Wednesday, June 29, 2022

June 27 Meeting Notes: RCMP Budget, Apartment Project on 53rd, Fall Election

On Monday, Langely City Council gave first and second reading for a bylaw which would enable the development of a 5-storey, 93-unit rental apartment located at the corner of 53 Avenue and 201A Street. City staff will now schedule a public hearing about the proposed project.

Rendering of proposed apartment project at 20121, 20131, 20141, 20151, 20161, 20171 53 Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Council gave final reading for two bylaws for this fall’s local government election. These bylaws enable mail-in voting and update the procedures around using the automated vote-counting machine. You can read more about these bylaws in a previous post.

At its last meeting, Council deferred voting on providing the approval in principle for the City’s portion of the Langley RCMP’s proposed 2023 budget until we had a chance to talk to the Officer in Charge of the detachment. The proposed budget included a request for six additional police officers for a cost of $1.3 million extra per year. This cost would guarantee a 4% property tax increase in 2023. As I posted previously, this was a big ask without details around the six additional police officers.

Council heard from the Officer in Charge, who told us that he would be providing Council with a business case and staffing options for six additional police officers in the fall for Council to approve, modify or deny.

Based on this information, Council voted in favour of the approval in principle for the RCMP budget, noting that the approval is the maximum 2023 budget for the police. Council will debate the budget request in the winter as part of overall City 2023 budget discussions.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

June 27 Meeting Notes: Council Approves $430,344 for Designing Water, Sewer, and Roadway Projects


Projects to renew water and sewer lines, repave streets, or put in new sidewalks require detailed design and preparation before the first shovel goes into the ground. This preparation work can take months to years to complete, depending on the complexity.

Langley City Council approved issuing a contract to ISL Engineering and Land Services Ltd. for $430,344 to complete the detailed design work for the following projects.

Location of projects that are being designed. Select map to enlarge.

Site 1 – 20500 46A Avenue
Design the extension of the existing sidewalk and curb

Site 2 – 205 Street and 48 Avenue
Design sidewalk near HD Stafford Middle School

Site 3 – 206 Street/53A Avenue – Douglas Crescent to 51B Street
Design of watermain, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and roadworks, including sidewalks and bike lanes

Site 4 – 49 Avenue – 196 Street to 200 Street
Design of watermain, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer and possible roadworks, sidewalk, and bike lanes

Site 5 – 48 Avenue – 196 Street to 200 Street
Design of watermain and possible sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and roadworks, including sidewalks

Site 6 – 202 Street/ 203 Street/ 47 Avenue/ 46 Avenue
Design of watermain and roadworks and possible sanitary sewer and storm sewer

Site 7 – Grade Crescent – 200 Street to 208 Street
Design of watermain and possible sanitary sewer and storm sewer

Site 8 – Fraser Highway – Production Way to 208 Street
Design of watermain at Fraser Highway and possible storm sewer

Site 9 – 200 Street – 44 Avenue to 49 Avenue
Design of watermain and possible sanitary sewer and storm sewer

This design work will allow the City to properly budget and schedule the completion of these projects in future years.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Restoring Ecosystems in Metro Vancouver Regional Parks

Metro Vancouver Regional Parks serve several purposes, including enhancing and restoring native ecosystems. At the latest Regional Parks Committee meeting, Regional District staff highlighted some active restoration work within the regional parks system.

The following map shows restoration efforts throughout our region.

Regional Parks Ecological Restoration Project for 2022. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

The following map shows some of the reforestation work, replacing areas of old farm fields in Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley.

Campbell Valley Reforestation/Hedgerow Enhancement. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

Current Grass Field in Campbell Valley Regional Park Restoration Area. Select the picture to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

For more information, check out the Regional Parks Committee June 8th presentation.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Langley City Wants Your Feedback on Our Transportation Future

Traffic Light

Langley City is significantly updating its Master Transportation Plan. The new plan will be called Transportation 2045.

With SkyTrain coming, more people moving to our community, and no room to expand roads, we need new approaches to giving people easy, convenient and safe access to work, shops, schools, friends, and fun.

If you walk, roll, bike, take transit, or drive through Langley City, the City wants to hear from you.

Last fall, the City received public feedback to understand how people get around in our community and people’s top concerns. You can read the full feedback report for more information.

Based on what the City’s project team heard, they worked on developing a set of goals, strategies, and projects for Transportation 2045. The City now wants your feedback on them.

You can view the draft vision, then complete a 15-minute survey. You must complete the survey before July 1st.

Complete the Survey

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Langley City Accepts New Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy

Metro Vancouver Park Sign

Langley City is part of the Metro Vancouver Regional District. The District’s members include Tsawwassen First Nation, 21 municipalities, and several unincorporated areas, including around UBC.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District allows for the coordination and delivery of services more effectively than if each municipality did things on their own. Beyond services, the Regional District is also responsible for regional planning. The following video explains a bit more about regional planning.

Regional Services 2019 - Regional Planning from Metro Vancouver on Vimeo.

The Regional District has updated the regional plan called Metro 2050. The broad goals of the plan are to: create a compact urban area, support a sustainable economy, protect the environment, address climate change, respond to natural hazards, provide diverse and affordable housing choices, and support sustainable transportation choices.

For the updated regional plan to become enforceable, Tsawwassen First Nation and the 21 municipalities in Metro Vancouver must accept the plan. As you can imagine, this can be an effort.

Langley City Council voted to accept the Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy on June 13th.

Because Langley City just adopted a new Official Community Plan, the City worked with Metro Vancouver staff to ensure that it would be consistent with the new regional growth strategy.

If and when all Metro Vancouver Regional District members adopt Metro 2050, each member must prove its Official Community Plan is consistent with the regional plan through regional context statements.

I’m proud that Langley City’s Official Community Plan is mostly consistent with Metro 2050 and that we are already working towards some of the goals, such as ensuring that 15% of newly completed housing units built are affordable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Langley City’s Modern Asset Management Program for Roads, Water, Sewer and Drainage Systems

maintenance holes

About 22% of Langley City’s tangible capital assets are water, sewer, and drainage infrastructure. 38% of Langley City’s tangible capital assets are its transportation infrastructure, such as roads. These pieces of infrastructure are critical to the viability of our community.

While the City has been repairing and renewing these critical pieces of infrastructure, there is much work to do. Historically, municipalities did not have robust asset management programs; many were “winging it” with their critical infrastructure. This lack of asset management meant that cities were not maintaining and renewing infrastructure on an appropriate schedule. It also meant that cities didn’t even know about all of their infrastructures!

Langley City has been moving towards asset management best practices. In 2020, the City adopted a formal Asset Management Policy.

Langley City staff have been diligently mapping, verifying and identifying infrastructure over the last several years. You cannot have a good asset management program if you don’t know the state of repair of your infrastructure or what infrastructure you have.

City staff presented a report to City Council on the state of the asset management program at the last Council meeting.

City staff found that 5.2 km of water mains are end-of-life, and another 15 km is likely end-of-life due to the thickness of the mains, reducing from 20 mm when they were new to 7.5 mm today.

Staff also found 2.5 km of previously unknown storm sewer, including maintenance holes, which are now mapped.

The City uses a company called StreetScan which uses modern technology to map the condition of the roads, sidewalks, ramps, curbs, and medians without interrupting traffic or damaging transportation infrastructure.

Once City staff have mapped and determined the condition of Langley’s transportation, water, sewer, and drainage infrastructure, they will create asset management plans that use modern, best practices to maintain and renew the City’s infrastructure.

While not top of mind, maintaining our City’s assets with modern asset management plans will help keep costs down over the long run and reduce unplanned service interruptions to residents and businesses.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Langley City’s 2021 Financial Statements including Council Wages and Expenses

Langley City Hall

The provincial government requires local governments to produce an annual report, which includes among other things community grants given, permissive tax exemptions, financial statements, and a declaration of people disqualified from being on Langley City Council.

Council approved the 2021 Annual Report for Langley City. You can read the full report on Langley City’s website.

As per BC law, Council must also adopt an annual Statement of Financial Information that includes Council, employee, and suppliers’ remuneration. Council also approved the 2021 Statement of Financial Information.

The following shows Council 2021 salaries, expenses, and benefits. Benefits can include travel and accident insurance (required for all members of Council), extended health, and dental.

Name Remuneration Expenses Benefits Total
Mayor Val van den Broek $134,507 $7,481 $133 $142,121
Councillor Paul Albrecht $63,330 $1,133 $3,742 $68,205
Councillor Teri James $62,770 $1,036 $2,590 $66,396
Councillor Gayle Martin $62,770 $676 $1,874 $65,320
Councillor Nathan Pachal $60,528 $33 $133 $60,694
Councillor Rudy Storteboom $62,770 $888 $3,182 $66,840
Councillor Rosemary Wallace $62,770 $1,058 $3,742 $67,570

While I encourage you to read the complete financial statement, I wanted to highlight that the City also has $30 million in unused development cost charges. The City will use these funds for provincially approved road, water, sewer, storm sewer, and park projects that are required due to development in our community. In a previous post, you can read more about the complexities of development cost charges.

The City also has $45 million in reserve accounts, as shown.

Table of Statutory and Non-statutory Reserves. Select table to enlarge.

The City uses these funds for capital projects and future known operating expense increases. The Tax Stabilization fund provides a buffer for unknown expenses.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

June 13 Council Notes: Reconciliation, Election Bylaws, City Committees

With the fall municipal election coming up, Langley City staff are updating bylaws to support the election.

As I posted a few weeks ago, Langley City Council voted to amend the Sign Bylaw regarding political signs. Council gave final reading to amend the Sign Bylaw. Political signs are now limited to 4' by 4,' and people can only place political signs on private property where they have the owner's permission.

Council also gave first, second, and third readings to bylaws which will allow voting by mail, including updating the procedure to incorporate voting by mail into the automated vote-counting system.

Due to changes in traffic control regulations and inflation, Council approved an additional $12,000 for Community Day. The City will use this funding to cover the increased traffic control costs, equipment rentals, and entertainment costs.

Council approved investing $300 to allow the Crime Prevention Committee to purchase t-shirts to support their new "Block Walk" program. Volunteers will walk around an area, such as in and around Linwood Park, talking to residents and promoting the City's crime prevention programs.

Council passed two motions in support of building stronger relationships with Katzie, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Matsqui Nations, whose traditional and unceded territory is where Langley City is located.

The first motion was to incorporate a welcome phase from the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language into the start of every Council meeting. The second motion was to explore placing flags in front of City Hall from each of the four Nations.

Council appointed the following people to the newly expanded Arts, Recreation, Culture and Heritage Committee: Sandra Reams, Susan Magnusson, Mandy Marten, and Hanna Bennett.

As a note, Langley City received $534,333 from the provincial government. 100% of traffic fine revenue collected in the City goes towards funding the salaries of three RCMP officers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Langley RCMP asks for a $1.3 million budget increase next year after a $1.5 million increase this year

Langley City CPO

This year, many Langley City residents received their property tax bills and were surprised to see the extent of their property tax increase. Overall, Langley City’s portion of property tax increased by 4.35%. 4% of that property tax increase was for policing services which we contract to the RCMP.

You can read more in a previous post. The main driver of the $1.5 million increase in policing service costs was salary increases for RCMP members as part of their new collective agreement with the federal government.

On Monday, Langley City Council learned for the first time that the Officer in Charge of the Langley Detachment of the RCMP wants six additional RCMP members for Langley City and six additional members for the Township of Langley. We received a report asking that we pre-approve a $1.3 million increase to the policing service budget for 2023.

If approved, the policing budget in Langley City will have increased by $2.8 million in two years.

To put this number in perceptive. The police operating budget this year is $15 million. The Fire Rescue Service operating budget this year is $5.2 million. Our parks department operating budget this year is $2.4 million. Langley City’s Bylaw Enforcement Department’s operating budget this year is $0.7 million.

$1.3 million could fund:

  • Making our second firetruck 24/7
  • Almost tripling the size of the bylaw enforcement department
  • The annual operation costs of a performing art centre AND indoor pool
  • Ensuring that our park washrooms are the cleanest and best maintained in Canada

While we may need six more RCMP members to police Langley City, the cost is significant and shouldn’t be breezed over in a pre-approval budget request. Only Vancouver, Delta, and West Vancouver spend more per capita on protective services than Langley City.

These reasons are why I proposed deferring granting pre-approval to the RCMP’s proposed 2023 budget until we’ve had a chance to talk to Superintendent Adrian Marsden. While this is only a pre-approval, the reality is that Council has minimal control over the policing budget for our community. The pre-approved budget will become the approved budget due to the structure of the contract policing agreement between Langley City, the Township of Langley, the province, and the federal government.

The majority of Council agreed to defer pre-approval until we have spoken to Superintendent Adrian Marsden, who is in charge of the Langley RCMP Detachment. Mayor van den Broek, Councillor Martin, and Councillor Storteboom opposed my deferral request.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Council Approves Motion to Explore Tree Protection During Redevelopment

A tree

Last fall, I asked residents of Langley City if they supported a tree protection bylaw and other measures to protect trees during the redevelopment process. The overwhelming majority of residents who completed the survey would support these measures, except in the Alice Brown neighbourhood.

Surrey, White Rock and the Township of Langley already have tree protection policies making Langley City the outlier in the South of Fraser today. In Langley City, there is an opportunity to retain mature and significant trees during the redevelopment process.

Our tree canopy helps mitigate the “Urban Heat Island” and allows us to adapt to climate change. The tree canopy creates shade during the summer, captures, infiltrates and stores rainfall, cleans stormwater run-off, sequesters carbon, prevents erosion, buffers noise, and improves wildlife habitat. Grown the tree canopy maximizes these benefits.

During redevelopment in Langley City today, the current practice is to clear-cut all trees from a lot. While new trees are planted during redevelopment, it takes several decades before these trees reach maximum diameter, providing the full benefits of their canopy. It is better to retain existing mature trees when possible.

I made the following motion at last night’s Langley City Council meeting. I am proud to say that Council unanimously approved the motion.

THAT Staff consider utilizing the Metro Vancouver Tree Regulations Toolkit when developing the Urban Forest Management Plan
THAT Staff include, as part of the Urban Forest Management Plan, policy recommendations that support retaining as much of the existing tree canopy as practically possible on private property during redevelopment with a focus on the Urban Residential and Suburban Residential land-use areas of Langley City
THAT Staff include, as part of the Urban Forest Management Plan, policy recommendations that support growing the tree canopy on private property in the Industrial, Service Commercial, and Mixed-Employment land-use areas of Langley City.

This year Council approved $110,000 to complete an Urban Forest Management Plan. This motion helps give City staff clear direction on some of the matters Council would like to see addressed in the plan.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Community Day Is Back This Saturday: Food Trucks, Activities, Live Music

Community Day

After a two-year hiatus, Community Day is back in and around Douglas Park in Langley City. Come to Downtown Langley this Saturday, June 18th, for a fun-filled day of activities for the whole family.

Between 11 am and 6 pm, enjoy the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival featuring over 20 food trucks, a beer garden, and a craft market.

Between 11 am and 3 pm, you, your friends, and your family can enjoy a rock climbing wall, interactive sports, an arts walk, the fire rescue challenge, kid’s crafts and games, live performances, and prize draws. You can also visit booths to learn more about our community organizations and local businesses. For example, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Committee will be handing out crime prevention packages.

Will’s Jams, a JUNO-nominated musician, nationally recognized educator and former CBC Kids TV star, will be performing a high-energy kid’s concert between 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm at Spirit Square in Douglas Park.

You can catch Krystle Dos Santos’ “More Than Motown” Concert at 4 pm at Spirit Square. This concert will celebrate “soul music classics from artists like Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations and more! She’ll open your ears to the entire Motown era of music with artists from Chess and Stax Records: Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Etta James. Playing all of the feel good tunes you’ll remember from the good ‘ol days.”

I look forward to seeing you at Community Day!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Crime Prevention at Your Finger Tips Sheet!

Over its existence, Langley City’s Crime Prevention Committee has created and complied one-pager tip sheets that you can use to help prevent crime. The Committee distributed these tip sheets, but they were never posted online until now.

You can now download helpful tip sheets on the following topics:

  • Detering and preventing crime around your home
  • Reporting all crime, suspicious activity or individuals
  • Reducing mail theft
  • Preventing door-to-door scams
  • Identifying phone fraud
  • Reducing theft of your vehicle or from your vehicle
  • Using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design for stratas and property managers
Example of mail theft reduction tip sheet.

Please visit the City’s Crime Prevention page for all this and more, including information on our Know Your Neighbour campaign and Block Watch program.

These tip sheets are great to share with your neighbours, post in your townhouse or apartment, or put on the bulletin board of your workplace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Options for Attending and Presenting at Langley City Council Meetings

With Langley City Council meetings via Zoom, some people have asked how they can attend or participate in council meetings in real-time.

There are two options.

The first option is to attend the meeting via Zoom from whatever location is convenient for you. To get the link for a Council meeting you’d like to attend, please by noon of the day of the meeting you’d like to attend. Please include your full name and the e-mail address where you’d link the link for the meeting to be sent.

You can also attend a Council meeting by going to City Hall. City staff set up the CKF Meeting Room on the second floor of City Hall for people to view the Council meeting in real-time. This option allows people who may not have ready and reliable access to a computer, device, or Internet.

As you’ve always been able to do, you can request to appear before Council to share your views or requests on any topic within municipal jurisdiction.

You can download and fill out a “Request to Appear as a Delegation/Community Spotlight” form. Instructions are included within the form. Optionally, you can also go to the Administration Counter on the second floor of City Hall to request the form.

Anyone can attend and participate in a Council meeting, whether at City Hall or with your device. Access to an Internet connection or Internet-connected device is not a requirement.

As a note, you can view past Council meetings on the City’s YouTube channel.

Upcoming Council meetings this year are:
June 13, 27
July 11, 25
September 19
October 3, 24
November 7, 21
December 5, 12

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Only You Can Prevent and Manage Invasive Species in Metro Vancouver

Brydon Lagoon

In Metro Vancouver, we have our fair share of invasive plant species introduced over the years that have gotten out of control. Some of Langley’s most prolific invasive plant species include Himalayan Blackberry, Purple Loosestrife, and Reed Canarygress.

If you have even wondered how you can help control invasive plant species, the Metro Vancouver Regional District has put together a free, one-hour online training program that you can take at your own pace.

You can also find factsheets on identifying and controlling certain invasive species on the Metro Vancouver website. Because you cannot use your backyard composter to depose invasive species, information is also available on the deposal process for both the Township and Langley City.

If you see an invasive species, you can report it online or via a mobile app. More information is on the province’s website.

Because you can purchase some invasive plant species at gardening centres, knowing what plants work best in Metro Vancouver is good. You can check out Grow Green, a partnership between the Metro Vancouver Regional District and UBC Botanical Garden. You can find tips on designing your garden, lawn, or containers and learn which plants work best in our region.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Toxic Drugs, Affordable Housing, Climate Change, and Mental Health Services are Canada-wide Challenges

Federation of Canadian Municapilies Conference

The annual Federation of Canadian Municapilies (FCM) conference wrapped up yesterday. It started on June 2nd and took place in Regina. The convention has workshops, panels, keynote presentations, a trade show, and networking events. I attended this year's FCM conference.

The most interesting things I learned at the conference were from the informal conversations that I had with other people who attended from around Canada. I wanted to share a few ideas from these conversations that stood out to me.

The challenges that all municipalities face throughout Canada are addressing the toxic drug overdose and death crisis, providing affordable housing, adapting to climate change, and building out mental health services.

Unfortunately, BC has started experiencing and addressing these challenges earlier than most other provinces in Canada, so we are leading the way for better or worse.

The federal government provides provinces funding for healthcare, but there is no funding dedicated to mental healthcare. Throughout Canada, including in BC, mental healthcare services need to expand. Many people have a strong desire, from big urban mayors to small-town councillors, for the federal government to provide dedicated funding to provinces for mental health care.

This funding could help fund seats at colleges and universities to train mental healthcare professionals and help provinces build-out out mental healthcare capacity. It should be as easy to get mental healthcare as calling the police or visiting a doctor's office or walk-in clinic. Once you reach out for mental health care, the care should be easily accessible. Today, it is hard to get mental health care and navigate the system.

Mental healthcare and problematic substance use are linked. Getting accessible mental healthcare will also help people address problematic substance use. While BC is a leader in harm reduction, just like the rest of Canada, we need to build out capacity around treatment. The federal government again can help provinces with specifically-targeted funding.

When it comes to affordable housing, there is funding available, and municipalities throughout Canada are coming to the table to help support the construction of affordable housing. I was encouraged to see this. One of the challenges is a skilled trade shortage throughout Canada. I was talking to some people who suggest that beyond beefing up our skilled trades programs here at home, the federal government should be working to attract and retain skilled tradespeople through immigration programs.

The final area of conversation was around climate change adaptation. Most municipalities must replace a large amount of aging infrastructure, which requires the support of the federal and provincial governments. These infrastructure projects include replacing water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer systems which must now account for increased climate change-related events such as flooding and other extreme events. While I may sound like a broken record, the federal government needs to beef up funding for its existing program to help municipalities address these infrastructure challenges.

We also need to build knowledge about adopting our cities for climate change. For example, Langley City is on a floodplain. There are other cities throughout Canada on a floodplain. Instead of Langley City having to learn how we mitigate climate-change-induced flooding on our own, we should be able to learn from and share out experience with other municipalities going through similar challenges.

It was good to learn from other elected representatives throughout Canada about some of the challenges they experience and how we can solve them together.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Full-Time Summer Job: Climate Action Outreach at Langley Environmental Partners Society

Nicomekl Floodplain

I received a note from Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) about an exciting summer job opportunity in our community. LEPS has served the Langley community for close to 30 years working together to educate people and take action in protecting and restoring our natural ecosystem in both the City and the Township. LEPS works closely with both Langley City and the Township of Langley.

LEPS has a exciting full-time job that runs until September 2nd and pays $19 an hour for a Climate Action Outreach Coordinator.

The job includes:

  • Public outreach - conduct door-to-door landowner contact to educate residents on sustainable water and transportation practices
  • Attend community events – promote climate action messages to the public by attending a variety of events throughout the summer (includes evenings and weekends)
  • Presentations – assist with the coordination of climate action workshops
  • Research and Development- investigate opportunities for future school and community outreach programming, including report writing

For more information, including qualifications, please check out the job posting.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

May 30 Council Notes: Election Signs; More Voting Options; Arts, Culture, and Heritage

On Monday, Langley City Council adopted some changes that will impact the upcoming local government elections in the fall.

Council gave final reading to a bylaw that increases the number of people that must nominate a candidate running for Mayor or Council from two to ten. This change helps to ensure that there is meaningful support from qualified electors for candidates running.

The same bylaw adds a new advanced voting opportunity for anybody at the Langley Senior Resources Society. It also enables voter registration by mail and voting by mail.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw that will change the size of election signs and where they are allowed.

Currently during the campaign period, people can place political signs on private property (with the property owner's authorization), by the Gateway of Hope, and under the BC Hydro powerlines at 200th Street.

Signs placed at the Gateway of Hope and powerlines are continually subject to vandalism, including defacement. Many sign pieces end up in our green spaces and waterways.

As someone who has run three election campaigns, I can tell you that it is stressful and discouraging to maintain these signs at the two public locations. After my first campaign, I didn't even place a sign at the Gateway of Hope location. The only reason I put signs under the Hydro powerlines was because everyone else did.

The proposed changes to the Sign Bylaw will still allow political signs on private property with the property owner's permission, but will no longer allow political signs on any public property, including at the Gateway of Hope and under the BC Hydro powerlines along 200th Street.

To cut down on waste and reduce cost, which is good for the environment and helps lower the barrier for new candidates to run, the updated bylaw reduces the maximum sign size from 4' x 8' to 4' x 4'.

On a different topic, Council also approved the work plan of the newly created Arts, Recreation, Culture and Heritage Committee. The committee's work plan for this year includes: working on a new mural at Rotary Centennial Park, installing signage about the railways that historically ran through Langley City, placing an art installation at Glover Road and the Langley Bypass, incorporating artist and artisan events in our parks, installing cultural displays throughout the community and markers in Douglas Park, exploring hosting the ARCH Film Festival, and facilitating performance art in Langley City.

Council also gave final reading to the 2021-25 Financial Plan amendment bylaw, which I posted on previously.

Finally, Council voted to continue meeting via Zoom until a hybrid in-person/remote solution is in place for meetings.

Monday, May 30, 2022

I’m running for mayor because we need to work together for a better Langley City!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be running for Mayor of Langley City in the upcoming fall municipal election.

As a senior manager of operations for a large retailer and over my two terms as a city councillor, I know that we get the most done when we work together. And we have a lot we need to get done in Langley City, a community that I'm proud to call home.

Like every great community, we have our share of challenges. We must improve community safety, take meaningful action on reducing homelessness, build more affordable housing, mitigate the impacts of climate change-induced flooding, and enhance our greenspace.

With SkyTrain coming to our community, we are at a critical crossroads in Langley City. To move forward in a positive direction, we must work together with our federal and provincial government partners and local community leaders.

As a leader, I work best when collaborating with others. I will continue to work with residents, the business community, other elected representatives, and community organizations to get things done.

I look forward to sharing more about my vision for Langley City in the coming months and how I plan to work together with others to move this vision forward.

Let's make Langley City the place to be!

PS: A mayoral campaign costs $24,434.63 in Langley City. If you are interested in donating, you can write a cheque or use a credit card. Under BC law, you can donate up to $1,250.

Mailing Address:
Nathan Pachal Election Fund
16 - 19631 55A Ave
Langley, BC V3A 0L5

Donate by Card:

Thursday, May 26, 2022

South of Fraser and Industrial Area Routes Leading Transit Recovery

When I first got involved in the “Smart Growth” movement in Metro Vancouver more than a decade ago, people in the movement (who were primarily Vancouver-based) thoughts that the South for Fraser would be hard to serve by transit. They thought people in Delta, Surrey, White Rock, and Langley were not “transit people.” These Vancouverites also believed it was a fool’s errand to provide transit service through industrial areas. Who would take transit service to industrial areas?

Person on a bus

Some of these misconceptions even made their way to TransLink planning. TransLink believed that industrial areas wouldn’t support high-quality transit services for the longest time. The good news is that TransLink listened to the community and started improving transit service in a big way about a decade ago in the South of Fraser, including industrial areas.

TransLink recently released its 2021 Transit Service Performance Review. 2021 was a year of transit ridership recovery, and it was interesting to see two things.

The first is that transit ridership recovery was the strongest in the South of Fraser.

Ridership recovery by sub-region in Metro Vancouver at the end of 2021. Select map to enlarge.

The second is that ridership on some transit routes through industrial areas grew even beyond 2019 levels.

The 175, 418, and 531 transit routes serving industrial areas saw around 100% or greater ridership recovery in 2021. Select map to enlarge.

These insights show that there is still pent-up demand for quality transit service in the South of Fraser. It also shows that it makes sense to provide quality transit to industrial areas in Metro Vancouver. There is still one industrial area, Gloucester Industrial Estates, in the Township of Langley that doesn’t have transit service at all. I wonder if it is time to trial transit service to this area?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Impact of Noise on Health is Real – What Can Municipalities Do?

55 A Ave

For about 15 years, I lived in an apartment that backed onto the floodplain. While I wasn’t shielded from all sounds from 53rd Avenue, these sounds were muted. I was never worried about the sounds of traffic waking me up at night if I left a window open.

Last summer, I moved to an apartment that fronted 203rd Street at Industrial Avenue. Some traffic would drown out my TV if I left the windows open. I never kept windows open at night.

I now own a townhouse at the end of 55A Avenue that fronts the street. It is right next to 196th Street. This street is quiet though a few people enjoy their subwoofers or crank the bass in their vehicle, including at night. These loud sounds impact all people along the street. I’ve been woken up a few times.

There are also some folks with vehicles that have loud mufflers that race across the 196th Street overpass.

I know I might sound like an alarmist, but urban noise harms cardiovascular health, creates cognitive impairments, causes sleep disturbance, impacts mental health, and has pulmonary effects.

So, what can a municipality do about urban noise?

One of the things that municipalities can do is require developers to improve the sound reduction from the exterior to the interior of buildings. It makes a big difference. For example, the apartment on 203rd Street has excellent sound reduction from the exterior. I cannot say the same about my townhouse. The good news is that Langley City’s newly adopted Official Community Plan states that:

Development fronting the SkyTrain guideway, and/or any Provincial Highway, major arterial and railway, shall incorporate measures to mitigate noise impacts and incorporate Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) guidelines for maximum acceptable levels of noise in dwellings, including triple-glazed windows, additional wall insulation, sound dampening or absorbing walls and cladding materials, and concrete construction, solid glazed balconies, sound absorptive landscaping and street tree plantings, and water features.

Recent housing projects along major roads in Langley City now incorporate these recommendations.

The best solution is to reduce the noise at the source by enforcing mufflers and speaker/subwoofer sound levels. Of course, like enforcing speeding, this is easier said than done. In Paris, they are trialing an automated method to enforce loudness levels.

Today, we understand that noise pollution negatively impacts human health, and we are now starting to look at ways to mitigate these impacts in urban areas.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ghosts of the Past: Remains of the Electric Interurban Passenger Rail System

Up until the mid-20th century, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley had an extensive electrified passenger and freight rail service network. The most famous line is the Interurban that ran from Downtown Vancouver to Chilliwack. Seventy years ago, I would have been able to take one train from Langley City to my work in Downtown Vancouver.

Unfortunately, BC Electric (whose assets are now owned or operated by BC Hydro, FortisBC, Southern Rail, and TransLink) didn’t renew or expand its passenger rail service, but let the service degrade over time. BC Electric converted the Interurban passenger service to diesel bus service, and the rest is history.

You can read more about the history of the Interburan on this blog or view some of the historic passenger and freight rail maps of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

The Interurban is still an active freight line today, and you can still see some of the older passenger rail “stations” and power substations along the line.

This long weekend, I checked out two of the easily accessible and remaining substations. The first is located at 256th Street and 68th Avenue. There is even an interpretive plaque.

Coghlan Substation. Select image to enlarge.

Coghlan Passenger Waiting Hut. Selet image to enlarge.

If the building looks familiar. You’ve likely seen it on a TV show, including the now-cancelled “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

The other substation is located at 39623 Old Yale Rd in Abbotsford. This substation was fully renovated into a mansion and is currently listed for sale. You can also find it on Airbnb.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Filling in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Gap for Large Existing Buildings

Older Building

Buildings are responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in Metro Vancouver. The Metro Vancouver Regional district's overall goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, achieve a carbon-neutral region by 2050, and improve the overall ambient air quality. For this to happen, our current buildings must be retrofitted and newer buildings constructed in a way that further reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

While the BC government has solid greenhouse gas reduction policies, laws, and regulations for new construction, there are no policies or requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for existing buildings.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is proposing to help fill in that gap regarding existing buildings. Its first step is to look at office, retail, and residential buildings larger than 25,000 sq. ft.

Taking a whole building approach to increase efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. Source: Metro Vancouver.

The first phase of filling in the policy gap is reaching out to large building owners to understand the challenges they face in upgrading buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The regional district's goal is to create a phased policy approach requiring increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emissions targets for exiting large buildings.

Please read "Potential Approachers for Managing Greenhouse Gas Emission from Larger Buildings in Metro Vancouver." This start on page 17 of the May 13th Metro Vancouver Regional District Climate Action Committee Agenda.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Right-Sizing Parking Requirements in Metro Vancouver

West Beach Parkade in White Rock

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has completed a series of parking studies over the last decade. They have found that apartment building on-site parking supply exceeds demand throughout the region, including in Langley City. They also found that on-street parking in most residential neighbourhoods with apartments has about 65% utilization most of the time, with Saturday evening being the highest use for on-street parking, where demand can sometimes exceed supply. These studies did not look at townhouse parking rates.

Parking matters because surface parking takes up a lot of space which could be used for housing, businesses, or parks. Surface parking makes a community sprawl out, creating places where people have to drive, limiting travel choices and increasing travel costs. The cost of providing parking is around $80,000 per stall, which impacts the overall affordability of housing.

None of our most cherished neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver meet “modern” parking requirements.

Based on the research done by Metro Vancouver and on-the-ground experience, Langley City has right-sized the number of parking spaces required for apartment, commercial, and mixed-use buildings that will be within a 10-minute walk of the future SkyTrain stations. On-site parking is still about 85% of our current bylaw requirements for these buildings.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is now working on a comprehensive Regional Parking Strategy based on its past work. The strategy will include developing parking policies and regulations that municipalities can use as templates.

The strategy will look at:

  • Right-sizing the supply of parking spaces
  • Right-sizing parking to reduce construction costs, increase land efficiency and increase housing affordability
  • Supporting Employer parking cash-out
  • Securing bicycle parking requirements

The regional district is still working with its members to finalize the scope of the parking strategy. I think that on-street parking demand management will also need to be part of the plan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SkyTrain to Langley Full Steam Ahead. Public Feedback Needed

Building SkyTrain to Langley is full steam ahead. With $128 million in advance works already in progress, the train has left that station!

Conceptual rendering of 203rd Street SkyTrain Station. Select image to enlarge.

Conceptual rendering of Willowbrook Mall SkyTrain Station. Select image to enlarge.

Some of the advance works to support the construction of SkyTrain to Langley include:

  • Partnering with the City of Surrey on phase two of Fraser Highway widening
  • Designing and relocating power lines, utilities, and other structures in Surrey and Langley
  • Purchasing property along the SkyTrain corridor

While the SkyTrain extension to Langley City does not need a full Environmental Assessment, work is wrapping up on an Environmental Screening Review. This review includes looking at noise, visual, archaeology, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, and air quality impacts and making recommendations to reduce adverse effects.

For example, the project will use TransLink’s SkyTrain Noise Assessment recommendations to reduce noise impacts. The province will also design the stations to minimize potential bird strikes.

The province is looking for your feedback. You can learn more by visiting the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Project site and completing the online feedback form.

You can also attend the following open houses:

Wednesday, May 25rd
4 pm to 7 pm
Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex
100 - 16555 Fraser Highway

Tuesday, May 31st
4 pm to 7 pm
Langley City Hall
20399 Douglas Crescent

The business case approval for this SkyTrain extension is expected in the fall of this year. The province is planning to issue the contract for construction in 2024. The extension should be in-service by 2028.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Reducing vandalism while creating safer and cleaner Langley City public washrooms

One of the ongoing challenges for public washrooms in Langley City parks is vandalism. Another challenge is the utilization of washrooms for activities that result in unsafe environments for all washroom users.

The following photo, which Langley City staff shared with Council last week, shows the latest round of vandalism at Linwood Park.

Vandalism at Linwood Park Washroom. Select image to enlarge.

Park washrooms are essential, and Langley City does whatever is possible to keep our park public washroom open. These washrooms have come to my rescue on many occasions.

Of course, the City doesn’t want to continually repair vandalized washroom or have park washroom users find themselves in an unsafe situation.

As Langley City public washrooms have similar challenges and opportunities as some washrooms in the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Parks Washroom Strategy has insights relevant to our community.

Example of washroom fixtures from Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Parks Washroom Strategy

Of the eight best practices in the strategy, the following may be directly applicable to Langley City:

Maintenance - Washroom layout should be designed for ease of maintenance. Surfaces should be of resistant materials that discourage graffiti and allow for pressure washing. Fixtures should have a durable design to withstand heavy use. For fire resistance, select stainless steel for surfaces, replace paper towels with hand dryers, and limit the number of garbage cans inside.

Monitoring & Emergency Response - Besides using durable fixtures and considering harm reduction, attendants can help mitigate impacts at socially sensitive sites. An attendant is a person hired to monitor and supervise a washroom facility to ensure the safety of the washroom user. The attendant acts as the first responder in the event of an emergency and ensures washrooms are well-maintained. In most successful cases, the attendant is a peer or member of the community who has social connections and understanding of the relevant issues.

When I was in Kelowna recently, I noticed that they had attendant monitored and maintained washrooms at their downtown transit exchange.

In Langley City, there may be opportunities for new approaches to monitoring and maintaining washrooms at Linwood, Penzer, Douglas, and Rotary Centennial parks. There is a clear opportunity to partner with Fraser Health and other service providers in our community.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

May 9 Council Notes: Budget, Property Tax, and Upcoming Local Government Election

Langley City Council addressed several housekeeping matters at its Monday meeting.

Council gave final reading to amend the 2022 budget as the City has received additional grant money for projects and some other projects’ scopes have changed. You can read more about these grants and changes in a previous post.

Council also gave final reading to update the 2022 tax rate bylaw. You can read more about this in a previous post.

With the upcoming election this fall, Council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw which will improve voting options. Anyone will now be able to vote during advanced voting at the Langley Senior Resources Society. The proposed bylaw will also provide authority for voter registration by mail and voting by mail.

The proposed bylaw will also increase the number of nominees someone needs to run for Mayor or Council from two to ten. This change will help to ensure that there is meaningful support from qualified electors for candidates running.

Currently, candidates can put election signs on private property and at two public property locations (the Gateway of Hope and BC Hydro Right-of-Way on 200th Street.)

While discussing a minor change to the sign bylaw for election signs, Council suggested that we shouldn’t allow election signs on any public property, including these two locations. The rationale is that signs on public property are always subject to extreme vandalism, with vandalized sign parts getting into our ecosystem. Sign clutter at these two locations also means that they don’t effectively promote candidates.

Council did not move forward with the minor change to the sign bylaw, asking staff to look at updating the sign bylaw to continue allowing private property owners to place election signs on their property while restricting election signs on all public property.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Langley City receives clean financial bill of health. Overall expenditures under budget though some exceptions.

City Hall

Annually, Langley City prepares year-end financial statements that must be independenty audited. Kristine Simpson from BDO Canada LLP is Langley City’s independent auditor, and at Monday’s Council meeting, she gave the 2021 year-end financial statements a clean bill of health.

Langley City’s budgeted $53.1 million in revenue for 2021, but actually received $59.7 million in revenue. The City didn’t budget to receive revenue from the casino in 2021, but it received $4 million due to its reopening. The City also received higher than budgeted revenue due to increased development activity, including developer cost charges that must be allocated to specific projects.

Overall, expenses were under budget though some individual items were over budget.

The City’s legal fees were $232,000 over budget “due to increased assistance with labour matters.”

RCMP contract policing costs in 2021 were $402,000 over budget due to RCMP members’ first collective agreement, which included a significant pay bump. This increase was offset by $424,000 in RCMP detachment savings due to staff vacancies and other operational savings.

Overall maintenance costs for roads, water mains, and sewer lines were about $267,000 higher than budgeted. $34,000 of this was due to the flooding in the fall. Some of these costs were offset by reduced labour costs.

Security costs were $38,000 over budget. Costs related to vandalism & homelessness were $54,000 over budget. The City also went over budget by $45,000 to beef up last year’s Christmas displays downtown.

Due to receiving more revenue than budgeted, and overall expenses being under budget, the City transferred an additional $7.6 million to reserve accounts in 2021. These reserve accounts are used to fund future capital projects such as renewing parks, roads, and the water and sewer system.

The following shows the City’s overall revenue and expenses:

Langley City’s overall revenue and expenses. Select table to enlarge.

For more information, please read the complete “Consolidated Financial Statements of City of Langley.

As a housekeeping matter, Council gave first, second and third to a bylaw to align the 2021-2025 Financial Plan with the consolidated financial statements.