Thursday, April 15, 2021

April 12 Council Meeting Notes: Mail Theft and Insecure Mailboxes, Final Approval for Langley Lions Affordable Housing, and Sewer Main Renewal Approved.

While the overall crime rate is down in Langley City, mail theft is on the rise year-over-year. Mail theft is a serious concern. The immediate impact of a stolen bank card, credit card, or cheque is often followed by identity theft and other fraud. A victim of mail theft can spend a significant amount of time recovering from one incident and can often be revictimized.

Each occurrence of mail theft and associated identity theft and fraud takes significant police resources to investigate.

To help reduce mail theft which would also free up police resources, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group asked City Council to “direct staff to investigate an incentive program to retrofit insecure mailboxes in multifamily housing to increase security and deter mail theft, which in turn, reduces policing costs.”

While newer townhouse and apartment developments have secure mailboxes, many of the older buildings in Langley City do not.

On Monday afternoon, Council approved this request.

The redevelopment of the Langley Lions Housing Society’s seniors-focused affordable housing complex to the south of Langley Mall has been working its way through the approval process at City Hall. Council gave final approval to the housing agreement, official community plan update, rezoning, and development permit to construct a new 101-unit Birch Building on Monday. This approval also set the groundwork for the eventual redevelopment of the current 518-unit complex into a 981-unit, seniors-focused affordable housing complex.

Council also approved a land exchange as part of the West Country Hotel redevelopment. The exchange enables expanding the community garden along Michaud Crescent and a new access lane between Michaud Crescent and 56th Avenue.

Council approved staff applying for a grant to fund 50% of the cost to assess the City’s road pavement conditions. This assessment will help staff prioritize road repair work.

Council awarded a contract to PW Trenchless Construction for $821,213.11 to complete a sewer upgrade, as shown in the following map.

Map showing the 200th Street sewer replacement from 49 Avenue to the Nicomekl River.

Council endorsed Mayor Val van den Broek to stand for election to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors for one year starting in June 2021.

At the end of Monday afternoon’s meeting, Council asked staff to send a letter to the province asking them to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Langley City Council provides suggested locations for Overdose Prevention Site

In BC, there is an ongoing overdose crisis due to the ever-increasing toxicity of illicit drugs. In February, Fraser Health staff told Langley City Council that 2020 saw the highest number of overdose deaths ever. While some people may associate overdoses with people experiencing homelessness, around 70% of overdose deaths occur in private residences, 16% in other indoor locations such as restaurants, and 13% outside.

The overdose crisis is primarily impacting employed, single young men. The province recently launched Lifeguard App for smartphones to help reduce overdose deaths for people that use alone. Another way to help reduce overdose deaths is to building Overdose Prevention Sites.

These sites provide:

  • Distribution of supplies for safer injection
  • Education on safe injection technique and infection prevention
  • Overdose prevention and intervention
  • Medical and counselling services
  • Referrals to substance use treatment
  • Connection to housing and other support services
  • Drug-checking

Fraser Health is looking to partner with a service provider to create an Overdose Prevention Site in Langley.

Langley City is a compact community. You can walk from one end of Fraser Highway to the other in about 30 minutes. There is a high concentration of social and health services within our downtown. While access to social and health services is critical, concentrating services in one area leads to ghettoization. Services should be spread throughout a community to increase access and reduce stigmatization.

Given Langley City’s small size, this presents a difficult challenge. Langley City council selected the green area as a recommended area to place an Overdose Prevention Site in our community.

Area for potential Overdose Prevention Site in green. Select map to enlarge.

The Langley Bypass area and area bound by Fraser Highway, the Langley Bypass and 200th Street are the Council recommended locations. The triangle area is accessible by transit and walking, which is likely a critical requirement for an Overdose Prevention Site.

Council also asked Fraser Health to:

  • Go through a rezoning process for a proposed Overdose Prevention Site since no existing zones permit its use today.
  • Require all services be provided inside a Overdose Prevention Site
  • Require 24/7 security and site clean up around a Overdose Prevention Site
  • Develop a good neighbour committee

As this is a health emergency, Fraser Health can likely place an Overdose Prevention Site wherever they see fit. I do hope that they consider Council’s recommendations which will help uplift people and our neighbourhoods.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Langley City Council adopts Living Wage Policies for Staff, Contractors, and Service Providers. Council Looks to Expand Food Truck Options.

Yesterday afternoon’s Langely City Council meeting started with a delegation from Shiera Stuart, the government relations officer for Gateway Casinos. Gateway Casinos operates Cascades Casino. She requested that the City updates its Business Licensing Bylaw to allow food trucks in the City beyond what is currently permitted.

Today, food trucks can operate if they are part of a Farmer’s Market, a community event, or operated by a non-profit as part of a fundraising effort.

The City’s proposed Offical Community Plan and Nicomekl River District Neighbourhood Plan support the expansion of mobile food vending such as food trucks in locations such as at select trailheads.

Given this support in these plans, Council passed the following motion:

THAT staff investigate and report back to Council on updating our business licensing to permit food trucks, including in the report fixed business presence, recycling, garbage, sanitation, and location requirements.

Council also approved two policies to enable making Langley City a Living Wage employer. Langley City Council’s new policy will ensure that City staff receive a living wage per the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Currently, the living wage is $19.50 per hour. These policies would increase the salary of one position in the City.

The policies also apply to City service providers and sub-contractors who have contracts greater than $50,000 with the City. Examples of these contracts include garbage collection and security services at Timms Community Centre. Staff noted that these policies could result in an increase of $16,000 for garbage services, but that “municipalities that have adopted a Living Wage Policy did not experience a significant increase to most of their contracts.”

These policies exclude local amateur sports organizations, social enterprises, and one-off services such as emergency repairs from the living wage policy.

All of Council supported a living wage policy for City employees and contract instructors. Council had a robust discussion about applying living wage policies to service providers and sub-contractors. In a 4-3 vote, Council decided to move forward.

The Living Wage Policy for employees and contract instructors starts on July 1st and for services providers and subcontracts on January 1st, 2022. The Living Wage policies will apply to new contracts after that date.

The Chief Administrative Officer, in consultation with City Council, will review these policies annually.

Other Living Wage municipalities include Central Saanich, Victoria, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Burnaby, and Quesnel.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Video: Walking across the new crosswalk at 208th Street at 45 A Avenue

One of the long-standing requests from residents in the Upland neighbourhood, and parents of students who attend Uplands Elementary, was to install a crosswalk to connect the area east of 208th Street with the school via a preexisting walkway.

The installation of this crosswalk will shave around 3~5 minutes of walk-time for people that want to access the school. People generally do not walk more than 10 minutes before considering driving, so this crosswalk supports building a walkable neighbourhood and increases the accessibility for walking and cycling.

This weekend, I decided to test the new crosswalk across 208th Street at 45 A Avenue.

It does the trick!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Attending Langley City Council Meetings, Committee and Task Group Meetings

A silver lining over this last year is an increase in accessibility to attend and view the agendas of the various committees and task groups of Langely City Council.

The City now has a webpage about committees and task groups, such as the Crime Prevention Task Group that I chair.

You can read the terms of reference for each committee and task group, view upcoming agendas, and view previous meeting minutes. You can also sign up to observe the meetings via Zoom.

The agendas and minutes of council meetings have been available online for as long as I can remember. Over the last year, people have been able to attend public hearings via Zoom and have been able to watch public hearings in real-time. City staff post council meeting and public hearing videos online, usually within a day. People can now sign-up to observe council meetings in real-time.

For more information on how to attend the various meetings, please visit Langley City’s website.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Metro Vancouver releases updated industrial land use mapping. Job-providing industrial land needs protection.

One of the Metro Vancouver Regional District's key priorities is to preserve the supply of industrial land in our region. Industrial land is home to over a quarter of the jobs in Metro Vancouver. Unfortunately, there is a limited supply of industrial land in Metro Vancouver, and it is under threat.

While many politicians and municipalities talk about the importance of preserving industrial land, they still allow non-industrial uses within industrially-zoned areas. Some are also rezoning industrial land to other uses such as retails, offices, and residential.

Metro Vancouver staff completed a detailed map of industrial uses in 2015. They recently completed a detailed map of industrial uses in 2020.

Based on the detailed mapping, Metro Vancouver staff found that:

  • The amount of industrial lands used for non-industrial purposes is increasing
  • There is limited availability of large industrial sites for logistics uses
  • There was an increase in the total size of the industrial land base, but the goods movement transportation network does not serve the added land well
  • Municipal governments removed land from the industrial land base with excellent access to the goods movement transportation network
  • Overall, most industrial land remaining is located in the South of Fraser and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows.

The following map shows the overall developed industrial land base.

Maps of detailed industrial land use in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

This next map shows the remaining industrial land.

Map of remaining industrial land in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

The final map shows non-industrial uses such as retail within industrially-zoned land.

Map showing non-industrial uses within industrially-zoned land. Select map to enlarge.

Regional district staff have been advocating for the following measures to preserve and enhance our region's industrial land base:

  • Create a provincial Industrial Land Reserve
  • Strengthening regional industrial land policies
  • Create trade-enabling zoning districts
  • Work with municipalities to have region-wide zoning consistency for industrial lands
  • Preform a regional land use assessment
  • Encourage intensification of industrial lands
  • Allow mixed-use industrial land with residential/office above industrial uses

You can read more about these specific measures in a previous post.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Can Langley City control the design of a single-family or multi-family development? What about an office building?

From time to time, people ask me about single-family housing redevelopment. Usually, people have concerns about the design and siting of a new single-family house. They are curious if Langley City can do anything about their concern.

In BC, local governments have control over the following attributes of property and buildings with the use of zoning, which is applied universally:

  • Uses permitted on a property such as residential, corner store, or office
  • The density allowed on a property, including the height, length, and width of buildings and structures
  • residential tenure
  • The location of buildings and other structures on a property

For multi-family housing such as townhouses and apartments, plus commercial and industrial zoned properties, cities can also require development permits that control buildings’ form and character. Langley City requires development permits.

Form and character include things such as:

  • Design quality, material, and design aesthetic
  • Relationship of buildings to other buildings in a neighbourhood
  • How the building interactives with sidewalks, streets, parks, and plazas
  • The livability of residential units, including their accessibility
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Usually, people’s concerns about new single-family developments are about the design and the relationship of a new house to other houses in a neighbourhood. Under BC law, cities have no control over these matters. This is something that I’ve always found odd; I think it is a throwback to the day when most people lived in single-family housing that was on larger lots.

Regardless of the zoning, including single-family or multi-family housing, a city can use development permits to:

  • Protect the natural environment
  • Prevent hazardous conditions
  • Protect farming
  • Promote energy conservation
  • Promote water conservation
  • Promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Monday, April 5, 2021

Challenging, Better, Best. Sidewalks, Driveways, Laneways and Pedestrian Safety

Over the last year, I’ve walked to more places, more frequently in Langley City than any other previous year. I’ve seen various styles of interfaces between sidewalks and driveways, laneways, and intersections. These interfaces cover the 65+ years of Langley City’s existence.

It has been encouraging to see that each new generation of sidewalk and street design makes walking a more accessible, safe, and pleasant experience.

This first example shows a sidewalk letdown to a driveway. From a safety perspective, this design signals to people who are driving that they have priority. This psychological signal results from the sidewalk dropping down to the driveway. People walking have to be on high alert.

A challenging design where a sidewalk and lane meet. Select image to enlarge.

From an accessibility perspective, the driveway’s sharp letdown can make it challenging for people with limited mobility or who use mobility aids such as walkers or scooters to navigate.

The second example is a common interface between a driveway or laneway and a sidewalk in Langley City. This design is better than the first because it signals to people driving that people walking have priority.

A better design where a sidewalk and lane meet. Select image to enlarge.

An example of this design in action is the lane between the TELUS Building and Federal Building/RCMP Office on 204th Street. There used to be a stop sign where the lane met 204th Street, but someone drove into the sign years ago. The City never replaced the stop sign. People who are driving stop at the intersection without thinking because they see the sidewalk.

The design can still be challenging for people with limited mobility or mobility aids due to the angle and texture of the sidewalk.

The final example is the best design. The design explicitly sends the psychological signal that walking is the priority mode of travel because the driveway raises to the sidewalk. The sidewalk is smooth and flat, making it easy to navigate for all people.

The best design where a sidewalk and driveway meet. Select image to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Last Call for Gabby’s

Gabby’s Country Cabaret, whose slogan was a great little honky-tonk, shut down last year and did not reopen. The bar was famous for hosting live country music acts for much of its life.

Yesterday, a demolishing crew quickly pulled down the building, which was beyond repair.

Gabby’s still in tack

Gabby’s sidewall gone

Gabby’s being demolished

Only a small section of Gabby’s remaining

The former site of Gabby’s is right across the street from the proposed 203rd Street SkyTrain station.

There are no current plans before City Council for the redevelopment of this site. The proposed new Official Community Plan land-use for the property is transit-oriented core. This land-use permits mixed-use buildings with ground-level retail and residential/offices above to a maximum height of 15 storeys.

While Gabby’s will be missed by some, I’m excited about the future of its former site.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

TransLink HandyDART Modernization Program - New Fares, New Registration Process, Online Booking Proposed

TransLink is proposing a suite of HandyDART service changes in Metro Vancouver as part of their modernization program.

Highlights of the proposed changes include:

  • Implementing Compass card while still allowing exact cash in the fall of 2021.
  • Updating the fare structure to match the rest of the transit system in the fall of 2021.
    • Adult Cash Fare: $3
      Adult Compass Fare: $2.40
      Adult Compass Monthly Pass: $98
    • Concession Fare: $1.95
      Concession Compass Monthly Pass: $56
      Concessions fares apply to people ages 5 thru 18, and 65+
  • Implementing a new registration process in 2021.
    The four-step process would include:
    1. Submit a simplified application form.
    2. Book personal consultation.
    3. Participate in the personal consultation.
    4. Receive a decision on eligibility for HandyDART service.
  • Introducing an online booking system.

TransLink has set up a webpage with more information about the proposed changes and is also inviting people to take an online survey to gather feedback.

TransLink is hosting a series of telephone town halls:

April 13: HandyDART Modernization Telephone Town Hall from 6 pm to 7 pm

April 15: HandyDART Modernization Workshop #1 for Customers & Care Givers from 6 pm to 7:30 pm

April 17: HandyDART Modernization Workshop #2 for Customers & Care Givers from 11 am to 12:30 pm

You can find out more information about signing up for the telephone town halls on TransLink’s website.

Monday, March 29, 2021

TransLink to reduce printed timetable distribution, shifting focus to online, real-time experience.

Before the COVID-19 state of emergency, TransLink distributed 75,000 physical timetable booklets to 155 locations throughout our region quarterly. TransLink suspended all booklet distribution since the summer of last year. Many distribution locations such as community centres, colleges, universities, and libraries were closed.

While only a small number of people use timetable booklets, TransLink wants to ensure that everyone can access bus schedule information. For example, some people do not have access to cell phones or data plans.

As a result, TransLink will still make PDF timetable booklets available on their website. They will also create a quarterly e-newsletter which will include PDF timetables as well as service change information.

TransLink will be putting up QR codes at select locations, directing people to TransLink’s website for bus schedules.

TransLink will also print 10,000 physical timetable booklets per quarter. People can call TransLink Customer Information to request a timetable by mail. TransLink will also distribute the booklets to a limited number of high-demand locations.

The majority of people use online trip planning tools and apps, but TransLink will still provide a physical or PDF timetable for those who need them.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

March 22 Council Meeting: EV Charging, Street Garbage Bins, Pets, and Reducing GHG Emissions from Buildings

On Monday, Langley City Council gave final reading to a suite of bylaws to improve the protection of watercourses, including streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, drains, ditches, and sewers. While the new bylaws cover all people and businesses that operate in Langley City, they have special provisions focused on construction sites. For more information, please read my previous post, “Langley City’s strict new watercourse protection bylaw.

Council also approved two motions from our Environmental Task Group.

THAT Council direct staff to investigate installing a user pay Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station at City Hall and other civic facilities that is accessible 24 hours a day to the public.
THAT Council request staff to include a budget in 2022 to retain a consultant to complete a streetscape and park waste audit and provide options to improve waste diversion.

Council had a robust discussion about garbage bins on our streets. There was general agreement that the City needs to replace the current silver ad-supported containers.

Right now, all materials put into street garbage bins end up in landfills or incinerated due to the high contamination of recyclable materials with garbage. Council wants to increase the amount of material diverted from the waste stream.

Council also passed a motion calling on the federal government to provide sustainable funding for the Centre for Equitable Library Access and the National Network for Equitable Library Services. These organizations offer specialized library services for the visually impaired and print disabled. The federal government was thinking of cutting their funding.

Council received a letter from a resident asking that we lobby the province to prohibit “no pets” clauses in rental contracts. Council asked staff to investigate if this was possible.

New Westminster Council sent a letter to all municipalities. The letter called on the province to support laid-off hotel and tourism industry workers’ right to return to their jobs when the pandemic eases. Langley City council endorsed this letter.

Council also received a letter from Victoria City Council calling for all municipalities in BC to join the Help Cities Lead campaign. The campaign calls for the province to allow municipalities to implement new measures to reduce GHG emissions from buildings. Building energy use is a significant source of GHG emissions in our province. Council asked staff to request the Help Cities Lead campaign deliver a presentation to Council.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

When you call 911 due to a medical emergency, who should respond? Paramedical services in BC under pressure.

When I was elected to Langley City Council, I learned quickly about one of the long-standing issues between the provincial government and municipalities. This long-standing issue is what level of service should someone expect when they call 911 due to a medical emergency. Over the decades, municipalities have noted that the BC Ambulance Service (now BC Emergency Health Services) response times have increased overall. Because of increased response times, when people call 911, the call-taker can dispatch fire service first responders.

The number of medical calls directed to fire services has skyrocketed over the years. In 2000, Langley City Fire Rescue Service attended 116 calls. In recent years, they attend thousands of calls per years.

Fire services are funded by municipal property tax, while the provincial government funds ambulance services.

The provincial government has consistently stated that municipalities can choose whether they want to have fire service first responders attend medical calls. Would you like to live in a city where first responders do not attend medical calls? Most municipalities have an agreement with BC Emergency Health Services to attended medical calls.

Municipalities have asked the provincial government to compensate municipalities when fire service first responders attend medical calls. The provincial government believes that fire service response to medical calls is optional. Both the BC Liberal and NDP governments have said they will not compensate municipalities.

The provincial government created the BC Ambulance Service in the 1970s to provide a consistent, timely, and professional service for all British Columbians, no matter where they lived. Depending on where you live in BC today, you could receive a different level of emergency medical service when you call 911.

Recently, BC Emergency Health Services updated when they would dispatch fire service first responders to medical calls as part of their “Clinical Response Model.” This model reduced the number of calls fire service first responders attend.

Some Metro Vancouver mayors recently called for the provincial government to increase the types of calls that fire service first responder attend. This request is due to the chronic understaffing and underfunding of the BC Ambulance Service.

All British Columbians should have access to a consistent, professional, and timely response when calling 911 for a medical emergency. The provincial government should ensure that BC Emergency Health Services can respond to medical calls promptly. Where you live shouldn’t dictate the quality of medical service you receive.

Even with an adequately funded ambulance service, fire service first responders still provide critical, time-sensitive medical services in urban centres. The provincial government should compensate municipalities for fire service medical services.

At a public meeting on Monday, Langley City Council asked our staff to prepare a discussion paper on paramedical services in Langley City. This paper will help form the official public position for our community.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

LAPS plan to manage the 22,000 feral community cats in Langley

Langley City Council heard a presentation from Jayne Nelson, the Executive Director of the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS.) The Society provides adoption services for cats and dogs. Langley City and Township contract LAPS to provide animal control services.

Ms. Nelson noted the challenges they faced over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as limited access to veterinary services including spay/neutering. She also highlighted their successes, such as increased applications for animal adoptions and their shift to an online adaption process.

LAPS launched Major’s Legacy Fund. This fund provides financial assistance to Langley residents facing hardship who need extra support to care for their pets. In 2020, LAPS provided support to 633 families. Services include veterinary care, boarding, and a pet food bank. Langley City is a funding partner.

One of the shocking statistics that Ms. Nelson presented is 22,000 feral cats live in Langley. Feral cats are known to harm wild bird populations, including songbirds. This negative impact is of particular concern in places like Langley City, which has the Nicomekl River floodplain system, home to many wild bird species.

LAPS is piloting a trap, neuter, return program for feral cats, which is the only known humane way to reduce community cats. LAPS recently received funding to complete a comprehensive plan for community cat management. Ms. Nelson stated that they would likely need increased funding to carry out the program starting in 2022.

Cats can end up in the community for a variety of reasons. I asked if cat licensing helps reduce the number of cats that end up in the community. Ms. Nelson stated that Calgary has a successful cat licensing program that has helped control the cat population.

LAPS is a crucial partner for Langley City, and it was good to hear from Ms. Nelson at Monday afternoon’s council meeting.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Construction Underway on 208th Street Enhanced Crosswalk to Uplands Elementary

Over the last several years, Langley City has been enhancing crosswalks and implementing traffic calming focused near schools, parks, and trails. These changes make walking safer and more inviting, supporting creating a walkable community that improves people’s health.

One long-standing request from parents of students who go to Uplands Elementary and the surrounding neighbourhood is to create a new crosswalk across 208th Street near 45A Avenue. This crosswalk would improve walking access between the school and the area east of 208th Street.

In 2019, Langley City implemented traffic calming along 207A Street, including a raised crosswalk that leads to a walkway that connects to 208th Street.

Raised crosswalk along 207 Street near Uplands Elementary. Select image to enlarge.

About four months ago, Langley City council reaffirmed support for a crosswalk across 208th Street. I posted last week that construction is starting on this project.

Over the weekend, I walked up to the new crosswalk’s construction site, through the walkway, and to the school.

New enhanced crosswalk construction underway at 208th Street near 45A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

While it does not look like much now, the base and conduct to support the rapid flashing crosswalk are in place. Construction is well underway.

When completed, the crosswalk will be similar in design to the crosswalk at 204th Street and 54th Avenue.

Enhanced crosswalk at 204th Street and 54th Avenue, looking north. Select image to enlarge.

It is great to see these positive changes happening in our community. The crosswalk will make it faster to walk to the school as people will no longer need to double back from 44th Avenue.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Metro Vancouver increasing water pH to reduce pipe corrosion starting May

If you live in a house, townhouse, or apartment built before the 1990s or manage commercial or industrial buildings, you are likely aware that Metro Vancouver has naturally low alkaline water with a pH of 7.7. This pH level means that the water slowly corrodes copper pipes over time, leading to water leaks at joints. This slow corrosion is why some building owners choose to re-pipe their buildings which is a costly endeavour.

The pH scale including changes to Metro Vancouver water, and everyday items. Select graphic to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

With recent upgrades completed at Metro Vancouver Regional District water treatment plants, the regional district will be changing the pH to between 8.3 and 8.5 with 20mg/L of calcium carbonate for alkalinity.

This pH change will have no impact on water quality, taste, smell, or safety, but it will deliver the following benefits:

  • Reduce the release of copper from pipes in buildings caused by low pH in the region’s water
  • Reduce leaks in pipes caused by copper corrosion
  • Help preserve the lifespan of pipes and hot water tanks
  • Reduce green stains on tubs, sinks, and grout

The regional district will be adjusting water pH starting in May of this year. The regional district will be reaching out to specific industrial and commercial users who need to adapt their operations beforehand. Some examples include health care units, research centres, aquariums, breweries, and bakeries.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

COVID-19 Impacts on Waste Disposal in 2020. Still Too Many Recyclables and Organics in Waste Stream.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District audits what people put into the waste collection system. The regional district performs this audit every few years. The Regional District recently released the results of the 2020 audit. COVID-19 had a significant impact on waste disposal due to closures and reduction of people going into offices, shops, and schools.

Overall, the number of single-use items disposed of was down in 2020. People disposed of 443 items per capita in 2018 and 359 in 2020.

Breakdown of single-use items by type and location. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

There was a significant increase in single-use items disposed of in single-family housing. There was also an uptick in single-use items disposed of in multi-family housing. The commercial/institutional sector saw a sharp decline in the disposal of single-use items. Cups and utensils saw a sharp decrease overall.

Also of note was the number of masks, gloves, and wipes people disposed of in 2020. While it seems a lot, these items represent less than 0.5% of all waste disposed of in 2020. These items belong in the waste system.

Personal Protective Equipment disposed of in 2020. Select table to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

We have done an excellent job of diverting recycling and compostable organics such as kitchen straps from getting into the waste system compared to other parts of North America. But as a region, we still have a ways to go.

Some material may be present in more than one functional category, so totals do not add up to 100%. Select table to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

I was surprised to see that 40% of our waste could be recycled or put into green bins. Many people still do not recycle or use green bins, even with recycling and organics programs readily available. There are bins in multi-family housing and curbside pickup for single-family housing. It would be interesting to see the barriers to recycling and using green bins for organics that some people face.

2020 was an unusual year for the waste collection system in Metro Vancouver. We can not use 2020 to see trends; it is a snapshot in time. It was interesting to see the impacts on the waste system from people staying at home more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Discoloured Water? Don't Be Concerned - Water Main Flushing

As part of regular maintenance, Langley City crews will be flushing water mains starting today until May 14. During this time, you may see a discolouration of your water. Do not be concerned; the water is 100% safe to drink. To remove the discolouration, run your tap until the water is clear.

The area shown within the gray part of the map is where crews will be flushing the mains. This area includes most residential parts of Langley City.

Water main flushing area in grey. Select map to enlarge. Source: Langley City

For more information, please contact the City at (604) 514-2910 or

Monday, March 15, 2021

Smoking out issues in the sewer system. Keeping Langley City in a state of good repair.

Langley City continues to upgrade parks, improve safety, and keep our community’s infrastructure in a state of good repair. Langley Council heard an update from the Parks and Operations department at last Monday’s council meeting about various projects recently completed or in-progress.

In time for the warmer weather, City Park will have three new picnic shelters in service, which replace the previous picnic shelter near Al Anderson Memorial Pool.

To proactively repair sanitary and storm sewers, the City will be video inspecting the sewer pipes. Current inspections are focused mainly in the southeastern part of our community, in the Blacklock neighbourhood, along 203rd Street, and in the Brydon neighbourhood area.

Smoke bomb results. Select image to enlarge.

The City recently completed a “smoke bomb” test of sanitary and storm sewers in our community’s northeast section. This test helps find cross-connection issues between the storm sewer and sanitary sewer. These cross-connections cause excess water to enter the sanitary sewer, which puts extra wear and tear on City infrastructure. During heavy rainfall, these cross-connections can lead to raw sewage overflowing into our rivers and the ocean.

City crews resolved various sanitary and storm sewer cross-connection issues—more repairs are on the way.

City crews are also continuing with annual maintenance programs on the water system, including replacing old water meters.

The City recently reinstalled a refurbished bridge across the Nicomekl River at Portage Park. The new bridge now has anti-slip strips. The pedestrian bridge across the river at 208th Street is currently being refurbished off-site.

Plan for rapid flashing beacon crosswalk across 208th at 45A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

I was happy to learn that the City is installing a new rapid flashing beacon crosswalk across 208th Street and 45A Avenue. This crosswalk is a long-standing request from residents in the area.

I learned that the City has a program to replace maintenance holes and sewer and water shut-off covers embedded in streets and sidewalks. If you see a missing, broken, or rusted-out cover, please reach out to the City by using Request for Service at

You can also use Request for Service to report tagging and unwanted graffiti.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

March 8 Council Meeting: Proposed apartment, human trafficking, and income assistance

On Monday afternoon, Langley City Council gave first and second reading to a set of bylaws, enabling developing a 6-storey, 68-unit apartment building along 207th Street.

Rendering of proposed apartment at 5394, 5396, 5400, & 5402 207 Street. Select image to enlarge.

The first bylaws, if Council approves, will amend the current Official Community Plan. The current Official Community Plan uses units per hectare as its metric for density. The proposed new Official Community Plan, which Council could adopt this year, uses Floor Area Ratio.

Currently, the Offical Community Plan allows 173 units per hectare in the area of the development proposal. The proposed 6-storey apartment has 258 units per hectare.

The proposed update to the current Official Community Plan will allow a Floor Area Ratio of 2.1. This ratio is consistent with the permitted density in the proposed new Official Community Plan.

Floor Area Ratio is a more straightforward way to control density. For more information, please view the Wikipedia article on the topic.

The second bylaw is for rezoning the property for the proposed apartment.

City staff will now schedule a public hearing. I will post more about this proposal after the public hearing.

Cathy Peters, an advocate for eliminating human trafficking, delivered a presentation to Council. As it was a short presentation about a complex topic, Council invited her to provide an extended presentation at a future council meeting.

Council also approved a motion to write a letter calling for “the Province of British Columbia permanently reinstate the automatic, $300/month benefit for people receiving disability benefits and income assistance and move to raise disability and income assistance to a livable rate that is above the market basket measure (MBM).”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Langley City’s strict new watercourse protection bylaw

On Monday afternoon, Langley City Council gave first, second, and third reading to a suite of bylaws to enhance watercourse protection in our community. In the updated bylaw, watercourses include streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds in addition to drains, ditches, and sewers. In Langley City, all water that does not end up in the sanitary sewer system eventually ends up in the Nicomekl River, a sensitive ecosystem and salmon-bearing estuary.

Langley City’s proposed new watercourse protection bylaw makes it easier to monitor water quality. The bylaw also includes monitoring pH and for chemicals.

The bylaw includes specific requirements for construction and development sites.

As the first layer of protection, people engaged in construction or development activity must submit an erosion and sediment control plan. The plan must be submitted to the City and include measures to protect watercourses from construction site discharges. The plan must also show how construction works will limit tree clearing and soil disturbance.

People engaged in construction or development activity must hire a Qualified Environmental Professional to monitor the plan’s implementation, including taking frequent samples in watercourses around a construction site. This professional must report any violations of the plan or the City’s protection bylaw immediately. They must also maintain a logbook of monitoring activities which must be readily available for the City to inspect.

A Qualified Environmental Professional must report violations. If they don’t, they could lose their professional credentials, which would prevent them from working in the future. This is a severe consequence.

The proposed suite of bylaws also includes fines for violations. Beyond fines, the City can issue a Stop Work Order at any construction site where a bylaw violation occurs.

This bylaw covers all people and businesses in Langley City. A person or business must immediately fix a violation of the watercourse protection bylaw. The City will correct the violation if the responsible party is unable or unwilling to remediate the violation themselves. The City will charge the full cost of the remediation to the people responsible.

Langley City’s proposed suite of bylaws and bylaw updates will help protect the Nicomekl River and its tributaries which benefits our natural environment and human health.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Langley City Council supports historic housing agreement to secure affordable seniors housing for generations

The Langley Lions Housing Society provides affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities. They are currently redeveloping their 518-unit complex south of Langley Mall into a 981-unit, seniors-focused affordable housing complex. The first phase of this redevelopment is the new 101-unit Birch Building.

Renderings of proposed 101-unit Birch replacement building. Select image to enlarge.

To ensure that this redevelopment remains affordable and seniors-focus over the long-term, Langley City is requiring that the Society sign a Housing Agreement as part of the redevelopment process.

This Housing Agreement will be registered on title and will stay attached to the land in perpetuity. The City must agree to any modification to the Housing Agreement.

The Housing Agreement ensures that the new 101-unit Birch Building will be a 100% affordable rental building.

As per BC Housing’s formula, all the units will only be available for people with an annual household income of less than $74,000 or $58,000 for seniors. BC Housing adjusts this threshold from time-to-time.

50% of the units must have rents geared to income. People will pay 30% of their gross income towards rent.

30% of the units will have rents set to the average rents in the area as per the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

20% of the units will be for people whose income does not exceed the maximum Old Age Security plus Guaranteed Income Supplement amount. This amount is currently $18,825. BC Housing set the rents via a formula.

This Housing Agreement also ensures that 80% of the units are only available for people aged 55 and older. Currently, 86.3% of the people who live in the Langley Lions Housing Society Complex are 55+.

Council passed a motion in January 2020 asking City Staff to ensure that on average, 85% to 87% of units in phases 1 and 2 be available only for people aged 55+. Any future phases must also meet the same threshold. This threshold means that phase two should have 90% to 94% of units for people aged 55+.

The Housing Agreement has monitoring and enforcement measures.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw that will enable this Housing Agreement. If given final reading by Council and signed by the Langley Lions Housing Society, this will be the first Housing Agreement in Langley City’s history. It will ensure that senior-focused affordable housing remains in our community for generations to come.

Monday, March 8, 2021

2021 “quick win” projects to improve bus reliability in our region.

In partnership with municipalities in our region, TransLink rolled out a series of projects to speed up bus service on the top 20 busiest bus corridors in Metro Vancouver last year. These projects were relatively inexpensive to implement and fast to install.

Map showing existing bus priority areas and "quick win" projects by expected completion date. Select map to enlarge. Source: TransLink

These projects include redesignating road space for buses, changing traffic light timing, adding bus queue jumper lanes at intersections, creating bulge-out bus stops, and optimizing the location of bus stops.

In 2020, TransLink and municipalities delivered 12 of these projects. You can learn more about these projects in a previous post on the topic. TransLink proposes to fund at least nine more of these bus prioritizations projects this year.

"Quick win" projects that are expected to be completed in 2021. Select table to enlarge. Source: TransLink

In total, TransLink staff estimate that $2.4 million will be invested into this “quick win” program speeding up bus service for the most seriously congested corridors in our region.

Beyond the “quick win” program, TransLink is making an additional $4.14 million available for other bus priority projects in 2021. TransLink will also advance the RapidBus program, including the R6 Scott Road and R7 Richmond-Expo Line this year.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Moving beyond lip service to protect our region’s shrinking industrial land base

For about five years now, Metro Vancouver Regional District staff and the business community have been raising the alarm about our region’s shrinking industrial land base. Industrial lands support 26% of the jobs in our region.

Industrial land in Metro Vancouver. Total Inventory by Detailed Type of Land Use (2015). Source: Metro Vancouver Regional District

The industrial land base is shrinking due to other land-uses such as residential, retail, and office.

To convert industrial land to other uses today, a majority vote of the municipality in which the land resides plus a majority vote of the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board is required. As I posted recently, regional district staff proposed that the regional voting threshold increase to a two-thirds majority vote.

Unfortunately, the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board recently voted against this proposal. The Board includes mayors and councillors appointed by their respective municipalities. Votes are weighted based on the population each Board Director represents.

I was extremely disappointed that most Directors voted against increasing the protection of our industrial land base.

Another challenge in our region is that industrial land is defined differently within each municipality. These differences cause non-industrial uses to crop up in industrially zoned land such as retail, showrooms, and offices.

Metro Vancouver Regional District staff propose updating the regional definition of industrial land to:

Industrial areas are primarily intended for heavy and light industrial activities including: distribution, warehousing, repair, construction yards, infrastructure, outdoor storage, wholesale, trade, e-commerce, emerging technology-driven forms of industry, and appropriately-related and scaled accessory uses.
The intensification and densification of industrial activities and forms are encouraged, which are contextually appropriate to the surrounding community. Limited industrial-serving commercial uses that support the primary industrial functions are appropriate. Residential uses are not intended.

Langley City permits building supply stores, indoor recreation facilities, call centres, and some office uses within industrial zones. Langley City will have to update its permitted uses within industrially zoned land if the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board updates the definition of industrial uses. Current businesses would be grandfathered.

Since being elected to Langley City council, I’ve heard many elected representatives talk about the importance of protecting our industrial land base. I hope we can turn that talk into action.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Langley City’s draft Official Community Plan key to getting SkyTrain

When building SkyTrain extensions, TransLink requires municipalities to sign Supportive Policies Agreements. Because of the significant federal, provincial, and regional dollars that go into extending SkyTrain, TransLink wants to ensure that these extensions provide the most benefit for people and businesses in our region.

TransLink wants to avoid the situation along the Millennium Line between Brentwood Town Centre and Production Way. These stations service low-density areas, and as a result, have low boardings from those stations.

Langley City will be required to sign a Supportive Policies Agreement to get SkyTrain.

Surrey’s Supportive Policies Agreement was a topic at the latest TransLink’s Mayors’ Council meeting. This agreement links Surrey’s policies with TransLink’s “6 Ds.”

We are in the process of updating our Official Community Plan (OCP) in Langley City. Langley’s draft new plan also addresses TransLink’s “6 Ds.”

Destinations: Coordinate land use and transportation
Langley City’s draft OCP enables building the highest density around the two SkyTrain stations at 196th Street and 203rd Street.

Distance: Create a Well-Connected Street Network
Langley City’s draft OCP will create “an environment that is safe and welcoming for the most vulnerable users first, and encourage people to walk, cycle, roll, and take transit, rather than prioritizing faster vehicle traffic.” Also, it will “reduce travel distances by creating more direct connections to destinations. This includes building connections by providing multiple direct route options, reducing block sizes, and adding mid-block crossings where necessary.”

Design: Create Places for People
Langley City’s draft OCP is based on our Nexus of Community vision. Its four themes are community, connected, experiences and integration. Langley City proposes to build a performing art centre Downtown. High-quality public plazas will be integrated into areas immediately adjacent to SkyTrain stations.

Diversity: Concentrate and Intensify Activities Near Frequent Transit
Beyond building the highest densities near SkyTrain, Langley City is also proposing to allow duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, and walkable neighbourhood commercial nodes along 200th Street and 208th Street. These mixes of housing types and commercial nodes will support the frequent bus network, which feeds into SkyTrain.

Diversity: Encourage a Mix of Uses
The draft OCP includes new mixed-use areas with ground-level retail and offices/housing above, between 200th Street and 208th Street along Fraser Highway.

Demand Management: Discourage Unnecessary Driving
Langley City’s draft OCP will prioritize walking, cycling, and taking transit. Its draft policies include managing public parking to reduce demand and reducing minimum on-site parking requirements for areas near SkyTrain stations and frequent bus routes.

Langley City’s draft Official Community Plan ensures that we can sign a Supportive Policies Agreement with TransLink or the province.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Langley City Internet Safety & Crime Prevention Video

Langley City Crime Prevention Task Group member Lida put together the following educational and entertaining short video on keeping yourself safe while using the Internet and protecting yourself from online fraud.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Langley City’s Housing Needs Report: More affordable rental units and townhouses are needed

Recently, the provincial government started requiring local governments to produce Housing Needs Reports. These reports must be updated every five years and identify current and future housing needs in a community. Local governments should use the information in these reports to update Official Community Plans and Regional Growth Strategies.

Langley City Council received its first Housing Needs Report last Monday.

The report identifies several challenges and gaps in housing within Langley City. Affordability across the housing continuum from supportive housing and below-market rental to market rental and ownership remains a concern.

There is not enough supportive housing and other forms of subsidized housing available in Langley City to meet the demand now and into the future. In the next five years, about one-third of Langley City households will not have affordable housing options. Affordability means that a household must not spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Projected Affordability by Income Segment, Housing Type, and Housing Tenure in 2024. Select table to enlarge.

You would need to make $182,000 to buy a single-family home in Langley City in 2024. This income requirement restricts single-family homeownership to about 10% of the population of Langley City.

More encouraging is that you would need to have a household income of $92,460 to own a townhome or rowhouse in Langley City by 2024. About 41% of the population of Langley City can afford to own a townhome or rowhouse.

The affordable housing crisis is why Langley City’s draft new Official Community Plan proposes introducing townhomes and rowhouses along the 200th Street and 208th Street corridors. We need to ensure that our community remains an affordable place for people to raise a family.

Langley City also needs to encourage more affordable market rental options in our community, including allowing people to age-in-place. The number of adaptable and accessible housing units must increase.

Langley City’s draft new Official Community Plan encourages more purpose-built rental. It also includes a one-for-one rental unit replacement policy to ensure that we do not reduce the number of rental units in a neighbourhood. It also contains a robust tenant relocation policy to ensure that a developer must treat people fairly during a permanent relocation process.

Overall, the Housing Needs Report identified that more 1-bedroom and 3+ bedroom units are needed in Langley City over the next five years.

For more information, please read the full House Needs Report.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

February 22 Council Meeting: New Development, Poverty Reduction, Community Grants Awarded

From mid-January to mid-February, Langley City hosted a virtual event called “Celebrating Arts & Culture.” Kim Hilton, the Director of Recreation, Culture & Community Services, presented statistics to City Council about the event’s success. There were 743 unique views of the virtual gallery.

On Monday afternoon, Council approved a bylaw to enable the development of a 5-storey, 18-unit apartment at 20172 53A Avenue. Council also approved issuing a development permit. I confirmed with City staff that the City will be adding an on-street loading zone for the apartment.

Council approved applying for the UBCM Poverty Reduction Planning and Action grant. Township of Langley Council approved applying for this grant as well. UBCM could award the Township and City a total of $50,000 to create a joint Poverty Reduction Strategy for Langley.

Council also awarded $114,076.29 in Community Grants as follows:

Recipient Amount
Bard in the Valley $14948.19
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley $4000.00
Boys and Girls Club of Langley $3000.00
Children of the Street Society – PLEA Community Services $1000.00
DLBA – Arts Alive Festival $10000.00
Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) $2000.00
Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards $1000.00
HD Stafford Middle School PAC $3500.00
KidsSport Langley $2500.00
Langley 4H District Council $150.00
Langley Amateur Radio Association $800.00
Langley Animal Protection Society $5000.00
Langley Care Foundation – Langley Lodge $2500.00
Langley Children’s Committee $2000.00
Langley Flippers Swim Club $2100.00
Langley Food Bank $4168.00
Langley Fundamental Dry Grad $500.00
Langley Lawn Bowling Club $2000.00
Langley Literacy Association $2500.00
Langley Meals on Wheels $5000.00
Langley Mustangs Track Club $4737.50
Langley Pos-Abilities Society $2500.00
Langley Rotary Clubs – RibFest Langley $2500.00
Langley Scholarship Committee $4500.00
Langley Senior Resources Society $15000.00
Langley Volunteer Bureau $1250.00
Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society $3500.00
Pitch-In Canada $425.00
Silver Diamond Country Dancers Association $1000.00
Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association $3497.60
Vancouver Youth Arts – Formerly KPU International Music Fest $5500.00
Youth Parliament $1000.00

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Council approves 2021 budget, moves forward with $7.5 million investment plan to support SkyTrain.

On Monday afternoon, Langley City council approved the 2021-25 Financial Plan. Langley City’s operating budget is $48.3 million, while the capital budget is $18.8 million. The capital budget funds projects such as upgrading water/sewer lines and renewing parks. As part of this year’s capital budget, council also allocated $7.5 million for strategic property acquisition.

A combination of property tax, developer contributions, casino revenue, and grants from TransLink, the province, and the federal government funds the capital budget. In BC, municipalities can also use debt to fund capital projects.

In 2020, council was ready to kick off the $50 million Nexus of Community Plan. This 5-year plan was to be funded by a loan. The City would invest $31 million for strategic property acquisition to support SkyTrain and facilitate redevelopment to maximize value for residents and businesses.

COVID-19 hit as this investment plan was working its way through the approval process. Council decided to put this plan on pause. This year, council is proposing to moving forward with a scaled-back $7.5 million strategic property acquisition plan to support SkyTrain to Langley.

Council is proposing to fund this scale-back plan with a 15-year loan. The repayment of this loan required a one-time 1.93% increase in property tax this year. No further increases in property tax to support this loan are required.

As per BC law, council will be going through an Alternative Approval Process for the loan. During this process, a person eligible to vote in a local election will have an opportunity to express support or opposition to the $7.5 million loan. If an eligible voter supports the loan, they do not need to take action. If they are opposed to the loan, they must complete an Elector Response Form. This form will be available at Timms Community Centre and on the City’s website. A completed form can be dropped off or emailed to the City. If 10% of eligible voters oppose the loan, it will have to go to a binding city-wide referendum.

The Alternative Approval Process has strict guidelines, including advertising and the Elector Response Form submission timelines. All eligible voters will have the time and opportunity to participate.

Council formally rescinded the $50 million Nexus of Community Investment Plan and approved the $7.5 million Investment Plan on Monday. The provincial Inspector of Municipalities must now approve this $7.5 million plan. If approved, the Alternative Approval Process will begin.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Fraser Health looking to locate an Overdose Prevention Site in Langley

Yesterday afternoon, Fraser Health staff presented some sombre statistics to Langley City council on overdose deaths in BC and our community. Since 2015, the number of people dying due to the increased toxicity of illicit drugs has grown exponentially. In 2019, the number of people dying decreased for the first time. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused 2020 to see the highest number of deaths due to drug overdoses. Fraser Health staff stated an interruption of health services and change in the mix of illicit drugs available due to the pandemic caused an increase in deaths.

Around 1,700 people in BC died due to illicit drug overdoses in 2020. In Langley City and Township, 77 people died. As a comparison to-date, about 1,300 people died in BC due to COVID-19.

Overdose deaths in BC 1994 to 2020. Select image to enlarge.

Overdose deaths in Langley 2019 and 2020. Select image to enlarge.

In the Fraser Health region, around 70% of overdose deaths occur in private residences, 16% in other indoor locations such as restaurants, and 13% outside.

As a result, Fraser Health is looking to partner with a service provider to open an Overdose Prevention Site in Langley. Staff from Fraser Health stated that they wanted to place the site in a part of Langley with a high drug overdose death rate.

An Overdose Prevention Site and a Supervised Consumption Site provide the same services. The difference being that an Overdose Prevention Site is provincially regulated while a Supervised Consumption Site is federally regulated.

Overdose Prevention Site services include:

  • Distribution of supplies for safer injection
  • Education on safe injection technique and infection prevention
  • Overdose prevention and intervention
  • Medical and counselling services
  • Referrals to substance use treatment
  • Connection to housing and other support services
  • Drug-checking

Several council members expressed concern about placing an Overdose Prevention Site in Langley City, noting that it could cause a negative impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. Some members of council also asked Fraser Health if they would consider mobile overdose prevention services. Council asked many questions about Overdose Prevention Sites to Fraser Health staff, who agreed to get back to council with answers.

At the council meeting, I told a personal story about my father’s use of illicit drugs and later abuse of prescription medication. I stated that he got help at a methadone clinic which helped save him and our family.

I talked about my experience working at a TV station and software company located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I stated that I’d seen firsthand the positive impacts that a Supervised Consumption Site can have in a neighbourhood, such as reducing people using drugs around businesses.

I asked Fraser Health that if they placed an Overdose Prevention Site in Langley City, they do it in a way that uplifts its clients and surrounding neighbourhood. I also asked that they design the site so that someone like my dad would feel comfortable assessing it.

I know firsthand that there is a lot of shame around drug addiction. Many people don’t want to be seen going into a street-front Overdose Prevention Site. When my dad accessed methadone treatment, he did so at a second-floor clinic.

I told Fraser Health staff that Langley City’s draft Official Community Plan encourages active-uses for ground-floor commercial unit. Active-uses include retail shops, restaurants, and cafes. The Offical Community Plan encourages personal services and offices in second-floor or higher units.

I asked Fraser Health staff to work with the City if they decide to open an Overdose Prevention Site in our community. The design and location of an Overdose Prevention Site are essential. The right design and location will help reduce the fear of accessing it and provide a dignified experience for clients. It can uplift the surrounding neighbourhood and support the City’s goal of creating an active retail core with a good design and location.