Monday, January 24, 2022

Request for Service – Your Direct Connection to Langley City Staff

Langley City Operations Centre

People regularly reach out to me regarding concerns they would like someone in Langley City Hall to address. Most matters can be addressed promptly via the City’s online Request for Service portal.

Is there a burnt-out street light that needs repair?

Does a City garbage can need emptying?

Does a sidewalk need repair?

Is there a pothole that needs patching?

Is water coming out of the ground where it shouldn’t?

Does vandalism need to be cleaned up?

Is there an abandoned camp that needs removal?

Is a property unsightly?

Is a No Parking sign or Loading Zone sign needed?

The City’s Request for Service portal can help you get in touch with the right people to get your matter resolved promptly.

You can also report other matters such as with construction sites, illegal suites, and business licensing.

Bookmark: https://rfs.langleycity.ca/

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Arts and Culture in Langley City: Virtual Gallery Now Open

Please check out Langley City’s 2nd annual virtual exhibition, “ELEMENTAL: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water.” This virtual gallery features works from local artists and runs until the end of this month.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Updating Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy: What’s Not Working

Mixed-use development in White Rock under construction

Today, I’ll be continuing my post about Metro Vancouver Regional District’s proposed updated regional growth strategy, “Metro 2050.Please read part 1.

While the comments the regional district has received from member municipalities and other stakeholders have been mainly supportive, there are some areas of concern.

Each successive regional growth strategy has become more prescriptive to ensure the success of regional goals.

The Livable Region Strategic Plan from the 90s was big on vision but light on how member municipalities could achieve that vision.

Metro 2050 prescriptiveness ensures that the regional district can meet our shared goals.

For example, to help achieve the goal of focusing growth in existing urban areas, the draft regional growth strategy states that member municipalities must “reduce residential and commercial parking requirements in Urban Centres and Frequent Transit Development Areas and consider the use of parking maximums.”

Sometimes, this prescriptiveness is unhelpful. For example, regional district staff proposed a complex hierarchy of Frequent Transit Development Areas. Several member municipalities and stakeholders, including Langley City Council, thought it was confusing and didn’t seem to help further regional goals.

Other areas of concern include:

  • The regional affordable housing target of 15% target being not enough or too much
  • Enabling limited residential uses on Employment Lands (Office Parks/Industrial Areas) that are within 200m of rapid transit stations

As a result, Metro Vancouver staff will remove the Frequent Transit Development Area Sub-Types section and update wording around affordable housing targets, clarifying that it is a region-wide, not a municipal target, from Metro 2050.

For residential uses on Employment Lands, Metro Vancouver staff are updating the draft of Metro 2050 to limit it to accessory caretaker units or allowing residential uses located only on the upper floors of buildings with commercial and light industrial on the ground floor within 200 metres of a rapid transit station.

Metro 2050 will contain additional content related to Indigenous perspectives and priorities.

Other proposed changes to the draft of Metro 2050 are either minor or technical. In the January 14, 2022 Metro Vancouver Regional Regional Planning Committee Agenda, you can read more.

Of interest is that Surrey Council did not submit any feedback about Metro 2050 and requested that regional district staff “schedule a workshop with Surrey Council to provide an opportunity to review and ask questions regarding the draft Regional Growth Strategy.”

Hopefully, it will be a productive workshop. Metro Vancouver staff are also working with the District of North Vancouver and Coquitlam to work through their concerns.

As I noted yesterday, all member municpalities and treaty First Nation must approve the regional growth strategy. If Surrey, the District of North Vancouver, or Coquitlam Councils do not support Metro 2050, it will not move forward.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Updating Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy: What’s Working

Surrey City Hall

In BC, every municapicality must have an official community plan. Langley City recently adopted a new official community plan with the following goals:

Affordable living & diverse housing for all generations
A highly connected city aligned with rapid transit
A safe and inclusive city rich with community amenities
A responsive economy that creates new jobs
Environmental solutions to fight climate change

Langley City’s new development, bylaws, and policies must be consistent with its official community plan.

The provincial government requires that the Metro Vancouver Regional District adopt a regional growth strategy. All member municipalities’ official community plans must be consistent with the regional growth strategy.

The regional district is adopting a new regional growth strategy called “Metro 2050.” The 123-page document has five main goals:

Create a Compact Urban Area
Support a Sustainable Economy
Protect the Environment and Respond to Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Provide Diverse and Affordable Housing Choices
Support Sustainable Transportation Choices

At a high level, Langley City’s official community plan aligns with the proposed new regional growth strategy.

To adopt the new regional growth strategy, all 21 municipalities and one Treaty First Nation in Metro Vancouver must approve it.

Langley City Council or Anmore Village Council could block the adoption of the new regional growth strategy as it must be unanimously approved.

Metro Vancouver is now seeking official feedback from all its members. In December, Langley City Council provided its input, stating “the City strongly supports Metro Vancouver’s initiative to update the regional growth strategy.” There were also some suggested improvements.

So far, Metro Vancouver Regional District members and stakeholders support the following updates:

  • Linking land use and transportation planning through Major Transit Growth Corridors
  • Setting Urban Centre and Frequent Transit Development Area growth targets
  • Supporting infill development in transit-oriented neighbourhoods
  • Creating compact, complete communities and transit-oriented development
  • Having greater engagement with and integration of local First Nation planning and interests
  • Enhancing ecosystem protection with an emphasis on urban tree canopy cover expansion
  • Continuing protection of agricultural lands
  • Using an equity lens to address social issues and the needs of vulnerable populations
  • Building resilience by focusing on flood risk and other natural hazard mitigation
  • Creating rental and affordable housing policies, including targets
  • Setting climate actions targets such as greenhouse gas reduction targets
  • Including advocacy actions to other levels of government around housing affordability and income assistance.

Tomorrow, I’ll post about some areas of concern and what the regional district is doing to address those concerns.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Langley City Protective Services Expenditures One of Highest in Metro Vancouver

Community Policing Office

Protective services are the top category of expenditures for Langley City. Protective services include policing services, fire and rescue services, Langley Youth & Family Services, dog control, emergency planning, search & rescue, and victim/witness services.

How does Langley City compare to other municipalities in Metro Vancouver?

Per capita expenditures in protective services in 2020. Select chart to enlarge.

Langley City has one of the highest per capita expenditures for protective services in Metro Vancouver at $670.26 in 2020, the year where the latest information is available region-wide.

Our neighbours in the Township paid $396.63 per person, and in Surrey, $404.78 per person.

The following table shows the breakdown for all municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

Municipality Population Cost Per Capita
   West Vancouver 43805 $35,276,293.00 $805.30
   Delta 111281 $82,645,612.00 $742.67
   Vancouver 697266 $478,747,000.00 $686.61
   Langley City 27774 $18,615,742.00 $670.26
   Port Moody 35151 $20,472,997.00 $582.43
   White Rock 20922 $11,992,616.00 $573.21
   New Westminster 82590 $46,027,403.00 $557.30
   North Vancouver, District 89767 $49,232,455.00 $548.45
   Richmond 216046 $109,703,763.00 $507.78
   Port Coquitlam 63508 $31,353,478.00 $493.69
   Coquitlam 152734 $71,349,595.00 $467.15
   Burnaby 257926 $120,277,532.00 $466.33
   Pitt Meadows 19717 $8,876,997.00 $450.22
   North Vancouver, City 58985 $26,534,131.00 $449.85
   Maple Ridge 91479 $38,567,159.00 $421.60
   Surrey 598530 $242,273,000.00 $404.78
   Langley, Township 133302 $52,872,000.00 $396.63
   Lions Bay 1357 $456,089.00 $336.10
   Bowen Island 3982 $977,738.00 $245.54
   Belcarra 673 $96,440.00 $143.30
   Anmore 2412 $189,186.00 $78.44

Source: BC Population estimates and BC Municipal general and financial statistics.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Langley City projects on-the-go including 200th Street sewer

In Metro Vancouver, many municipal projects can continue throughout the winter months when temperatures are above zero. With the recent “Christmas freeze” gone, work is picking up on these projects again. One of the significant City projects is replacing the sanitary sewer under 200th Street. For the next two weeks, construction work will be moving south of 49th Avenue and include a section under Grade Crescent. Please expect delays.

200th Street Sanitary Sewer. Select image to enlarge. Photo Source: Langley City

The 208th Street Safer Cycling Project is also progressing with work to complete the protected bike lanes across the 208th Street bridge at the Nicomekl River.

208th Street Causeway Safer Cycling Project. Select image to enlarge. Photo Source: Langley City

The Glover Road Safer Cycling and Underground Utility Replacement Project has progressed despite the weather. Streets typically have two layers of asphalt. To ensure its long life, asphalt requires dry weather with temperatures above 12. The City’s contractor put the first layer down before the cold weather. The contractor will put the top layer on during the spring when it warms up.

Glover Road Safer Cycling Project. Select image to enlarge. Photo Source: Langley City

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Langley City Committee and Task Group Appointments for 2022

Langley City has a variety of committees and task groups where members of the public can volunteer. These groups help inform the policies of the City and make things happen.

Langley City Council appointed new people to task groups and committees as follows:

Advisory Design Panel - One year term:
Scott Thompson*, resident member at large
Leslie Koole, resident member at large

Arts & Culture Task Group - One year term:
Dena Ojaghi, youth representative

Crime Prevention Task Group - One year term:
Lew Murphy, member at large
Don Osborne, member at large
Scott Thompson*, member at large
Natalie Selvage, youth representative

Environmental Task Group - One year term:
Marcela Ferreira, member at large
Amika Watari, post secondary representative

CP Community Advisory Panel - Two year term:
Rob Chorney, resident member at large

Board of Variance – Three year term:
Angie MacDonald, board member
Jim Wuest, board member

Please visit Langley City’s website for more information, including how you can volunteer.

Langley City Council members also serve on committees and task groups as well as external bodies such as the Langley Local Immigration Partnership and Fraser Health Municipal Advisory Council. For the list of 2022 appointments approved at the last council meeting, please read, “Delegates and Representatives Appointments.” As a note, Councillor Albrecht was appointed co-chair of the Crime Prevention Task Group and Councillor Storteboom as the alternate for the Langley Human Dignity Coalition.

*These are two different people.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Council gives first and second reading to update zoning bylaw to allow Ladyluck Tattoo to relocate

Langley City’s zoning bylaw requires a 400-metre separation distance between a new business and existing businesses in specific categories to help promote a variety of retail service-oriented businesses in our community. Tattoo parlours are one of those categories of businesses.

In December, Council gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw which, if given final reading, would enable the redevelopment of the property located at 20785 Fraser Highway to build a 6-storey mixed-use building.

Ladyluck Tattoo is located at 20785 Fraser Highway, and as a result of this possible redevelopment, the owner found a new location within Langley City to relocate their business. Ladyluck Tattoo has operated in our community for 27 years, but because of the 400-metre separation distance requirement, they would not be able to relocate within Langley City.

Council’s intent, requiring a 400-metre separation distance for certain service-oriented businesses, is to create a diverse service-oriented business community. The intent is not to force an owner to go out of business in Langley City.

As a result, Langley City staff have worked with the owner of Ladyluck Tattoo to propose an update to our zoning bylaw, allowing the business to relocate to 103 – 20258 Fraser Highway and move back to 20785 Fraser Highway if and when that project completes.

Council gave first and second reading to update our zoning bylaw to allow the relocation of Ladyluck Tattoo. Council will also hold an extra council meeting this month to ensure that this proposed update to the zoning bylaw could be adopted before Ladyluck Tattoo has to move.

As an aside, one of the reasons why I love living in Langley City is that we are small enough that each business and resident has the opportunity to be heard by Council and City staff personally.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Langley City needs to improve its snow game

200th Street sidewalk near 56th Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

In Metro Vancouver, we tend to get under a month of snow. But when it does snow, it dumps. In Langley City, we do not hire more crews to maintain our roads and sidewalks when it snows. Crews are retasked from other work to plough our roads and select sidewalks/walkways.

When it comes to our roadways, I know we have some of the best in the region when it comes to snow removal and winter maintenance. Sidewalks and bike lanes are another story.

When a sidewalk is along the perimeter of private property, the private property owner or tenant must clear snow off sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall event.

The City does not perform winter maintenance on separated bike lanes.

Previously, I lived near 204th Street and 53rd Avenue. For the most part, property owners in that neighbourhood, which includes Downtown Langley, removed snow off their sidewalks in a timely fashion.

This year, I moved to the end of 55A Avenue near Surrey. As someone who does a lot of walking, I can tell you that sidewalk snow removal is hit or miss in this part of town.

The significant issues are along 200th Street and 56th Avenue. Many commercial property owners and their tenants do not remove the snow on sidewalks along their properties. The City maintained sidewalks are “proirty two” in the area.

As someone who is able-bodied and has snow gear, I was able to trudge through the snow for the first day or two after a snowfall. But as the temperature hoovers around zero in Langley City, these sidewalks quickly turn icy, creating slipping hazards. I cannot count the number of times I’ve almost fallen onto my butt these past few weeks when using some of these unmaintained sidewalks.

As a City, we want to build a community with universal access. The means that everyone, including people with limited mobility, who use scooters or use other mobility devices, should be able to use sidewalks safely. 200th Street and 56th Avenue today are not universally accessible when it snows.

Langley City’s new Official Community Plan speaks to prioritizing walking and mobility aids; bicycling and rolling; and public transit.

So, what should we do?

As I noted, Langley City crews are already super busy when it snows, so we cannot ask them to do more.

The first step is to create an ongoing education campaign to inform commercial and industrial property owners that City bylaws require that they remove snow off sidewalks along their properties.

City council may also need to consider increasing the snow removal budget and purchasing equipment, allowing City crews to get to “priority two” sidewalks faster and clear separated bike lanes.

With climate change, our winters are becoming more intense. Heavy snowfall will be more frequent over the coming years.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Everything you need to know about snow removal in Langley City

In Langley City, sometimes we have little to no snow in the winter, sometimes we have a lot. This year we have a lot.

Road with snow

As a reminder, City bylaws require that owners remove snow from the sidewalks around their property within 24 hours of fresh snow. If a property owner doesn’t remove snow, you can use the City’s Request for Service tool, selecting “Sidewalks & Walkways” as the “Request Type” and “Complaints” as the “Request Subtype.”

Some sidewalks are the City’s responsibility to clear. The following map shows which locations and their priority.

Sidewalk & Parking Lot Snow Removal Map. Select map to enlarge.

This next map shows the priority for snow removal for roads.

Snow & Ice Control Priority Map. Select map to enlarge.

City staff clear priority one routes and sidewalks first. Once staff clear priority one routes, they will clear priority two routes and sidewalks, and so forth.

The following map shows “frost routes.” These are priority salting areas as they are known to be slippery. Staff monitor and apply salt regularly to these areas.

Frost Route Map. Select map to enlarge.

The City’s salt supply is now limited, as with other municipalities in Metro Vancouver. Until the City receives its next salt supply, staff will only apply salt on “frost routes,” first, and second priority roads.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

TransLink is cutting some transit service though still committed to building reliable and frequent service

RapidBus

In 2020, TransLink and other transit agencies in Canada received time-limited government support to maintain transit service levels despite a massive drop in ridership. With TransLink’s proposed 2022 Business Plan, which includes its operating and capital budget, the agency will no longer have the extra funding to maintain transit service levels at 2019 levels.

While TransLink staff plans for ridership to return to 80% of 2019 levels by this fall, there will still be service cuts to transit routes throughout the region to balance their budget.

These cuts started on January 3. You can view the impacted routes on TransLink’s website.

The good news is that TransLink is mainly reducing the frequency of routes with 15-minute or better service. For example, the 555 Carvoth/Lougheed used to run every 12 minutes during peak periods. Now it will run every 15 minutes. The R1 King George Blvd will run every 10 minutes mid-day instead of every 7 to 8 minutes.

These frequency reductions are minor, and TransLink so far is not reducing the hours that transit routes operate or route that are not frequent.

Before 2020, TransLink made impressive gains in transit network coverage and frequency, attracting increased riders. Getting the funding to build-up the network took tremendous political effort over a decade.

If TransLink has to cut the frequent transit network or the hours that transit operates, it will create a negative feedback loop which would permanently erode transit ridership for a generation, further increasing congestion on our road network. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

The best way to increase transit ridership is to provide reliable, frequent, and direct service. These reasons are why I was happy to see that TransLink is still committed to building the frequent transit network.

For example, even when buses ran every 7 minutes, I would regularly wait up to 25 minutes for a bus at Surrey Central, having three buses for the same route show up at once due to bus bunching. TransLink will pilot “Advanced Headway Management” on a bus route this year. If it is successful, it will limit bus bunching, resulting in a more reliable transit network with possible reductions in operating costs.

TransLink is also committed to working with municipalities to ensure bus speed and reliability by adjusting bus stop locations. The is also funding for municipalities to support bus speed improvements. If it was like in previous years, it means building bus lanes, queue jumper lanes, and timing traffic signals to help speed buses through congestion.

I am cautiously optimistic that our transit network will continue to improve as long as TransLink doesn’t have to make deeper cuts to transit service and continues to invest in speeding buses up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

A bold agenda in Langley City for 2022

Brydon Lagoon

2022 is an election year for local governments, but in Langley City, it doesn’t mean that the work of Council or the City will be on pause. In fact, there are several significant policies City staff and Council will be working on this year.

Last year, Council passed Langley City’s new Official Community Plan. This plan will guide growth and significant policies over the coming decades. The Official Community Plan has the following themes:

  • Affordable living & diverse housing for all generations
  • A highly connected city aligned with rapid transit
  • A safe and inclusive city rich with community amenities
  • A responsive economy that creates new jobs
  • Environmental solutions to fight climate change

One of the significant ways to implement the Official Community Plan is through the Zoning Bylaw. Langley City staff, consultants, and Council are working on a new Zoning Bylaw, which may be adopted this year.

Two other critical enabling policies of the new Official Community Plan that staff and consultants are working on are the Parks, Recreations and Culture Master Plan and Master Transportation Plan.

Staff will also develop a Sustainability Framework this year as per Council’s Interm Strategic Plan.

Other critical studies and policies include:

  • A city-wide parking study to better manage on-street parking both in residential and commercial areas
  • A streetscape waste container study to help divert waste from landfill or incineration when placed in a City-owned bin on the street or in parks.
  • An urban forest management plan to help grow the tree canopy in Langley City to combat the heat island effect and mitigate impacts from climate change
  • A below-market rate rental policy to be applied when older purpose-built rental buildings undergo redevelopment to reduce displacement of people in our community

2022 will be a busy year, and I look forward to working on these important policies, plans, and bylaws with staff, the community, and others on Council to help improve people’s quality of life.