Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Development Matters Addressed at Monday Night’s Council Meeting

Langley City Council gave final reading to rezoning bylaws and approved issuing development permits for the following projects at its Monday afternoon meeting:

A 13-unit townhouse development at 5324, 5326, 5334 and 5336 198 Street

13-unit townhouse development on the corner of 198th Street adn 53rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

A 30-unit townhouse development at 5364-5380 198 Street & 19824 54 Avenue

A 30-unit townhouse development between 53rd Avenue and 54th Avenue on 198th Street. Select image to enlarge.

You can read more about these projects by following the links.

Council also held a public hearing on Monday night for a proposed 6-storey, 84-unit apartment at 5302 200 Street, 20030 53A Avenue, & 20011-20031 53 Avenue. I’ll post more about this project when Council considers the third reading of the rezoning bylaw to accommodate this proposed apartment at an upcoming council meeting.

Proposed apartment on the northeast corner of 53rd Avenue and 200th Street. Select image to enlarge.

No one attended the public hearing in person, but Council did receive two emails. One person commented that they’d rather see townhouses than apartments built in the area. Another person was concerned that the properties just north of the proposed apartment project would be left in an undevelopable state, what is often called “orphan lots.” A small house on Douglas Crescent between two commercial buildings in Downtown Langley is a perfect example of an orphan lot. City staff commented that the properties the person was concerned about could accommodate another apartment building and will not be orphaned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Proposed Langley City water, sewer, garbage, and dog licensing fee changes for 2023

It’s the start of budget season in Langley City. The part of the budget that Langley City Council addresses first is our water, sewer, and solid waste collection services. This is because the City bills high-volume water and sewer users multiple times per year.

Langley City needs to continue to invest in our water infrastructure. Many watermains are nearing the end of their useful lives. If the City doesn’t replace these watermain, they may fail, creating sinkholes and leaks. The City is proposing to increase the water rate by nine cents per cubic metre to $1.62 per cubic meter. This change is an average $29.70 increase for detached homeowners or $17.10 for strata homeowners per year.

Langley City purchases its water from the Metro Vancouver Regional District and sends its sewer to the Regional District for processing. The Regional District plans on doubling sewerage rates over the next several years to pay for upgrading sewer treatment plants. The City is proposing to increase the sewer rate by 15 cents per cubic metre to $1.56 per cubic metre. This change is an average $39.60 increase for detached homeowners or $22.80 for strata homeowners per year.

Detached homeowners receive garbage collection service from the City, while strata and commercial owners must use a private garbage collection service. The City is proposing to increase its service fee by $13 to $243 per year. This increase is due to Metro Vancouver Regional District fee increases, green waste processing fees increase, and our service provider’s fee increases, all due to inflation.

The City is also proposing to increase dog license fees by around 4~5%. These increases are due to annual inflationary increases built into our contract with the Langley Animal Protection Society, which enforces our animal control bylaw.

Finally, the City is proposing to increase various engineering and filming service fees to move them toward cost recovery. You can read more about these changes on Langley City’s website.

On Monday, Council gave first, second, and third readings to four bylaws about these fees.

Monday, December 5, 2022

TransLink Ridership is Recovering. Revenue Not Recovering as Fast.

Ridership of the transit system in Metro Vancouver continued to recover and was at 81.5% of pre-COVID levels as of October. People are using transit as part of their daily lives, whether going to school, shopping, recreation, or getting services. In fact, for all these purposes, ridership has fully recovered. With people still working hybrid or remotely, trips to the office as still 20% to 30% below pre-COVID levels. This reduction in office trips means that TransLink will have some challenges and opportunities.

2022/23 Transit Ridership Outlook. Select graph to enlarge.

The challenge is that fewer people are buying monthly passes, and more students are on discounted passes using transit. This change in fare product mix means that rider-for-rider TransLink is receiving less revenue. TransLink is also seeing fewer people use transit during peak periods.

The opportunity is that TransLink may be able to evaluate how it delivers transit service. It can continue to shift away from providing peak services oriented around getting people to Downtown Vancouver to providing a frequent all-day/night network. I know in the South of Fraser, many people work shifts. Having good transit service early in the morning and late at night is critical. TransLink is already reallocating service hours from lower-performing routes to better-performing routes.

Key Regional Transit Connections. Select map to enlarge.

One of the things that TransLink could consider is investing in key transit routes while carefully evaluating the need for some lower-frequency or commuter routes.

As a region will also have to look at how we fund transit, maybe relying less on fare revenue.

TransLink’s ridership continues to recover faster than other agencies in North America, even New York City! We have built a region where taking transit makes a lot of sense, so we must continue to invest in transit service.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Magic of Christmas Festival – This Weekend

People enjoying the Innes Corners Plaza Christmas Display

For the first time, Langley City will be hosting the Magic of Christmas Festival. This event takes place outdoors in the Timms Community Centre parking lot on Saturday, December 3rd, from Noon until 8:00 pm, as well as Sunday, December 4th, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

There will be Christmas crafts for kids and adults, a Santa letter-writing station, ice carving and snow sculptures, a beer garden, food trucks, and of course, a visit from Mr. and Ms. Claus (they know where the place to be is.)

The Langley Arts Council will be setting up an Artisan Craft Market running from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday. There will be over 40 artisan booths and a daily draw for 500 downtown dollars which you can use at participating Downtown Langley merchants.

There will be live Christmas music performances throughout Saturday and Sunday. Please visit Langley City’s website for the full list of artists and showtime.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Immigration by the numbers in Langley

Canada is a country of immigrants, and we continue to welcome people today.

Community Day

The federal government recently funded the Langley Local Immigration Partnership (LLIP). LLIP helps facilitate information sharing and coordination between agencies that provide settlement services for recent immigrants to Langley. Yesterday, I spent some time at their breakfast information-sharing event. I wanted to share some insights I learned.

The most significant driver of immigration is economic; there aren’t enough people in Canada to fill the available jobs. Canada also welcomes refugees and other people on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, about 20% of all people that come to Canada.

Outside of Ontario, Metro Vancouver to a top destination for immigration.

From the latest census data, 41.8% of people living in Metro Vancouver were born outside Canada. In Langley City, 23.3% of people living in the community were born outside Canada. 22.8% of people in the Township of Langley were born outside Canada.

Between the 2016 and 2021 censuses, Langley City and Township saw the fastest growth in immigrant populations in Metro Vancouver.

The top source countries for all immigrants in Langley City are India, the Philippines, the UK, and the US. In the Township of Langley, it is Korea, India, the UK, and China.

Monday, November 28, 2022

TransLink’s new Climate Action Plan. Reducing GHG Emissions, Building a Resilient System.

TransLink staff will present their Climate Action Plan to their board on Thursday. The plan is based on the objectives to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, with an interim reduction of 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and to ensure that its infrastructure and operations are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

TransLink will replace its current non-electric fleet with battery-electric buses and renewable natural gas buses to reduce GHG emissions. This change is already starting with Route 100, scheduled to be fully battery-electric by 2024. TransLink will also pilot renewable diesel buses.

TransLink also operates significant maintenance, control and storage facilities and will implement a Net Zero Facilities Strategy.

We are already seeing the impacts of climate change today. By 2050, we will see longer, more extreme heat waves, heavier rain and snow events, increased flooding, rising sea levels, and more storms.

An extreme snow event impacted the 555 bus route.

The Climate Action Plan outlines the infrastructure most at risk due to climate change, such as power substations, tunnels, bus maintenance and storage facilities, bridges, bus loops, and stations. TransLink will complete climate change risk assessments for all its infrastructure and processes and then incorporate mitigation measures into its operating procedures, asset management plans, and renewal plans.

TransLink’s seven-point Climate Action Plan. Select image to enlarge.

With hotter summers, TransLink will need to ensure that heat stress impacts are reduced for its staff. As such, it will research the “efficacy and feasibility of personal cooling technology and revised uniform specifications for Technician, SkyTrain Attendants, Operators, and Transit Police.”

TransLink will also improve cooling for its customers and start implementing shading infrastructure, such as cooling/misting systems and shade trees, in partnership with local governments. They will also update their Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines through the lens of climate resilience.

Partnership is essential. TransLink will work with Indigenous peoples, local governments, the provincial government, the federal government, and the private sector to advance climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

These actions are a small sample from the plan. You can read the complete plan in the December 1st TransLink Board Meeting Agenda.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Langley City September thru October Property Crime Map

Langley City September thru October Property Crime Map. Select image to enlarge.

I want to highlight some key points about the Langley City September through October property crime map. The majority of our population and essentially all brick-and-mortar businesses are located north of the Nickomekl River, so you would expect to see more incidents north of the river.

Theft from auto continues to be a challenge in our community. The advice of securing all things in your vehicle remains as relevant as ever. People will do a smash-and-grab for loose change or a garage clicker. Catalytic converter theft continues in Langley City, and that is categorized as theft from auto. At last night’s Crime Prevention Committee, we learn that a small, known group of people are responsible for these crimes but that getting a conviction in court is difficult.

Block Watch continues to have a positive impact on reducing property crime. For more information about Block Watch and how to set up one in your neighbourhood, call the Langley RCMP Detachment Block Watch coordinator at 604-532-3213.

Hopefully, the provincial government’s recent announcement to address repeat offenders based on the report “A Rapid Investigation into Repeat Offending and Random Stranger Violence in British Columbia” will reduce property crime.

Arson means any fire that is started, including fires that may be started by people who are living rough.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

November 21 Council Notes: External Auditor Appointed, Public Meeting Times

Yesterday, I posted about redevelopment matters that Langley City Council addressed at its Monday meeting. I will post about the remaining items addressed today.

Under BC law, municipalities must have their financials audited by an independent firm. BDO Canada LLP has been Langley City’s external financial auditor, but its current term has ended. The City put out a new tender for an external audit; BDO Canada LLP was the only firm to respond. We were budgeting $37,000 for BDO Canada’s services previously, but now we will be paying the following rates:

2022: $65,377
2023: $65,377
2024: $69,978
2025 & 2026: To be negotiated after the completion of the first three years.

Council asked Staff why the cost went up and was told it was due to inflations and general price increases in the market. Council approved BDO Canada LLP as our external auditor from 2022-26.

Council approved the following 2023 dates for its regular public meetings, which will start at 7 pm in person in the Langley City Council chambers:

January 16, 30
February 13, 27
March 6, 20
April 3, 17
May 1, 8
June 5, 19
July 10, 24
September 11, 25
October 16, 30
November 6, 20
December 4, 11

Council also approved moving the start time of the December 5 and December 12, 2022, public meetings from 3 pm via Zoom to 4 pm via Zoom to allow all members of Council to participate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

November 21 Council Notes: Duplex, Apartment by Nicomekl School, Garbage Enclosure

Langley City Council addressed three development matters at its meeting yesterday.

The first item was a Development Variance Application to allow a duplex to be built at 19907 53 Avenue. This neighbourhood has two-storey duplexes which have been around for over 30 years.

Front elevation drawing of a proposed duplex at 19907 53 Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Langley City Council received an email from a property owner in the area who is opposed to the duplex. At the meeting, Council heard from an owner concerned about the construction impact on his property. The appliance of the duplex noted how they would mitigate construction impacts and offered to provide his phone number to the concerned owner.

Council asked if the duplex project would impact future development in the area as the official community plan allows apartment buildings up to six storeys. Staff noted that it wouldn’t affect the ability to build future apartments in the area.

Council also asked how City staff would prevent illegal suites from being built, as the project has separate exterior entrances to the basement. City staff noted that they would work to ensure that suite-like elements aren’t included in the basement design and construction, and that they would likely require a convenient to be registered on the land title to prevent a suite.

Council approved the Development Variance Application.

Council also approved a Development Variance Application to allow the BC Kinsmen Housing Society to construct an enclosure to protect their garbage, recycling, and organics bins at 5525 209 Street. Due to confusion, Council received several emails from residents concerned that the property was being turned into a garbage dump. Staff addressed the concerns, noting that it was only to protect existing bins for the apartment complex.

Rendering of a proposed apartment at 5302 200 Street, 20030 53A Avenue, & 20011-20031 53 Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Council gave first and second reading for a rezoning which would enable a 6-storey, 84-unit apartment to be built on the northeast corner of 53rd Avenue and 200th Street. Before giving first and second reading, Council asked City staff several questions. Council asked how the Langley School District participates in planning for schools based on population growth and development. Staff noted that the School District works with the City to develop projections for students and that the School District is working on expanding Nicomekl Elementary School. Council also asked if there would be any safety improvements to the road as the proposed apartment is by a school. Staff noted that the City would be building a mid-block crosswalk by the school as part of redevelopment in the area.

Council also asked staff to forward questions to the project applicant about air conditioning within units, parking stall assignment, and green roof maintenance for the applicant to address at the public hearing, which the City will now be scheduling.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Langley Christmas Bureau needs your help to ensure all families have a Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree of Toys

The Langley Christmas Bureau helps ensure that all families with children in Langley City and Township have a festive holiday season.

Families receive one gift certificate, toy, and book per child, as well as a food hamper.

Over 100 volunteers and Langley City municipal staff support the Langley Christmas Bureau.

The number of families utilizing the Bureau has been steadily increasing. Last year, they supported 1,756 children.

The Bureau needs your help to raise $240,000 this year.

You can donate online at https://www.langleychristmasbureau.com/financial-donations/

You can also send a cheque to:
Langley Christmas Bureau
20399 Douglas Crescent
Langley, BC V3A 4B3

You can donate new toys or gift cards by dropping them off at Langley City Hall (20399 Douglas Crescent.) If you donate gift cards, write the dollar amount on them.

If you donate money, you will receive a tax receipt.

Help make a family’s holiday season a special one.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Inaugural Meeting of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council

Mayors’ Council

Yesterday, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation. Together with the TransLink board, it governs regional transportation and transit in Metro Vancouver.

The meeting started with a Cedar Brushing Ceremony, and we heard from Chief Rhonda Larrabee of Qayqayt First Nation and Michelle George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation about their family’s and their lived experiences.

Aftward, all members of the Mayors’ Council affirmed their Oath of Office. Brad West, Mayor of Port Coquitlam, was acclaimed chair of the Mayors’ Council. Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley put their names forward for vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council. The Council elected Mike Hurley as the vice-chair. The chair and vice-chair also sit on the TransLink board. The provincial government is working on updating legislation to allow a third member of the Mayors’ Council to sit on the TransLink board. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie was acclaimed as the choice for the third member by the Mayors’ Council to sit on the TransLink board once the provincial government updates TransLink’s governance.

Next, Kevin Quinn, the CEO of TransLink, provided a quick update to the Mayors’ Council. He noted that overall ridership was 81% of 2019 levels at the end of October, with weekday ridership at 74% and weekend ridership at 84%. He also stated that ridership is over 100% of 2019 levels in the South of the Fraser and Ridge-Meadows. Quinn said they recently increased transit service hours by 11% in the South of the Fraser. He said office work has fundamentally changed, and that will impact how transit service will be delivered going forward in our region. It will also affect how we fund transit. One of the systemic challenges that the Mayors’ Council must solve over the next year or so, with the province and the federal government, is getting stable funding for TransLink.

Quinn talked extensively about Bus Rapid Transit which is part of the new long-range plans for TransLink. I’ll be posting more about this over the coming months and years.

After the public meeting, Mayors’ Council members, including myself, attended an orientation workshop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Drinking from the Firehose: Langley City Council Orientation Workshop

One of the significant differences between BC local government councils, the federal parliament and the provincial legislature is that councils are continuing bodies. In parliament and the legislature, all committee work, bills, and motions are reset when an election is a call. After an election, they must restart from the beginning for any motions or bills they want to move forward.

For Council, we continue as if an election didn't occur. For example, if a rezoning application was at third reading, the new Council would consider fourth and final reading.

All the means that newly elected Councils need to get up to speed lightening fast.

Langley City Council has been going through a Council Orientation Workshop for the past two days and continuing today. This workshop is a much-needed refresher for those who served in the last term and is a crash course for newly elected councillors. Regardless of who, it is drinking from a firehose.

Council Orientation Binder

We started the workshop with the presentation "Congratulations! You are a Council Member - Now What?" We've reviewed the roles and responsibilities of Council, good governance, and the legal framework in which local governments operate.

We've received overview presentations about the City's various departments, including the RCMP; Fire-Rescue Service; Administration; Corporate Services; Development Services; Engineering, Park & Environment; and, Recreation, Culture & Community Services.

Some topics we dived deeper into included reviewing land-use planning, ethics, conflicts of interest, and financial management. We spent a good amount of time discussing the City's budget and financial planning process.

Today, we will focus on strategic planning and setting policy as a Council. This process is how we implement our ideas into projects and policies for City staff.

While the amount of information delivered during the workshop can be a bit overwhelming at times, both staff and those who served on Council previously will support all Council members as we get up to speed together.

Monday, November 14, 2022

We Need a New Approach: Unregulated Drug Poisoning, Pharmacies, and Drug Checking

Death caused by using unregulated and illicit drugs is still high in BC and the Fraser Health service area, including Langley City, though it has been trending down recently.

One of the challenges with unregulated drugs is that you never know what you get. Samples analyzed by the Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project found that while most samples contained what they said they were, up to 20% were mixed with other substances with concentrations all over the place. For example, drugs laced with fentanyl had a median concentration of 9.7% in the samples tested, but some samples had 0.1%, and others had 80% plus.

One way to help people is to expand access to rapid drug testing in a way that reduces stigma.

One of the ways to reduce stigma is to integrate testing into places and services that people always use. For example, going to the doctor, then going to the blood lab for a STI test has less stigma associated with it than going to a specific STI clinic. Everybody goes to the doctor and the blood lab.

The same should be with drug testing.

Right now, there are only two places to get drug tested in Langley City and Township, and both locations are within a 2 minutes walk of each other in Downtown Langley. The only location with regular hours is the Fraser Health - Public Health Building, which operates weekdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

The Fraser Health Public Health Building certainly isn’t a place that most people would go to, even if they could make it between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. While Downtown Langley may have some testing services, people in Aldergrove, Brookswood, Walnut Grove, and Willoughby are certainly not going to travel out of their way for drug testing.

How can we expand drug testing access and reduce the stigma associated with testing? Pharmacies.

A sign for a pharmacy

People go to pharmacies for various reasons, and accessing a pharmacy in BC is easy.

Pharmacies already help people with unregulated drug treatments, including Opioid Agonist Treatment. Pharmacies also know how to help with public health emergencies.

Pharmacies in BC could provide Take-Home Fentanyl Test Strips, including giving people consultation on how to use the test strips.

As long as there are unregulated drugs, people will overdose and tragically die. We need to expand access to testing services in a low-barrier, stigma-free environment. For me, this means looking at places where people already go to access health services. If pharmacies can help with COVID-19 testing, they can certainly help with unregulated drug testing.

I should point out that the opinions in the post are mine and don’t necessarily represent the views of Council or Langley City.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Langley City’s 40th Inaugural Council Meeting

The inaugural meeting of Langley City’s 40th Council occurred last night. The meeting started with the new Council being marched in with an honour guard and piper. We were honoured with songs from Kevin Kelly representing Kwantlen First Nation.

Councillors White (not seen), Albrecht, Wallace, Mayor Pachal, Councillors Mack, James, Solyom (Left to Right). Photo by Rob Bittner. Select image to enlarge.

One of the traditions in Langley City and many other cities in Canada is to have a Mayor’s Chain of Office. The chain has the City’s coast of arms, maple leaf, and wheat and sickle adornments. It is engraved with the names of every Mayor in the history of the City. After 40 Councils, my name is the last that will fit on the chain as it is. For future mayors, they will get a new or modified chain of office. The chain is only worn on the most formal of occasions, such as the inaugural Council meeting.

Mayor’s Chain of Office. Photo by Lois Dawson. Select image to enlarge.

Members of Council took oaths of office and gave their inaugural addresses. The common theme was coming together with our diverse experiences and backgrounds as a Council to address the challenges in our community and move Langley City forward to improve the quality of life and prosperity of residents and businesses.

You can watch the addresses from Mayor and Council on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0t0zSine-tA?t=1203

During this meeting Council appointed Councillor Albrecht to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board of Directors for 2022/23, with Councillor Wallace as the alternate. Council appointed Councillor Wallace to the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board for 2022/23, with Councillor Albrecht as the alternate.

Council also approved the Deputy Mayor’s schedule as follows:

November 5 - December 31, 2022: Councillor Mack
Jan.1 - February 28, 2023: Councillor Wallace
Mar.1 - April 30, 2023: Councillor White
May 1 - June 30, 2023: Councillor James
July 1 - August 31, 2023: Councillor Solyom
September 1 - October 31, 2023: Councillor Albrecht

The Deputy Mayor acts as the Mayor if the Mayor becomes unavailable for any reason.

Finally, Council approved returning to in-person Council meetings starting January 1, 2023. The reason for this delay is that the Langley Christmas Bureau will use the Council Chamber over the next month and a half.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Metro Vancouver Regional District’s $2.3 Billion 2023 Budget

No Trespassing Sign on Cleveland Dam at Capilano River Head

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has a significant budget, as it provides our region’s drinking water, sewage treatment, and solid waste management.

When you get your property tax bill, you might notice a line item called “METRO VANCOUVER.” This line item is only a small part of Metro Vancouver’s revenue.

Metro Vancouver fees are built into the water and sewer user fees on your property tax bill. In Langley City, about 60% of these fees go to the regional district, while the City uses the remaining fees to manage and upkeep the local distribution system.

Metro Vancouver’s solid waste fees are embedded into the City’s garbage rate or the rates of private garbage collection companies, as they pay a weight-based fee whenever they use a Metro Vancouver Transfer Station to drop off garbage.

The Regional District’s 2023 budget will be $2.3 billion, with $1.082 billion for operating costs and $1.247 billion for building and renewing infrastructure. For a comparison of scale, the City of Surrey’s overall budget was about $600 million, and Langley City’s overall budget was about $58 million in 2022.

The following graphics provide a high-level breakdown of the budget.

Overview of 2023 Metro Vancouver Budget. Select graphics to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

The 2023 budget will be about a 4.5% increase compared to the 2022 budget.

Please check out the full budget documentation at Metro Vancouver’s website for more information.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Proposed new provincial electoral district silences Langley City residents’ voices

Langley City resident Sandra Brynjolfson, myself, and Councillor Teri James at the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission public hearing yesterday. Select the image to enlarge.

The independent BC Electoral Boundaries Commission reviews the electoral districts for MLAs every other provincial election. The Commission is mainly concerned with ensuring that each district has similar populations and, as much as possible, contains the same “community of interest.” A “community of interest” doesn’t necessarily mean municipal boundaries but what people consider part of their daily life, including schools, places of worship, parks, recreation, shops, and services.

The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission released its preliminary report on electoral districts. Langley is growing from two to three electoral districts, but where they placed the boundaries needs adjustment.

This map shows the current electoral district, which includes Langley City.

Map showing the current Langley electoral district. Select map to enlarge.

This map shows the proposed new electoral district.

Map showing the proposed new Langley-Murrayville electoral district. Select map to enlarge.

When I think of my “community of interest,” it includes the Langley Regional City Centre. As shown in the map below, this area is a major urban centre for our regional district. It includes Willowbrook and Langley City.

Map of Langley Regional City Centre. Select map to enlarge.

I rarely left this area during the restrictions between 2020 and earlier this year. My family doctor and dentist are in Willowbrook. Even my post office pick-up is in Willowbrook. I frequently shop in both Langley City and Willowbrook. Of course, I shop in Langley City whenever possible.

With SkyTrain coming, the interconnection between Willowbrook and Langley City will strengthen further, though having 1/3rd of Willowbrook Mall in Langley City and 2/3rd in Willowbrook in the Township of Langley is a pretty strong connection today!

Even the delivery of housing services is integrated into the Langley Regional City Centre. For example, the Gateway of Hope emergency shelter is in Langley City, while supportive housing, which helps people transition from experiencing homelessness to being housed, is located in Willowbrook.

These on-the-ground realities are why I was shocked that the newly proposed electoral district cleaves the Langley Regional City Centre in half and tacts on Murrayville. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited, not driven through, Murrayville beyond going to the hospital.

The proposed electoral district skews heavily toward the rural areas of Langley, which means that the voice of Langley City residents may be lost in this proposed new electoral district.

For these reasons, I presented at a public hearing yesterday about the proposed new electoral district, asking that any new or adjusted electoral district keep the Langley Regional City Centre whole.

All people who attended the public hearing and provided feedback on the proposed electoral district with Langley City asked for the same thing. Keep the Langley Regional City Centre whole.

You can provide feedback online or attend a virtual public hearing. Please visit the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission website to find out how. You can provide your feedback by the end of November 22nd.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Remembrance Day Service in Douglas Park

Remembrance Day Service

Langley City will be hosting an in-person Remembrance Day service. The service will start at 10:50 am at the Douglas Park Cenotaph.

The order of service is:

Greetings - Emcee Jim McGregor
"O Canada"
Invocation Prayer - Pastor Steve Nicholson
Last Post - Steve Thompson
Two Minutes of Silence
In Flanders Field Poem - RCMP Constable
Lament - Piper Rob Duff
Rouse - Steve Thompson
Act of Remembrance - Emcee Jim McGregor
The Lord's Prayer & Scripture Reading - Pastor Steve Nicholson
"O God Our Help in Ages Past"
Act of Homage - Emcee Jim McGregor
Laying of the Wreaths - Official Wreaths followed by Community Wreaths
"Amazing Grace" - Piper Rob Duff
Benediction Pastor - Pastor Steve Nicholson
"God Save the King"

Please note that Douglas Crescent, from 204 Street to 206 Street, and a portion of Park Avenue will be closed from 6:30 am to 1:00 pm on Friday, November 11th.

For more information, please visit the Langley City website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Air Quality Advisories Trending Up in Metro Vancouver

The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently released a chart showing the number of air quality advisories issued per year over the last two decades.

Number of days of air quality advisories in the Lower Fraser Valley. Source: Metro Vancouver

The regional district issued fewer air quality advisories in the first decade than in the second decade. Between 2003 and 2012, there were 36 advisories issued. There were over double that between 2013 and this summer.

The two primary causes are ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Fine particulate matter is primarily caused by forest fires, while ground-level ozone occurs as a reaction between higher temperatures and fossil fuel, cannabis production, agricultural activitiy, and other solvent fumes. Both are increasing due to the impacts of climate change.

Metro Vancouver's new Climate 2050 plan calls for reducing volatile organic compounds such as fossil fuels, which should help reduce ground-level ozone.

Please read the Air Quality Advisories During the Summer of 2022 report for more information.

Monday, October 31, 2022

2023-25 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley

Public shower, laundry, and washroom facility in Port Alice

Recently, the Langley Housing & Homelessness Table, which includes representation from people in the community, non-profits, businesses, faith-based organizations, and government, completed a plan called “2023-2025 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley.

This plan addresses the needs of people in all of Langley, as homelessness doesn’t end at our municipal borders. Langley City or Township cannot act in isolation. We must work in a coordinated fashion.

The top action from this plan include:

  • Building a Community Service Hub to provide a central access point for community services and a safe place for individuals to go during the day. A community service hub would also provide toilets, showers, and laundry access.
  • Building more supportive housing with on-site services for people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness and complex care housing for people with overlapping mental health and substance use issues who need a level of support beyond existing housing options in Langley
  • Providing better support to help people transitioning out of youth government care, leaving health care and correctional facilities, and aging seniors on fixed incomes, including hiring workers to help people access appropriate community supports and services to prevent people from slipping through the cracks.
  • Building a second extreme weather response shelter in Langley.
  • Creating second-stage housing for women and children fleeing abusive relationships.
  • Strengthening partnerships with organizations developing housing to connect builders with government programs to accelerate the construction of affordable housing.
  • Creating public awareness programs to help people understand the experiences people in our community include around the impacts of stigma, challenges newcomers face, colonization and intergenerational trauma, traumatic brain injuries, adverse childhood experiences, and gender-based violence.
  • Advocate for increased staff to help support housing and homelessness services in Langley.

The plan includes case studies and other additional actions, and I recommend that you review the action plan.

Like any plan, the key will be in implementation. I know that the new Langley City Council will be reviewing this and other plans as we work to reduce homelessness in our community.

The 2023-2025 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley was informed by previous work completed, such as:

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Take Langley City’s Trashy Survey

Garbage Bin

Langley City has a mix of garbage-only containers and garbage and recycling containers in parks, trails, and along the street. In the fall of 2021, the City completed an audit of what people throw into these containers.

The City found that people threw a lot of pet waste into these bins; 44% of the waste in these bins was pet waste. Compostable waste was the next largest category of things people discarded at 23%. The study also found that many people were not sorting waste at the current garbage/recycling bins. This lack of sorting means that all things put into the garbage or recycling bins along the streets end up in the landfill or burned. In a previous post, you can read more about this and see more detailed information about the waste audit.

Our goal as a City and region is to divert waste from going to the landfill or being burned, so the City is working on how we can divert waste from our public containers. The City needs your help.

The City is asking people to take a 5-minute survey about public waste containers in our community.

The survey covers where you think the City should locate containers, how the City should handle pet and food waste, and what style of container would make it easier for you to sort waste, among other questions.

The survey is open until the end of the day on November 10th.

Take the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CoLPublicWaste

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

October 24 Council Notes: Budget Changes, Tax Exemptions, UBCM Grants

As I posted in September, Langley City Council amends its capital budget several times per year to account for revenue sources or project changes. The City might receive a grant for a project, or a project’s scope could change, for example. Council gave three readings to the most recent change to the capital budget at the September 19th meeting. Council provided an opportunity for people to give feedback on the proposed budget changes, either through email, mail or by appearing in person (via Zoom) at last Monday’s Council meeting. Council did not receive feedback, so Council gave final reading to the budget changes, approving them. You can learn more about the changes in a previous post.

Council also gave final reading to grant tax exemptions to certain charitable and non-profit organizations in our community. You can learn more about who received the tax exemption in a previous post.

At its September 19th meeting, Council approved City staff applying for a $24,600 grant administered by the Union of BC Municipalities to help with asset management. There was a mistake in the grant name, so Council approved a housekeeping motion directing staff to change from applying for the “UBCM Local Government Development Approvals Program” grant to the “UBCM 2022 Asset Management Planning Program”.

Council also approved staff applying to the “UBCM Community Preparedness Fund Volunteer & Composite Fire Departments Equipment & Training” grant for $25,356. If the City is successful in receiving the grant, the City will purchase new live fire training equipment and deliver two training programs each to 10 career and paid-on-call firefighters.

At the end of Monday’s Council meeting, each member of Council thanked those who served over the last four years who were not reelected.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

New “King Taps” to replace “Red Robin” at 200th and the Langley Bypass

Yesterday was the final meeting of the current Langley City Council. The recently elected Council’s first meeting is on November 7th, but because Councils are continuing bodies in BC, the business of City Hall continues uninterrupted.

Council issued a development permit for redeveloping what is currently a Red Robin restaurant at 6141 200 Street at the Langley Bypass into a new King Taps restaurant.

View of the building from the parking lot. Select the image to enlarge.

All projects requiring rezoning or a development permit go through an Advisory Design Panel, a committee of Council that includes landscape architects, architects, accessibility representatives, the RCMP, and general members.

The Design Panel made the following recommendations:

  • Review additional noise mitigation measures for the patios, including the potential for vertical elements
  • Consider a refresh of the existing landscaped areas
  • Provide more design interest to the 200 Street elevation, and the wood fa├žade adjacent to the seasonal patio in particular, such as through the use of branding, vertical landscaping, or additional architectural features
  • Review the security of the seasonal outdoor patio, including the use of physical barriers
  • Consider adjusting the accessible parking space-adjacent landscape strip, such as replacing it with a concrete seat wall
  • Provide an additional accessible parking space

Based on the feedback from the Design Panel, the project’s applicant increased the size of the landscaping strip next to the accessible parking spaces and increased the number of accessible parking spaces from two to three.

The applicant also updated the 200th Street frontage of the building.

Below is the initially proposed design.

The original design of the building fronting 200th Street. Select the image to enlarge.

The following is the updated design.

Updated design of building fronting 200th Street. Select the image to enlarge.

I was happy to see the building better integrated with 200th Street with the updated design. While this part of town is a typical shopping mall today, with SkyTrain coming, this area will become more walkable if it follows the trajectory of other mall sites by SkyTrain stations in our region. It is good to start building walkable, urban-designed buildings today in preparation.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Census finds the average age of Langley City’s population hasn’t changed

People at Community Day

With the increase in population in Langley City and the construction of new apartments and townhouses over the last five years, I’ve seen many more families, and our schools have been busier. Anecdotally, it would seem that the population of Langley City is getting younger, but is that the case?

The following table looks at the broad age groups of people living in Langley City from census data.

Age Range 2016 2021
0-14 years 15.1% 15.3%
15-64 years 65.7% 64.7%
65 years and older 19.2% 20.1%
85 years and older 3.3% 2.9%

In 2016, the average age was 42.5, and the median was 42.2. The average age was 42.5, and the median was 41.2 in 2021.

In Metro Vancouver, the average age was 41.0, and the median was 40.9 in 2016. The average age was 41.7, and the median was 40.8 in 2021. Ages in Langley City and Metro Vancouver have remained relatively consistent even as the population increases.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A mayor is not the president of a municipality

I was handing out postcards in one of the townhouse complexes in Langley City. A kid rode his bicycle up to me and said, “Hey, are you running to be president of Langley City?” I chuckled and said, no, I was running to be mayor. We had a conversation about what a mayor does.

I’ve watched many TV shows over the years. When a mayor is involved in the storyline, they often have absolute authority over their community alongside the sheriff.

In the US, many communities and states operate under the “strong mayor” system. The mayor is essentially the CEO of a municipality, having the ability to hire/fire management and broad authority to manage the day-to-day of a municipality. Councillors are like the board of directors, setting the budget and policy.

In BC, we operate under the “weak mayor” system. If councillors are like the board of directors, a mayor acts as the chair of the board. A mayor has one vote like every other councillor. Mayor and councillors hire a municipality’s Chief Administrative Office (CAO). The CAO is the only employee of the mayor and councillors and is responsible for hiring/firing management, managing the day-to-day of a municipality, and implementing the budget and policies of council.

As the chair, a mayor has several important responsibilities to enable a productive council. The first is to act as a council facilitator, working to ensure that council is operating smoothly, that all councillors are empowered, and that council does not end up in deadlocks or dysfunction.

The second is to act as the representative of council, working with the CAO to implement council policies in the municipality.

The third is officially representing the municipality with residents and business owners, at events, or with the province and federal government.

In Metro Vancouver, mayors are also appointed by provincial legislation to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, which oversees TransLink.

In BC, mayors have some special authority that councillors do not.

Mayors can:

  • Establish standing committees to consider any matter, and report back to council their findings
  • Suspend municipal officers and employees, though a majority vote of council can override the suspension
  • Schedule a council meeting
  • Have council reconsider a matter or re-vote on a matter

While a mayor in BC does have a lot of responsibilities and some special authority, it doesn’t reflect what you see on many TV shows and movies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Inaugural Langley City Council Meeting November 7th

Over the past few days, I’ve had a few people inquire about the inaugural Langley City Council meeting. This meeting is when Council will swear their Oaths of Office, and the Mayor will participate in the Mayor Chain ceremony.

This inaugural meeting is a public Council meeting, so anyone is free to attend.

The details are:
Monday, November 7th
7:00 pm
Langley City Council Chamber
20399 Douglas Crescent

You may want to arrive at least 15 minutes early as the inaugural council meeting usually is well attended.

Interestingly, the current Council has one more meeting on October 24th. Unlike at the provincial or the federal level, where after an election, all policies that are in progress die, City Council is a continuing body. This continuation means that any motions and bylaws in progress continue forward; if a bylaw were at its third reading today, its next step would be the fourth and final reading under the new Council.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Surrey Langley SkyTrain Extension Update

Surrey Central SkyTrain Entrance

The provincial government is in the process of building a SkyTrain extension to Langley City along Fraser Highway. TransLink regularly provides updates about the project to its board which I wanted to share below.

July 2021 — Prime Minister Trudeau announced $1.3 billion in federal funding to extend the Expo Line 16 kilometres from Surrey City Centre to Langley Centre. The total project cost estimate prepared by the Province is $3.94 billion.
September 2021 — the TransLink Board approved committing up to $150M to the early property acquisition and review of a future OMC5 [SkyTrain Maintaintaince and Storage Facality in the South of Fraser] to support operations of the SLS extension and provide long-term train storage and maintenance capacity for the Expo and Millennium Line network.
October 2021 — the Province announced it was delivering the Surrey Langley SkyTrain (SLS) Project and the Project would be delivered in a single phase to Langley Centre. TransLink completed the transfer of staff and professional services contracts to the Province. An Assignment and Assumption Agreement between TransLink and the Province was executed on November 18, 2021, completing the transfer of staff and professional services contracts.
May 26, 2022 — The 2022 Investment Plan approved by the Board and Mayors’ Council includes the Surrey Langley SkyTrain to be delivered by the Province and construction of Operations and Maintenance Centre 5 to support the expanded SkyTrain Network.
July 14, 2022 — The approval of the business case is announced. The Province will deliver the project in three procurement packages: Guideway (Design-Build-Finance), Stations (Design-Build), and Systems & Trackwork (Target Price). Procurement would include a request for qualification (RFQ), shortlist of proponents, and Request for Proposals (RFP) prior to selecting the preferred proponent and award of each procurement package.
August 2, 2022 — Request for Qualifications for the Guideway contract is issued. The project brief identifies the Request for Proposals is targeted for release in January 2023.
October 3, 2022 — Request for Qualifications for construction of eight new SkyTrain stations, including active transportation elements, such as cycling and walking paths around the stations is issued. The project brief identifies the Request for Proposals is targeted for release in January 2023.

The project's construction is expected to begin in 2024 and be in operation in late 2028.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Small Changes, Big Results for Active Transportation in Langley City

Simple changes can make the biggest difference in improving a community's walkability. For example, a few years ago, the City repealed a policy that prevented the installation of mid-block crosswalks. This change has resulted in new crosswalks at Sendall Gardens at Grade Crescent and now a new crosswalk at Brydon Lagoon and 53rd Avenue.

Crosswalk at Brydon Lagoon on 53rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Crosswalk at Sendall Gardens on Grade Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

These crosswalks improve the safety of people walking, cycling, and wheeling.

The City also has a history of building walking connectors to shorten walking distances on otherwise dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs.

The City recently put in a sidewalk through the 196th Street sound wall at 55A Avenue. If someone wanted to get to 56th Avenue and 196th Street before on public streets, they would have to walk 1 kilometre out of the way back to 198th, which added 10 minutes to what would otherwise be a short walk. Why does this matter? A new SkyTrain station will be at the end of the 196th Street overpass at Willowbrook Mall.

Sidewalk through to 196th Street from 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

These small improvements help give people options and support active transportation.