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.