Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Merry Christmas

I am taking a holiday break from blogging. I wish you a safe and Merry Christmas. See you in the new year!

Christmas in McBurney Plaza

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style In the air, there's a feeling of Christmas

Posted by Nathan Pachal on Saturday, December 18, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Safety Tip - Get the MedWatch Package, Use the Green Dot. It could help save your life.

Please be sure to share the following with friends, family, and your strata.

Select the flyer to print or download

The MedWatch Program was developed to ensure your vital medical information and health care wishes are available to Emergency Responders and Physicians in emergency situations.

For more information, please visit:

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Fraser Valley Regional Library vanquishes late fees


In April 2020, the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board temporarily suspended overdue fines to give people a break during the start of a challenging time.

The Fraser Valley Regional Library Board decided to eliminate overdue fines on January 1st, 2022, permanently.

This removal of fines is in line with other library systems throughout Canada.

As the Langley City library is a part of the Fraser Valley Regional Library, people who use that branch will never have to pay a fine again.

If you damage or lose something you borrow from the library, you’ll still have to pay for its replacement.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

December 13 Council Notes: Tenant relocation policy and other development matters

On Monday, Langely City Council gave first and second reading to a bylaw to enable a 6-storey, 96-unit apartment at 19701-19729 55A Avenue. Langley City staff will now schedule a public hearing for the new year.

Rendering of the proposed project at 19701-19729 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave third reading to amend the zoning bylaw for the following two projects. You can learn more about these projects in a previous post:

30-unit townhouse at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue
5-storey, 86-unit apartment at 20120-20170 53A Avenue

Council gave third reading to discharge Land Use Contract No. 03-73, which would enable the redevelopment of the current mixed-use apartments at 20785 Fraser Highway. As I posted earlier, this is a market rental building, but due to the age of the building and length of tenancy, many current residents pay rents well below the current market rental rates in Langley City. There are also long-term businesses in the building that will need to find a new home.

At the meeting, Council made it clear that the project proponent needs to follow our new tenant relocation policies to the letter. Council also suggested, though no action was taken, that we need to develop a business relocation policy.

Being told your tenancy will be ending is traumatic. People must have ample notice. Langley City’s tenant relocation policies state a developer must:

  • Have early communication with tenants about any redevelopment plan
  • Designate a tenant relocation coordinator
  • Provide financial compensation to tenants based on the length of tenancy and Residential Tenancy Act
  • Provide an insured moving company or a flat rate payout for moving expenses at the applicant’s choice
  • Assist tenants in finding new accommodations and relocation
  • Give existing tenants the Right of First Refusal to move back into the new building or at the new non-market rents in circumstances when the replacement unit is social housing

In addition, the developer must work to ensure that any vulnerable tenants such as persons with disabilities, seniors, or people with mental health challenges have additional support.

For this project, Whitetail Home provided early communication starting at the end of September. Council still needs to consider the approval of a development permit and final reading to discharge the land use contract. The earliest Council would consider final reading and issue the development permit would be in February. Whitetail must apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for authorization to provide a four-month Notice to End Tenancy only after the City has issued all permits. Given these facts, the earliest people’s tenancy could end is in the summer of 2022.

As a note, Council directed staff at a previous meeting to include in the 2022 budget funding to develop a below-market-rate rental policy to be applied when older purpose-built rental buildings undergo redevelopment. This policy will ensure that we maintain affordable rents in our community.

Council also gave final reading to amend the Fees and Charges Bylaw. You can learn more about the changes in a previous post.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Langley City Council directs staff to negotiate higher Community Amenity Contributions from developers

New development requires municipalities to improve existing infrastructure. This reason is why the provincial government allows municipalities to apply Developer Cost Charges (DCC) for redevelopment projects.

Unfortunately, provincial DCC regulations are highly restrictive (the province provides a 116-page book to help municipalities interrupt DCC regulations), and the provincial government has to vet every single project.

Some absurd examples of the silliness of DCC restrictions are that DCCs can be used to build a washroom or baseball diamond in a park, but cannot be used to build a spray park or a tennis court.

As a result, municipalities such as Langley City negotiate Community Amenity Contributions (CAC) as part of the rezoning process for proposed developments. The City uses CACs to improve infrastructure which is ineligible for DCCs, but must still be built due to growth.

Currently, Langley City negotiates a CAC of $2,000 per multi-family unit. Given the escalating costs of building infrastructure such as park improvements, Council passed an updated policy yesterday to direct staff to negotiate $4,000 per multi-family unit in buildings with a 2.5 FAR or lower. A FAR of 2.5 or lower would be your typical lower-rise apartment building in Langley City.

Council also directed staff to negotiate $5,000 per multi-family unit in buildings with a FAR between 2.6 and 3.0. This FAR is your typical mixed-use building in Langley City.

For buildings with a FAR above 3.0, Council directed staff to negotiate $6,000 per multi-family unit.

As density increases, the City must improve and build more infrastructure to ensure people have a good quality of life.

Because affordable housing is an amenity, Council directed staff to reduce CACs by 75% for rental units with 10% below market rents. This must be secure for the life of a building via a legally binding housing agreement.

For units with rents geared to income or deep-subsidizes such as in the Langley Lions buildings, Council has directed staff to wave CACs as long as these rents are secured via a housing agreement.

Monday, December 13, 2021

December 6 Council Meeting Notes: Furniture Store Expansion, Christmas Lights, and Regional Growth Strategy

Last Monday, Langley City Council issued a Development Permit to enable a 16,000 sq. ft. expansion of Jag’s Furniture on the Langley Bypass.

Site plan of proposed retail expansion at 20359 Langley Bypass. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes an accessibility representative, members of the public, architects and landscape architects, made the following recommendations which the project proponent accepted:

  • Add pedestrian paths on the parking lot surface
  • Swap accessible parking spot to locate closer to entrance
  • Add outdoor amenity area for employees
  • Add additional landscaping

Council also approved reimbursing the Downtown Langley Business Association $10,000 for providing Christmas lights along Fraser Highway from 201 Street to 203 Street. The City will own, store, and maintain these lights like other Christmas lights in our downtown.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is in the process of updating our Regional Growth Strategy. All municipal councils must agree to the strategy for it to be adopted. While the regional district has been consulting and working on the updated strategy for some time, we are now in the formal feedback portion of the strategy as it works its way towards what I hope is eventual adoption.

Langley City staff provided Council with a formal response to the regional district. While I disagreed with some of what City staff said about the proposed updated Regional Growth Strategy, I supported the letter. The overall staff criticism about the proposed regional growth strategy was that it was becoming too prescriptive. I believe this is good as the Regional Growth Strategy responds directly to regional challenges such as protecting industrial land, enhancing our natural environment to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and addressing affordable housing.

The letter stated, “the City strongly supports Metro Vancouver’s initiative to update the regional growth strategy and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this vital process at the Board, committee and staff levels. Langley City Council and staff look forward to continued cooperation and dialogue with the region as we progress towards adopting Metro Vancouver 2050.”

You can read the full letter on Langley City’s website.

Langley City Council also adopted a new policy on advisory bodies. This housekeeping policy defines the roles and responsibilities of various committees and task groups that the mayor, councillors, staff, and others sit on.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Public Hearing: 30-unit townhouse project by Brydon Park. 5-storey, 86-unit apartment at 53A Ave and 201A St.

Today, I will continue posting about Monday’s Public Hearing. You can read a previous post for part one.

The second proposed development project was a 30-unit townhouse development with all double-wide garages at 5364-5380 198 St. & 19824 54 Ave.

Rendering of proposed townhouse project at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of proposed townhouse project at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel (made up of members of the public, architects, and landscape architects) made the following recommendations which the project’s proponent accepted:

  • Utilize a richer, warmer palette of colours, tones and materials
  • Increase or accentuate articulation on building faces to differentiate massing and floorplate of individual units
  • Update the rooflines at the ends of the townhouse groups to reduce apparent sizing
  • Increase width of east-west sidewalk through site and use distinct paving pattern to highlight sidewalk location across driveway
  • Ensure clear sightlines for accessible parking space near 54 Avenue
  • Ensure addressing enables efficient emergency response access
  • Install 6-foot durable privacy fence along east property line
  • Add taller landscaping to provide some screening of patios from 198 Street for TH3 Block

At the public hearing, one resident expressed concern about the shadowing the townhouses would cause on his property and its impact on his quality of life. Another resident was happy to see that there was a gate limiting access through the site to 53A Avenue, as well as that all proposed units had double-wide garages. She also highlighted the importance of trees to help with shading in the summer.

I asked the proponent if they would go beyond the BC Building Code to reduce impact sounds between units. The proponent noted that impact sound wasn’t a big concern with newer townhouses. I told the proponent that I could hear when my neighbours use their stairs or close a door in my new townhouse.

At the public hearing, the third proposed development project was a 5-storey, 86-unit apartment development at 20120-20170 53A Avenue.

Rendering of proposed project at 20120-20170 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of proposed project at 20120-20170 53A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

The Advisory Design Panel made the following recommendations which the proponent accepted:

  • Add additional landscaping instead of a log structure
  • Increase number of larger trees on the podium level
  • Extend edge of amenity room solarium to the south
  • Update entry points to amenity room and storage lockers to improve accessibility and usability

Council received two pieces of written correspondence from residents in the area concerned about the build’s height blocking their view of Mount Baker, traffic and parking, and adding evergreen trees to the project.

Again, I asked the proponent if they would go beyond the BC Building Code to reduce impact sounds between units. The proponent stated that they built to BC Building Code which I took as a no.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Public Hearing: 6-storey mixed-use building at Fraser Highway and 208th Street

There were four projects where people had the formal opportunity to provide written and live feedback to Langely City Council on Monday. I’ll be posting about this over the next little bit.

One project where people provided feedback was for a proposed 6-storey, 200 apartment-unit with 16,400 sq. ft. of ground-level commercial, mixed-use building at 20785 Fraser Highway. It is at the site of the Poseidon Greek Restaurant and a current mixed-use building.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes members of the public, architects, and landscape architects, provided feedback, some of which I highlighted.

  • Modify the east breezeway between the back parking and Fraser Highway to improve sightlines and safety
  • Add a tree strip along 208 Street
  • Consider updating columns on balconies above brick façade
  • Consider updating the corner façade design
  • Use a green roof or reflective roof components
  • Add additional landscaping areas in the back parking area and amenity areas
  • Consider adding more ramps to get to the ground-level commercial units
  • Consider articulating façade along Fraser Highway between the commercial units
  • Consider widening the stair access to the breezeway at the corner of Fraser Highway and 208th Street
  • Consider adjusting ramp design to better integrate the corner plaza at Fraser Highway and 208th Street with the commercial units
  • Carry the brick treatment across the Fraser Highway façade at a more consistent level, utilize a richer brick texture
  • Ensure commercial units are primarily accessible from street-side
  • Consider the use of hanging commercial unit signs in arcade

The design panel spent a good amount of time talking amount the geometry of the building at the corner of 208th Street and Fraser Highway. While the project’s proponent didn’t update the geometry, they did add dark colour strips and LED strip lighting along the balcony edges at this corner. They also added a reflective roof to reduce the heat island effect.

Rendering of the proposed project at 20785 Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Due to space constraints, the project’s proponent did not add an articulating façade along Fraser Highway or additional ramps to improve access.

The project’s proponent incorporated the rest of the design panels recommendations into the project’s design.

Site plan of the proposed project at 20785 Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

I asked the proponent if they would go beyond the BC Building Code to reduce the impact sounds between residential units. The proponent told me they would build to code. I interpreted this as no. As I posted Monday, improving sound isolation between multi-family units is directly linked to improved mental health outcomes and increased quality of life.

One resident in the area wrote to Council expressing concern that this proposed project could increase traffic and reduce on-street parking in the area. They asked for a traffic study.

One resident who lives in one of the rental units in the building that the project’s proponent would demolish expressed extreme frustration and concern around the project’s proponent tenant relocation process. While this is a market rental building, it is an older building. The current rents paid by these tenants are significantly lower than current market rental rates in Langley City.

As a note, Council recently asked City staff to budget in 2022 for a below-market rate rental policy to be applied when older purpose-built rental buildings undergo redevelopment.

A commercial tenant also expressed concern about being evicted by the project’s proponent.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Water, Sewer, Garbage, Dog Licensing, and Timms Community Centre Fee Increases

At yesterday’s Langely City Council meeting, Council approved the new 2022 water, sewer, and garbage rates. The water rate is increasing by 9¢/m3, the sewer rate is increasing by 8¢/m3, and the garbage rate is increasing by $20 per year. You can read more in a previous post.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to update the Fees and Charges Bylaw.

Of interesting, the City is proposing to increase the dog licensing fees by one to five dollars depending on if you are a senior, pay early, and if your pet is neutered or spayed.

The annual Timms Community Centre games room or fitness track pass will increase from $10 to $20. While this is still a great value at about 5¢/day, for some younger people who use our games room, paying $20 to access the room may limit access. I asked City staff about this, and they told me that young people could apply for the Leisure Access Grant Program without needing their parents, which would provide a deep discount (up to 75%) for the pass. The City’s youth worker would help any young person complete the grant application.

Not everyone has a great home life, so providing low barrier access to our games room helps provide an escape for many young people. I’m glad that the Leisure Access Grant Program can mitigate the proposed fee increase.

The City is also introducing a $300 annual external trainer pass or $90/quarter pass for an external trainer and their client to use City facilities.

The City is increasing the business licensing fees by 3%, which happens automatically every year.

You can download a complete list of proposed fee increases from the City’s website.

Monday, December 6, 2021

The best neighbours are the ones you don’t hear. We need to do better in multifamily housing.

I’ve lived in multifamily housing in Langley City for almost all of my adult life. My first experience was living in the Wyndham Lane townhouses, which were new builds when I moved there in the 2000s. My second and longest time lived was in the Rivers Edge apartments for around 15 years. This building was constructed in the 1980s and was significantly rebuilt in the 2000s due to a fire. I purchased a new-build townhouse earlier this year and sold my apartment. I rented in The Landing apartments on Industrial Avenue, next to the fire hall, for around seven months. This weekend, I’ve moved into my new townhouse called Elevation at the end of 55A Avenue.

Townhouse Project in Langley City

One of the trade-offs of living in multifamily housing is that you can hear your neighbours from time to time. A building’s construction makes a big difference in how often and what kind of sounds you hear from your neighbours.

For example, in Rivers Edge, you could hear people’s footfalls, loud TVs, and even loud conversations. As a strata council member, one of the top complaints we received was neighour noise. We even had some people leave our building because of it.

In 2018, the BC Building Code started to include requirements around sound isolation in multifamily housing.

Without going into too much detail, there are two types of sound, airborne (when you talk or turn on your TV) and impact sounds (such as walking around or dropping things on the floor.)

The BC Building code only addresses airborne sounds, which is disappointing. While loud TVs and music is a concern, it is easy to remedy. You cannot tell people to stop walking. These impact sounds are more concerning when people are on different schedules.

For example, I’m up from around 5 am to 9 pm. I know my neighbours are up until midnight in my previous rental and new townhouse. I can tell because I hear footfalls. In the apartments, I could hear people walking on top of me, and in the townhouse, I can hear people using the stairs. Compared to my 1980s apartment, the sound transference is less, but still there.

There are simple ways to reduce impact noise in new construction, but it does require developers to spend a little more money to go beyond the BC Building Code. Sound clips, acoustic insulation, and noise damping compound between drywall layers dramatically reduce impact and bass sounds.

So why is reducing noise necessary? There is a strong correlation between noise and mental health.

In Langley City, Council and City Staff are in the process of updating our zoning and building bylaws. I will work to see if we can go beyond the BC Building code in our community to reduce impact noise between units in townhouses and apartments.

As our community continues to develop, we must address mitigating impact noise to improve people’s mental health.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Mentorship for BIPOC, LGBTQ2+, women, and youth considering running for local government

With local government elections less than a year away, some people may be considering running for council or mayor for the first time. One of the challenges in our region is that our council makeups don’t reflect the diversity of our communities.

When CBC investigated council makeups in Metro Vancouver, they found that less than 10% of councillors are visible minorities.

This lack of diversity means that as municipalities, we are missing out on perspectives that will help make our communities better places to live. It also means that as councils, we have blind spots that we could otherwise address if we had a more diverse makeup of people, with their unique lived experiences, in positions of power.

BIPOC, LGBTQ2+, women, and youth often face barriers beyond what others face to make a successful run for office and stay in office.

Mentorship is one way to help, and the site “Nominee” aims to connect mentors and mentees. I was happy to put myself down as a mentor, as were others on Langley City Council, such as Teri James and Rosemary Wallace. There are other councillors, MPPs, MLAs, and MPs from throughout Metro Vancouver, BC, and Canada.

The site does charge a fee, though the first 60 days are free. I don’t receive any compensation in connection with this site. It might be worth visiting the site if you are considering running for office. Optionally, you can also reach out to me directly as I don't charge a fee.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Help Shape Langley’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Your Input Requested.

New Al Anderson Memorial Pool Multipurpose Room

Langley City and the Township of Langley are jointly working on a Poverty Reduction Strategy for our community through the Langley Poverty Reduction Task Group. As one of the first steps in creating this strategy, the task group would like to understand people’s experiences living in Langley via a survey.

The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete, and people who complete the survey will be entered into a draw to win one of three $100 grocery store gift cards.

The task group would like to understand what makes Langley a good place to live and understand what barriers and challenges people face living in the community, including financial concerns. The task group would also like to understand what would help people overcome their barriers and challenges.

You can take the survey online at:

You can also pick up a paper copy of the survey at any Fraser Valley Regional Library branch in Langley.

If you have time, please take this survey and encourage others you know to take it. If you know someone with limited mobility and no Internet access, please pick up a survey at a library branch, so that they can complete it.

The survey is open until December 10th.

Please visit the City’s website to learn more about the “Live well in Langley” Poverty Reduction Strategy. The task group is planning to complete the strategy in the spring of 2022.