Thursday, April 30, 2020

Crime stats from first quarter of the year shows crime down in Langley City

Every quarter, the Langley RCMP provides an update on crime statistics and trend in Langley City. I created the following interactive charts based on information that was recently provided to City council. The period covered is from the beginning of January to the end of March.

As a note, common assault includes things such as bar fights and domestic situations.

The COVID-19 state of emergency started in the last few weeks of this reporting period. This could be the reason why there was a slight uptick in business break & enters, and a slight decrease in residential break & enters in the month of March. The next reporting period will show the full impact of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

The largest segment of crime in Langley City is still theft from auto. You can help reduce theft from auto by keeping your vehicle locked at all times, and removing all items from your vehicle.

Select crime statistics for Langley City in the first quarter of 2019 and 2020. Select table to enlarge.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April 27 Council Meeting: Expanded free ebooks, online streaming, classes and courses. COVID-19 local update.

On Monday afternoon, Langley City’s third virtual open council meeting was held. Yesterday, I posted about a new proposed 2020 budget for Langley City which would result in a significantly lower property tax increase than was approved earlier this year. I will be covering the remaining items haerd at the meeting in this post.

With people spending more time at home, and physical libraries closed, the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) has been focusing on its online resources. They have ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, music, and online streaming services such as Acorn TV available. There is also access to online learning resources such as, and content that is especially for kids.

These online resources are accessible via your library card which is funded by property taxes. If you do not have a library card, you can get one online and start accessing these resources instantly.

Because of the surge in demand, and closure of physical library branches, FVRL has expanded the breadth and quantity of online resources available.

They have also added virtual storytimes for kids which is done on Facebook.

Langley City’s has also moved its recreation services online with “Recreation at Home.” There are instructor-led fitness classes and art courses that have been created in-house. These classes and courses are for all ages, from kids to seniors. Youth activities are also happens including Teen Time Online and Instagram Live events.

Council received an update from Ginger Sherlock who is the emergency coordinator for the Langley Emergency Program, and acting fire chief Scott Kennedy.

Langley City and Township activated our emergency plan on March 11th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency Operations Centres for both communities have been setup to coordinate local government efforts in response to this pandemic.

Ms. Sherlock stated that the provincial government is leading the COVID-19 pandemic response, and the role of local government is to follow the advice and orders of the province.

She also stated that unlike other emergencies in our community’s history, this is going to be a longer-term sustained response.

While we are still in a COVID-19 state of emergency, the Langley Emergency Program is starting to shift its focus to a recovery plan.

As a housekeeping matter, council passed a motion that “open meetings of Council be held in the absence of the public until such time as the provincial declaration of state of emergency has been lifted.”

While people have not been able to attend council meetings in-person, they can still be viewed online. City staff are working to make virtual meetings even more accessible.

Finally, council appointed the following people to its Advisory Design Panel which gives advice to council on development projects:

Scott Thompson, City of Langley Resident
Rob Chorney, City of Langley Resident
Heidi Tobler, Business Community Representative (Downtown Langley)
Garth White, Business Community Representative (Chamber of Commerce)
Clark Kavolinas, BC Society of Landscape Architects
Chad Neufeld, BC Society of Landscape Architects
Mark Lesack, Architectural Institute of BC
Wendy Crowe, Architectural Institute of BC
Ella van Enter, Accessibility Representative

These appointments are for a year. This panel will be meeting virtually.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Langley City proposed updated 2020 budget in response to COVID-19 will see tax increase halved

When Langley City council approved our 2020 budget at the end of February, we were about to launch the much-needed Nexus investment plan for our community. This investment plan was to be funded by a $50 million loan to be paid back in five years.

For people who owned single family homes, the portion of their City-control tax bill would have increased 5.65% or on-average $179 this year. For people that owned a townhouse or condo, the portion of their City-control tax bill would have increased by 5.52% or on-average $86 this year.

This seems like an eternity ago.

The COVID-19 paramedic has caused financial instability for households, businesses, and local governments. Because of this, Langley City staff and council reviewed our 2020 budget.

Yesterday afternoon, a proposed new 2020 budget was given first and second reading.

While we still need to move forward with the Nexus investment plan, this year is not the right time. Because we still need to make investments in our community, this Nexus plan is proposed to be deferred by one year. This deferral will result in $827,665 less taxation revenue being required this year.

Council is also proposing to defer several staffing positions that were planned for this year including:

  • A Community Outreach Facilitator to deal with matters around poverty, homelessness, and other social challenges in Langley City.
  • A Recreation support worker to help children with disabilities participate in City recreation programming.
  • A City Hall support worker to help with increased workloads.

The staff training budget was also reduced.

These deferred positions and training will result in a further $135,855 in taxation revenue no longer being required for this year.

Langley City’s capital projects are funded by around one-third from revenue received from the casino. With the casino now closed, this will impact capital projects.

Langley City has a policy of budgeting conservatively. Because of this, council is proposing to maintain this year’s capital projects minus what was part of the Nexus investment plan. Some capital projects planned for future years will need to be deferred due to the casino being closed, unless the City is able to receive extra funding from the provincial and/or federal government.

Every year, council tries to set aside taxation revenue for capital projects in future years. The proposed revised budget will see this reduced by $50,000.

Due to conservative budgeting and a reduction in funding for future capital projects, an additional $450,000 in taxation revenue is no longer required for this year. This is not sustainable, and is a one-time reduction.

The proposed new 2020 budget will see people who own single family homes have the portion of their City-control tax bill increase 2.44% or on-average $78 this year. For people who own a townhouse or condo, the portion of their City-control tax bill will increase by 2.41% or on-average $37 this year.

We are in a time like no other in the history of Langley City. The property tax increases for this year are proposed to be reduced significantly to help people get through the COVID-19 paramedic.

Investment still needs to be made, and in future years, we will have catching up to do if this proposed new 2020 budget is approved.

For more information, please visit the financial plans section of the Langley City website.

Monday, April 27, 2020

TransLink: $710 million to $3.25 billion budget shortfall due to COVID-19

TransLink has been losing $75 million per month since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency in mid-March, but has still been providing transit service to some 150,000 unique riders each week. About 40% of people using transit today are “essential” workers.

At last week’s Mayors’ Council virtual meeting, TransLink staff provided an update and presentation on the state of transit service in our region.

The following map from the presentation shows the location of Vancouver General Hospital employees, 30% of whom rely on transit to get to work.

Home Location of 5214 VGH Employees - colour shows relative distance from VGH. Select map to enlarge. Source: VGH 2016.

Without transit service, these people would have a hard time getting to work.

As I noted last week, because of significant revenue loss, TransLink was forced to slash transit service last week. Due to these cuts and measures put in place to promote physical distancing on transit, transit capacity is 18% of what it was a few months ago.

It is not just transit service that is being impacted, road network maintenance and projects in our region are also being impacted. TransLink is responsible for funding 50% of the costs to upkeep the major roads in our region, and up to 75% of road project costs. This money is transferred to municipalities, but is now being deferred. For example, TransLink is responsible for 50% of the costs to upkeep 200th Street, Fraser Highway, 203rd Street, and the Langley Bypass in Langley City*. This will put a strain on municipal revenue which is already being significantly impacted due to the COVID-19 state of emergency.

TransLink has investigated four plausible scenarios of how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out over the next one to four years.

Four plausible COVID-19 scenarios. Select to enlarge. Source: TransLink.

Depending on the duration of the current physical distancing measures, and how people change their travel behavior as the economy re-opens, TransLink would face anywhere between a $710 million and $3.25 billion shortfall in revenue compared to what was forecasted before the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Transit and transportation agencies throughout Canada are in a similar situation to TransLink; a federal response is needed.

If the federal government does not help support TransLink, not only will transit service and road repairs be further eroded in Metro Vancouver, but projects like building SkyTrain to Langley could be cut. This cannot happen.

If you believe that transit and roads are important, please ask your MP and MLA to help.

In Langley City our MP is Tamara Jansen:
Our MLA is Mary Polak:

*Section of 203rd, north of Fraser Highway. Langley Bypass, south of Glover Road.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Enhancing public programming in regional parks to better connect people with nature

Over the past week, I’ve posted about regional parks in Metro Vancouver.

One of the goals of the Metro Vancouver Regional District is to enhance public programming within its park network:

  • To instil knowledge and deeper understanding of nature so people:
    • respect, protect and care for nature and regional parks;
    • feel comfortable in and want to become familiar with nature;
    • make intellectual and emotional connections while they are in nature;
    • develop a sense of wonder about nature, and strive to live sustainably.
  • To enhance regional park visitor enjoyment. To build community connected to regional parks.
  • To showcase nature to regional park visitors.

The regional district’s future enhanced parks programming will be focused around the following themes:

Broaden Your Base: Work needs to be done to connect culturally diverse families, seniors, young adults, and older teens to nature.

Extend Your Reach: Increase awareness of Metro Vancouver Regional Parks’ outdoor programming.

Make a Deeper Connection: Improve public programming to do a better job of acknowledging the unique essence of place and ecology that defines each regional park and makes it special.

Invest in Youth: Children today spend too much time indoors, and when they do get outside, they are constrained and supervised by parents worried about their safety. Park programming should connect children to nature facilitated by a trusted mentor. This can foster a lifetime of environmental engagement.

Ensure Financial Sustainability: Set programming fees to stay in line with comparable market rates, and not unduly subsidize program and event costs through the tax levy.

Enhancing public programming requires additional staff which would increase regional park expenditures. The regional district will be exploring various cost recovery options as follows:

A pyramid model for revenue generations for parks programming. Select image to enlarge.

In Langley City, some recreation programs have fee such as fitness classes, while other services are free. The idea of having various cost recovery options for recreation and park services is nothing new.

While public programming will not likely resume for some time due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Once we get through this pandemic, I will look forward to seeing more public programming in our regional parks. I think the challenge for the regional district will be to balance the needs of cost recovery with the public benefits of connecting people better to nature.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Forest Health in Regional Parks

As many people in Langley City know, it is important to monitor the health of forests and groves in parks to help manage the spread of diseases that cause the premature death of trees.

Trees in Hunter Park had Laminated Root Rot. Laminated Root Rot spreads tree-to-tree if action isn’t taken. Unfortunately, a significant number of trees in Hunter Park had to be removed, but it stopped the spread of the disease. This is a local example.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently completed a forest health survey to help identify problem areas within their park network.

The following maps show three of the significant forested parks in the South of Fraser. More maps are available in the April 1st Regional Parks Committee presentation package.

Burns Bog Forest Health. Select map to enlarge.

Campbell Valley Forest Health. Select map to enlarge.

Aldergrove Park Forest Health. Select map to enlarge.

The next step for the regional district will be to come up with a plan to remedy the problem areas within the forests that they manage.

Forests provided significant ecological services to our region such as:

  • Carbon storage
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Disease regulation
  • water filtration and purification
  • Flood control
  • Pollinator habitat
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Pest control
  • Soil erosion prevention
  • Recreation and exercise
  • Air filtration
  • Shade and cooling
  • Soil formation
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Opportunities for wildlife viewing

It is important that we maintain the health of the limited amount of forested areas that remain in our region.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

SkyTrain and bus service slashed. 65 bus routes to be eliminated.

As I posted about last week, TransLink has seen a massive decline in both transit ridership and revenue. This has resulted in the organization losing $75 million per month since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency. TransLink staff warned last week that if the province or federal government didn’t provide emergency funding, transit service would be significantly cut to ensure that the organization would have the cashflow to meet its financial obligations.

Currently, there is no federal or provincial emergency funding for transit service in Metro Vancouver. Yesterday, TransLink announced significant cuts to transit service which start this week.

On Wednesday, SkyTrain service will be further reduced by 15% to 40% depending on the route and time of day. With reduced frequency, it will be harder for people to practice physical distancing.

The West Coast Express will see two trips in the morning and two trips in the afternoon cancelled. The size of the trains will be reduced.

The SeaBus will also stop sailing by 7:45pm.

Bus service will be hard hit with service reductions or eliminations.

On Friday, 12 bus routes will be eliminated including the R3 Lougheed Highway RapidBus. Six NightBus routes will also be eliminated.

In early May, 47 more routes will be eliminated. Service frequency will be reduced on many remaining routes.

The following routes in Langley are planned to be cut in May:

The 564 bus route which services Langley City and Willowbrook will be eliminated in May. Route shown on map. Select map to enlarge.

The 563 bus route which services Brookswood/Fernridge will be eliminated in May. Route shown on map. Select map to enlarge.

The 509 which is a peak-only service for Walnut Grove will also be cut.

In order to ensure physical distancing, TransLink has reduced the seating on its buses. If these reduced seats become full, transit operators will not pick up further passengers.

With reduced frequency and eliminated routes, it will be challenging for essential workers (including those who work in healthcare) to get to their jobs.

The province has declared transit an essential service. If you believe that transit is important, please ask your MP and MLA to save transit.

In Langley City our MP is Tamara Jansen:
Our MLA is Mary Polak:

Monday, April 20, 2020

COVID-19 impacts on regional utilities and parks

The Metro Vancouver Regional District provides water, sewer, and solid waste disposal services on behalf of its member municipalities which includes Langley City. The regional district also owns and operates parks throughout Metro Vancouver.

The regional district has posted some statistics about the change in demand for its utilities since the province declared a state of emergency to support COVID-19 response in mid-March.

The demand for water and sewer services has been consistent compared to previous years, even with many businesses shut down.

Weekly water utilization during COVID-19 state of emergency in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

The biggest change has been a shift in peak water demand in the mornings during weekdays. People are likely getting up later in the day as many people no longer need to commute for work.

There has been a 10% decrease in solid waste (garbage) being delivered to Metro Vancouver waste transfer stations. This is likely due to many businesses being shut down.

Solid waste delivered to Metro Vancouver transfer stations by day during COVID-19 state of emergency. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

There has been a large increase in regional park utilization. The regional district has noticed a 40% increase in park utilization. This is supported by Google’s data which shows an overall 20% increase in park utilization throughout the province.

Parks utilization in BC. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report.

Interestingly, BC is the only province in Canada that has seen an increase in park utilization since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

With more people in our parks, Metro Vancouver has created a video and guidelines to help keep people healthy.

Physical Distancing in Metro Vancouver's regional parks from Metro Vancouver on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A quieter, cleaner Langley City

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of people in Langley City. But even in this crisis, there are silver linings.

I’ve done a lot of walking throughout Langley City over the years, and I’ve noticed some things since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our community is quieter now. I can hear birdsongs when walking from my apartment to the grocery store, I can hear people doing yard work, and I can say hello to someone across the street without yelling.

A normally busy 56th Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

The reason why is because there is less traffic on the roads. It is interesting to hear how one relatively quiet car can drown out the sounds of nature. Diesel pickup trucks are especially loud compared to the now normal level of ambient sound in Langley City.

It is good that our city is quieter now because most people are under a higher level of stress. A reduction in ambient sound is linked to improved cardiovascular health, cognitive functions, sleep, and mental health.

With significantly less traffic on our roads, our air quality has also improved. If you’ve been able to see the mountains more over the last month, this is one of the reasons why.

Fine particulate (PM2.5) matter in Langley City over the last month. Source: Metro Vancouver
Inhalable particulate matter (PM10) in Langley City over the last month. Source: Metro Vancouver

Improved air quality is also linked to improved health outcomes.

If you find yourself outside on a walk (where you are practicing physical distancing) stop for a moment and listen to the sounds of nature in our community, look out to see the mountains in the distance. In this crisis, this gives me solace.

When the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, I hope that the provincial government looks at policies to reduce ambient noise in our communities, and stays the course on reducing motor vehicle emissions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Help Save Transit Service in Metro Vancouver

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on people's lives and our economy. As noted by Statistics Canada, “the number of people who were unemployed increased by 413,000 (+36.4%) from February to March, the largest monthly change since comparable data became available in 1976.

Magnitude of this unprecedented employment change compared with past shocks. Select image to enlarge. Source: Stats Canada.

This has translated into less people travelling by car and by transit. A quick look at Google Maps shows that even during the traditionally busiest times of the day, highways are all green.

A good proxy of the reduction in motor vehicle traffic volumes is that TransLink has seen a 60% reduction in gas tax since the start of the pandemic.

A TransLink RapidBus.

TransLink ridership has also dropped as follows:
SeaBus 🔻90%
West Coast Express 🔻95%
Bus 🔻82%

TransLink has stopped charging fares on buses, and has reduced bus service by 15~20% since mid-March.

The provincial government has deemed transit an essential service. In order to allow people to follow physical distancing recommendations, TransLink has reduced seating capacity.

In 2019, TransLink’s major sources of operating income were:
Transit Fares: $685.4 million
Fuel Tax: $403.1 million
Property Tax: $382.7 million
Parking Tax: $81.9 million
Hydro Levy: $21.4 million
Provincial Grant: $17.8 million

For TransLink, like most organizations, cashflow is more important than revenue; you cannot pay employee salaries and the bills without it.

While TransLink receives steady cashflow from fuel tax and transit fares, property tax revenue is received in one lump sum in the third quarter of the year. With significantly reduced cashflow due to the drop in both fuel tax and transit fares, plus talk about shifting property tax due dates until the fourth quarter of the year, TransLink is in a jam.

According to TransLink’s CEO Kevin Desmond, TransLink is “losing $75 million per month and on our current trajectory, we will face cashflow issues within weeks.”

So why does this matter? Currently 75,000 people still rely on transit. Many of these people are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in health care, in grocery stores, and in logistics. They still need to get around safely to ensure that the basic needs of people in our region can be met.

As the economy starts up again, transit service must be able to be quickly ramped up.

What can be done?

The provincial and federal governments are supporting workers and private sector businesses to keep people employed and businesses from failing. The same is needed to keep public transit going.

Like municipalities, TransLink cannot run an operating debt, it will need a cash infusion from the federal and/or provincial governments.

You can help by sending an email to your MP and MLA, asking them to save transit.

In Langley City our MP is Tamara Jansen:
Our MLA is Mary Polak:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

COVID-19 Fireside Chat

There have been many discussions about COVID-19 and what it means for our country and our province, but what about our mid-size cities in Metro Vancouver?

City councillors Kiersten Duncan of Maple Ridge, Patrick Johnstone of New Westminster and I discuss the implications of this pandemic on local governments.

How are local governments responding? What should and shouldn’t local governments be doing during this crisis? What will the COVID-19 pandemic mean for local governments that are cash-strapped, but still need to deliver critical services?

We talk about this, and what has kept our communities and ourselves going over the last month in a Metro Conversations virtual fireside chat.

You can also subscribe to the Metro Conversations podcast series to listen to this COVID-19 Fireside Chat.

Apple Podcast

Google Podcast

Thursday, April 9, 2020

March Langley City Property Crime Map

Even with the COVID-19 state of emergency in BC, people are still committing crimes.

The Langley RCMP has released its March property crime map for Langley City.

March 2020 property crime map for Langley City. Select map to view.

With more people staying at home, residential break and enters have decreased in Langley City.

Theft from auto is still a concern in our community. To reduce your chance of being a target, remove everything from your vehicle. This includes garage door openers. If it’s not bolted down, someone will try to steal it.

If you see suspicious activity, call the RCMP non-emergency line at (604) 532-3200. From personal experience, I know that reporting suspicious activity helps create a safer neighbourhood.

Because the population density is higher north of the Nicomekl River, there will be more activity both positive and negative, compared to south of the Nicomekl River.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

BC Human Rights Tribunal: Rainbow Flag allowed to be flown at City Hall/Timms

Langley City council passed a motion in the summer of 2016 to allow the Rainbow Flag to be flown on the flagpole at City Hall/Timms Community Centre annually to coincide with Vancouver’s annual Pride Week.

As stated in the original motion,“the City of Langley is an inclusive and diverse community that acknowledges and respects all people regardless of their colour, race, region, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.”

The Rainbow Flag is an international symbol of inclusiveness and diversity.

Seniors of Langley representatives, Langley City council, and others holding the rainbow flag in July 2019. Select image to enlarge.

The Rainbow Flag has been flown at City Hall/Timms for one week, three summers in a row at the request of LGBTQ+ members of our community. Last year, the request to raise the flag came from the LGBTQ Seniors of Langley who have faced a lifetime of discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

The City also allows flags to be flown at City Hall/Timms to “recognize visiting dignitaries, City challenges, and civic events and to allow not-for-profit community groups to promote local events.”

Since I’ve been on council, there have only been a handful of these requests each year.

Langley City as a government body must be neutral when it comes to the expressions of any religious preference. As such, religious flags are not permitted to be flown at City Hall/Timms.

In the winter of 2018, a complaint was filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal regarding Langley City’s flag policy.

Yesterday, the BC Human Rights Tribunal upheld Langley City’s flag policy.

An excerpts from that decision:

Similarly, the City’s prohibition against flying religious flags while flying the Rainbow Flag cannot be seen to amount to a distinction that is discriminatory. Rather, these acts are all in the service of equity. They increase the participation and representation of the LGBTQ+ communities in an attempt to offset the historical disadvantages experienced by these communities. They help bring LGBTQ+ community members to equal standing with heterosexual and cisgendered individuals, who have not experienced such societal disadvantages. They ensure that the City maintains a neutral public space free from coercion, and judgment on the part of public authorities in matters of spirituality. Altogether, they advance the purposes of the Code to foster a society in which there are no impediments to full and free participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life of British Columbia and to promote a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights.

For more information, please read the full decision.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

April 6 Council Meeting: Strata insurance changes needed. Businesses call for tax relief.

Yesterday afternoon, Langley City council met virtually over a video conferencing solution. This is the second council meeting held virtually since the introduction of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Langley City council and staff meet virtually. Select image to enlarge.

The council meeting was brief.

The first item on the agenda was a motion by Councillor Albrecht relating to the rapid increase in strata insurance rates. I know most stratas are seeing significant increases in their insurance premiums. Some stratas are seeing insurance deductibles so high that they essentially need to self-insure. There are even some stratas that can’t get insurance. In the strata I’m a part of, we saw a massive increase in our premiums and deductibles.

The Insurance Brokers Association of BC is calling on the province to put a $50,000 cap on loss assessment coverage for each strata unit owner. Currently, some stratas are seeing deductibles of $250,000 or higher. If a loss higher than the deductible occurs, and it is caused by one unit, that owner would be on the hook for $250,000. Many individual owner insurance plans do not provide loss assessment coverage that high. By putting a cap on loss assessment coverage, it would protect strata owners and allow them to be fully covered.

The second recommendation by the association is for the province to create a standard definition of a strata unit. This would remove confusion about what is a strata corporation’s responsibility for insurance compared to an individual owner.

Langley City council passed the following motion:

THAT City of Langley write to Premier John Horgan and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson to urge them to take immediate action to consider the two reform proposals put forward by the Insurance Brokers Association of BC (IBABC) to provide stability for the strata insurance market in BC and protect millions of strata owners by mitigating insurance market cycles.

Council also received letters from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business calling for reductions in property tax, for moving property tax and municipal utility payment due dates to the fall instead of summer, and on the province to expand its property tax deferral program.

As reducing or changing the tax due date would have significant implications to the City’s cash-flow and ability to provide services, these letters were referred by council to City staff for followup.

This virtual council meeting will be posted to Langley City’s website for viewing.

Monday, April 6, 2020

A Walk Through History in Langley City

Practicing physical distancing is one of the critical measures that we must all take to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, we should “stay home as much as possible.”

If you go outside, “keep about two meters (six feet) or the length of a queen-sized bed apart when possible.”

One of the many good things about Langley City is that we have a high density of trails, parks, and sidewalks that can be useful to get to the grocery store, or for a walk to get exercise, while maintaining physical distancing.

I took an indirect route from my apartment to the grocery store this weekend which also revealed some interesting facts about the history of the area.

If you travel along 51b Avenue or 208th Street, you might notice they were designed like highways. You might also find it odd that 208th Street does not align north and south of Fraser Highway.

208th Street Causeway and Nicomekl Park. Select image to enlarge.

These two sections of 208th Street used to connect with each other. If you go through Nicomekl Park, you will notice that its parking lot is actually an old section of 208th Street. This section of road would have been subject to flooding.

208th Street Causeway Bridge plaque. Select image to enlarge.

The 208th Street Causeway was opened in 1985 making this section of 208th Street no longer subject to flooding. You will notice that 51b Avenue was built in the same era. Both these roads were meant to be bypasses around Langley City’s urban area; they did not end up that way.

Just east of the intersection of 208th Street, Fraser Highway, and the Langley Bypass is the Old Yale Road Bridge. This was an original part of the Trans-Canada Highway, and is only open for walking and cycling.

Old Yale Road Bridge/Old Trans-Canada Highway Bridge. Select image to enlarge.

If you continue walking northeast along Old Yale Road, you will see the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Select image to enlarge.

One of the facts about this Township of Langley park is that a section of it is in Langley City.

It was interesting to see the history and quirks of our community literally right under my feet.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Report suspicious activities to the RCMP. Report potholes and vandalism to Langley City.

For the past three weeks, I have been working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve only gone outside to get food and other essentials, or to walk for exercise while maintaining physical distancing.

Because of this, I’ve been much more aware of the activities around my strata building. I’ve also become more aware of activities close to my building. I’ve started to see the patterns of what are typical activities, and activities that are out of place, throughout the whole day.

I’m currently the chair of Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. One of our objectives is to encourage people to report suspicious activities to the RCMP.

With less activity in general occurring in Langley City, suspicious activity has become more obvious to me.

I’ve called the Langley detachment of the RCMP a few times over the years to report suspicious activity, including recently. It can feel intimidating to call the non-emergency line of the RCMP to report suspicious activity, but it is a simple and easy process. I’ve always had a RCMP member call back after to gather more details about the suspicious activity I called in to report.

Even if it feels like calling isn’t doing anything, it is. Reports of suspicious activity help guide where policing resources are deployed.

If you see suspicious activity, please report it to the RCMP at 604-532-3200.

Also, if you see vandalism, potholes, sidewalks that need repair, or burnt out street lights (among other things) in Langley City, please use the City’s Request for Service online tool. This will help make sure that things can get repaired.

Do not alter your current routine to find suspicious activities, or City infrastructure that needs repair. I’ve noticed things more because I’ve been spending significantly more time at home.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Physical distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation. What you can do to stay connected. How you can help others.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of people in our community. Having to work from home, no longer having work, or dealing with the reality of school closures has placed added stress on people.

Not being able to visit friends, family, or go out for social activities has also had a negative impact on people's lives. We are social by nature.

Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges that we’ve faced in Langley City, but I know that we will overcome this challenge together.

We must still follow the guidance of the BC Centre for Disease Control:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Practice physical distancing (2 metre rule)

How can we maintain social contentions while practicing physical distancing?

In my household, we have made a conscious effort to set dates with friends to meet with them on video chat. We plan the get-togethers to be as close as possible to in-person.

So far, we’ve had a virtual brunch where both sides of the chat shared a meal together (even if the menu was different.)

We’ve also had afternoon drinks with friends over video chat.

We will be attempting to play the card game “Joking Hazard” with some friends in a few weeks time over video chat as we both own the physical game.

We’ve made a conscious effort to check in with family and friends more often.

These things have helped us stay connected with other people in our lives.

For some people, they may not have people that they can connect with on the phone or online. I know in Langley City, there are many seniors who may now find themselves socially isolated. You may be one of those people.

There is support. You can also help support someone.

As an example, the Langley Senior Resources Society has Outreach Services including a “Seniors Telephone Buddies” program. I suggest that you visit their website for more information, or call 604-530-3020 Ext 302 or 306.

The Langley Youth Hub is also still offering services in our community.

If you can, make an effort to connect with someone online or over the phone that you haven’t in awhile. It will make a world of difference for you and for them.