Monday, April 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

It does the trick!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Attending Langley City Council Meetings, Committee and Task Group Meetings

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following map shows the overall developed industrial land base.

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

This next map shows the remaining industrial land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Form and character include things such as:

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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