Monday, February 28, 2022

January Langley City Property Crime Map and Tips

Langley City Property Crime Map. Select Map to Enlarge.

The RCMP has prepared the latest property crime map of Langley City for the Crime Prevention Task Group. This map helps inform our crime prevention programs. When looking at the map, remember that all of Langley City’s non-home-based businesses and 2/3rd of the City’s population live north of the Nicokemkl River. So while there is more property crime north of the river, the crime rate (crime divided by population) needs to be considered.

One of the ongoing concerns in Langley City is theft from auto. This type of crime is one of opportunity. People will try vehicles for unlocked doors and take anything in sight if a door is unlocked. People will also smash windows and grab anything of value, including loose change and garage door openers.

There are a few things you can do. This first is to remove all valuable items in your vehicles, including garage door openers. Place everything else out of sight.

If you live in a townhouse, consider using your garage for parking your vehicles.

Another ongoing concern is mail theft. Checking your mail daily can help reduce your risk.

Finally, if you have an older vehicle, you may want to purchase a LoJack or vehicle immobilizer system.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Langley Extreme Weather Response Shelter Open

With freezing temperatures over the past week, Langley’s faith community and service organizations have arranged for an Extreme Weather Response shelter at:

Murrayville United Church
21562 Old Yale Road

This shelter opened on February 22nd and will remain open until the freezing temperatures are gone. The shelter is open from 7 pm until 7 am and is pet-friendly. People can also receive breakfast and dinner at the shelter.

The RCMP will assist people who are unhoused to get to the shelter during the night.

The provincial government funds Extreme Weather Response shelters.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

BC Budget 2022: SkyTrain, Highway 1 Expansion, and Bike Lanes

Steveston Highway Overpass - Highway 99

Yesterday, the provincial government launched its 2022 budget. I want to look at some specific transportation funding announcements that may help Langley City.

Langley City has successfully received grants to fund cycling infrastructure from the provincial government over the years. The City has received provincial funding as follows:

203 Street Cycling Project - 2015/16: $440,000
48 Avenue Cycling Project - 2016/17: $92,864
53 Avenue Bike Lane Project - 2017/18: $98,650

In this year’s budget, the province will continue to invest about $10 million per year over the next three years to help local governments build active transportation infrastructures such as sidewalks and bike lanes.

$10 million certainly helps local governments build active transportation infrastructure. The provincial government plans to spend about $8 billion on transportation infrastructure over the next three years. Given the government’s stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation, I wonder if the province should be funding the active transportation grant program at a higher level.

The province mentions SkyTrain to Langley in the budget:

South of the Fraser River, the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project will meet the transit needs of this growing region, which represents 25 percent of the population of Metro Vancouver. In 2021, the federal government announced its funding commitment of up to $1.3 billion for the project, and it is now in the business plan development stage.

The province continues to include “notional funding for Surrey-Langley SkyTrain” in its $1 billion “Transit Infrastructure” capital line item.

The province still plans to complete building HOV lanes between 216th and 264th, including reconfiguring the 232nd Street interchange, a new underpass at Glover Road, and a truck parking lot.

The province is also continuing highway widening planning to Whatcom Road. While there is some research in Canada that shows HOV lanes help promote carpooling and reduce carpooling commute time, there is limited data to show the impact of HOV lanes in reducing congestion, vehicle kilometres travelled, or greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What the Canadian flag means to me

As a Canadian, one of the questions that I always ask myself is, "what does it mean to be Canadian?" This question is healthy to ask as it helps support a robust democracy.

Canadian flag at UBC

A few weeks ago, I received an email from someone increasingly concerned about how people were using the Canadian flag over the last month due to the protests, blockades, and occupation of Downtown Ottawa.

The Canadian flag symbolizes different things to people, which is fluid. For some people, the Canadian flag resents the chance of a better life. For others, the flag symbolizes colonialism, racism and repression. The flag is a stand-in, representing what people believe it means to be Canadian. Things can get murky because there is no such thing as a universal Canadian.

Flying the Canadian flag can elicit a range of emotions from pride to anger to indifference.

Walking down 56th Avenue, I've seen a few pickups (driving in circles) flying Canadian flags recently. I'm sure it wasn't due to the 26 metals that our amateur athletes are taking home.

At first, it made me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel uncomfortable because people were using the Canadian flag, like some Americans use their flag, to say that they are somehow more or better.

I've also seen the Canadian flag side-by-side with other symbols of hate in the past month. This is the most disturbing association.

I've realized that how people use the Canadian flag does not change what I believe it means to be Canadian.

It doesn't change that we still live in one of the most inclusive places in the world and that we can all belong here.

It doesn't change that we continue to question our past decision, both the good and the bad, to learn and move forward positively.

It doesn't change how we all come together when times get tough.

At the start of the pandemic, I was incredibly proud when politicians of all stripes and all levels of government came together to help their fellow Canadians.

I was incredibly proud when Canadians came together to help others out during the fires and floods over the last year.

When I see the Canadian flag, this is what it represents to me.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Transport 2050: Real-Time Sensors to Make Driving More Reliable. Paid and Permit Parking throughout all of Metro Vancouver.

As I noted yesterday, TransLink is responsible for the major road network in Metro Vancouver (excluding provincial highways.) The agency recently adopted Transport 2050, the long-range transportation strategy for our region.

One of TransLink’s goals is to make driving and parking more reliable, reducing congestion. While many people think that means road expansion projects, TransLink has a different approach. Simply building more road capacity without other measures counterintuitively increases congestion. This induced demand occurred when the province removed the Port Mann bridge tolls.

TransLink would like to set up a real-time sensor network that would help the province and municipalities optimize the existing road network. These sensors could help optimize traffic signals in real-time, for example. TransLink and its partners would connect these real-time sensors into a central database for further analysis to help optimize, monitor, and plan the road network. Others could use this data to optimize routing, mode (driving or taking transit,) and time of day for specific trips.

Another approach TransLink would like to take to reduce congestion and make driving more reliable is to work with ICBC to introduce pay-as-you-drive insurance. The less you drive, the less you pay.

Transport 2050 notes that new east-west connections on the North Shore and in North Surrey may be required as well as a long-term solution to connect Highway 1 and Highway 91A to support goods movement.

Another Transport 2050 strategy is to make parking, pickup/drop-off, and loading/unloading more reliable.

A parking meter in Coquitlam.

TransLink envisions that all street segments with parking should have at least one or two available parking spots free at all times. To accomplish this goal, municipalities would implement on-street paid parking. Municipalities would set the price as low as possible to ensure parking is always available. Real-time data would help people find available parking and help set parking pricing.

Transport 2050 calls for introducing permits to park personal and commercial vehicles overnight on all streets to manage parking in the evening.

Pickup/drop-off and loading/unloading zones will become even more critical in the future. TransLink calls for dynamic curbside zones to serve these needs based on demand.

On-street curbside management would require the support of all municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

For more information on how TransLink would make driving and parking more reliable, read Strategy 2.3

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Transport 2050: TransLink’s New Long-Range Plan to Reduce Pedestrian and Cyclist Deaths

When people think of TransLink, they think about transit. While providing transit is the largest service that TransLink delivers, it also funds the major road network such as 200th Street as well as cycling and walking infrastructure such as 203rd Street, Duncan Way, Glover Road, and the 208th Street Causeway.

TransLink’s Board and the Mayors’ Council recently adopted Transport 2050, the new long-range plan for how we get around in our region. Transport 2050 works together with Metro 2050, the proposed new regional land-use strategy for Metro Vancouver.

I want to focus on aspects of Transport 2050 beyond transit.

Motor vehicle crashes are the third leading cause of injury-related death in BC for people who are 15 or older. Speed is a leading factor in these deaths.

According to TransLink, annually “100 people are needlessly killed [by motor vehicle drivers] on Metro Vancouver streets — typically, 40 of whom were walking, biking, or rolling while they were struck and killed.”

Strategy 4.1 of Transport 2050 is to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. This strategy is known as Vision Zero.

A people-first street in Santa Monica, California

TransLink plans to work with municipalities to accomplish this by:

  • Reducing the default speed limits and designing urban streets to 30 km/hr or slower, only supporting speed limits of 60km/h or more for controlled-access highways.
  • Allowing 50km/h speed limits as long as streets have signalized crossings, wide sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and transit priority lanes.
  • Transforming roads into people-first streets by creating safe and inviting environments for people who are rolling, walking, and cycling.
  • Providing support for other ways of getting around on people-first streets such as e-scooters, mopeds, and even delivery trikes.

Transport 2050 includes actions around enforcement and education such as:

  • Delivering, in partnership with other agencies, increased training on how to operate motor vehicles safely around people walking, rolling, cycling as well as around transit vehicles, heavy commercial vehicles and agricultural equipment.
  • Working with the police to focus traffic enforcement on dangerous motor vehicle drivers.
  • Working with the province to increase automated speed and traffic enforcement at high-collision intersections.
  • Working with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement branch to create a unified regional program of commercial vehicle safety inspections.
  • Working to encourage Advanced Driver Assistance Systems that help reduce collisions between drivers of heavy commercial vehicles and people walking, rolling, and cycling.

For more information, please read Transport 2050 starting on page 83 (number 163 in the strategy.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

February 14th Council Notes: Apartment Proposal, Renewing “Hotel Tax,” and City Committee Updates

Yesterday’s Langley City Council meeting had a light agenda. Council gave first and second reading to a rezoning bylaw which, if approved, would allow the construction of a 6-storey, 49-unit apartment at 20032 & 20038 56 Avenue (next to the PetroCan at 200th Street.) City staff will now schedule a public hearing.

Rendering of the proposed apartment at 20032 & 20038 56 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to renew the 2% Municipal, Regional and District Tax for an additional five years. This tax applies to short-term (under 27 days) accommodations and funds Discovery Langley City. Discovery Langley City is the Destination Marketing Organization that promotes our community as a place to visit and promotes overnight stays.

Council and staff are in the process of updating the Terms of Reference for all City committees and task groups. While primarily a housekeeping item, one of the goals of the update is to ensure inclusive membership within task groups and committees. The renewed Arts, Recreation, Culture and Heritage Committee will now include a specific seat for an Indigenous voting member, as will the renewed Environmental Sustainability Committee.

The Advisory Design Panel, Economic Development Task Group, and Performing Arts and Cultural Centre Task Group also have updated Terms of Reference with minor changes.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Census 2021 – Changes in Population and Dwellings by Langley City Neighbourhood

One of my favourite websites to explore census data is CensusMapper. With Statistics Canada recently releasing 2021 population and household information, I thought it would be an excellent time to look at how things have changed in Langley City.

Change in population for 2016 to 2021. Map from CensusMapper. Data from Statistics Canada. Select map to enlarge.

Not surprisingly, the population and number of dwellings have grown much faster north of the Nicomekl River than south.

A dwelling can be a detached house, apartment, townhouse, rowhouse, or suite.

Langley City Neighbourhoods. Select image to enlarge.

The areas west of 200th Street and south of the river actually saw a decrease in dwellings from 872 in 2016 to 860 in 2021. The population increased slightly from 2,451 to 2,472.

The other neighbourhoods south of the Nicomekl River saw a modest increase in dwellings from 2,551 in 2016 to 2,565 in 2021. The population increased from 7,071 to 7,297.

In the Douglas Neighourhood, north of the river and east of 203rd Street, dwelling units increased from 3,977 in 2016 to 4,170 in 2021. The population increased from 7,290 to 8,148.

The Nicomekl Neighourhood saw the most significant increase in dwellings units and population. This neighbourhood is north of the river and west of 203rd Street. The number of dwellings increased from 4,864 in 2016 to 5,676 in 2021. The population increased from 9,076 to 11,046.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

February 7th Council Meeting Notes: Regional Growth Strategy Delays, Development Proposal, and Housekeeping Items

Last month, I posted about the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s proposed new regional growth strategy called Metro 2050. All municipalities in the regional district, including Langley City, must have their Official Community Plans aligned with the regional growth strategy.

I posted about what’s working and what’s not working with the proposed new Metro 2050.

At the most recent regional district board meeting, the majority of directors voted to pause the approval process for the proposed new regional growth strategy by one month to:

  • Resolve outstanding member jurisdiction concerns.
  • Consider whether stronger climate action can be integrated into Metro 2050 or concurrent policy work and consensus building on stronger climate action undertaken with an aim to amending Metro 2050 post adoption.

As a result, Metro Vancouver staff will now be reaching out to member jurisdictions with concerns over the next month. For example, Surrey Council wanted more consultation about Metro 2050.

Langley City Council previously appointed Councillor Martin to represent our community at the regional district board. At Monday’s Council meeting, she asked if staff had any further concerns about Metro 2050. City staff noted that Metro Vancouver staff has resolved most of the City’s concerns and that they are supportive of the proposed new Metro 2050. Langley City Council did not express any further concerns.

Council also gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw to enable a 96-unit apartment building that varies in height between 4-storeys and 6-storeys located at 19701-19729 55A Ave. You can read more about this proposed rezoning in a previous post.

Rendering of the proposed apartment along 55A Ave. Select image to enlarge.

Council approved two housekeeping items, including appointing a Chief Election Officer and Deputy Chief Election Officer as this is an election year. The other matter was updating the Council Correspondence policy on how Council officially receives and responds to written communication.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

February 7th Council Meeting Notes: Lymantria Moth Spray Program, Overdose Crisis, AEDs, Smoking

On Monday, Langley City Council heard from several speakers representing various organizations at its public meeting.

The BC government has a program to use aerial sprayed biological insecticide to eradicate Lymantria moths. These moths are invasive and destroy our indigenous ecosystems. People typically unknowingly transport these moths into BC on their vehicles when they return from areas of North America with an established moth population.

This spring, the province will be spraying an area along Fraser Highway, between 232nd Street and 248th Street. Many people become alarmed when they see a low flying aircraft going in loops in an area.

Moth aerial spray area. Select map to enlarge.

The province will host an open house on Wednesday, March 2nd, between 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm. For more information, please visit the province’s website.

Lisa Weih, who was speaking on behalf of Moms Stop the Harm, told a personal story about how the overdose crisis impacted her family and caused the death of her child. She asked that we join other municipalities in calling on the federal government to address the overdose crisis.

Council passed the following motion as a result:

THAT Council request the Federal Government to declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency and to work with Provinces to develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian plan for ending the overdose and drug poisoning crisis.

Ken Leggatt from St. John Ambulance presented his organization’s plan to roll out outdoor, Automated External Defibrillators (AED) units throughout the Lower Mainland. These easy-to-use devices keep people alive if someone has a heart attack. AED units save lives. St. John Ambulance and its partners are placing AED units at the Richmond Canada Line stations, Townsend Park in Chilliwack, and Crescent Beach in Surrey.

Leggatt asked that Langley City join the program. Each outdoor AED unit costs $7,000, including two years of maintenance by St. John Ambulance. I invited Leggatt to apply for a Langley City Community Grant to help fund the installation of AED units in Langley City.

Council also heard from Liam Razzel from Action on Smoking & Health, an Edmonton-based organization. He asked that Langley City update the non-smoking provisions in our bylaws. Today, you can essentially only smoke in private spaces or sidewalks outside of a commercial area. One of the recommendations included adding beaches to our list of public spaces where smoking should be banned. Council did not take any action based on the presentation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Langley City Council receives public feedback on budget, delays vote until March 7th

Yesterday afternoon, Langley City Council hosted a Committee of the Whole meeting to allow Langley City residents to provide feedback on the proposed 2022-26 Financial Plan. Council received three letters, and no one provided input at the Committee of the Whole.

The main concern was the proposed property tax increase’s impact on detached homeowners. As I posted earlier, the most significant driver of this year’s property tax increase is RCMP contract policing costs of which the City has no control.

City Council has advocated to other municipalities and the province to create attached housing and detached housing property tax classes. The province only allows one tax class for all housing, which leads to wildly variable tax rates. For example, on average, attached homeowners will see a decrease, while detached homeowners will see a tax increase if the budget is approved this year.

We’ve been advocating for two residential tax classes during and before my time on Council. You can read more about this from a post I wrote in 2016 and 2019.

One of the proposed positions that Council included in the 2022-26 Financial Plan is an Environmental Sustainability Coordinator to help the City take action on climate change mitigation and adaption. This past year’s heat dome and flooding shows that the impacts of climate change are real and becoming more intense.

Councillors Martin and Storteboom opposed funding the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator this year due to this year’s overall property tax increase. Removing the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position would reduce the proposed overall tax increase from 4.35% to 3.94%. Councillor Martin noted that she would vote against the budget this year, while Council Storteboom stated that he would reluctantly support the budget. Councillor Albrecht proposed that Council hold off giving third reading to the 2022-26 Financial Plan until the March 7th Council meeting.

I questioned the need to hold off voting on third reading and asked if there was any new information that we would be receiving to help inform my vote on the 2022-26 Financial Plan. Initially, no one could answer the question. However, later a member of Council suggested that City staff could provide further information on how the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator would help Langley City meet its climate change goals.

In the end, Council voted to delay giving third reading to the 2022-26 Financial Plan with myself and the mayor opposed.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Celebrating the History of Black people in BC

I went to primary and secondary school in the 1990s. One of the most significant gaps in my education was the history of what is now called British Columbia. Our history was dismissed as “boring,” and we spent a lot of time learning about US and European history.

What I did learn about BC, growing up, I picked up from shows like CHBC’s Gold Trails and Ghost Towns, Heritage Minutes, or the Vernon Museum.

We had an Indigenous history program that the Okanagan Indian Band developed in my high school. It was optional, so I did not take it.

My completely wrong high school understanding of BC would have been that there was no one here until the railways from the east came with European settlers and Americans from the south came seeking gold. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Indigenous people have been on these lands since time immemorial, with rich histories and societies.

It wasn’t really until the last decade that I’ve started to learn the history of this place. It is complex, both beautiful and ugly.

Growing up in the Okanagan and being likely one of four biracial Black people in Vernon, it didn’t even cross my mind that Black people were also early settlers, but they were. Our current Cloverdale-Langley MP, John Aldag, informed me that James Douglas, the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, was biracial himself. This piece of history was news to me as an adult.

In Langley City, we have a street and a park named after James Douglas, the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia.

James Douglas encouraged Black people to immigrate to BC from the US, and some Black folks settled on Salt Spring Island. A story that highlights systemic racism is the 1868 murder of William Robinson, a Black American. His murder resulted in the speedy trial and execution of Ich-yst-a-tis (also known as Tshuanahusset), a Hul’qumi’num-speaking Indigenous man. The problem was that Ich-yst-a-tis couldn’t have killed Robinson. Learn more about this murder on the site “Who Killed William Robinson?

Books like The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver highlight famous local Black people, such as Joe Fortes, the City of Vancouver’s first official lifeguard.

You can learn more in the Digital Museum “BC’s Black Pioneers: Their Industry and Character Influenced the Vision of Canada.

You can also learn more on the BC Black History Awareness Society website.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Development Matters: Apartment Projects Along 55A Avenue and 53A Avenue. Lady Luck Tattoo Relocation.

On January 24th, Langely City Council held a public hearing for a proposed rezoning to enable a 96-unit apartment building that varies in height between 4-storeys and 6-storeys located at 19701-19729 55A Ave.

Rendering of the proposed apartment along 55A Ave. Select image to enlarge.

Site plan of the proposed apartment along 55A Ave. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which consists of an accessible representative, architects, landscape architects, members of the public, and police, made the following recommendation which the proponent of the project accepted:

  • Improve maintenance access to outdoor patios
  • Update pergola in amenity area from metal to plexiglass
  • Improve access between north parking space/aisle area and elevators in the parkade
  • Improve access between bike storage and elevators in the parkade
  • Increased e-bike use and bike maintenance in the design of the bike storage area (roughed in provisions for future electric bike charging.)

Council received close to two-dozen pieces of written input about the proposed rezoning. Most people were concerned about the height of the building, increased traffic, and on-street parking.

At the public hearing, five people provided feedback. One person was a renter on the proposed apartment site and wondered when they would have to move. Two people were concerned about on-street parking during and after construction. Two other people expressed their complete opposition to the proposed project.

City staff noted that the building would have a setback of 7 meters on the sides and rear. The proponent indicated that there would be 4 meters of grass between the building and the street.

City staff also noted that the project would result in 12 new on-street parking spots and a wider road around the project (to be the same width as other sections of 55 A Ave) if it moves forward.

City staff noted that there would be a construction management plan to ensure access to the neighbourhood isn’t cut off.

At the January 24th meeting, Council approved final reading for a rezoning bylaw and issued a development permit to enable a 5-storey, 56-unit apartment project at 20179, 20189 and 20199 53A Ave. You can read more about this project in a previous post.

At the January 31st meeting, Council approved third and final reading to update the zoning bylaw to allow Lady Luck Tattoo to relocate from 20785 Fraser Highway to 103 - 20258 Fraser Highway. You can read more about this in a previous post .

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Langley City’s Proposed $17 million 2022 Capital Budget

There are two parts to Langley City’s proposed 2022 Financial Plan. The operating budget allocates ongoing funding. The capital budget allocates funds that occur as one-offs, infrequently or are tangible assets such as a new playground or replaced traffic signal.

Over the past week, I’ve focused on the operating budget. Langley City Council and staff are proposing a $17 million capital budget in 2022.

The City funds the capital budget through property taxes, casino revenue, developer contributions, and grants from TransLink, the province, and the federal government. Property taxes fund about 46% of the proposed 2022 capital budget.

The following highlights some of the larger capital items proposed for this year.

Sewer Projects: $5,871,000

Waterworks Projects: $3,645,000

Replace 20-Year Old Fire Truck: $1,300,000

Traffic Signal Projects: $675,000

Parks Maintenance Equipment Replacement (Tractors, Mowers, Etc.): $450,000

Paving: $400,000

Parking Study to review regulations and provide recommendations that may include: permit parking, metered parking, and time-based parking for areas throughout the City: $100,000

Langley City Operations Centre

Operation Centre Detailed Design: $1,000,000
The current operation centre is located on 198th Street in the industrial area. It is at the end of its life (to put it nicely.) All City crews and equipment are based out of this centre. I’ve toured the facility, and while the City has kept it in working order, the current facility would cost more to upgrade than replace and does not meets our community’s current operational needs. The first phase of funding will complete the architectural drawings required to build the new facility.

Please read more about the capital budget starting on page 130 of Langley City’s 2022 – 2026 Financial Plan.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Langley City’s Proposed 2022 Budget – Planning the Future of the Police and Fire Rescue Service

Langley City Fire Truck

As I’ve posted earlier, protective services are a significant part of Langley City’s budget. The RCMP uses 45% of all municipal property tax collected in Langley City.

As policing is such a significant expenditure for our community, and that expense will likely continue to grow as our community grows, it is prudent to complete a review of how we deliver policing services in Langley City.

In the 2022 budget, Council and staff are proposing to set aside $50,000 to complete a review of the policing services model for Langley City.

With SkyTrain coming to Langley City, we will start to see new types of construction in certain parts of our community, such as concrete towers near Willowbrook Mall. The SkyTrain guideway will also require that firefighters have special training and equipment to perform their jobs when there is a SkyTrain emergency.

Today, Langley City Fire Rescue Service has one of the, if not the busiest, fire stations in Metro Vancouver. As our population and the business community continues to grow, so must the number of firefighters.

To plan for the future, Langley City Council and staff are proposing to invest $60,000 to “engage a consultant to review the [fire] department and make recommendations about the department’s future growth and determine if the arrival of SkyTrain will affect department staffing.”

These are only the first steps to ensure that our protective services meet our community’s needs.