Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Langley City Streetside and Park Bin Waste Audit: First-Step to Divert Materials from Landfill

Garbage Bin

Langley City has several styles of streetside and park garbage and recycling containers throughout the community. As part of the City’s efforts to divert garbage, organics, recyclable materials, and pet waste from ending up in landfills or incinerated, staff have started a multi-phase process to help understand what people are throwing into streetside and park bins. This audit will help inform the creation of a program to promote a higher success rate in landfill/incineration diversion for bins within parks and on the street.

The first phase was a waste audit that looked at 51 bins of different types from various locations throughout Langley City. The following pie chart shows the overage categories of materials found in the bins.

Overall Primary Category Composition for Garbage Streams. Select chart to enlarge.

The largest category is pet waste. This waste is a concern because the best practice is to depose pet waste in the sewer, as pet waste in landfills contributes to the release of methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. The City will need to develop a plan to address pet waste as part of future phases of this process.

The second-largest category was organic waste which should be diverted to regional compose facilities.

For the City’s streetside recycling bins, some people put effort into sorting material, but unfortunately, other people discard materials into the wrong bins, preventing recycling. Today, all material, including in the recycling bins, end up in landfills or incinerated as the rate of the inappropriate materials in each bin is around 50%.

Contamination Categories by Stream. Select chart to enlarge.

Now that the City knows the baseline of our streetside and park garbage and recycling containers, the next step will be to develop a pilot program to ensure that the City can get materials into the correct streams, whether for recycling, composting, pet waste, and garbage.

Council will have the option of including an $85,000 budget item next year to implement a pilot program. If the pilot program is successful, the City could implement a new streetside and park waste management plan as early as 2023.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Public Hearing: Apartment Project and Industrial Project

Last night, Langley City Council hosted a public hearing for two rezoning bylaws and an Official Community Plan amendment. One rezoning bylaw would enable a 2-building, 59,858 sq. ft industrial-office development at the corner of 56th Avenue and 200th Street.

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

This proposed project is in an area where the current and future Official Community Plan, plus the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy designate for industrial uses.

Langley City is unique in that we allowed live/work units within our industrial areas. For example, someone could live above their workshop. Several residents who lived in the live/work building at 5678 199 Street expressed concern about added traffic to 199 Street, the lane design, the types of uses permitted within the proposed project, and crime prevention.

Staff explained they are completing a traffic study for 199 Street, and if required, the City would install a traffic light at 199 Street at 56 Avenue. Staff also noted that this project would not result in lane access to 5678 199 Street and further noted the project underwent a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design audit. The proponent of the project accepted all the recommendations of the audit.

As for permitted uses, City staff explained that the land-uses are almost identical to the uses allowed for 5678 199 Street, which is light industrial. These land-uses mean there should be no loud noises 24/7 or noxious fumes.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which is composed of residents of Langely City, an accessibility representative, architects and landscape architects, made the following recommendations about the project, which the proponent accepted:

  • Create more pedestrian connections between buildings and sidewalks
  • Create a plaza area to the west side of the project
  • Add a public art piece at corner plaza
  • Add more landscaping in the parking areas, along building faces, and on the 3rd-floor patio

The second proposed project at the public hearing was for a 6-storey, 113-unit apartment building at Michaud Crescent and 200th Street. For the proposed rezoning, Council received one piece of written feedback from a resident who lives in a four-storey apartment in the area concerned about the 6-storey height of the proposed building. At the public hearing, one resident expressed concern that the proposed building is to be a rental project and was also concerned about on-street parking.

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

Another resident expressed concern about on-street parking and noted safety concerns for pedestrians that cross Michaud Crescent at 200th Street due to the high-speed right turn lane. Staff noted that the City would remove the high-speed right turn lane if the proposed apartment project proceeds.

The Advisory Design Panel made the following recommendations:

  • Utilize alternate materials for the planters
  • Improve interface and path between dog run and outdoor kitchen
  • Update trellis to align with the form and character of building façade, and consider designing the trellis to provide cover for the outdoor kitchen
  • Show building footprint in context with other buildings in the drawing package
  • Add additional landscaping on the visitor parking deck and the site
  • Utilize alternate materials to the proposed synthetic turf
  • Create a unique façade variation at the corner of 200th and Michaud

The project’s proponent accepted most of the Design Panel’s recommendations except for the planters, which they changed to a mix of wooden and concrete planters. The proponent also reduced but did not eliminate the use of synthetic turf in the project.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Why does Langley City look the way it does? Why was that project approved? Is there a plan?

It may seem that city plans, public projects such as road construction, and private development happen uncoordinated and haphazardly. This is not the case. A series of interconnected policies at the provincial, regional, and local levels guide Langley City Council and staff's actions. I explain more in this video.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Willowbrook Shopping Centre – A Tale of Two Cities

Willowbrook Shopping Centre

One of the quirky things from an urban planning perspective in Langley is the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, which is about three-quarters in the Township of Langley and one-quarter in Langley City. Last weekend, I was looking at the renovation plan for the north side of the mall, which reminded me of this fact. The following map shows the municipal border within the mall.

Site plan of Willowbrook Shopping Centre, including pedestrian circulation and municipal border. Select image to enlarge.

Half of some shops are in the Township and half in the City, including The Bay. It would be interesting if there were “Welcome to Langley City” signs within the mall itself.

What I find interesting is the design of the parking lot. There is no protected pedestrian walking area in the parking lot in the Township while there is in the parking lot within Langley City. It shows one of the subtle but important differences in development guidelines between the Township and the City.

With Langley City’s new proposed Official Community Plan, creating safe pedestrian spaces in parking lots will be further enhanced. As per the proposed Official Community Plan, “clearly defined and well lit pedestrian connections shall be provided between site functions (buildings, parking, loading, pedestrian spaces) and to connection points outside the site (e.g. sidewalks and bus stops).”

For surface parking lots, they “should be broken up into smaller parking areas with dedicated pedestrian pathways buffered by significant landscaping for the safe movement of pedestrians to and from on-site destinations and public sidewalks. A minimum of one tree is required for every six parking spaces.”

While the new Official Community Plan places greater emphasis on walking, cycling, and transit than in the past, Langely City has a history of creating safer pedestrian spaces.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

October 4 Council Notes: Virtual Meetings and New Bylaw Violation Ticket Process

One of the many things that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that you don’t need to meet in person to have a productive council or committee meeting. The province gave local governments the ability to hold “electronic meetings,” for example, via Zoom, permanently. Local governments do need to update their Council Procedure Bylaw to unlock this feature.

I like meeting remotely in most cases. You don’t need to go to a council chamber for most things. Meeting in real life is required for workshops and planning sessions when you need to brainstorm and vision with others.

For members of the public, more people can attend public hearings and other council meetings. For example, people don’t need to find childcare to participate in a long council meeting. We asked members of the Advisory Design Panel if they wanted their committee meetings held in-person or virtually. 100% of the committee wanted to continue meeting virtually.

Given the strong support for virtual meetings, Council gave first, second, and third reading to an amended Council Procedure Bylaw, which will allow meetings to be held entirely virtually, hybrid in-person and virtually, or fully in person. The amended bylaw also contains other housekeeping items.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to a series of bylaws that enable a new adjudication process for people who violate City bylaws. The new process will allow people to dispute a bylaw violation notice up to 14 days after being issued a violation notice. The process ends with an independent adjudicator. Today, people would have to go through a complex process that culminates in the court system. The City will maintain the “Municipal Ticket Information” process for serious bylaw violations and use the new adjudication process for matters like parking tickets.

Langley City Council gave final reading to the amended Watercourse Protection Bylaw to adjust the allowable pH levels for water discharged into a watercourse to aligned with the Metro Vancouver Regional District drinking water standard of 6.5 to 9.0.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

New Design Criteria Manual: More Street Trees, Adapting to Climate Change, and Safer Streets

Last Monday, Council gave third reading to a proposed new Subdivision and Development Bylaw. As part of updating the bylaw, City Staff also updated the Design Criteria Manual for our community.

The bylaw set the base requirements for all civil works on public and private lands in Langley City, including lot grading, roads, waterworks, rainwater management, sewer, street lighting, traffic control, landscaping, and street trees.

With climate change occurring, communities must adapt.

Langley City’s proposed new Subdivision and Development Bylaw and Design Criteria Manual address the realities of climate change. The new design guide improves walking and cycling design standards. The new design guide also requires improved on-site rainwater management, focusing on letting rainwater recharge underground aquifers. Some of the new requirements include permeable paving material on private property.

To treat water runoff from roadways, the City will require bioswales, especially in the southern sections of Langley City.

An example of a bioswale. This one is in Brydon Park. Select image to enlarge.

The City will require all rainwater management systems to handle 100-year storm events. This requirement is one of the strictest in Metro Vancouver.

The City will also require street trees everywhere, and staff have updated the City’s standard road cross-sections to reflect this. Street trees will play a critical role in combating the heat island effect by increasing the tree canopy.

A typical road cross-section that includes street trees. Select image to enlarge.

I posted about the Subdivision and Development Bylaw in the summer when Council gave first and second reading to it. After first and second readings, staff sought public feedback on the proposed bylaw and manual. City staff received 16 suggested changes to the bylaw and design manual, and moved forward with 12 suggested changes.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to amend the Highway and Traffic Regulation, Municipal Ticket Information System, and Fees and Charges bylaws to incorporate changes resulting from the new Subdivision and Development Bylaw.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Development Matters: Apartment Project and Industrial Project

Beyond the 13-unit townhouse project which I posted about yesterday, Langely City Council also gave first and second reading to a suite of bylaws that would enable:

A 2-building, 5,561 m2 (59,858 sq. ft) industrial-office development at the corner of 56th Avenue and 200th Street.

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

A 6-storey, 113-unit apartment building at the corner of Michaud Crescent and 200th Street.

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

One of the highlights for the industrial-office development is that the project will retain the two large trees along 200th Street. Given the importance of retaining large trees whenever possible, which Langley City residents support, I was pleased to see this.

For the apartment project, the proponent is considering using synthetic turf (plastic grass) as part of the landscaping. This fake grass caused great concern for Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, consisting of residents, architects, and landscape architects. Beyond introducing more plastic into our environment, plastic grass also contributes to the heat island effect. Council was also not impressed, based on the feedback I heard during first and second reading of the rezoning bylaw for the project.

The next step for these projects will be a public hearing. I will post more about these two projects after the public hearing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Council gives third reading to bylaws to enable 13-unit townhouse project at 53rd and 198th

On Monday, Langley City Council gave third reading to a suite of bylaws that would enable the development of a 13-unit townhouse project on the northeast corner of 53rd Avenue and 198th Street. This proposal has solicited a significant amount of feedback from residents in the adjacent duplex area east of the project and the single-family housing area south of 53rd Avenue.

Rendering of the proposed project at 5324-5326 & 5334-5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

As I posted previously, the concerns from current residents include density, shadowing on adjacent properties, green space, the urban heat island effect, on-street parking, tandem parking garages, and safety at the intersection of 198th Street and 53rd Avenue.

Council had a robust discussion about whether or not to grant third reading to the rezoning bylaw. It was a difficult choice to support giving third reading to the rezoning bylaw as I have a friend who lives in the duplex area, so I have detailed knowledge of that neighbourhood’s concerns. The project’s proponent addressed some of the concerns brought up by residents, but not all.

One of the primary concerns of residents adjacent to the property is shadowing. The project’s proponent shifted the townhouses to the west to reduce shadowing, but shadowing will still occur sometimes.

The other primary concern was increased density. A similar townhouse project is on the southwest corner of 201A Street and 53rd Avenue, adjacent to single-family houses. I asked staff if the density of that project was higher. City staff told me the density was higher. These townhouses have existed for at least 20 years. While I’ve heard from residents in the area about speeding and crosswalk enhancement, I’ve never heard a complaint about these townhouses.

In our region, the number one issue is affordable housing. We talk a lot about building “missing middle” townhouses at the regional level and in our City’s proposed new Official Community Plan. I recently purchased a townhouse off 198th Street and 55A Avenue. It has three bedrooms with tandem parking and cost me $725,000. I plan on moving in this fall once it has its occupancy permit. Units with double-wide garages were going for over $890,000 at the time as they take up more space. These prices are higher today. With these double-wide garage townhouses now pushing closing to $1 million today, I question if they are affordable.

One of the other major concerns was tandem parking. I asked City staff if there was enough on-street parking today to accommodate a worse-case of 13 vehicles parked on the street. I was told yes. I also asked if parking became a concern, would the City work with residents in the area to implement an on-street parking management plan? Again, staff told me yes.

To address residents’ concerns about intersection safety, the City will be extending the curb bulge along 53rd Avenue.

The project will include nine trees to increase green space. There were five trees on the site previously. The project also includes front yards on 198th Street that are setback around 12 meters from the sidewalk. The City will also be planting street trees about every 9 meters around the project. There are zero street trees today. These trees will also help reduce the heat island effect.

While it is a controversial project, I believe it will improve the quality of life for people in Langley City and help address the missing-middle housing crisis in our region.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Langley City Council considering $423,000 in property tax exemptions for non-profits and churches

Under provincial law, cities cannot levy property tax for the land under a church building. Cities can also exclude other lands from property tax that are owned by or used by churches, charitable, philanthropic or other not-for-profits.

As a matter of policy, Langley City Council also extends property tax exemptions to include all church-used properties, including parking lots, and to organziations on City-owned lands, such as the Langley Community Music School.

Property tax exemptions are not a free lunch. Each exemption granted results in an increase in taxes for people and organizations that do pay property tax. With no clear policies on why some non-profit deserves an exemption compared to others and realizing that these exemptions impact other property taxpayers, Council has not granted further exemptions since 2010. We receive applications for new property tax exemptions every year.

This “holding the line” changed last night. The majority of City Council felt that Langley Food Bank should receive a property tax exemption because of their good work. While I also believe they do good work, I voted against this initially for the previously mentioned reasons. Given that we cannot pick favourites from the non-profits that apply for permissive tax exemptions, I made the case that we should grant property tax exemptions to all the great non-profits that applied this year. The rest of Council agreed.

As such, all of Council supported extending the in-place property tax exemption for another year as listed:

Langley Seniors Resource Society - 20605 51B Ave: $34,412
Langley Stepping Stones - 20101 Michaud: $8,268
Langley Community Music School - 4899 207 St: $24,968
Langley Lawn Bowling (Outdoor) - 20471 54 Ave: $24,960
Langley Community Services Society - 5339 207 St: $9,568
Council of the Salvation Army - 5787 Langley Bypass: $2,470
Roman Catholic - 20676 Fraser Hwy: $63,795
Anglican Parish of St Andrew's - 20955 Old Yale Rd: $17,170
Vineyard Christian Fellowship - 5708 Glover Rd: $36,913
Vcr Global Mission Church - 5673 200 St: $16,900
Evangelical Free - 20719 48 Ave: $19,753
Church of the Nazarene - 19991 49 Ave: $15,443
Bridge Community Church - 5521 Brydon Cres: $12,171
New Apostolic Church - 19999 53 Ave: $4,279
Global School Society - 19785 55A Ave: $12,056
Langley Care Society - 5451 204 St: $29,777
Langley Hospice Society - 20660 48 Ave: $3,886
Inclusion Langley Society - 208-20239 Michaud Cr: $893
Inclusion Langley Society - 210-20239 Michaud Cr: $946
Inclusion Langley Society - 19977 45A Ave: $2,202
Inclusion Langley Society - 4570 209A St: $2,389
Inclusion Langley Society - 4830 196 St: $2,314
Inclusion Langley Society - 210-5650 201A St: $671
Inclusion Langley Society - 218-5650 201A St: $855
Inclusion Langley Society - 312-5650 201A St: $1,039

All of Council also supported new property tax exemptions for one year as listed:

Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary - 20560 Fraser Hwy: $42,620
Inclusion Langley Society - 20689 Fraser Hwy (Ground Floor): $8,914
Langley Food Bank - 5768 203 St: $12,357
Encompass Support Services Society 20616 - Eastleigh Crescent: $11,319

These exemptions have a total impact of around 1.5% on City property tax revenue. Council gave the updated property tax exemptions bylaw first, second, and third reading last night.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Langley City redevelopment supports school sites in Township

Langley City shares a school district and school board with the Township of Langley. One tool available for school districts to acquire new property for new schools is the School Site Acquisition Charge. The school board levies this Charge on every new residential development.

On the surface, the School Site Acquisition Charge makes a lot of sense. As municipalities approve new residential neighbourhoods, the school board can acquire new land for schools. This Charge makes sense in communities sprawling out, not in communities like Langley City, which are fully built out and have been for over 30 years.

School boards cannot use the School Site Acquisition Charge to expand existing schools.

Langley City has an ongoing issue with the School Site Acquisition Charge because the provincial government requires that it be applied school district-wide.

The School Site Acquisition Charge must be approved by municipal councils, but if a council rejects the Charge, it goes through a dispute resolution process that ultimately ends with the provincial government making a discussion about the Charge.

Langley City rejected the Charge in 2013 because it only supported Township students and schools, but still applied to new residential developments in the City. The provincial government ruled in favour of the school board.

The school board is updating the School Site Acquisition Charge as follows:

Low Density - Per Single-Family House: $1,000
Medium Low Density (21-50 units/ha) - Per Townhouse: $900
Medium Density (51-125 units/ha) - Per Apartment Unit: $800
Medium High Density (126-200 units/ha) - Per Apartment Unit: $700
High Density (>200 units/ha) - Per Apartment Unit: $600

The school board will collect this Charge in Langley City to support school sites in Willoughby and Brookswood/Fernridge.

Langley City Council approved this Charge last Monday because history shows that the province would likely favour the school board in a dispute resolution process.

I understand the value of a School Site Acquisition Charge, but it does encourage sprawl. A better approach would be a School Acquisition Charge, which would help pay for new schools or expanding existing schools due to residential development. This change would encourage the redevelopment of older schools and discourage sprawl.

As a note, the school board predicts that 5,164 additional students will enroll in Township schools over the next decade. The school board expects 490 additional students in the City over the next decade.

According to the school board, “due to the lower planned development numbers for the City of Langley, the students will need to be accommodated in existing buildings with possible additions to some schools to accommodate the growth.”

Thursday, September 30, 2021

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Every Child Matters Banner

Today is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. One of the questions that I had was how do I honour those that died in the residential schools genocide, honour survivors, and begin the journey of reconciliation.

The first step on my journey is education, and I want to share some videos and other resources that may help you and your family on your journey.

The first suggested link is for the Witness Blanket, which is currently exhibiting at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The Witness Blanket is made of “hundreds of items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures across Canada.” You can watch the feature-length documentary “Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket.

For your family, consider watching the video “Talking to Kids About Residential Schools” by Monique Gray Smith.

To conitune your journey, please consider participating in Truth and Reconciliation Week hosted by the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. They have put together a week’s worth of educational workshops which you can watch.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Council Notes: Lane Closure, Financial Plan Amendment, pH Levels, and Building Assessments

On Monday, Langley City Council approved a bylaw to “close” a lane, which the City never built out. The lane’s location is between 5500 and 5510 Brydon Crescent. You can read more about this closure in a previous post.

Council also approved an amendment to the 2021 - 2025 Financial Plan. It is common for Council to approve these amendments as priorities change and funding grants become available throughout the year. For more information, please read a previous post on this amendment.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw which would update the City’s Watercourse Protection Bylaw if given final reading. It would change the pH of allowed water discharge into a watercourse such as a creek from 6.5-8.0 to 6.5-9. This range change is consistent with Metro Vancouver Regional District’s drinking water pH levels and provincial requirements. The bylaw also includes a new “Confirmation of Commitment” form.

Langley City owns 34 buildings and has budgeted $65,000 to complete a condition assessment on each building. These assessments will help the City prioritize repair and rehabilitation work over the next decade. Council approved City staff’s request to apply for a $15,000 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities to help offset some of the costs of performing the assessments.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Public Hearing: 13-Unit Townhouse Project on Corner of 53rd and 198th

Last night, Langley City Council hosted a Public Hearing for two bylaws that, if approved, would facilitate a 13-unit townhouse development at the corner of 53rd Avenue and 198th Street.

Rendering of the proposed project at 5324-5326 & 5334-5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Before the Public Hearing, the City’s Advisory Design Plan, which includes architects, landscape architects, the RCMP, an accessibility representative, and members of the public, who all volunteer their time, reviewed the project and made the following recommendations:

  • Update the roof design
  • Update the door materials and colour
  • Vary colour palette for each townhouse block
  • Add Juliette windows on the second floor along the internal driveway and a balcony over the electrical room
  • Add larger ground-floor windows along 198th Street
  • Add additional back patio screening between back yard areas and additional screening along 198th Street
  • Upgrade the entire east fence
  • Utilize more durable fencing material along project edges
  • Provide rendering to show the proposed building at the corner of 198th Street and 53rd Avenue

Except for varying the colour palette of each townhouse block, the proponent accepted the advice of the Advisory Design Plan.

For the public hearing, Council received six pieces of written correspondence which included a 103-signature petition. Ten members of the public attended the public hearing over Zoom, and six members of the public spoke to Council about the proposed development.

Generally, concerns from the public included density, shadowing on adjacent properties, green space, the urban heat island effect, on-street parking, tandem parking garages, and safety at the intersection of 198th Street and 53rd Avenue.

To address some, but not all, of the concerns about shadowing, the project’s proponent proposes to setback the buildings 4.5 meters in the rear yard area.

Shadow study for the proposed project at 5324-5326 & 5334-5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

For green space, City staff noted that they would require extensive street trees along the property perimeter in addition to the proposed nine trees within the property.

Landscaping plan of the proposed project at 5324-5326 & 5334-5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

For intersection safety at 198th Street and 53rd Avenue, City staff are investigating extending the curb bulges to reduce traffic speed and reduce on-street parking to increase visibility at the intersection.

Members of Council, including myself, questioned the use of tandem parking garages, though this garage style has existed in the City for at least 20 years. Staff noted that a new zoning bylaw is in the works, which will include reviewing tandem parking.

Staff also noted that a parking management study for the whole community is part of the 2021-2025 Financial Plan.

The next step for these bylaws will be for Council to consider third reading at a future meeting.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Crime Prevention Tips for Stratas and Multi-Family Housing. Target Hardening Tips for Business Owners.

Every month, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group volunteers create new safety tips posters. One poster focuses on people who live in the community while the other focuses on business owners.

This month, a task group volunteer created a poster for people living or managing stratas and multi-family residential properties. Please print off the poster and place it in your common area.

Select the poster to download.

Another volunteer created a poster for business owners and focuses on target hardening.

Select the poster to download.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

SkyTrain to Downtown Langley City not delayed

Map of Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension. Select to enlarge.

Over the last few days, there have been a few media articles and press releases about Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Project delays. These articles and releases premise a completion date of 2025 for the whole project from King George to Downtown Langley.

In January 2020, TransLink released the phase one business case for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project. Phase one would have the SkyTrain terminate in Fleetwood.

In the business case, it states, "the anticipated opening date for passenger service on this first stage [to Fleetwood] is late 2025."

Since the release of the original business case, there was a provincial election. The NDP promised to build and help fund the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project as one phase to Downtown Langley.

The 2021 provincial budget reserved room to fund the SkyTrain extension fully to Downtown Langley. The provincial government is also now responsible for getting the project built.

On July 9th, the federal government also announced $1.3 billion in additional funding to build the project to Downtown Langley.

Because TransLink staff only completed the detailed design work and business case to get to Fleetwood, now provincial staff are working on completing the business case and detailed design work to build the project as one phase to Downtown Langley.

The increased scope of the project (building to Downtown Langley) and a possible new Operations and Maintenace Centre near the Langley terminus, as per the latest TransLink board report, means that 2025 was never going to be the date for SkyTrain to get to Langley City.

I understand that a new business case is almost now complete, so this winter/spring, I expect the province to launch a request for proposal for the entire project. Because of the project's complexity, I would expect the province to announce a successful tender at the end of 2022, with construction ramping up in 2023 over the next four years. It took about four years to build the Canada Line.

While it may seem that there has been a significant delay in getting SkyTrain to Langley City, it is not the case. From what I've seen, things are full-steam ahead.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Council Notes: Discovery Langley City Partnership Renewed. Budget Amendments Approved.

In the fall of 2017, Langley City launched Discovery Langley City in partnership with its hoteliers. Discovery Langley City is a tourism marketing organization for the community. The City collects a 2% tax, called the Municipal and Regional District Tax, applied to the price of a hotel room in Langley City. This tax, combined with a small $15,000 fee for service funded out of the City’s operating budget, enables Discovery Langley City to promote the community as a tourist destination.

In 2019, Discover Langley City funding was around $200,000. Revenue drop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Downtown Langley Business Association operates Discover Langley City, and their current five-year contract is ending at the end of this year. Langley City Council voted on Monday to renew the contract for an additional five years, ending at the end of December 2026.

From time to time, Langley City must amend its current-year budget. These amendments are required because priorities can change, unexpected expenses can come up, or grants received. These budget amendments do not impact user fees or property taxes.

Council approved an amended capital budget as follows:

COVID-19 Response & Safe Restart Expenditures - $200,000
198 St Hydro Conduit Design - $30,000
General Road Rehabilitation - $43,447
Michaud Crescent Community Garden Upgrades - $40,000
Insurance Risk Management - $10,000
56th Avenue Underground Utility Detailed Design (200th Street to 203rd Street) - $100,000
Eliminate Watermain Pipe Twinning on 200th Street - $100,000
Glover Road Cycling Improvement (Median Irrigation) - $150,000
Leachate Pump Station Upgrade - $200,000
City Public Facilities Condition Assessment -$65,000
Drinking-Water System Upgrades - $150,000
Upgrade Council Chamber to Support Hybrid Meetings - $120,000
Upgrading Lighting Rigging at Spirit Square - $20,000

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Council Notes: Development Proposals including near Brydon Park

On Monday, Langley City Council gave first and second reading to a suite of bylaws to enable a 13-unit townhouse development at the corner of 198th Street and 53rd Avenue if approved. With Council giving two readings to the bylaws, Langley City staff have scheduled a public hearing at 7 pm on September 27th. Please visit Langley City’s website for more information on attending the public hearing or submitting feedback. I will post more about this proposed development project after the public hearing.

Rendering of the proposed development at 5324 - 5326 & 5334 - 5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Landscaping plan of the proposed development at 5324 - 5326 & 5334 - 5336 198 Street. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave third reading to a suite of bylaws to enabled a 6-storey, 113-unit apartment development across the street from Nicomekl Elementary School. You can read more about this proposal in a previous blog post.

53/53A Avenue proposed project view from 53rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

53/53A Avenue proposed project view from 53 A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council gave third reading to a suite of bylaws to enable a 6-storey, mixed-use building with 114 apartments and 9050 sq. feet of ground-level retail space at the current Washworld site at Fraser Highway and 201A Street. You can read more about this proposed project in a previous blog post.

Proposed mixed-use project view from the corner of 201A and Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Starting the Journey of Reconciliation in Langley City

When I went to elementary school and high school, we were not taught about the horrors and cultural genocide committed against Indigenous Nations and people by governments via the residential school system. My first exposure to the dark history of the residential school system was when I worked at the TV station where they filmed the first season of APTN’s First Talk.

Earlier this summer, with the discovery of 215 remains at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, the atrocities of the residential school system came to light for many Canadians, including myself.

With Canada Day coming up at the time, I reached out to Katie Pearson, CEO of the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society. She said that Langley City needs to start implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. She left me with some presentations to watch and contact information for other Indigenous leaders.

Over several discussions with Indigenous and Métis people, I heard that the heart must first be open to starting the journey of reconciliation. For Langley City as a colonial institution, this begins with education.

Langley City Council unanimously passed the following motion last night.

WHEREAS the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s summary report, “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future,” was released to the public on June 2nd, 2015;

WHEREAS as directed by the commission report; calls for federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People as the framework for reconciliation;

WHEREAS the City of Langley is a colonial institution;

WHEREAS the work of reconciliation must start within colonial institutions;

WHEREAS the City of Langley owns the act of reconciliation;

WHEREAS local governments must begin the journey with Indigenous Nations by learning the truth of Canada’s cultural genocide of Indigenous People before reconciliation can be achieved;

WHEREAS City of Langley Council has the opportunity to move the City in a good way by gaining perspectives and understanding of Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of ethics, concepts, and practices of reconciliation;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Langley create a Request for Proposal for developing an educational program about Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Cultural Protocols, Knowledge Systems, and Empathy and Safety work by qualified Indigenous Cultural presenters, practitioners or educators;

THAT the City of Langley submit a successful Request for Proposal for Council to tender;

THAT Council consider funding the tender as part of the 2022 budget process;

THAT the educational program be delivered to Council and Senior Staff as soon as possible;

THAT the educational program be delivered to Council and Senior Staff within six months of any Council inauguration;

THAT the City of Langley take immediate action by acknowledging Orange Shirt Day by placing an Every Child Matters Banner across the two Fraser Highway gateways to the Downtown for the week of September 27th, 2021;

THAT up to $2,500 be expended from the Enterprise Fund for the Every Child Matters Banner; and,

THAT the Every Child Matters Banner be stored by the City for future use as directed by Council.

This motion is just the first step on the reconciliation journey. With our hearts open, we can start on the path of implementing the Calls to Action.

As of this writing, Indigenous Nations throughout Canada have discovered over 1,500 unmarked graves at former residential school sites.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Near Universal Support North of the River, Majority Support South of Nicomekl for Tree Protection Bylaw

A tree

A few weeks ago, I asked people if they would support a tree protection bylaw and other questions about tree management.

After I filtered the responses received to include only Langley City residents, there were 115 survey responses.

In the Nicomekl and Douglas Neighbourhoods, north of the Nicomekl River, there was 92% support for a tree protection bylaw. South of the Nicomekl, support varied by neighbourhood as follows:

75% support a tree protection bylaw in Uplands
72% support a tree protection bylaw in Simonds
63% support a tree protection bylaw in Blacklock
20% support a tree protection bylaw in Alice Brown

82% of survey respondents living north and 60% of survey respondents living south of the Nicomekl River who support a tree protection bylaw believe that a tree protection bylaw should apply to all types of trees, not just older, evergreen trees.

More than 95% of respondents who support a tree protection bylaw thought it should apply to all parts of Langley City.

95% of respondents who support a tree protection bylaw also answered yes to the following questions:

Do you think people should be allowed to apply for a permit to remove a tree protected under a tree protection bylaw if the tree is unhealthy, is damaging a foundation, or creating a safety risk?

In BC, tree protection bylaws cannot limit density. When possible, do you think Langley City should create policies to protect trees or tree groups on redevelopment properties?

Do you think that Langley City should require a minimum number of trees planted as part of redevelopment?

Do you think Langley City should fine people for removing trees protected by a tree protection bylaw on private property under redevelopment?

87% of respondents who support a tree protection bylaw thought Langley City should fine people for removing trees protected by a tree protection bylaw on private property that is NOT under redevelopment.

This survey has a ±10% margin of error, 95% of the time.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Consumption of Liquor in Parks and Public Spaces Survey

Picnic shelters at City Park

Since July 1st, people have been able to drink alcoholic beverages responsibly on Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm at select park locations. These locations include McBurney Plaza, select areas in Douglas Park, and the picnic shelters at City Park.

Being able to drink alcoholic in these locations is part of a pilot program running until September 25th.

With the pilot program winding down, Langley City wants your feedback on this pilot program and your experience at parks where this pilot program was in place. The survey also includes questions about if the pilot program impacted your decision to visit a park and if you would like to see the pilot program expanded.

The survey takes under 5 minutes to complete. Take Langley City’s official survey before September 30th.

Go to the Official Survey

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Metro Vancouver’s Clean Air Plan dependent on feds and province

Logan Creek in Langley City

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is in the final stages of adopting its updated 10-year air quality management plan called the “Clean Air Plan.” The actions contained in the plan, if implemented, will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2 million tonnes and provide $1.6 billion in health benefits.

The following are the “big move” actions that the region must take to reduce GHG emissions and realize the health benefits.

Transportation:

  • Enhance and improve regional transit
  • Use pricing to reduce driving and emissions - Province
  • Expand active transportation networks
  • Accelerate sales targets for new electric passenger vehicles - Province and Federal
  • Develop regional emission requirements for passenger vehicles - Province
  • Make electric vehicles more affordable - Province and Federal
  • Regulate existing medium and heavy trucks - Province
  • Require zero-emission sales targets for new medium and heavy trucks - Province
  • Accelerate emission reductions from marine vessels - Province and Federal

Buildings:

  • Greenhouse gas performance requirements for existing large buildings
  • Greenhouse gas performance requirements for existing homes and townhomes
  • New buildings are highly efficient and electric - Province
  • Require greenhouse gas reductions during renovations - Province
  • Building electrification mandate for BC Hydro - Province
  • Expand incentives for low carbon upgrades - Province and Federal
  • Online decision support tools for low carbon upgrades in buildings - Province
  • Implement requirements for higher emitting wood-burning appliances
  • Emission requirements for district energy systems
  • Incorporate embodied emissions into the BC Building Code - Province

Industry:

  • More stringent greenhouse gas requirements for large industrial emitters - Province
  • Integrate greenhouse gas requirements into emission regulations and permits
  • Implement renewable gas content requirements - Province
  • Tighten emission regulation for non-road diesel engines
  • Regional low carbon procurement

Agriculture:

  • Reduce emissions from greenhouses - Province
  • Reduce open-air burning

Cross-cutting:

  • Develop a long-term approach to equity in air quality and greenhouse gas management
  • Strengthen relationships with First Nations on air quality issues

I noted if federal or provincial government action will be required to implement an action in the above list. Around half of the “big move” actions will need the support of other orders of government to be successful.

There are many actions that the regional district, member municipalities and treaty First Nations can take to reduce GHG emissions and reduce air contaminants. However, this plan will only be successful with the full support of both the provincial and federal governments.

One of the roles of this region will be to lobby the provincial and federal governments to update legislation, regulations, and policies to make this plan successful.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

What’s with the grey shack on 203rd Street by the river?

If you’ve walked or cycled along the west side of 203rd Street, on the north side of the Nicomekl River, you may have noticed a grey shack. I was curious about the shack’s purpose.

This weekend, I was checking the weather forecast at the Environment Canada website and noticed a link called Water Level and Flow.

I figured the grey shack might have something to do with water measurement, so I went through the list of measurement stations and confirmed that it is indeed the case. The grey shack’s official name is 08MH155, and it has measured the water flow and level of the Nicomekl River since 1985.

08MH155 Measurement Station. Select image to enlarge.

You can find real-time measurements online as well as historical data.

Water level graph of Nicomekl River at 203rd Street over the last year. Select the graph to enlarge.

There has been a change of about 3.5 metres between when the river is at its highest and lowest over the year.

Measuring the flow and level of the Nicomekl River is important because it can help ensure that flood controls and mitigation measures are adequate.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Three Questions to Ask Candidates this Election

Sewer Infrastructure

One of the reasons I’m passionate about local government is because it directly impacts people’s daily lives. While local government has the most impact on your life (imagine if you didn’t have tap water, flushing toilets, or garbage collection), it directly collects around 10% of total taxation revenue. The federal government collects the majority of total taxation revenue.

As such, local governments rely on the federal government to help fund infrastructure projects that local governments would otherwise not be able to build.

In this federal election, there are three questions that candidates in Cloverdale–Langley City should be able to answer. Their answers will impact Langley City for the next century.

SkyTrain is critical in giving people a transportation choice that saves money and helps fight climate change, provides better access to employment, and supports economic growth for the local business community.

What will you do to ensure that SkyTrain gets built to Langley City in a timely fashion?

80% of Langley City residents want a performing arts centre built in our Downtown. This centre will contribute to positive evening activities in our community and help create a night life in Langley.

What will you do to help secure funding for a performing art centre in Downtown Langley?

Like all municipalities, Langley City has ageing infrastructure which needs replacement over the next few decades. The impacts of climate change also means that the City needs to redesign and rebuild stormwater systems.

What will you do to ensure a stable funding program for local governments to renew ageing water, sewer, and stormwater systems, including providing funding to help adapt to climate change?

When researching who to vote for, consider the federal government’s impact in providing funding to support Langley City’s priorities and infrastructure needs.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

International Overdose Awareness Day in Langley

Yesterday at work, I mentioned to people that it was International Overdose Awareness Day at a staff meeting. I said that BC is amid two health emergencies: opioid-related overdoses and COVID-19. Overdoses and overdose deaths, unfortunately, have continued to rise.

Later that morning, during another meeting, a staff member asked me, “Isn’t overdoses a Downtown Eastside issue?” I told the person that overdoses impact all people in BC, no matter their walk of life. I said that the highest risk people in BC are employed, housed, single, young men.

This insight surprised my co-worker. My day job is at a software company where many people fit into the high risk demographic for overdoses.

The conversation I had, shows that there is still a stigma around overdoses.

Vigil at Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Select image to enlarge.

Yesterday evening, Langley Community Overdose Response held a walk, information BBQ, and vigil for International Overdose Awareness Day.

People walking to Douglas Park Spirit Square. Select image to enlarge.

Some people told stories of friends and family who died due to overdoses. While I’m not aware of anyone in my family who died due to overdoses, my dad had substance use problems which resulted in overdoses. As a child growing up, it was traumatizing, but he was able to get help because he had a support system of friends and family to help him.

The more people feel safe talking about substance use problems and not feel judged, the sooner we can reduce the number of overdoses and overdose deaths in our communities.

For more information about overdose prevention, please visit the provincial government’s website.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Queer Perspective on the COVID-19 Vaccine

As someone who is gay, I’m part of a marginalized community that has needed to protest, participate in civil disobedience, and continually advocate to live. In the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was in full force. Because HIV/AIDS predominantly impacted gay men, which most people in power didn’t care about at the time, governments paid little attention as they saw it as a “gay disease.” Some in power even saw it as some sort of punishment from God.

We know today that HIV/AIDS is a disease that impacts all people though it still disproportionately impacts marginalized people.

I have gay friends who lived through the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which they called “the plague.” They called it that because they lost countless friends. Many also lost partners. People can only take so much before they start taking action.

Silence = Death. A sign used by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fleshmanpix/7650195616/

The drug AZT, a potential cancer therapy drug from the 1960s, showed promise in treating HIV. It was one of the first treatments for HIV. People needed to protest and participate in civil disobedience to get governments and pharmaceutical companies to study the drug and let people participate in potentially life-saving treatment.

Fighting for access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment isn’t a thing of the past. It wasn’t until 2018 that the Government of BC provided free, expanded access to PrEP. This drug is a highly effective treatment to prevent HIV infections, which scientists first proved effective in 2010. Access to this drug is still limited in most of the world.

So what does this have to do with getting a COVID-19 vaccine? I’ve heard the stories of “the plague,” I know people who can manage HIV successfully with medication, and I know people who are on PrEP.

The right to getting treatments and preventative drugs for HIV was hard-fought. When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, I wanted to get it right away. Why would I turn down a life saving vaccine that helps reduce the likelihood of getting and spreading a deadly virus?

As part of a community devastated by a virus in the past, I want to do what I can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and my likelihood of getting ill today.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Does Langley City Need a Tree Protection Bylaw? Take My Survey to Let Me Know

A tree

In 2010, Langley City proposed a tree protection bylaw that would fine people between $1,000 and $10,000 if they remove healthy trees on private property with a 20cm or larger diameter. Due to public feedback, this bylaw never moved forward.

With hotter summers and renewed understanding of the critical services that trees provide in cleaning the air, cooling our cities, and preventing soil erosion, some people have suggested that it is time to revisit a tree protection bylaw. What do you think? Take my survey, and let me know.

Go to the survey

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Public Feedback Requested for Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw

Construction Sign

In early July, I posted about Langley City’s proposed new Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw. This bylaw is important as it outlines:

  • Waste management requirements during construction
  • Standards for lot grading
  • Standards and best engineering practices for storm/rainwater management, water distribution, sanitary sewer system, roadway design, landscaping, trail design, streetlight, traffic signal design, and water meters
  • Road cross-sections that accommodate safer, separated infrastructure for walking and cycling, roundabouts, and high-quality streetscapes
  • Storm sewer management requirements that incorporate the impacts of climate change into its design

For single-family housing zones, which are not subject to council approving development permits as per BC law, this proposed new bylaw, combined with the zoning bylaw, dictates site preparation for redevelopment, density, lot coverage, and siting of buildings on a lot.

Langley City is seeking public feedback on the proposed new Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw.

For more information, please visit Langley City’s website or contact Hirod Gill at hgill@langleycity.ca by August 27, 2021.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

From grey to green, how Langley City will tackle the heat island effect

Recently, Nathan Griffiths published an article in the Vancouver Sun about the heat island effect in urban areas. He noted that in Langley City, “asphalt and other heat-absorbing materials from malls, parking lots and businesses, pushed surface temperatures to among the highest in the region.”

As someone who is currently living in an industrial and commercial area, I can attest to the facts of that article. Langley City is actively working to reduce the amount of “grey” in our community to reduce the heat island effect, among other environmental initiatives.

View from my apartment. Select image to enlarge.

Motor vehicle parking creates much of the “grey” space in our community. As part of the proposed new Official Community Plan for Langley City, which is currently waiting for approval by the Metro Vancouver Board, the City is reducing the amount of parking required in our community, especially near SkyTrain stations.

East of 200th Street and north of 53rd Avenue, the City will create “a public parking strategy, complete with potential parking pricing approaches” to manage parking spaces. The City will combine this parking management with shared parking and reduced or no on-site parking requirements to free up space for more green infrastructure.

A recent concrete example is an apartment project near Nicomekl Elementary School. Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel recommended more green space for the project. In response, the project’s proponent removed five visitor parking spaces to plant more shrubs and trees.

The new Official Community Plan strongly discourages surface parking lots, but if built, the City has strong environmental considerations as part of the proposed Official Community Plan.

The City will require permeable pavers in large paved areas to ensure that rain is absorbed into the ground for parking lots.

The City will also require parking lots to contain smaller parking areas with significant landscaping and a minimum of one tree for every six parking spaces.

On the topic of trees, the City will require street trees as part of all new development projects. These trees will further help reduce the heat island effect.

The City also plans to build more open spaces and greenways, as shown in the following map.

Map of proposed new plazas, open spaces, and greenways. Select image to enlarge.

While Langley City has many “grey” spaces today, which leads to the heat island effect, the new proposed Official Community Plan contains policies to green our community.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Drinking Water Conservation – Lawn Watering Regulations

A few weeks ago, someone reached out to me about the lawn watering regulations in Langley City. As Langley City is part of the Metro Vancouver Regional District, our water comes from the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam reservoirs. Langley City aligns its water use regulations with the regional district’s regulations.

You can have a healthy lawn even with watering restrictions.

For up-to-date information, please visit the regional district’s lawn watering regulations page. The water regulations page also contains links to having a great lawn or garden that conserves water. There is even information on Nutrifor Landscaping Soil which is a product of our regional sewer treatment process.

Stage 1 water restrictions are always in effect between May 1st and October 15th.

Stage 1 restrictions are as follows for residential properties:
Even-numbered addresses: Wednesday, Saturday mornings 4 am - 9 am
Odd-numbered addresses: Thursday, Sunday mornings 4 am - 9 am

You can water trees, shrubs and flowers any day, from 4 am to 9 am if using a sprinkler, or any time if hand watering or using drip irrigation. All hoses must have an automatic shut-off device. Edible plants are exempt from regulations.

For commercial property regulations and information on what stage we are in, be sure to check out the lawn watering regulations page.

If you are curious, you can view real-time drinking water reservoirs levels on Metro Vancouver’s website.

Metro Vancouver Drinking Water Reservoirs Levels Example. Select image to enlarge.