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.

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