries, Chinese head tax, and turning away the Komagata Maru ship of 376 passengers from Punjab province in British India.

He mentioned the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II, the Canadian branch of the KKK, and the horrific residential school program that continues to devastate Indigenous families and communities.

Dr. Wright stated that systemic racism still exists in Canada. While he gave a clear example of systemic racism, the continued killing and deaths of Indigenous and Black Canadians by police services in our country, he also noted some of the more subtle forms of systemic racism.

Dr. Wright noted that there is a lack of diversity within leadership and programs at his university. He stated that there was an absents of Black studies and “ways of knowing” at UBC.

He also noted an underrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour in elected positions within Metro Vancouver, one of Canada’s most diverse regions.

Dr. Wright gave people listening to the forum a call to action to address systemic racism.

One of the key takeaways was that we need more anti-racism allies in Metro Vancouver.

According to Dr. Wright, “an ally is a person who actively and in a respectful, sustained manner, engages in the struggle of a group that is marginalized or discriminated against, even though they themselves are not part of that group.”

An ally should listen when someone who is marginalized or discriminated against says that there is a problem and should act on solutions proposed by people who are marginalized or discriminated against.

This means that more Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour should be in leadership positions as mayors, councillors, and senior staff at the local government level.

For elected representatives, we need to ask and listen to people who are marginalized or discriminated against how we can remove barriers to running for office and senior staff positions.

As I signed off from the forum, the idea that stuck with me is that the best way to reduce systemic racism in Metro Vancouver is to ensure that Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour are in positions of leadership and are “at the table.” As local elected representatives, we need to ensure that our table reflects our region’s diversity.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Langley City projects completed or in progress for October

Once a month, Langley City council receives an update on the various civil projects that the City is currently working on or has recently completed. I outlined some of the projects on Monday and Tuesday. The remaining projects are as follows:

  • A new median installed along 203rd Street between Fraser Highway and 56 Avenue. Crews will complete paving in the spring
  • A new crosswalk placed on 48th at Simonds Elementary
  • A new retaining wall and upgraded paved path to City Park along 205A Street at the connection to the Nicomekl Floodplain trail system
  • A repaved railway cross at Production Way
  • A new rock pit placed in the middle of 46 Avenue and 206A Street to support stormwater drainage
  • A new sensor installed to measure the level of Logan Creek at the Langley Bypass
  • A new electrical service installed in Douglas Park to support enhanced Christmas decorations
  • New trees placed in Uplands Dog Park and the recently completed rock area
  • Renewed wooden Brydon Lagoon and Sendall Gardens signs reinstalled
  • Replacement of old turquoise streetlights with black LED streetlight is continuing Downtown
  • New picnic shelters installed at City Park that will be similar in design to the picnic shelter at Portage Park

Besides the visible projects, City staff is also monitoring sewer flows in our community to ensure that we have the right size piping to handle future needs because our population continues to grow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 2 Council Meeting: COVID-19 costs impact City projects, task groups extended, and sanitizer wipes gumming up sewage pumps

On Monday afternoon, Langley City council heard two delegations from the public. The first delegation was by Brendan Martin and Marilyn Konstapel from World Beyond War. They requested that the City divest from fossil fuel and weapons. They also asked that council supporting “Mayors’ for Peace.”

In BC, the Municipal Finance Authority provides pooled investment funds that offer short-term fossil-fuel-free bonds. There has been an on-going push to divest from fossil fuel by BC municipalities. I would expect that more fossil-fuel-free investment options will become available over time.

Councillor Storteboom stated that he would be putting forward a motion regarding the World Beyond War delegation.

Trevor Dinwoodie delivered a delegation on behalf of the National Police Federation, the union for RCMP members. He presented on the Surrey Police Transition and noted that the transition could increase policing cost in Langley City if Surrey does not stay a part of the Lower Mainland’s integrated police services such as IHIT (Homicide Team.)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has incurred $155,500 in costs to date. Some of the expenses relate to new COVID-19 signage, purchasing of cleaning supplies, physical distancing measures, new glass partitions at service counters, and purchasing personal protective equipment. The City has also incurred increased overtime costs as staff responded rapidly to closures at the start of the pandemic.

Also, people have been flushing hand sanitizer wipes down toilets, resulting in additional servicing of sewer pump stations.

As a result, staff proposed to defer several projects into future years to create a buffer for COVID-19 related expenses. The projects deferred include “Welcome to Langley City” signage, some outdoor improvements a City Hall, and the Urban Forest Management study. A total of $358,000 in proposed deferred projects is on the table.

Throughout the year, projects get adjusted. Even if there is no impact on the City’s bottom line, council must approve a budget amendment.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to amend the Financial Plan for 2020-24. For more information, please read the staff report on the amendment.

Council also voted to extend the following task groups:
Arts and Culture Task Group
Crime Prevention Task Group
Economic Development Task Group
Environmental Task Group
Performing Arts and Cultural Centre Task Group

Previously, Langley City had a two-sentence policy on minute-taking standards adopted 20 years ago. To ensure that council, committee, and task group minutes are consistent and follow best-practices, council approved a robust minute-taking standard.

Finally, council received a report from staff about solar-powered equipment such as speed reader boards, flashers, and streetlights. Staff use the following when determining if solar-powered equipment should be purchased:

  • Equipment needs to be relocated on a semi-frequent basis
  • Installing and maintaining solar-powered equipment is more cost-efficient
  • Grid electricity is not available within a feasible distance where equipment will be installed

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Enhanced crosswalk coming to 45A Avenue. Understanding the extent of the speeding problem along 208th Street.

208th Street acts as a regional highway through Langley City even though it is not a provincial highway or part of TransLink’s Major Road Network. This road has a posted speed limit of 50km/h, but I know many people regard this speed limit as a suggestion.

For people who want to cross 208th Street by foot, the only safer locations in the past were Fraser Highway, 51B Avenue, 48 Avenue, and 44 Avenue. There is a significant distance between these locations, effectively cutting off the east end of the Uplands and Blacklock neighbourhoods from the rest of the City for people walking.

Between speeding and a lack of safer crosswalks, people’s quality of life along this corridor has been negatively impacted.

In 2018, City council approved, and City staff constructed an enhanced crosswalk at 50A Avenue, cutting the distance between safer crossing locations from about 750m to 440m between 51B Avenue and 48 Avenue, providing a significant time saving up to 5 minutes for people walking.

It is about 840 meters between the safer crossing locations of 48 Avenue and 44 Avenue. After a robust discussion at Monday afternoon’s council meeting, council approved building an enhanced crosswalk at 45A Avenue for a total cost of $140,139. Once built, it will reduce the distance to a safer crossing location to 570 meters, providing time savings up to 3 minutes for people walking.

Considering that most people will only walk about 10 minutes to a location, it is crucial to reduce walk times.

Council also passed the following motions that I put forward:

WHEREAS speeding is an on-going concern for residents along the 208th Street corridor;

WHEREAS police enforcement results in a short-term reduction in speeding at specific locations as police must be physically present at these locations;

WHEREAS speed cameras at intersections provide a long-term reduction in speeding at specific locations as they are always present;

WHEREAS Langley City has speed “flasher” signs which can record speeds at the 208th Causeway and 208th Street Hill;

WHEREAS speed cameras are installed and managed by the provincial government and its agencies; and

WHEREAS the provincial government and its agencies need evidence that speeding or crashes are significant issues along specific corridors before considering installing speed cameras at intersections:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Langley City staff activate the speed recording feature of the speed “flasher” signs along the 208th Street corridor; and

That Langley City staff present back to Council a report that shows the minimum, maximum, and 85th percentile speed for vehicles at the 208th Street corridor “flasher” sign locations over the data recording period.

This motion will lay the groundwork to lobby the provincial government to reduce speeding along 208th Street.

Finally, to reduce the risk of crashes at Grade Crescent and 208th Street, a restricted turn median was installed to prevent left turns from Grade Crescent onto 208th Street.

New median at 208th Street and Grade Crescent.

Over time, I hope that 208th Street will become a safer 50km/h corridor where residents that live on the east side of 208th Street feel connected to the rest of our community.