Thursday, March 31, 2022

Sign-Up for the Tri-It Triathlon

Finish Line

One of my favourite events to volunteer at is back after a two-year break. The Langley City Tri-It Triathlon is fun for the whole family, including people who have never competed in a swim, bike and run event.

There are categories for ages 5 and up, including a special 65+ category.

To learn more, including how to sign up, please visit:

(If you look closely at the parking lot gate by Al Anderson Pool, you might see the accidental permanent mount/dismount line I installed one year.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Council Notes: 2022 Budget Approved, Property Tax Options, Alcoholic Beverages in Parks, Earth Day, and Climate Change

On March 21st, Langley City Council gave final reading and adopted the 2022 municipal budget for our community. Mayor van den Broek, Councillor Martin, and Councillor Storteboom opposed adopting the budget. You can learn more about this in a previous post.

As I posted about previously, the most significant cost increase in Langley City’s budget this year is for policing. This increase in cost is due to the recent contract between the federal government and National Police Federation.

There are several options available for paying property tax. In Langley City, you can sign up for the Tax Prepayment Plan, which allows you to pay your property tax in installments instead of one lump sum.

You can also defer paying property tax if you are:

  • 55 or older
  • A surviving spouse of any age
  • A person with disabilities
  • A parent, stepparent, or financially supporting a child

For more information on how this program work, please visit the Government of BC’s website.

Council also gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw to enable the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages in select Langley City parks this summer. You can read more information about this in a previous post.

Council approved a request from the Environmental Sustainability Committee to spend $2,000 to support our local Earth Day and Pitch-In events on April 23rd. The committee will use the funds to purchase plants, planting supplies, prizes and advertising. Learn more about this year’s Earth Day events on Langley City’s website.

Council also approved an update to “Council Policy CO-71 – Asset Management Policy.” This update integrates climate change into our asset management practices and decision-making, including building infrastructure adapted to climate change when the City renews assets.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Langley City Development Matters: Two Proposed Apartment Projects. Public Hearing for 6-Unit Rowhouse in Uplands.

Last Monday, Langley City Council gave first and second reading to a rezoning bylaw that would enable a 6-storey, 92-unit apartment on the southeast corner of 55A Avenue and Brydon Crescent. The City has scheduled a public hearing for the evening of April 4th, where people can provide feedback about the proposed rezoning and apartment project.

A rendering of the proposed apartment project at 5494-5508 Brydon Crescent & 19890 55A Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Council also gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw which would enable a 6-storey, 49-unit apartment development at 20032 & 20038 56 Avenue, near 200th Street. You can read more about this project in a previous post.

Council also held a Public Hearing for a proposed 6-unit rowhouse development at 20816 45A Avenue along 208th Street in the Uplands neighbourhood.

A rendering of the proposed rowhouse project at 20816 45A Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes members of the public, RCMP, architects, and landscape architects, made the following recommendations about the project:

  • Enhance the separation between the visitor parking space and 45A Avenue frontage
  • Update the design of balcony separation screens to tie into the broader project architecture and improve privacy
  • Adjust the front yard fencing to separate units with shared entrance paths
  • Provide a drawing of the north frontage, including conceptual off-site landscaping
  • Use alternative material to wood for the south and east fencing. The proponent updated the fencing to solid aluminum
  • Update the design of the side elevations
  • Improve accessibility for delivery services to units by including addresses in the driveway
  • Consider the maintenance of landscaping in relation to the project’s fee simple tenure

The proponent of the project accepted the panel’s recommendation.

In addition, City staff noted that the project’s proponent would need to implement improved triple-glazed windows and soundproofing to reduce sound transfer from 208th Street into the proposed units. They also noted the 208th Street frontage of the proposed project would have a double row of trees.

Council received ten pieces of written correspondence about the project. About 20 residents from the area attended the public hearing, and about ten residents provided comments at the hearing.

Except for one letter, all were concerned or opposed to the proposed rowhouse project.

The three significant concerns expressed by people who provided feedback were the impact on neighbourhood character, on-street parking, and increased traffic in the Uplands neighbourhood that may result from this project.

Residents also had concerns about the yard sizes of the rowhouse project units and the limited park space east of 208th Street.

Residents also expressed general concern about the speed of traffic on 208th Street and the need for a traffic light to help people make turns into and out of their neighbourhood.

Residents expressed concern at the public hearing about the number of for-sale signs along 208th Street. They thought it might note an accelerated rate of redevelopment along the corridor.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Property Crime Mostly Down Except for Theft From Vehicles. Concerning Public Shootings in Langley.

Last Monday, the Officer in Charge of the Langley Detachment of the RCMP and his staff presented their first-quarter report to Council.

Vehicles Parked on Street

Overall, since 2020, most property crime categories are trending down. There are exceptions, such as possession of stolen property and theft from vehicles which is trending up. Besides the regular theft of items that people leave in vehicles, catalytic convert theft, pickup truck tailgate theft, and gasoline theft by drilling gas tanks are up.

First-quarter property crime statistics for Langley City. Select table to enlarge.

The regular advice of removing anything, including items that may have no value from your vehicle or that isn’t bolted down or locked up, is still relevant.

Parking your vehicle in an enclosed garage or gated parkade also lowers your chance of a criminal targetting you. Criminals will choose the path of least resistance, so the more inconvenient you can make targetting your vehicle, the better.

On the topic of violent crime, there have been five confirmed shooting incidents in Langley this year. Three of the shootings occurred in the Township and one in the City. Another location is currently under investigation. Two of these shootings have occurred in public places, including close to an in-session elementary school. As a result, the Special Response Team and Strike Force have stepped-up law enforcement, targetting people and groups associated with these shootings.

One of the tools the RCMP uses is vehicle checks, and as a result of checking 129 vechile, the police have found $30,000 in cash, $27,500 in black market drugs, and a laundry list of weapons, including knives, batons, and brass knuckles.

These public shootings put innocent people in danger, and I hope the RCMP can subdue this violence in our community.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Summer Lawn Watering Reducing to Once per Week in Metro Vancouver

Grassy Park

Due to climate change and the continued increase in population, new summer water usage restrictions will be in effect this summer across Metro Vancouver.

Between May 1 and October 15 every year, the following lawn watering restrictions will automatically be in effect:

Residental even-numbered civic addresses may only water lawns on Saturdays:

  • Automatic watering from 5 am to 7 am
  • Manual watering from 6 am to 9 am

Residental odd-numbered civic addresses may only water lawns on Sundays:

  • Automatic watering from 5 am to 7 am
  • Manual watering from 6 am to 9 am

Non-residential even-numbered civic addresses may only water lawns on Mondays:

  • Automatic watering from 4 am to 6 am
  • Manual watering from 6 am to 9 am

Non-residential odd-numbered civic addresses may only water lawns on Tuesdays:

  • Automatic watering from 4 am to 6 am
  • Manual watering– from 6 am to 9 am

You can water trees, shrubs, and flowers using a sprinkler daily before 9 am or any time of day using a handheld hose, soaker hose, water container, or drip irrigation.

All lawn watering will be prohibited if the region must enter stage 2 water restriction to preserve the drink water supply.

Langley City will advertise these changes on social media, in the newspaper, and the property tax notices in the summer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

New Langley RCMP Strategic Plan Lays Groundwork to Help Increase Community Safety

Langley City Community Police Office

Last year, in consultation with Langley City and Township representatives, RCMP leadership appointed Superintendent Adrian Marsden as the new Officer in Charge of the Langley Detachment. One of Marsden’s first orders of business was to create a new three-year strategic plan for the detachment.

Many police services and detachments do not fully involve municipal councils in developing their strategic plans, even though councils must approve their budgets, so it was refreshing that Marsden talked to every councillor in the City and Township. He was at the Langley City council meeting on Monday seeking feedback and approval of the new strategic plan.

The three-year strategic plan, “Partners for Langley’s Future,” has four goals.

Calibrate our visibility to maintain a sense of safety in Langley neighbourhoods & public spaces

Collaborate with partners to support persons experiencing homelessness and mental health issues

Plan with cross-jurisdictional public safety partners

Strengthen our capacity to respond to Langley’s growth and diversity

While the strategic plan is for three years, it only contains a year’s worth of specific tasks within these four main goals. The plan’s approach is to complete the tasks and measure if they have succeeded in meeting the goals. Based on the measures of success, the tasks will be adjusted as needed.

For example, for the goal of maintaining a sense of safety in Langley neighbourhoods & public spaces, the measure of success are the hours of proactive patrol time, hours of foot and bike patrol, reductions in calls for service for disorder, and an increase in citizen-reported sense of safety.

One of the tasks for this year is to “allocate at least 500 hours of bike patrol in Langley’s public spaces during the spring and summer months and weekday foot patrols in Downtown throughout remainder of the year.”

Another task for this year is to “double [the] size of [the] Mental Health Unit, trained to respond to calls involving persons with mental health challenges.”

With the arrival of SkyTrain in the coming years, a task for this year will be to co-locate two transit police officers within the Langley detachment.

I only posted a sample of the tasks within the new strategic plan. I encourage you to view the easy-to-read strategic plan.

Council supported the strategic plan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Langley City Council awards $113,058.19 in Community Grants

Every year, Langley City Council dedicates a portion of the funds the City receives from the Cascades Casino to community grants.

Yesterday, Council approved the following community grants:

Bard in the Valley $15,948.19
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley $4,000
Blacklock Elementary School $5,000
Boys and Girls Club of Langley $3,335
Children of the Street Society - PLEA Community Services $1,000
Arts Alive Festival $12,000
Fibromyalgia Well Spring Foundation $200
Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards $1,000
HD Stafford Middle School PAC $1,500
Langley 4H District Council $150
Langley Animal Protection Society $5,000
Langley Arts Council $2,500
Langley Care Foundation – Langley Lodge $5,000
Langley Field Naturalists $5,000
Langley Heritage Society $6,200
Langley Lawn Bowling Club $2,300
Langley Literacy Association $2,500
Langley Pos-Abilities Society $4,000
Langley Rotary Clubs – RibFest Langley $5,000
Langley Scholarship Committee $4,500
Langley Senior Resources Society $15,000
Langley Ukulele Association $2,500
Pitch-In Canada $425
Raphael Family Support Centre $2,500
Vancouver Youth Arts - Formerly KPU International Music Fest $5,500
Youth Parliament $1,000

These grants total: $113,058.19

Monday, March 21, 2022

Drilling for proposed development at Surrey border at 46 Ave and 196 St. Langley City concerned.

One of the things that I enjoy is the green space that runs along the Langley/Surrey Border, between 46th Avenue and 53rd Avenue. Unfortunately, the green space between 46th Avenue and Buckley Park/Hi-Knoll Park is private property. This private property is within Surrey, and the owner has decided to develop the property.

Surrey property on the right is subject to development, which will potentially remove 87 trees. Select image to enlarge.

As I posted about last summer, 87 trees may be coming down to accommodate this development of this property.

Tree removal and replacement plan for development project. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City is opposed to this project as:

  1. The only road access for the lots is derived from 196 Street and thus any traffic accessing the property would be required to travel through the City of Langley on 46 Avenue. The City of Langley does not support the creation of new parcels outside its boundaries that rely on City roads for access.
  2. The proposed northward extension of 196 Street in this area is not consistent with the City of Langley’s Master Transportation Plan (and Official Community Plan Road Network Map) and is not supported.
  3. Construction of the proposed 196 Street road extension would negatively impact adjacent City residents through land clearing, earth moving and truck traffic.
  4. The proposed subdivision would create one parcel outside of the Agricultural Land Reserve, potentially encouraging further development applications on these isolated and unserviced boundary lots. Notwithstanding the current “Rural” land use designation, the City of Langley believes that the creation of these parcels will increase the likelihood of future applications for urban development and the attendant requests for urban services.

You may see some work on that property in the coming weeks as they drill for a possible well water source. According to Langley City staff, the owner of the Surrey property still needs to get approval from the Agricultural Land Commission.

Langley City cannot stop this project as all construction, including the lengthening of 196th Street, is within the City of Surrey.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Population Change in South of Fraser and Langley Points to More Families

Townhouses under construction

I was recently looking over the presentations from the Regional Planning Committee for the Metro Vancouver Regional District. I saw the change in population and dwellings for all member jurisdictions based on the latest census data. One of the things that stood out to me was the population change in Langley City, with a relatively lower change in dwellings.

I decided to make the following table, which includes the change in the number of people divided by the number of new dwellings built between the 2016 and 2021 census. I called it People Per Dwelling. This number doesn’t mean that all these people moved into new dwellings. Some people could have moved into existing housing. It does show an indicator of housing efficiency, which generally means families.

Jurisdiction Population Change Dwelling Change People Per Dwelling
Lions Bay 56 11 5.1
Belcarra 44 9 4.9
Langley City 3075 758 4.1
Surrey 50435 15707 3.2
Langley Township 15318 4946 3.1
Maple Ridge 8734 2841 3.1
Pitt Meadows 573 210 2.7
White Rock 1987 730 2.7
Delta 6217 2300 2.7
Anmore 146 56 2.6
Port Coquitlam 2886 1131 2.6
Bowen Island 576 229 2.5
Tsawwassen First Nations 1440 607 2.4
New Westminster 7920 3391 2.3
West Vancouver 1649 757 2.2
Coquitlam 9341 4624 2.0
City of North Vancouver 5222 2648 2.0
Burnaby 16370 8935 1.8
Richmond 11628 7623 1.5
District of North Vancouver 2519 1715 1.5
Vancouver 30762 21420 1.4

Anecdotally, more families are living in Langley City than ever before. This table confirms that. The People Per Dwelling numbers indicate that the South of Fraser and Ridge-Meadows areas are where most families are moving to in Metro Vancouver. I was surprised to see that Langley City was near the top of the list.

On the other end, the City of Vancouver is seeing more singles and couples without children.

The table doesn’t include Port Moody, which saw a population decrease, unincorporated areas, and the University Endowment Lands. As a note, Lions Bay, Belcarra, and Anmore are villages with small populations.

Dwellings include all housing types, including detached, attached, and apartments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

March 7 Council Notes: Short-Term Accommodation Tax Renewed. Crime Prevention Committee Created.

At its March 7th public meeting, Langley City Council gave final reading to adopt a new accommodation tax bylaw. Accommodation providers, including hotels and online short-term stay accommodation providers, charge this 2% tax whenever anyone books a place to stay in Langley City. The province collects this tax and transfers it to Langley City to provide local tourism marketing services. Discovery Langley City is the contracted tourism destination marketing organization for Langley City. City Council must renew this tax every five years.

Council also approved a new Terms of Reference for the Crime Prevention Task Group, making it a full committee. Previously, the task group had to be renewed annually by Council. As a committee, Council no longer needs to renew its mandate annually.

The newly expanded mandate of the committee is to:

  • Advance media messaging around crime prevention and community defense model programs
  • Facilitate the “Know Your Neighbour” campaign
  • Recommend crime prevention programs
  • Promote and educate residents about existing RCMP programs crime prevention programs
  • Promote and educate business owners about existing RCMP programs
  • Support creating new protective and supportive services that help everyone feel safe and supported

The committee includes:

  • Two non-voting members of City Council to act as Chair and Co-Chair
  • Six community-at-large members
  • One member from the Downtown Langley Business Association
  • One member from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce
  • One member from the youth community
  • One member representing the Indigenous community (new)
  • Two members representing Langley City social service providers (new)

Currently, Councillor Albrecht and I chair the committee. A representative from the RCMP also attends each meeting and supports the committee.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Adult Beverages in Select Langley City Parks Back This Summer

New picnic shelters at City Park. Select image to enlarge.

Last summer, Langely City Council approved piloting the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages in select Langley City parks. The City also collected public feedback about the pilot program.

62% of the people who provided feedback to the City supported or strongly supported allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in parks, with 64% interested in expanding the program.

73% of the people who provided feedback had a positive or neutral experience in designated alcoholic beverage consumption areas during the pilot program.

Based on the feedback received, City staff proposed rerunning the pilot program this summer. Council agreed.

The consumption of adult beverages will be allowed on Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm, and this year expanding to Sundays from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The pilot will run from July 1st through September 30th.

These locations will be part of the pilot:

  • City Park New Picnic Shelters
  • North Side of McBurney Plaza
  • Select Areas of Douglas Park
Alcohol allowed zone in red. Select map to enlarge.

The City will spend $20,000 to provide enhanced garbage/recycling/organics collection, security, and signage for this summer’s pilot.

Monday, March 14, 2022

After much discussion, Langley City Council gives third reading to its 2022 budget, which includes taking action on climate change

In January 2021, Langley City Council declared a Climate Change Emergency and asked staff to investigate:

  • Achieving net-zero carbon emissions before 2050 within our community
  • Updating the current Sustainability Framework to incorporate current best practices on climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and to incorporate principles of biodiversity, sustainability and stewardship to guide future developments and infrastructure projects within Langley City
  • Resources, funding and timelines to implement the current climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas reduction plans, provide any updates, and the potential next steps to achieve the identified targets to Council.

Last summer’s heat dome, which killed 595 people in BC, and this winter’s devastating floods, which impacted Langley City, brought into focus the urgent need for the City to act.

Council proposed adding $127,500 to this year’s budget to fund an Environmental Sustainability Coordinator to start taking action. This role increased this year’s proposed property tax increase from 3.94% to 4.35%.

In January, Councillor Wallace noted that we need to take action on climate change and said, “we are way behind the times.”

Mayor van den Broek stated, “we have done nothing. We don’t have anybody on staff to address these issues.”

Councillors Storteboom and Martin were opposed to adding the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position (when the budget received first and second reading.)

The budget needs four readings before it can be adopted. At the next meeting at the beginning of February, Council decided to delay voting on the budget’s third reading. Mayor van den Broek and myself were opposed to postponing the vote. I questioned what new information we would receive over the next month to help inform the vote on the budget.

Between second and third reading, Council did receive a few additional letters asking that any budgetary increase be constrained to inflation. In January, inflation was 5.1%.

Last Monday, Council considered third reading of the 2022 budget. Staff recommended a minor $5,000 admenement to the budget’s capital plan, not impacting property tax. Council agreed. Mayor van den Broek recommended removing all proposed staff level increases in the budget, including the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position. The majority of Council did not agree.

Council gave the proposed 2022 budget third reading with Mayor van den Broek, Councillor Gayle Martin, and Councillor Storteboom opposed.

Next week, the budget will be up for its final reading.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Langley City Development: 6-storey Apartment near 200th and 56th. Rowhouses near Brookswood Border.

On Monday, Langley City Council held a public hearing for a proposed 6-storey, 49-unit apartment at 20032 & 20038 56 Avenue, just east of the Petro Can Station at 200th Street.

A rendering of the proposed project at 20032 & 20038 56 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

The apartment will feature rooftop outdoor amenity space.

The rooftop layout of the proposed project at 20032 & 20038 56 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes members of the public, architects, and landscape architects, made the following recommendations:

  • Provide weather-protective coverage for all 6th-floor balconies
  • Provide a covered area on rooftop patio over barbecue area
  • Provide a greater variety of seating options on the rooftop amenity space
  • Consider adding more or differently shaped/sized garden plots and spreading them out more widely over rooftop patio
  • Consider using larger windows on the side of the building
  • Provide more variety of plants on rooftop amenity space
  • Consider alternate parking layout for parallel parking spaces in the underground parking
  • Consider additional landscaping along the back of the parking area
  • Consider noise attenuation opportunities to insulate units from street noise and rooftop patio
  • Consider making garbage room accessible from within the building
  • Consider incorporating additional sustainability measures into the project

The project’s proponent accepted most of the recommendations of the advisory design panel except moving the garden plots, using larger windows on the sides of the building, adjusting the parking layout (not possible due to space constraints,) and making the garbage room accessible from within the building.

The additional sustainability measures include: using permeable paving on the walkways, patios, and the entrance driveway, using high solar reflectance roof material, and using high U-value glass for windows and doors.

Council received an email from a resident in the apartment just east of the proposed project. The resident was concerned the project would increase vehicles crashes and negatively impact his view.

Earlier in the day, Council gave first and second reading for a 6-unit rowhouse project at 20816 45A Avenue. Staff will now schedule a public hearing for the proposal.

A rendering of the proposed project at 20816 45A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Langley City’s Priority Needs for Vulnerable Populations

Public Washroom

All orders of government, local, provincial, and federal, have a role to play in supporting vulnerable people.

In Langley City, we have at least three provincial ministries, Fraser Health, and a dozen or so non-profits that provide support services to vulnerable people in our community. Because local government is closest to the community and can see the whole picture, local government’s role has expanded to become that of a facilitator of services for vulnerable people.

Langley City recently contracted a social planner to develop an action plan for addressing the priority needs of vulnerable people in our community. The following is a list of some of the needs:

  • Advocate for a mobile and peer-monitored washroom and showing facility
  • Create a hub for mental health and substance use services at Langley Memorial Hospital and future Surrey Cloverdale Hospital with coordinated mobile, community outreach, and virtual care options that would have services catering to all demographics
  • Develop a joint Langley City and Township of Langley emergency weather response plan, including shelters, cooling centres, and warming centres
  • Work with BC Housing to ensure that people living in Langley area hotels over the last few years remain housed
  • Foster a diverse housing supply from subsidized housing to market rental housing in Langely City, avocating to the provincial or federal government for funding when required
  • Advocate to BC Housing for increased levels of rental subsidies for low income and vulnerable people

If Council approves Langley City’s proposed 2022 budget, the social planner will continue working with the province and non-profits in our community to address these needs. A coordinated approach will increase the effectiveness of programs and services that already exist in our community, and many of the needs identified will not require additional funding.

For more information, please read the full report.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

New Tenant Relocation Plans Policy will ensure Metrotown-style Demovictions due not occur in Langley City

Since I’ve been on Council, I’ve seen a steady increase in the amount of redevelopment occurring in Langley City. The vast majority of redevelopment in Langely City is demolishing detached housing and replacing it with apartments or townhouses.

The City has seen a few old apartment buildings demolished and redeveloped into newer apartments, but these apartment buildings were fire damaged.

We are now seeing developers interested in demolishing older purpose-built, fully occupied rental buildings. The first example is a proposed 6-storey mixed-use building at Fraser Highway and 208th Street, which you can read about in a previous post.

I vividly recall the Burnaby demovictions in Metrotown. I remember the stress, fear, and trauma that these demovictions inflicted on residents in that community. This experience should not happen in Langley City.

Many of the older purpose-built rental buildings in Langley City are located in the Douglas Neighbourhood. This neighbourhood has one of the lowest median household incomes in Metro Vancouver. The City is starting to see interest in redeveloping these apartment buildings as they near the end of their lives.

To ensure that we do not reduce the number of rental units due to purpose-built rental building redevelopment, Langley City has a one-to-one rental replacement policy . The City is also working on an Affordable Rental Policy to ensure that developers create below-market rate rental units as part of purpose-built rental apartment redevelopment projects.

When redeveloping purpose-built rental apartments, the development process results in the relocation of existing residents. Langley City Council adopted a Tenant Relocation Plans policy yesterday.

This policy will ensure that residents receive early notice about any redevelopment plans for their apartment building, are compensated beyond the provincial minimums, and are helped in finding and moving to a new housing location.

All tenants who must relocate will receive the following minimum compensation:

Length of Tenancy Minimum Compensation Provided
Up to 5 years tenancy 2 months rent
6 to 10 years tenancy 3 months rent
11 to 15 years tenancy 4 months rent
16-20 years tenancy 5 months rent
Over 20 years tenancy 6 months rent

All tenants will also receive moving assistants.

All tenants will also have the first right of refusal to move back and rent in the newly redeveloped project at 10% below market rental rates.

Many seniors and people with lower incomes live in purpose-built rental buildings in Langley City. The Tenant Relocation Plans policy ensures that these people receive extra help finding affordable rental units and additional compensation.

The policy requires that a developer’s Tenant Relocation Coordinator provide extra assistance in finding subsidized housing units, applying for rent supplements from the province, and providing help with packing and relocation for people who:

  • Have a recognized disability pension or are considered disabled for income tax purposes, and/or seniors aged 55 or older, as per BCHousing definitions;
  • Qualify for deep subsidy and Rent Geared to Income (RGI) units, according to BC Housing eligibility criteria; and
  • Are currently paying monthly rent that is equivalent to or less than average monthly rents for RGI units in the City.

The policy also increases the compensation as follows:

Length of Tenancy Minimum Compensation Provided
Up to 15 years tenancy 4 (6*) months rent
16-20 years tenancy 5 (6*) months rent
Over 20 years tenancy 6 months rent

*If NOT rehoused into a non-market, subsidized unit.

For people who qualify for a deep subsidy or RGI rental unit, but are not senior or have a disability, the Tenant Relocation Coordinator must also provide additional assistance finding a new rental unit and help them apply for rent supplements.

This policy has built-in accountability measures to ensure developers follow it. Council and staff will regularly review the policy to make sure it meets the needs of our community.

For more information, please read the complete policy.

Monday, March 7, 2022

More housing supply is needed. Stripping municipal rezoning power is not the solution.

One of many projects under control in the Brydon area of Langley City.

David Eby, the minister responsible for housing in BC, has stated in the media that “the [role of] city government is to talk about the where — and maybe what [housing] looks like — but not whether or not the house goes ahead.” He stated that he would be introducing new legislation in the fall sessions of the BC Legislature that would address the supply side of the housing and hinted that it might result in local governments losing some power.

The most powerful tool local governments have is zoning, specifically the rezoning process. Generally, when someone wants to increase the density of a property, they must go through a rezoning process. The ability of a local government to deny a rezoning request allows local governments to negotiate benefits for the community, including providing affordable housing.

For example, Council granted rezoning to enable redevelopment of the Langley Lions Housing Society’s building under the condition that the society sign a housing agreement to ensure that the new housing remains affordable and seniors oriented.

Council is also discussing a Tenant Relocation Plan policy tonight. If approved, Council would apply this policy during the rezoning process to ensure that owners of purpose-built rental buildings provide early notice, compensation beyond provincial requirements, and help find new rental units for tenants if a building is being redeveloped.

Council can also use rezoning to ensure that a percentage of a new project is affordable housing units.

Council uses its power to deny rezoning to negotiate funds from developers, which the City uses for infrastructure requiring upgrades due to increased density.

Some municipalities take a long time to get projects through the redevelopment pipeline, such as in the City of Vancouver. Some municipalities do not want any increase in density, such as in White Rock. There are also a few high-profile cases where a municipal council denied housing for people experiencing homelessness. These cases are the exception.

I know that in Langley City, projects can work their way through the development approval process, including Council approval, in under six months. The bottleneck usually is not Langley City.

One developer in Langley City, Whitetail Homes, has three projects under construction. They have two sites where Council has already approved redevelopment and a project working its way through the process.

I can think of several other properties where Council has provided approval in principle, but the developer has not moved forward due to matters within the developer’s control and not the City’s control.

I talked to someone I know who works in a developer office. They told me that getting skilled managers and tradespeople was their most significant reason why they couldn’t build more housing faster.

If developers could build anything they liked without Council approval, I believe the biggest bottleneck to building fast would still be the limited pool of skilled people and cost of materials.

One of the recently introduced provincial requirements is for municipalities to create housing needs reports which show “existing and projected gaps in housing supply requirement.” I think the province should require that municapilites inditify how they will fill the supply gap and require that to be incorporated into municipal Official Community Plans.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Volunteers needed to help spread the word about crime prevention

Crime Prevention Task Group Tent

Do you like talking with people and getting to know others in your community? After a two-year break, Langley City’s “Know Your Neighbour” campaign is back in action!

Langley City and the Crime Prevention Task Group are looking for volunteers to staff a pop-up event later this year. At the event, you will talk to people about crime prevention strategies, share tips about building neighbourhood community, and give out packages that include safety information and who to contact when something needs to be resolved, whether it is suspicious activity, vandalism, or a pothole.

If you’d like to volunteer for a 4-hour shift or learn more about the campaign, email, subject line: “Know Your Neighbour.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Provincial and Federal Money + Regional Coordination = Better Flood Mitigation

Flood along 208th Street in Langley City

As I posted late last year, the province and municipalities have known that the majority of our dikes in the Lower Mainland are “substandard and most will not withstand the provincially adopted design flood events.”

This winter’s flooding was a wake-up call for all levels of government to evaluate flood management and mitigation infrastructure in the Lower Mainland.

The provincial government transferred responsibility for dikes to municipalities or local authorities in the early 2000s, but did not provide the monetary resources or tools to help maintain these dikes.

This lack of funding is changing. The provincial government is providing $400 million this year, $500 million next year, and $250 million the year after that for “investments that will need to be made to help communities recover. The province will be working with impacted communities and residents to assess the extent of the damage to critical infrastructure and identify what will be required to increase resilience against future events.” The federal government is also providing significant funding.

Flooding management and mitigation require a regional response. The current patchwork of governments and authorities, even with funding, would lead to a less effective response than a coordinated effort.

In Metro Vancouver, the regional district is taking a leadership role with the newly formed Flood Resiliency Task Force.

Its mandate includes (among others):

  • Reviewing the impacts on the region and Metro Vancouver Regional District members by the severe flooding in November and December of 2021
  • Identifying risks and gaps in the existing infrastructure to mitigate flooding
  • Identifying short-term and longer-term capital investment to repair damage to the infrastructure from recent floods and to build infrastructure to withstand predicted flooding due to climate change
  • Identifying roles and responsibilities of all orders of government to financing, developing and maintaining flood management and mitigation infrastructure

The task force terms of reference also note that it will need to work with the Fraser Valley Regional District as we are all in the Fraser River basin.

With new provincial and federal funding, I hope this task group will affect coordinated flooding management and mitigation throughout the Lower Mainland.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Transit ridership recovery shows a fundamental change in how and why people travel


Since the summer of 2020, transit ridership in Metro Vancouver has been slowly climbing. In February, transit ridership was 64.5% of pre-COVID levels. The following graph shows transit ridership by service.

Graph of TransLink transit ridership recovery. Select graph to enlarge. Source: TransLink

What I find interesting is that West Coast Express ridership has only recovered to a maximum of 28 percent of pre-COVID levels. I think this shows a fundamental shift in travel patterns.

Before the pandemic, I worked in a Downtown Vancouver office. Our company has shifted to remote work for good though it still maintains office spaces. Less than 5% of the staff use the office on any given day in Vancouver. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the office in the last two years. Where I work also has an office in Texas where COVID restrictions have been long dropped. The number of people that access that office on any given day is also tiny.

I no longer use transit to get to work daily, but I still use transit for other activities like accessing shops, services, visiting people, or recreation.

Pre-COVID, a lot of people took transit to get to work in Downtown Vancouver. As a result, transit services skewed to this market.

Most transit systems in North America heavily skewed to serving 9-to-5 commuters.

In Metro Vancouver, due to the vision of our region, TransLink has invested in providing a solid all-day frequent transit network that offers good service to almost all areas of our region.

Because TransLink has a good all-day network, transit ridership has recovered faster than most other places in North America.

The federal and provincial governments gave transit agencies operating grants due to COVID, but those grants will not last forever.

If 9-to-5 commuters do not return to Downtown Vancouver at the same pre-COVID levels, it will allow TransLink to adjust the transit network. TransLink can adapt the network towards providing more frequent all-day service instead of focusing on the traditional morning and afternoon peak periods. Combined with on-road transit priority measures such as bus lanes, transit could become a viable option for more trips in our region.