Thursday, October 29, 2020

Wastewater testing holds the key to understand COVID-19 infection rates in Metro Vancouver

In the summer, there were several news articles about BC researchers sampling wastewater/sewage to see if it could help track the spread and rate of infection due to COVID-19 in Metro Vancouver.

A pilot project at the Annacis Island wastewater treatment plant was successful in finding COVID-19. As a result, the Metro Vancouver Regional District will be rapidly ramping up the sampling program at all wastewater treatment plants in our region.

Because there are five wastewater treatment plants in four distinct sewerage areas, this testing program should also be able to track COVID-19 infection rates at a sub-regional level.

Wastewater treatment plants and sewerage areas in Metro Vancouver. Select image to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

More work is required to develop a testing methodology. The hope is that reporting will be available in the first quarter of next year.

Because people only get COVID-19 testing if they have cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, public health officials only see a small self-selecting portion of our region's population today. Being able to track COVID-19 infection rates via wastewater means that researchers and public health officials will be able to sample almost everyone in Metro Vancouver.

Using wastewater to test for COVID-19 will provide public health officials with a better understanding of the virus's spread at a sub-regional level in Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

“Quick win” projects to improve bus reliability in Metro Vancouver

Buses are an effective way to move people around. Private vehicles can carry approximately 600 to 1,600 people per hour. Buses mixed with private vehicles can move about 1,000 to 2,800 people per hour. Buses travelling in their own lane can carry 4,000 to 8,000 people per hour.

In most of the region, buses travel with private vehicle traffic. This means that as congestion increases, bus reliability and efficiency decreases.

Over the years, municipalities, TransLink, and the provincial government have invested in building bus priority measures such as dedicated bus lanes, bus bulbs, and traffic signal prioritization throughout the region. This year, municipalities and TransLink are delivering $1.5 million in “quick win” projects to speed up bus service.

The following map shows the top 20 busiest bus corridors in the region.

Map showing existing bus priority and quick-win projects by expected completion date

The blue lines represent bus prioritization measures that existed before this year. The green represents projects that are completed or will be completed this year. The orange represents projects that will be completed in 2021, while red projects currently do not have a timeline.

The projects this year include:

  • Robson and Main: Temporary bus bulbs (Completed)
  • Granville: Downtown northbound bus-only lanes extended to Nelson Street (Completed)
  • Fraser Highway: Bus approach lanes at 96th Avenue and 148th Street intersections (Completed)
  • Vancouver/Route 2: Eliminated some closely spaced bus stop (Completed)
  • Granville, Main, 41st, and Georgia in Vancouver: 19 km of new or extended bus priority lanes
  • 49th Ave (Van), Edmonds St (Burnaby), and Bridgeport Rd (Richmond): Tactical changes
  • 8th St (New West) and Lonsdale Ave (City of North Vancouver): Bus bulbs

There is still more work to be done on the top 20 corridors. TransLink is looking to invest $4.15 million in bus prioritization measures in 2021 with partner municipalities’ support.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of financial uncertainty. By focusing on high-impact, low-cost projects, TransLink and municipalities can quickly improve transit service without breaking the bank.

Find out more by reading the latest Mayors’ Council agenda.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Welcome Back to Langley City Recreation Facilities - Enhanced Safety Protocols

With winter weather in full force, many people will be looking to participate in recreational activities at Langley City facilities.

The following video shows how to sign-up for activities, what to do when you arrive, and how to stay within the COVID-19 safety protocols put in place.

For more information, please visit the City’s COVID-19 Updates page.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Metro Vancouver Regional District eyeing increased summer water rates to reduce peak utilization

Water and sewer charges are a large component of the municipal-controlled portion of property tax.

Most municipalities in our region, including Langley City, purchase their water from the Metro Vancouver Regional District. Municipalities pay a volume charge to the Regional District for sewer services. Municipalities are responsible for the delivery of water and sewer between business/residential properties and regional mains.

The utility fees that are included in property tax are a combination of the municipal and regional costs to provide water and sewer services.

I virtually attended the Metro Vancouver Regional District Council of Councils meeting on Saturday. Regional District staff and directors presented an overview of their proposed 2020-24 financial plan. The renewal and replacement of outdated wastewater treatment plants, and the expansion of the regional water supply system to meet increased demand, are causing significant increases to the water and sewer rates charged to municipalities.

The Regional District board has been looking for ways to provide short-term financial relief to property taxpayers. One of the major projects that will likely be deferred as a result of finding short-term relief is the Coquitlam Lake Water Supply Project. This means that the region will have to double down on water conservation efforts.

Currently, the Regional District charges a summer and winter water rate to municipalities. The Regional District is looking into increase the summer water rate charged to municipalities.

Langley City has water meters on all properties, municipalities like Surrey do not. The increase in summer water rates might encourage municipalities throughout the region to install water meters on all properties.

It might also result in municipalities charging a summer and winter water rate to property owners. In Langley City, there is a base water charge and year-round meter rate.

The idea is to nudge municipalities to invest in water conservation programs and encourage people to use less water during the summer months.

Metro Vancouver Regional District staff noted at the Council of Councils meeting that our region uses more water per capita than other large regions in North America. We can do better as a region to reduce water utilization which will help reduce increases in property tax.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A case for more municipalities in the Lower Mainland

One of the things that pops-up from time-to-time is the idea that there are too many municipalities in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The are 27 municipalities in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. There are 2.9 million people that live within these municipalities. This works out to one municipality per 109,000 people.

In the rest of BC, there are 1.6 million people that live within 135 municipalities. This works out to one municipality per 12,000.

Lower Mainland residents are underrepresented when it comes to municipalities compared to the rest of the province.

One argument about having less municipalities is that it will be more efficient because of deduplication of services. As I posted about in the past, duplication is minimal to nil in Metro Vancouver.

The other argument is that some people feel that there are just too many mayors and councillors.

In the Lower Mainland, people are already underrepresented when it comes to the number of municipalities. There are 195 people locally elected to councils in the Lower Mainland. This includes mayors and councillors. This works out to one municipal representative per 15,000 people overall.

This is not distributed evenly. Langley City has one municipal representative per 4,000. Abbotsford has one per 18,000. Surrey has one per 64,947.

As pointed out in a recent CBC article, 48 of BC’s 87 provincial electoral districts are within the Lower Mainland. This means that there is one MLA per 62,000 people.

Because 62,000 people is a lot of people to represent, each MLA gets a constituency office. A MLA’s base salary is $111,024. Each MLA also gets $141,400 to hire staff and run a constituency office. It would be impossible to serve 62,000 people on your own. That is a total cost of $252,424, or $4.07 per person in an electoral district on average in the Lower Mainland.

In Surrey, the mayor has a base salary of $147,019 while a councillor has a base salary of $74,980. With total salaries of $746,859, this works out to $1.28 per person in Surrey.

In Abbotsford, the mayor has a base salary of $122,379 while a councillor has a base salary of $46,132. All in, this works out to $3.10 per person in Abbotsford.

In Langley City, the mayor has a base salary of $115,446 while a councillor has a base salary of $53,874. All in, this works out to $15.83 per person in Langley City.

Councillors do not get funding for constituency offices.

As someone who is elected in Langley City, I feel that I can keep up with local issues and have time to meet up with residents to help them. I honestly don’t know how I would be able to do that if I was elected in a community like Surrey.

A case could be made to create more municipalities in Metro Vancouver. Surrey would be a clear example of a community that is under-represented at the local level.

In the Lower Mainland, there are less municipalities per person than the rest of the province. There are regional services, and coordination of services between municipalities. Some of the larger municipalities are underrepresented at the local level.

While it might look nice on a map to have fewer municipalities in the Lower Mainland, it would result in less representation than at the provincial level.

Addressing local issues is critical as they have the most impact on people’s lives. We should be looking to enhance representation, not reduce it.

As a note, Lower Mainland means the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley Regional Districts. The population estimated are for 2019 from BC Stats. All local government salaries are from 2019.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Report Crime Online

Earlier this year, the Langley Detachment of the RCMP launched online crime reporting. Instead of calling the police, you can now submit the following reports online:

  • You have lost something that costs less than $5000
  • Someone has stolen something from you that costs less than $5000
  • Someone has vandalized your property or vehicle and it will cost less than $5000 to repair it
  • You want to report general poor driving behaviour such as speeding, distracted driving, and failing to follow a sign or signal

Visit the Online Crime Reporting tool.

If there is a crime in progress, please call 911. For other requests and to report suspicious activity, call the RCMP non-emergency line at 604-532-3200.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

October 19 Council Meeting: Remembrance Day online ceremony, winter recreation, things to do in Langley City, and reducing waste at future events.

Langley City council received an update from Kim Hilton who is the Director of Recreation, Culture and Community Services yesterday afternoon. The City has been providing recreation opportunities, following WorkSafe BC COVID-19 protocols, since the summer. With winter fast approaching, some gymnasium programs have now started at Timms Community Centre such as pickleball, badminton, volleyball, and table tennis.

The City is once again offering 10 and 20 visit “punch” passes as well as unlimited monthly passes for recreation programs.

Remembrance Day will not be held in person this year in Langley City. Instead, a locally produced ceremony will be put online for people to view on Remembrance Day. For more information, please visit Langley City’s Remembrance Day page.

Discovery Langley City, our tourism marketing organization, has continued to promote our community throughout the pandemic. They recently launched a new video.

Discovery Langley City is continuing to work with Destination BC on COVID-19 recovery planning for 2021~22 and beyond.

On the topic of tourism, large outdoor events have been an important part of our community. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these events are paused. These large events unfortunately also generate a large amount of waste which ends up in landfill or incinerated. With events paused, council passed the following recommendation from our Environmental Task Group:

THAT Council direct staff to complete a report covering waste management for events within City of Langley including the following:

  1. How event waste management is currently addressed
  2. Summarize the typical events held within the City of Langley
  3. How waste at events can be reduced
  4. What waste reduction education resources should be provided at events
  5. Should the City implement a requirement that event organizers must submit a waste management plan prior to event approval
  6. Identify the components of a suggested waste management plan
  7. Identify implications to event organizers
  8. Estimate the cost and resource implications for City organized events

I look forward to seeing the staff report on how we can improve our waste management practices, and implementing those recommendations before large events start up again in the future.

Council also gave third and final reading to discharge a land use contract for 20093 44 Avenue, and gave final reading to the 2021 permissive property tax exemption bylaw.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Protecting Employment Lands and Jobs in Metro Vancouver. Increasing Employment Density near SkyTrain.

Land in Metro Vancouver has two levels of zoning. A regional zone and a municipal zone. Regional zones are in place to protect agricultural, industrial, rural, conservation, and recreation lands. Without regional land-use protection, Metro Vancouver would have less greenspace. Our region would also have less employment lands and jobs which are located along key transportation corridors including the Fraser River.

The protection of these employment lands and greenspace has been steadily increasing over the last 25 years. Currently to remove these protected lands for general urban uses, such as residential and retail, both municipal and regional rezoning must occur. At the regional level, rezoning is a rare occurrence due to the deliberate roadblocks put in place in the Metro 2040 Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) policies.

Current regional land uses in Langley City. Purple = Industrial; Salmon = Mixed Employment Lands. Source: Metro Vancouer GIS.

While the current RGS has been effective, there are some gaps in the protection of employment lands. As the regional district is now working on an updated Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy, some of these gaps are now being examined.

One of the biggest gaps is that retail uses are being permitted within employment lands. There is also employment land next to SkyTrain stations throughout the region that is low density. The regional district is looking at how to increase employment densities in regionally zoned employment lands around these stations while also providing affordable rental housing.

The following set of recommendations has been made by Metro Vancouver Regional District staff.

  1. Update and clarify the definition of industrial use
  2. Strengthen regional policies to protect Industrial lands for industrial uses
  3. Introduce some flexibility for Mixed Employment lands by rail rapid transit stations to accommodate higher job density and other regional growth strategy objectives
  4. Encourage industrial intensification/densification, where contextually appropriate to the activity and location
  5. Undertake a regional land use assessment to proactively identify the ‘best’ location for different land uses
  6. Improve climate action policy such as adapting to sea level rising and flooding

Langley City has regionally-zoned industrial and mixed-employment lands. City staff are in the process of updating Langley City’s Official Community Plan. Protecting these employment lands is supported. I look forward to seeing the specifics of how the region will support increasing employment density around SkyTrain stations as both proposed Langley SkyTrain stations are near employment lands.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mobility in Metro Vancouver. TransLink looking to encourage positive trends, discourage increased driving.

Since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency in March, TransLink staff have noticed emerging trends around mobility in Metro Vancouver. They have been thinking about how to support trends that will have a positive impact on people’s quality of live while discouraging trends that will have a negative impact on people and the environment.

Reduced transit ridership
Buses travel within general traffic lanes meaning that they get stuck in congestion. To speed up travel-time for bus riders, TransLink staff is looking to speed up bus service along key corridors in partnership with municipalities. Some ways to speed up bus service include putting in bus priority lanes along corridor and queue jumping lanes at busy intersections.

Increased walking and cycling
To encourage the increase in walking and cycling, TransLink staff is looking to work with municipalities to rapidly create more safe bike lanes. TransLink staff is also considering supporting municipalities to create “slow streets,” and improve walking safety at some of the most dangerous intersections in the region. TransLink staff also want to increase the use of e-bikes by partnering with municipalities to provide shared e-bike charging, and to lobby the province to include e-bikes in the BC Clean Energy rebate program.

Increased driving
Some people who used to take transit have now purchased new vehicles. The current concern is that an overall higher percentage of all trip will continue to occur via single-occupancy vehicle as we recover from the pandemic. This will lead to increased congestion throughout the region, increased pollution, and increased GHG emissions.

To reverse this trend, TransLink staff is looking to encourage mobility options such as carpools, vanpools, car sharing services, taxies, and ride-hailing.

TransLink staff will continue to work on policies to discourage driving during the busiest times of the day. This includes working with municipalities to develop a region-wide framework for on-street parking pricing and allocation.

Increased remote work and remote learning
To encourage remote work and remote learning, TransLink staff is looking to make the agency a clearinghouse for information about remote work and learning. TransLink could play a role in lobbying the province and feds to create policies that incentivize people and organization to continuing working from home.

Increased e-commerce
E-commerce delivery can have negative impacts on parking, congestion, and emissions. TransLink staff is looking to work with municipalities to create a region-wide approach to urban freight delivery. TransLink staff would also like to work to encourage deliveries via low emissions vehicles and cargo bikes.

Increased unemployment & household financial strain
The cost of transportation is a large component in most household budgets. Ensuring that transit remains safe, convenient, and low-cost are key goals for TransLink as we emerge out of the pandemic.

To learn more, please have a look at the report, “Transport 2050: Progress Report on COVID-19 Impacts and Opportunities on Long-term Planning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

TransLink ridership increasing faster in South of Fraser than other parts of the region. Buses leading the way.

When I last posted about transit in July, ridership was about 33% of pre-COVID-19 state of emergency levels. At the most recent Mayors’ Council meeting, TransLink’s CEO provided an update on transit ridership.

Transit ridership is increasing, but ridership restoration has been uneven based on the mode used.

Mode Ridership Return
(% of pre-COVID Ridership)
Bus 43%
Expo/Millennium Line 38%
Canada Line 31%
SeaBus 27%
West Coast Express 17%
HandyDART 35%

Bus ridership has restored further than rail ridership. This makes sense because ridership is also restored back higher in areas that have limited rail service.

Sub-Region Ridership Return
(% of pre-COVID Ridership)
Vancouver/UBC 39%
Burnaby/New West 37%
North Shore 44%
Richmond/Delta 42%
Northeast/Tri-Cities 37%
Ridge Meadows 55%
Surrey/Langley/White Rock 51%

There is some speculation around why ridership is restoring faster in some parts of the region comparted to others, but it is a combination of how many people are still working from home, in post-secondary classes held remotely, and unemployed.

I would also guess that some people have switched from transit to walking and cycling.

For 2021, TransLink is planning for around 70% of pre-COVID-19 ridership. Limited capacity due to COVID-19 safety protocols on transit vehicles necessitate 100% of pre-COVID-19 service hours for transit in 2021.

Work is in-progress to plan for 2022 and beyond for transit as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for sometime.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A look at the new Brydon Park dog off-leash area and perimeter trail

The first phase of upgrades to Brydon Park is now open to the public. This weekend, I walked the new perimeter trail and took some pictures.

Perimeter Trail. Select image to enlarge.

One of the things I noticed is that the parking lot and new trails are gravel. This is to help with stormwater management. Instead of stormwater and pollutants running off asphalt directly into storm sewers which drain directly into rivers and creeks, water can filter through the ground. This reduces pollutants getting into the ecosystem. Gravel and other pervious surfaces also help reduce the flow of water into rivers and creeks which reduces erosion to watercourses.

Gravel parking lot. Select image to enlarge.

Another environmental feature in the newly opened section of Brydon Park is a bioswale which like pervious surfaces, helps to collect and remove pollutants, silt, and debris from stormwater.

Bioswale and dog-off leash area. Select image to enlarge.

One of the new things in recently renovated parks in the City is water fountains. This water fountain is located at the entrance to the new dog off-leash area.

Water fountain. Select image to enlarge.

The are also new water fountains at City Park, Nicholas Park, and Penzer Park.

The material in the dog off-leash area is a special engineered wood product. It is designed to reduce splinters. This material is also used in playgrounds and other dog off-leash areas in the City.

Entrance to dog off-leash area. Select image to enlarge.

The next phase of enhancements to Brydon Park is schedule to start in 2023 and will include:

  • Water play area
  • Sand volleyball court
  • Group picnic area with picnic shelters
  • Community table
  • New washroom building
  • Outdoor fitness equipment area

Future phases will include:

  • Youth activity and social area
  • Enhanced sports court
  • Enhanced play area for children with social area for parents

Thursday, October 8, 2020

October 5 Council Meeting: Sidewalk patios for restaurants, proclamations, and deputy mayor appointments

Monday night’s Langley City council meeting was a lighter agenda. Council gave final reading to repeal our Chauffeur Permit and Regulation Bylaw and update the Municipal Ticket Information System Bylaw accordingly. You can read more about why the bylaw was repeal in a previous post.

A proclamation is an old tyme was for mayor or council to have a day in recognition to show symbolic support for a group, cause, or organization. For example, a council could declare a day, “Water Appreciation Day.” These proclamations have little meaningful impact. As a result, this is something that Langley City council has not done. Council formally adopted a policy on Monday night to include requests for proclamations in the “Correspondence” section of council agendas, but not actually do proclamations.

Mayor and council show meaningful support for non-profit organizations in our community by offering community grants, raising non-profit flags (on-request) during specific time periods, and providing letters of support for non-profits seeking grant funding from third parties.

Council appointed the rotation deputy mayor position for 2020/2021 as follows:
Nov.1 – Dec 31, 2020 - Councillor Pachal
Jan.1 – Feb 28, 2021 - Councillor Albrecht
Mar.1 – Apr 30, 2021 - Councillor Martin
May 1 - June 30, 2021 - Councillor Wallace
July 1 – Aug 31, 2021 - Councillor Storteboom
Sept 1 – Oct 31, 2021 - Councillor James

The deputy mayor takes over the mayor’s responsibilities if she is unavailable.

One of the things that council has received frequent correspondence about during the COVID-19 pandemic is for the City to support sidewalk patios for restaurants. This is interesting because the City already provides free permits for restaurants that want to extend their patios onto sidewalks. This has been in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has produced a “Guide to Outdoor Dining on Sidewalks” to help restaurants in our community apply for this free permit.

Finally, council received a report from staff on the legal costs due to a complaint against the City from an individual to the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint was dismissed by the Tribunal. The City’s legal costs to defend against the complaint was $62,058.05.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October 5 Council Meeting: Smoke bombing the sewer and other projects on the go

If you see smoking rising out of manholes or catch basins in the Dumais Park area, do not be alarmed. It is the City testing the storm sewer and sanitary sewer lines.

Langley City council learned that City staff have noted an increase in sanitary sewer flow when it is raining. This means that there is likely a cross-connection between the storm sewer and sanitary sewer. This can happen over time due to human error during construction projects, or damage.

To help find issues, a smoke bomb is placed in the sanitary sewer lines. Crews monitor where the smoke escapes. This shows where there could be problems. This smoke is completely safe for people, animals, and the natural environment.

If sanitary sewer gets into the storm sewer system, raw sewage can flow into our local rivers and creeks. If stormwater gets into the sanitary sewer, it can overload sewer treatment plants resulting in raw sewage being released into the ocean and Fraser River.

Replacing traffic lights is important. Previously when traffic lights needed replacement, the traffic controller, poles, conduits, and signals would be replaced all at once. Each full replacement cost around $250,000.

In order to save money, City staff now complete an audit to see if traffic light poles and conduits are in good shape. If they are, only the actual traffic controller and signals are replaced. These replacements cost around $60,000 each.

City staff are always look for ways to save money while maintaining a good level of service, and state of good repair for our public infrastructure. By extending the life of traffic light poles and conduits, the savings can be reinvested into other infrastructure renewal projects such as renewing more traffic lights.

The City is working on getting Innis Corners Plaza lit for the holiday season. Based on the success of last year, there will be further enhancements to make this plaza a holiday destination. On the topic of the holidays, the light displays along the Fraser Highway One-Way will also be enhanced this year.

Council also received updates as follows:

  • Brydon Park upgrades are nearing completion
  • The 51B Causeway bridge will have it seals replaced shortly
  • The pedestrian bridges near Portage Park and in Nicomekl Park are being renewed
  • The storm sewer line around 47 Avenue will be relining to prevent root infiltration

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

High-Speed Rail Corridor Pitched for South Coast: Whistler to Chilliwack in 60 Minutes

I had the chance to review and provide some feedback for a high-speed rail corridor proposal for the Sea-to-Sky corridor, Metro Vancouver, and Fraser Valley. I think that the proposal has merit, and should be studied further by the provincial government.

I know that our region is continuing to grow; there will be another million more people in Metro Vancouver over the next 30 years. We need a bold vision to help us keep people moving in our region, and help us recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read the high-speed rail corridor vision at

The following is the press release for the vision.

Travel time for Mountian Valley Express (MVX) compared to auto. Select image to enlarge.

Metro Vancouver - The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Canadians in ways not seen for generations. People have lost loved ones, small business owners have been forced to close their businesses for good, and a record number of people are unemployed. This pandemic has paused our way of life as we know it, and has forced us to reset our priorities.

As we look forward to a vaccine for COVID-19, and a restarting of our economy, one urban planner wants the Province to chart an ambitious new course for recovery.

“We have a choice. Do we continue business as usual, or chart a new path to prosperity, a path that also considers the large looming climate emergency?” Asks PhD candidate Alex Gaio, who recently completed his masters degree in Sustainable Urban Planning and Design at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Gaio notes that British Columbia, Washington State, and Oregon State are currently studying a $50 billion high-speed rail line that will link Vancouver to Seattle to Portland. He thinks that a similar study is required for the South Coast of BC.

The proposal for the plan is called the Mountain Valley Express or MVX for short. The report can be read on the website at

“MVX high-speed rail will move 97,000 trips per day, taking 20% of all drivers off our congested highways,” says Delta native Gaio. “High-speed rail would mean you could travel from Whistler to Chilliwack in an hour.”

According to Gaio, the MVX corridor if built would:

  • Support the Province’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2040
  • Move as many people as 6 lanes of highway
  • Support 460,000 to one million jobs over 30 years
  • Create $49-61 billion in transportation benefits over 30 years
  • Cost 30-70% less than expanding the highway network to meet the same demand
  • Reduce travel time by 80% compared to driving

“As we think about the COVID-19 recovery, we need to think big,” says Langley City Councillor Nathan Pachal who has read the vision. “BC is a province of builders. Let’s build for the future.”

Gaio, a member of the MVX Collective, hopes that the Province will consider launching a feasibility study for the Mountain Valley Express.

“If we are studying the Cascadia high-speed rail corridor in earnest,” says Gaio, “We should also be studying high-speed rail for people who need it everyday in our own backyard.”

For further information, contact:
Alex Gaio

Monday, October 5, 2020

New Lifeguard app to help prevent overdoses

BC has two health crises. One is caused by COVID-19, the other is caused by toxic street drugs. Throughout 2020, the number of people unintendedly overdosing due to toxic drugs has been steadily increasing.

Illegal Drug Overdose Events, Previous 12 Months. Source: BC CDC.

Younger men who use at home are the mostly likely to die from an unintendedly overdose. Because of the COVID-19 paramedic, more people are using along. This increases the risk of dying due to an unintended overdose.

The provincial government recently launched a new app for iPhone and Android devices call “Lifeguard App” in partnership with Lifeguard Digital Health.

The app is simple to use. If you are about to use, you activate the app. After 50 seconds, an alarm will sound. If you don’t press the stop button, the alarm will grow louder. After 75 seconds, a text-to-voice call is placed to 911.

The following video shows a demo of the app.

If you are using along, please consider this app. Even if you do not use alone, please let others know about the “Lifeguard App.” You could help save a life.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on housing and jobs in Metro Vancouver

The Metro Vancouver Regional District struct a COVID-19 Response Task Force at the start of the pandemic state of emergency. One of the roles of the regional district is to be a clearinghouse for its member municipalities. As such, regional district staff have been compiling information about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Metro Vancouver.

Data on housing, the economy, transportation, and land-use was presented by regional district staff at the most recent Task Force meeting.

There were a few data tables that stood out for me.

BC Temporary Rent Supplement. Select table to enlarge.

BC Housing provided temporary rental supplements for low- and moderate-income households who lost income as a result of the pandemic. This program ran from April until the end of August. Regional-wide, 65,522 households applied for the temporary supplement. More than 1,412 households applied for the supplement in Langley (City and Township.)

New housing starts were up 50% year-over-year in Metro Vancouver, though the building permit value of these starts was lower. The biggest depressing in building permit values has been in the industrial sector.

Housing Starts in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

The last slide I wanted to share shows the unemployment rate in Metro Vancouver which has increased from 4.6% in February to 12.4% in August.

Unemployment rate (red) in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

The full data analysis presentation which includes transportation statistics, plus cost per square foot for industrial, office, and retail space can be viewed on the Metro Vancouver website .