Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Merry Christmas

I am taking a holiday break from blogging. I wish you a safe and Merry Christmas. See you in the new year!

Christmas in McBurney Plaza

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style In the air, there's a feeling of Christmas

Posted by Nathan Pachal on Saturday, December 18, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Safety Tip - Get the MedWatch Package, Use the Green Dot. It could help save your life.

Please be sure to share the following with friends, family, and your strata.

Select the flyer to print or download

The MedWatch Program was developed to ensure your vital medical information and health care wishes are available to Emergency Responders and Physicians in emergency situations.

For more information, please visit:

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Fraser Valley Regional Library vanquishes late fees


In April 2020, the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board temporarily suspended overdue fines to give people a break during the start of a challenging time.

The Fraser Valley Regional Library Board decided to eliminate overdue fines on January 1st, 2022, permanently.

This removal of fines is in line with other library systems throughout Canada.

As the Langley City library is a part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library, people who use that branch will never have to pay a fine again.

If you damage or lose something you borrow from the library, you’ll still have to pay for its replacement.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

December 13 Council Notes: Tenant relocation policy and other development matters

On Monday, Langely City Council gave first and second reading to a bylaw to enable a 6-storey, 96-unit apartment at 19701-19729 55A Avenue. Langley City staff will now schedule a public hearing for the new year.

Rendering of the proposed project at 19701-19729 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave third reading to amend the zoning bylaw for the following two projects. You can learn more about these projects in a previous post:

30-unit townhouse at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue
5-storey, 86-unit apartment at 20120-20170 53A Avenue

Council gave third reading to discharge Land Use Contract No. 03-73, which would enable the redevelopment of the current mixed-use apartments at 20785 Fraser Highway. As I posted earlier, this is a market rental building, but due to the age of the building and length of tenancy, many current residents pay rents well below the current market rental rates in Langley City. There are also long-term businesses in the building that will need to find a new home.

At the meeting, Council made it clear that the project proponent needs to follow our new tenant relocation policies to the letter. Council also suggested, though no action was taken, that we need to develop a business relocation policy.

Being told your tenancy will be ending is traumatic. People must have ample notice. Langley City’s tenant relocation policies state a developer must:

  • Have early communication with tenants about any redevelopment plan
  • Designate a tenant relocation coordinator
  • Provide financial compensation to tenants based on the length of tenancy and Residential Tenancy Act
  • Provide an insured moving company or a flat rate payout for moving expenses at the applicant’s choice
  • Assist tenants in finding new accommodations and relocation
  • Give existing tenants the Right of First Refusal to move back into the new building or at the new non-market rents in circumstances when the replacement unit is social housing

In addition, the developer must work to ensure that any vulnerable tenants such as persons with disabilities, seniors, or people with mental health challenges have additional support.

For this project, Whitetail Home provided early communication starting at the end of September. Council still needs to consider the approval of a development permit and final reading to discharge the land use contract. The earliest Council would consider final reading and issue the development permit would be in February. Whitetail must apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for authorization to provide a four-month Notice to End Tenancy only after the City has issued all permits. Given these facts, the earliest people’s tenancy could end is in the summer of 2022.

As a note, Council directed staff at a previous meeting to include in the 2022 budget funding to develop a below-market-rate rental policy to be applied when older purpose-built rental buildings undergo redevelopment. This policy will ensure that we maintain affordable rents in our community.

Council also gave final reading to amend the Fees and Charges Bylaw. You can learn more about the changes in a previous post.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Langley City Council directs staff to negotiate higher Community Amenity Contributions from developers

New development requires municipalities to improve existing infrastructure. This reason is why the provincial government allows municipalities to apply Developer Cost Charges (DCC) for redevelopment projects.

Unfortunately, provincial DCC regulations are highly restrictive (the province provides a 116-page book to help municipalities interrupt DCC regulations), and the provincial government has to vet every single project.

Some absurd examples of the silliness of DCC restrictions are that DCCs can be used to build a washroom or baseball diamond in a park, but cannot be used to build a spray park or a tennis court.

As a result, municipalities such as Langley City negotiate Community Amenity Contributions (CAC) as part of the rezoning process for proposed developments. The City uses CACs to improve infrastructure which is ineligible for DCCs, but must still be built due to growth.

Currently, Langley City negotiates a CAC of $2,000 per multi-family unit. Given the escalating costs of building infrastructure such as park improvements, Council passed an updated policy yesterday to direct staff to negotiate $4,000 per multi-family unit in buildings with a 2.5 FAR or lower. A FAR of 2.5 or lower would be your typical lower-rise apartment building in Langley City.

Council also directed staff to negotiate $5,000 per multi-family unit in buildings with a FAR between 2.6 and 3.0. This FAR is your typical mixed-use building in Langley City.

For buildings with a FAR above 3.0, Council directed staff to negotiate $6,000 per multi-family unit.

As density increases, the City must improve and build more infrastructure to ensure people have a good quality of life.

Because affordable housing is an amenity, Council directed staff to reduce CACs by 75% for rental units with 10% below market rents. This must be secure for the life of a building via a legally binding housing agreement.

For units with rents geared to income or deep-subsidizes such as in the Langley Lions buildings, Council has directed staff to wave CACs as long as these rents are secured via a housing agreement.

Monday, December 13, 2021

December 6 Council Meeting Notes: Furniture Store Expansion, Christmas Lights, and Regional Growth Strategy

Last Monday, Langley City Council issued a Development Permit to enable a 16,000 sq. ft. expansion of Jag’s Furniture on the Langley Bypass.

Site plan of proposed retail expansion at 20359 Langley Bypass. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes an accessibility representative, members of the public, architects and landscape architects, made the following recommendations which the project proponent accepted:

  • Add pedestrian paths on the parking lot surface
  • Swap accessible parking spot to locate closer to entrance
  • Add outdoor amenity area for employees
  • Add additional landscaping

Council also approved reimbursing the Downtown Langley Business Association $10,000 for providing Christmas lights along Fraser Highway from 201 Street to 203 Street. The City will own, store, and maintain these lights like other Christmas lights in our downtown.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is in the process of updating our Regional Growth Strategy. All municipal councils must agree to the strategy for it to be adopted. While the regional district has been consulting and working on the updated strategy for some time, we are now in the formal feedback portion of the strategy as it works its way towards what I hope is eventual adoption.

Langley City staff provided Council with a formal response to the regional district. While I disagreed with some of what City staff said about the proposed updated Regional Growth Strategy, I supported the letter. The overall staff criticism about the proposed regional growth strategy was that it was becoming too prescriptive. I believe this is good as the Regional Growth Strategy responds directly to regional challenges such as protecting industrial land, enhancing our natural environment to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and addressing affordable housing.

The letter stated, “the City strongly supports Metro Vancouver’s initiative to update the regional growth strategy and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this vital process at the Board, committee and staff levels. Langley City Council and staff look forward to continued cooperation and dialogue with the region as we progress towards adopting Metro Vancouver 2050.”

You can read the full letter on Langley City’s website.

Langley City Council also adopted a new policy on advisory bodies. This housekeeping policy defines the roles and responsibilities of various committees and task groups that the mayor, councillors, staff, and others sit on.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Public Hearing: 30-unit townhouse project by Brydon Park. 5-storey, 86-unit apartment at 53A Ave and 201A St.

Today, I will continue posting about Monday’s Public Hearing. You can read a previous post for part one.

The second proposed development project was a 30-unit townhouse development with all double-wide garages at 5364-5380 198 St. & 19824 54 Ave.

Rendering of proposed townhouse project at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of proposed townhouse project at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel (made up of members of the public, architects, and landscape architects) made the following recommendations which the project’s proponent accepted:

  • Utilize a richer, warmer palette of colours, tones and materials
  • Increase or accentuate articulation on building faces to differentiate massing and floorplate of individual units
  • Update the rooflines at the ends of the townhouse groups to reduce apparent sizing
  • Increase width of east-west sidewalk through site and use distinct paving pattern to highlight sidewalk location across driveway
  • Ensure clear sightlines for accessible parking space near 54 Avenue
  • Ensure addressing enables efficient emergency response access
  • Install 6-foot durable privacy fence along east property line
  • Add taller landscaping to provide some screening of patios from 198 Street for TH3 Block

At the public hearing, one resident expressed concern about the shadowing the townhouses would cause on his property and its impact on his quality of life. Another resident was happy to see that there was a gate limiting access through the site to 53A Avenue, as well as that all proposed units had double-wide garages. She also highlighted the importance of trees to help with shading in the summer.

I asked the proponent if they would go beyond the BC Building Code to reduce impact sounds between units. The proponent noted that impact sound wasn’t a big concern with newer townhouses. I told the proponent that I could hear when my neighbours use their stairs or close a door in my new townhouse.

At the public hearing, the third proposed development project was a 5-storey, 86-unit apartment development at 20120-20170 53A Avenue.

Rendering of proposed project at 20120-20170 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of proposed project at 20120-20170 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

The Advisory Design Panel made the following recommendations which the proponent accepted:

  • Add additional landscaping instead of a log structure
  • Increase number of larger trees on the podium level
  • Extend edge of amenity room solarium to the south
  • Update entry points to amenity room and storage lockers to improve accessibility and usability

Council received two pieces of written correspondence from residents in the area concerned about the build’s height blocking their view of Mount Baker, traffic and parking, and adding evergreen trees to the project.

Again, I asked the proponent if they would go beyond the BC Building Code to reduce impact sounds between units. The proponent stated that they built to BC Building Code which I took as a no.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Public Hearing: 6-storey mixed-use building at Fraser Highway and 208th Street

There were four projects where people had the formal opportunity to provide written and live feedback to Langely City Council on Monday. I’ll be posting about this over the next little bit.

One project where people provided feedback was for a proposed 6-storey, 200 apartment-unit with 16,400 sq. ft. of ground-level commercial, mixed-use building at 20785 Fraser Highway. It is at the site of the Poseidon Greek Restaurant and a current mixed-use building.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes members of the public, architects, and landscape architects, provided feedback, some of which I highlighted.

  • Modify the east breezeway between the back parking and Fraser Highway to improve sightlines and safety
  • Add a tree strip along 208 Street
  • Consider updating columns on balconies above brick façade
  • Consider updating the corner façade design
  • Use a green roof or reflective roof components
  • Add additional landscaping areas in the back parking area and amenity areas
  • Consider adding more ramps to get to the ground-level commercial units
  • Consider articulating façade along Fraser Highway between the commercial units
  • Consider widening the stair access to the breezeway at the corner of Fraser Highway and 208th Street
  • Consider adjusting ramp design to better integrate the corner plaza at Fraser Highway and 208th Street with the commercial units
  • Carry the brick treatment across the Fraser Highway façade at a more consistent level, utilize a richer brick texture
  • Ensure commercial units are primarily accessible from street-side
  • Consider the use of hanging commercial unit signs in arcade

The design panel spent a good amount of time talking amount the geometry of the building at the corner of 208th Street and Fraser Highway. While the project’s proponent didn’t update the geometry, they did add dark colour strips and LED strip lighting along the balcony edges at this corner. They also added a reflective roof to reduce the heat island effect.

Rendering of the proposed project at 20785 Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Due to space constraints, the project’s proponent did not add an articulating façade along Fraser Highway or additional ramps to improve access.

The project’s proponent incorporated the rest of the design panels recommendations into the project’s design.

Site plan of the proposed project at 20785 Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

I asked the proponent if they would go beyond the BC Building Code to reduce the impact sounds between residential units. The proponent told me they would build to code. I interpreted this as no. As I posted Monday, improving sound isolation between multi-family units is directly linked to improved mental health outcomes and increased quality of life.

One resident in the area wrote to Council expressing concern that this proposed project could increase traffic and reduce on-street parking in the area. They asked for a traffic study.

One resident who lives in one of the rental units in the building that the project’s proponent would demolish expressed extreme frustration and concern around the project’s proponent tenant relocation process. While this is a market rental building, it is an older building. The current rents paid by these tenants are significantly lower than current market rental rates in Langley City.

As a note, Council recently asked City staff to budget in 2022 for a below-market rate rental policy to be applied when older purpose-built rental buildings undergo redevelopment.

A commercial tenant also expressed concern about being evicted by the project’s proponent.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Water, Sewer, Garbage, Dog Licensing, and Timms Community Centre Fee Increases

At yesterday’s Langely City Council meeting, Council approved the new 2022 water, sewer, and garbage rates. The water rate is increasing by 9¢/m3, the sewer rate is increasing by 8¢/m3, and the garbage rate is increasing by $20 per year. You can read more in a previous post.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to update the Fees and Charges Bylaw.

Of interesting, the City is proposing to increase the dog licensing fees by one to five dollars depending on if you are a senior, pay early, and if your pet is neutered or spayed.

The annual Timms Community Centre games room or fitness track pass will increase from $10 to $20. While this is still a great value at about 5¢/day, for some younger people who use our games room, paying $20 to access the room may limit access. I asked City staff about this, and they told me that young people could apply for the Leisure Access Grant Program without needing their parents, which would provide a deep discount (up to 75%) for the pass. The City’s youth worker would help any young person complete the grant application.

Not everyone has a great home life, so providing low barrier access to our games room helps provide an escape for many young people. I’m glad that the Leisure Access Grant Program can mitigate the proposed fee increase.

The City is also introducing a $300 annual external trainer pass or $90/quarter pass for an external trainer and their client to use City facilities.

The City is increasing the business licensing fees by 3%, which happens automatically every year.

You can download a complete list of proposed fee increases from the City’s website.

Monday, December 6, 2021

The best neighbours are the ones you don’t hear. We need to do better in multifamily housing.

I’ve lived in multifamily housing in Langley City for almost all of my adult life. My first experience was living in the Wyndham Lane townhouses, which were new builds when I moved there in the 2000s. My second and longest time lived was in the Rivers Edge apartments for around 15 years. This building was constructed in the 1980s and was significantly rebuilt in the 2000s due to a fire. I purchased a new-build townhouse earlier this year and sold my apartment. I rented in The Landing apartments on Industrial Avenue, next to the fire hall, for around seven months. This weekend, I’ve moved into my new townhouse called Elevation at the end of 55A Avenue.

Townhouse Project in Langley City

One of the trade-offs of living in multifamily housing is that you can hear your neighbours from time to time. A building’s construction makes a big difference in how often and what kind of sounds you hear from your neighbours.

For example, in Rivers Edge, you could hear people’s footfalls, loud TVs, and even loud conversations. As a strata council member, one of the top complaints we received was neighour noise. We even had some people leave our building because of it.

In 2018, the BC Building Code started to include requirements around sound isolation in multifamily housing.

Without going into too much detail, there are two types of sound, airborne (when you talk or turn on your TV) and impact sounds (such as walking around or dropping things on the floor.)

The BC Building code only addresses airborne sounds, which is disappointing. While loud TVs and music is a concern, it is easy to remedy. You cannot tell people to stop walking. These impact sounds are more concerning when people are on different schedules.

For example, I’m up from around 5 am to 9 pm. I know my neighbours are up until midnight in my previous rental and new townhouse. I can tell because I hear footfalls. In the apartments, I could hear people walking on top of me, and in the townhouse, I can hear people using the stairs. Compared to my 1980s apartment, the sound transference is less, but still there.

There are simple ways to reduce impact noise in new construction, but it does require developers to spend a little more money to go beyond the BC Building Code. Sound clips, acoustic insulation, and noise damping compound between drywall layers dramatically reduce impact and bass sounds.

So why is reducing noise necessary? There is a strong correlation between noise and mental health.

In Langley City, Council and City Staff are in the process of updating our zoning and building bylaws. I will work to see if we can go beyond the BC Building code in our community to reduce impact noise between units in townhouses and apartments.

As our community continues to develop, we must address mitigating impact noise to improve people’s mental health.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Mentorship for BIPOC, LGBTQ2+, women, and youth considering running for local government

With local government elections less than a year away, some people may be considering running for council or mayor for the first time. One of the challenges in our region is that our council makeups don’t reflect the diversity of our communities.

When CBC investigated council makeups in Metro Vancouver, they found that less than 10% of councillors are visible minorities.

This lack of diversity means that as municipalities, we are missing out on perspectives that will help make our communities better places to live. It also means that as councils, we have blind spots that we could otherwise address if we had a more diverse makeup of people, with their unique lived experiences, in positions of power.

BIPOC, LGBTQ2+, women, and youth often face barriers beyond what others face to make a successful run for office and stay in office.

Mentorship is one way to help, and the site “Nominee” aims to connect mentors and mentees. I was happy to put myself down as a mentor, as were others on Langley City Council, such as Teri James and Rosemary Wallace. There are other councillors, MPPs, MLAs, and MPs from throughout Metro Vancouver, BC, and Canada.

The site does charge a fee, though the first 60 days are free. I don’t receive any compensation in connection with this site. It might be worth visiting the site if you are considering running for office. Optionally, you can also reach out to me directly as I don't charge a fee.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Help Shape Langley’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Your Input Requested.

New Al Anderson Memorial Pool Multipurpose Room

Langley City and the Township of Langley are jointly working on a Poverty Reduction Strategy for our community through the Langley Poverty Reduction Task Group. As one of the first steps in creating this strategy, the task group would like to understand people’s experiences living in Langley via a survey.

The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete, and people who complete the survey will be entered into a draw to win one of three $100 grocery store gift cards.

The task group would like to understand what makes Langley a good place to live and understand what barriers and challenges people face living in the community, including financial concerns. The task group would also like to understand what would help people overcome their barriers and challenges.

You can take the survey online at:

You can also pick up a paper copy of the survey at any Fraser Valley Regional Library branch in Langley.

If you have time, please take this survey and encourage others you know to take it. If you know someone with limited mobility and no Internet access, please pick up a survey at a library branch, so that they can complete it.

The survey is open until December 10th.

Please visit the City’s website to learn more about the “Live well in Langley” Poverty Reduction Strategy. The task group is planning to complete the strategy in the spring of 2022.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 22 Council Notes: Portage Park Plaques, Living Wage Plaque, and a $7.5 Million Loan

In January, Langley City Council heard a delegation from the Living Wage for Families Campaign calling for our municipality to become a living wage employer. A living wage in Metro Vancouver is $20.52 per hour.

Living Wage for Families BC defines a living wage as “the hourly amount that each of two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses (including rent, child care, food and transportation) once government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies are taken into account.”

In April, Langley City Council adopted policies to ensure it is a living wage employer. On Monday, November 22nd, Langley City received an Official Living Wage Employer plaque from Living Wage for Families BC.

Portage Park

Portage Park has a variety of tree species. Most people, including I, do not know the names of most of the tree species in the park. Langley City’s Environmental Task Group proposed that the City budget $10,000 in next year’s capital budget to install long-lasting signs to label these trees, including with indigenous names.

The Environmental Task Group also asked that City staff explore adding evergreen tree planters along the one-way section of Fraser Highway as it is devoid of greenery in the winter. Langley City staff were not supportive of this recommendation as the Fraser Highway one-way is now planned to be completely rebuilt in 2023. As such, this request did not move forward.

This year, Council proposed a $7.5 million loan for strategic property acquisition to support SkyTrain to Langley. The City will pay off the loan over 15 years. This proposal went through an Alternative Approval Process with Council approving the loan in June.

In BC, regional districts must approve and borrow on behalf of their member municipalities. The Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia, whose board of trustees includes representation for all regional districts in BC, issues these loans. The Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia has an excellent credit rating, and as such, municipalities pay lower interest rates than you would find at your bank.

Council approved formally asking the Metro Vancouver Regional District to consent to the City borrowing $7.5 million from the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia. This request is a necessary formality and is almost certain to be approved by the regional district.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Water, Sewer, and Garbage Rate Changes in Langley City

Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Cleveland Dam

If you own property in Langley City, two components on your tax bill are water and sewer usage charges. You are also charged a fee for garbage collection if you own a detached house.

Langely City utilizes Metro Vancouver Vancouver Regional District water and sewer services. The regional district’s costs represent about 60 cents on each dollar the City charges property tax owners for water and sewer services.

To meet the needs of a growing region, replace end-of-life infrastructure, and satisfy stringent new federal regulations, the regional district is investing billions of dollars in renewing water and sewer services. This renewal means that the water and sewer rates that the regional district charges Langley City are climbing and will almost double over the next ten years.

Langley City Council approved in principle the following rate changes for 2022:

The water rate will increase 9¢/m3 to $1.53/m3, with the flat rate of $75 remaining unchanged. The average total water cost for a detached house owner will be $579.90 and $365.70 for a townhouse/apartment owner.

The sewer rate will increase 8¢/m3 to $1.41/m3, with the flat rate of $75 remaining unchanged. The average total sewer cost for a detached house owner will be $447.24 and $289.32 for a townhouse/apartment owner.

If you own a detached house, your garbage rate will increase by $20 to $230 per year.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Help Make Christmas Merry for All Families in Langley. Your Support is Needed.

Merry Christmas

The Langley Christmas Bureau helps ensure that all families in our community can enjoy a merry Christmas by providing support to buy toys for each child in a family and food for a Christmas meal.

The Bureau’s goal is to raise $280,000 this year. Unfortunately, donations are lower than expected this year, so the Bureau needs your help.

A $50 donation will buy a toy for one child. A $350 donation will buy toys and a meal for a family of four.

Any amount will help. To donation, please visit

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

November 22nd Council Notes: Development Proposals

On Monday afternoon, Langley City Council gave first and second reading to a suite of bylaws which will allow for City staff to schedule a public hearing for the following development proposals:

A 30-unit, double-wide garage townhouse project at the southeast corner of 54th Avenue and 198th Street.

Rendering of proposed townhouse project at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

A 5-storey, 86-unit apartment project on 53A Avenue, at the corner of 201 A Street.

Rendering of proposed project at 20120-20170 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

A 6-storey, 200-apartment unit with 16,000 sq. ft. of ground-level commercial mixed-use project at the corner of Fraser Highway and 208th Street

Rendering of proposed project at 20785 Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave the final reading to a rezoning bylaw and issued the development permit to allow the construction of a 4-storey, 62-unit apartment building at the northeast corner of 54th Avenue and 198th Street. This project had a public hearing and received third reading back in April 2017. This project stalled because it exchanged owners.

Rendering of proposed apartment building located at 198 Street and 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Langley City’s new Official Community Plan adopted. Council asks for an affordable purpose-built rental policy.

Langley City is a member municipality of the Metro Vancouver Regional District. In our region, municipal Official Community Plans must be consistent with regional growth strategies. Langley City Council sent our new proposed Official Community Plan to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board for approval back in July. The Official Community Plan contains “regional context statements” that show how the Official Community Plan’s policies are consistent with the regional growth strategy.

On October 29th, the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board approved Langley City’s Official Community Plan.

Metro Vancouver staff pointed out that Langley City’s new Official Community Plan further enhances regional objectives by adding 13.8 ha of land to the Mixed Employment regional land use designation. This designation preserves land for non-residential commercial and light industrial uses.

Additional employment land in red outlines with salmon-coloured inside. Select map to enlarge.

Langley City’s new Official Community Plan also supports the regional district’s industrial land strategy by protecting “remaining industrial land, intensify and optimize industrial lands, and bring the existing land supply to market.”

I’m proud that Langley City continues to support enhancing our region’s objectives.

With Metro Vancouver Regional District Board approval, Langley City Council adopted its new Official Community Plan yesterday afternoon, concluding a process that started in 2019. This new plan will now help guide our community’s future for the next several decades.

New land-use map for Langley City. Select map to enlarge.

For more information about the Official Community Plan, please visit Langley City’s website.

Langley City staff are currently working on an updated zoning bylaw that will implement the policy objectives of the new Official Community Plan.

While Langley City’s Official Community Plan has a one-for-one replacement policy for purpose-built rental units, it is silent on the affordability of those rental units. Older purpose-built rental units have lower market rents than newer units, so when these units are replaced, the market rents will be significantly higher than before.

Langley City Council passed the following motion, which I proposed:

THAT in the 2022 capital budget, staff include a line item for creating a below-market rate rental policy to be applied when older purpose-built rental buildings undergo redevelopment;
THAT staff investigate, as part of the policy development, requiring a prescribed percentage of new rental units to have below-market rental rates, secured through a housing agreement, on the site of older purpose-built rental buildings that are redeveloped; and,
THAT staff investigate, as part of the policy development, opportunities to rehouse people displaced due to the redevelopment of older purpose-built rental buildings within their existing neighbourhood.

Monday, November 22, 2021

2015 Provincial Report: Almost All Dikes Substandard in Lower Mainland

The Lower Mainland is a floodplain. Before we began diking works around the Lower Mainland, flooding was part of the natural cycle. The great flood of 1894 kicked the construction of dikes into high gear.

In the Lower Mainland, dikes are the responsibility of municipalities or special purpose diking districts. The provincial government is responsible for regulating dikes, including inspecting dikes.

The provincial government commissioned a report called “Lower Mainland Dike Assessment” which was completed in 2015. The report’s authors found that “almost all of the dikes are substandard and most will not withstand the provincially adopted design flood events.”

They also found that “in considering dike crest elevations relative to design flood levels, only 4% of the dike segments are high enough to contain the present design event.” Dike crest elevation determines how much water level rise a dike can handle before failure occurs.

Altogether, this means that our diking system is not meeting its original flood protection design.

Getting the dike network up to modern standards, which includes accounting for climate change impacts, is cost-prohibitive for municipalities and diking authorities.

The report authors made 11 recommendations of which the following stand out:

  • In connection with the Lower Mainland flood vulnerability assessment currently underway, identify which dikes most urgently need upgrading in terms of assets at risk and the substandard quality of particular dikes. Prioritize the necessary upgrades.
  • Develop comprehensive flood management plans that consider a range of structural and non‐structural flood management strategies in addition to dikes. These plans must recognize that dikes are not fail‐safe and that in some cases, upgrading dikes to withstand the design events may not be feasible, especially when climate change is considered.
  • Consider establishing an over‐arching agency to lead flood management and develop appropriate funding mechanisms to support comprehensive planning and dike upgrading by diking authorities.

One of the long-standing concerns of municipalities has been the lack of stable, significant funding from the provincial government to upgrade dikes.

With the events of last week, I hope that all orders of government renew their efforts to comprehensively and holistically manage and fund dikes in the Lower Mainland.

The following map shows the state-of-repair for dikes in the Lower Mainland.

Lower Mainland Dike Average Rating. Select map to view.

You can download the full report at:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Nicomekl River flow most since at least 1985 in Langley City

Earlier this week, the Nicomekl River spilled its banks into the floodplain and beyond. I posted in September about the river measurement station near the 203rd Street Bridge. This morning, I looked at the historical flows since Environment Canada put the measurement station into service in 1985.

Nicomekl River Floodplain

Previous to this week, the maximum flow was 61.6 m3/sec in 2009. On Monday, November 15th, the flow was 76.9 m3/sec.

Annual Daily Extremes - Flow, Nicomekl River at 203rd Street. Select graph to enlarge. Source: Environment Canada

Environment Canada started taking level measurements in 2011.

Annual Daily Extremes - Level, Nicomekl River at 203rd Street. Select graph to enlarge. Source: Environment Canada

The river was at a peak height of 4.63m on Monday.

Realtime Flow and Level Data, Nicomekl River at 203rd Street. Select graph to enlarge. Source: Environment Canada

All that to say, Langley City experienced the highest level of the Nicomekl River and most localized flooding in my lifetime.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Provincial government to allow municipalities to eliminate development public hearings

Housing affordability spans a continuum from supportive housing for people with complex needs to subsidized housing, below-market rental housing, market rental housing, and housing ownership. Municipalities have some power to control the creation of below-market rental, market rental, and ownership units.

One of the ways to lower the cost of housing is to increase the supply. In some municipalities, red tape and unpredictable processes limit the development of new housing units.

The classic example would be the City of Vancouver, where housing projects have slow processing times at City Hall and unpredictable council processes.

Langley City has fast processing times, and if housing projects follow Langley City’s policies, a predictable council process.

The provincial government is looking to speed up approval of development projects consistent with a community’s Official Community Plan. Official Community Plans go through a comprehensive engagement and creation process. Langley City’s proposed new Official Community Plan started in 2019 and will likely be adopted next week. This process took two years.

In some municipalities, public hearings for projects can last for days and involve extremely heated conversation, even if a project is consistent with an Official Community Plan.

The province is changing the Local Government Act to give municipalities the option not to hold public hearings for projects that are consistent with their Official Community Plan.

The province is also changing the Act to allow municipal staff to issue development variance permits for minor variances to projects around the location, size and dimensions of buildings, parking requirements, signs, and landscaping. Today these must go to councils for approval.

It will be up to each municipal council in BC to consider whether to use the province’s new options.

Speeding up the time it takes for projects to go through City Hall and Council is only one part of the puzzle to building more affordable housing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Langley City: Building with flooding in mind

With significant flooding starting yesterday in Langley City caused by an “atmospheric river” rain event, many people might be wondering what the municipality does to reduce the severity of damage and danger caused by flooding.

Flooding along 208th Street.

The first guard is the floodplain which can accommodate seasonal flooding. For flooding occurring every 1 in 10 years, you will see localized road closures and parkade flooding like yesterday. 1 in 200-year events will see more significant flooding.

The following map shows the three stages of flooding events. The darkest blue is regular seasonal flooding, the lighter blue is 1 in 10-year flooding, and the lightest blue is 1 in 200-year flooding.

Flooding event map. Select map to enlarge.

Langley City’s new Official Community Plan states that “habitable space and storage in the floodplain [be] at or above the flood construction levels and [that the City] update flood construction levels to account for the impacts of climate change.”

The following map shows the sections of Langley City where the flood construction level bylaw applies and the 1 in 200-year flooding boundary.

Flood construction level map. Select map to enlarge.

Most apartments in this area will see their parkades flood today during a 1 in 200-year flooding event. However, there are older houses and commercial buildings that will flood from before the City had a flood construction level bylaw.

If you see buildings with parkades that jut above the ground level, one of the reasons they extend above the ground level is to protect from flooding.

Langley City’s latest floodplain elevation bylaw is from 2010.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Developer Contributions to Infrastructure Projects in Langley City

Over the weekend, I spoke with a resident. He asked if developers pay for infrastructure upgrades when building new projects. He was surprised when I said that developers do indeed pay for upgrading infrastructure.

Development project

At the most basic level, the City requires developers to upgrade the sidewalk, streetlights, hydro, roadway, and lane directly around a project site. In some cases, the City will collect money from developers in an area with a lot of development activity to make improvements in one go. This “banking” is why 198th Street in the Brydon area isn’t fully paved yet, as an example.

In BC, the provincial government allows municipalities, regional districts, school boards, and TransLink to require developers to contribute funding for specific infrastructure projects to accommodate growth due to development projects. The following table outlines the current charges for projects in Langley City.

Development Cost Charges in Langley City. Select table to enlarge.

Munipcailities must have these infrastructure projects vetted by the provincial government. As I’ve posted previously, the province’s Development Cost Charge qualification requirements sometimes border on the absurd. For example, Langley City could fund a baseball diamond with Development Cost Charge funds, but not a tennis court.

This is why the City also asks developers to voluntarily contribute $2,000 per townhouse or apartment unit into Langley City’s Community Amenity Contributions fund. The City uses this fund for infrastructure projects that would not qualify under the provincially regulated Developer Cost Charges program, but are still required due to population growth caused by development projects.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Langley

Langley City will not be holding an in-person Remembrance Day ceremony in Douglas Park this year out of an abundance of caution to ensure that people remain safe in our community. In its place, you can view the Langley City Remembrance Day ceremony video.

You can also view a live stream of the Murrayville Cenotaph Remembrance Day Ceremony and Fort Langley Remembers starting around 10:30 am on Thursday.

The Murrayville ceremony organizers will allow people to attend in person. There will be no in-person access for the Fort Langley ceremony.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Volunteer on a Langley City’s board or task group. Have your say on City issues and get involved in your community.

One of the ways that you can have direct input into the running of local government in Langley City is to volunteer one of Council’s boards or task groups. These boards and groups usually meet monthly. Some task groups are hands-on, such as the Crime Prevention Task Group, where volunteers plan and attend community events. In contrast, others dive deep into policies, making recommendations to Council, such as the Advisory Design Panel.

Former Crime Prevention Task Group Volunteers

The following boards and groups have vacancies for the 2022 year.

Advisory Design Panel - Make recommendations on form, character and urban design quality of development applications. Looking for members from the general public.

Board of Variance - Independent board hears requests for relaxation of regulations for siting, size and dimensions of buildings that do not conform with Langley City’s bylaws. Looking for members from the general public.

Crime Prevention Task Group - Help educate people about crime prevention, targeting crime hotspots. Includes planning and attending in-person and virtual events, and creating informational material. Looking for members from the general public and a youth representative (age 15-24.)

Environmental Task Group - Prioritize, evaluate and develop business cases for implementing environmental initiatives. Looking for members from the general public, a youth representative (age 15-24,) and a representative who is attending a post-secondary institute.

Arts & Culture Task Group - Prioritize, evaluate and develop business cases for implementing arts and culture initiatives, including public art. Looking for a youth representative (age 15-24.)

Council appoints volunteers for a one-year term except for the Board of Variance, where members serve a three-year term.

For more information on how to volunteer, please visit Langley City’s website. You can apply directly online. The deadline is Friday, November 26, 2021.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Major Langley City Construction Projects

Several construction projects are occurring throughout Langley City. 200th Street has seen its fair share of construction projects over the last decade, whether replacing the Metro Vancouver Regional District sanitary sewer trunk, the renewal of the Nicomekl River bridge, traffic light upgrades, or repaving. The latest project is to replace the Langley City sewer lines under 200th Street between 49th Avenue and the river.

Pipe bursting in action

The City and its contractor are using trenchless pipe bursting to renew the sewer line. This method reduces the amount of 200th Street that crews need to dig up and helps minimize construction time, costs, and impacts.

Two of the other projects well underway are the Glover Road underground utility renewal and safer cycling lanes project, and the 208th Street Causeway safer cycling lanes project. The City expects both projects to finish in the spring of 2022.

Glover Road project

The 208th Street Causeway project includes adding street trees along the causeway portion of 208th Street. Besides filling in the missing cycling link between Fraser Highway and 52A Avenue, it will also enhance trail connectivity between the Nicomekl Floodplain and Nicomekl Park.

208th Street new cycling lanes

208th Street bridge work

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Council Notes: RCMP Policing Cost Increases, Year of the Garden, Supporting Women in Politics

Langley City, like most municipalities in BC, relies on RCMP contract policing. The federal government and National Police Federation recently concluded the negotiation of their first collective agreement. This collective agreement includes significant pay increases, which go back retroactively until 2017. While Langley City has built up a policing reserve fund over the years, knowing that a collective agreement was forthcoming, this reserve fund with not cover all of the retroactive and current pay increases for RCMP members.

Communtiy Policing Office

Like all municipalities with contract RCMP policing, Langley City has little control of policing costs beyond the number of RCMP members we would like. As a result, there will likely be a significant property tax increase in 2022 due to the new collective agreement. I’m fully supportive of collective agreements.

On Monday, Langley City Council passed the following resolution:

THAT Langley City joins the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in calling on the federal government to absorb all retroactive costs associated with the implementation of the new RCMP labour relations regime
THAT the federal government should commit to ensuring municipalities are properly consulted prior to implementation of measures that impact local fiscal sustainability and ability to maintain effective levels of police services in communities

Council also passed a motion in support of the Year of the Garden 2022, directing our Environmental Task Group “to consider developing educational flyers, promoting the environmental benefits that gardens provide to our quality of life in the city.”

Council passed another motion that Langley City apply for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’s Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) grant to create a program that will:

  1. Strengthening the capacity of women, particularly diverse women, to run for elected office
  2. Creating a more conducive context for women leaders to thrive
  3. Enhancing the capacity of municipal stakeholders to address gender-based violence and harassment
  4. Mobilizing knowledge and sharing best practices across municipalities

In Langley City, we can be proud that the majority of our Council is women though there are still barriers preventing racialized, young, and LGBTQ2S+ women from serving in local government.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Council not interested in plastic grass in development projects. Industrial-office and apartment projects received third reading.

On Monday, Langely Council gave third reading for two rezoning bylaws and an Official Community Plan amendment bylaw to enable a 2-building, 59,858 sq. ft industrial-office development at the corner of 56th Avenue and 200th Street as well as a 6-storey, 113-unit apartment building at Michaud Crescent and 200th Street. You can read more about these development proposals in a previous blog post.

Rendering of proposed project at 5370 & 5380 200 Street; 5371 & 5381 200A Street; 20010 & 20020 Michaud Crescent; 20031 53B Avenue.

Rendering of proposed project at 19959, 19971, & 19985 56 Avenue; 5643 & 5647 200 Street.

At the public hearing, residents near the proposed industrial project were concerned about the proposed lane design connecting 199 Street to the proposed project. They were relieved to learn that the City will not be extending the north/south lane through their property at this time. On Monday, staff confirmed that the current east/west lane would be paved and adequately lighted.

One of the major concerns from the Advisory Design Panel, which includes architects and landscape architects, who make recommendations about proposed development projects, is not to use astroturf as a landscaping material for the proposed apartment project. Throughout this process, Council has been clear that it is opposed to astroturf or plastic grass. The proponent of the project has insisted on keeping astroturf in the project. On Monday, the majority of Council stated their opposition to astroturf. I noted that I would not vote in favour of issuing a development permit (which occurs at the same time as fourth and final reading of a rezoning bylaw) if the proponent of the project does not significantly reduce or eliminate the use of astroturf.

Council passed the motion:

THAT staff work to eliminate or significantly minimize the use of synthetic turf surfaces in all in-progress and future development projects.

In the past, Council has heard from the public that they are not interested in seeing astroturf in our community, considering there are other natural alternatives such as xeriscaping.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Creating more inclusive Langley City Task Groups, and new scope for Economic Development Task Group

Yesterday, Langley City Council extended the following task groups by one-year:

  • Arts and Culture Task Group
  • Crime Prevention Task Group
  • Economic Development Task Group
  • Environmental Task Group
  • Performing Arts and Culture Centre Task Group

These task groups provide volunteer opportunities for people to contribute to our community. These volunteers give their time to offer unique perspectives and ideas, which help both Council and staff make better-informed decisions. Some volunteers also provide their labour, whether it is going door-to-door to share crime prevention tips or participating behind the scenes in the Christmas parade.

On some task groups, we have “saved a seat” to make sure we hear from people with certain viewpoints. For example, on the Crime Prevention Task Group, we specifically want one member from the Downtown Langley Business Association, Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, the senior community, and the youth community. Five other positions are open to all members of the public.

Council had a robust and good discussion about inclusion yesterday. The conversation started around ensuring that we “save seats” on our task groups for all Indigenous Nation on whose unceded and traditional lands Langley City is on.

As someone who is part of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, a marginalized community, I mentioned that while it is important to “save a seat,” we shouldn’t stop our good work if we do not fill those seats. There are various reasons why people may not fill those seats.

Many marginalized people are simply busy and do not have time to volunteer. Others would rather not have to educate or explain to others about their lived experiences, barriers, and injustices they’ve faced.

At the council meeting, I noted that as elected people, we must educate ourselves about Indigenous Nations, minority and marginalized communities, including concerning the task groups where we serve.

We may need to pay for experts to deliver this education. We should not expect Indigenous Nations, marginalized or minority groups to provide this education for free.

Council voted to review our task groups to make sure they are more inclusive.

Council also voted to update the terms of reference of the Economic Development Task Group, which will be focusing on:

  • Working with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to support their KPU 2050 Master Plan, including linking it with Langely City’s “Innovation Boulevard” on Glover Road, focusing on student housing, technology, research, media, start-ups, and maker spaces.
  • Encouraging transit-oriented development around the 196 Street and 203 Street SkyTrain stations.
  • Securing capital funding for an iconic destination arts and cultural facility (performing arts centre) in Downtown Langley.

The new terms of reference added seats for one member from the Architectural Institute of British Columbia or the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects, and one member from an Indigenous Nation on whose unceded and traditional lands Langley City is on.