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.

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