Thursday, July 28, 2022

July 25 Council Notes: Terry Fox Run Back, New Mosaic Mural, Gifts Council Can Receive

This year has been challenging for organizations and groups that host in-person events as people get back into the swing of things after the relaxation of public health measures. The Terry Fox Run is back this year in Langley though the organizers were late in getting in their community grant application. Given the exceptional past few years, Council approved their late application for $1,083 to allow the run to proceed. They will use this in-kind funding for renting Spirit Square and space at Douglas Rec Centre and for all required permits.

On Monday, Council also approved investing up to $10,000 for two murals on the side of the Rotary Centennial Park washroom building, as recommended by Langley City’s Arts, Recreation, Culture and Heritage Committee. The funding is from the City’s Public Art Fund.

One mural will be 19’ by 8’ and made of mosaic tiles. The second will be a 13’ by 8’ painted mural. Both will feature the theme of flight and movement, “recognizing the flight paths of birds and planes in the area, as well as movement from one place to another, and transitions of people in the area.”

Council approved an update to its policy “CO-45 Solicited or Unsolicited Gifts or Benefits Received by Members of City Council.” This update clarified when a member of Council can receive a gift and how a member of Council must report gifts they receive.

As a general rule, members of Council must not accept gifts or favours from people except if “it is a result of a protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the responsibilities of elected office.”

For example, if a member of Council is invited to a dinner or golf tournament to represent the City or show support for a non-profit community organization, that is permitted. If a resident or business owner buys a member of Council a coffee to have a chat, that would be OK too.

If a developer gives a member of Council box tickets to an NHL game complete with a comped fancy dinner and overnight hotel stay, that would not be acceptable.

A member of Council must disclose all gifts or benefits valued at more than $250.

Finally, Council referred two motions from the Mayor to staff for comment. The motions related to events around the motion of censure and sanction against the Mayor.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

July 25 Council Notes: Apartment and Mixed-Use Projects. 46 Avenue Storm Sewer.

On Monday, Langley City Council held its final meeting before the summer meeting break. The next Council meeting will be on September 19th. As a note, there are now only two Council meetings left before the general local government election on October 15th.

Over the coming day, I’ll post about what Council addressed at the Monday meeting. Today, I will be focusing on development and infrastructure matters.

Council gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw which will allow for a 5-storey, 93-unit rental apartment at the northwest corner of 53rd Avenue and 201A Street.

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

You can read more about this proposed project in a previous post.

Before Council considers giving final reading of a rezoning bylaw and issuing a development permit, City staff make sure that all engineering drawings for a project are validated to meet all pertinent province laws, Langley City bylaws, and regulations. The City also makes sure it has collected all required deposits, fees, and charges.

Council gave final reading to a 6-storey, 92-unit apartment project on the southeast corner of 55A Avenue and Brydon Crescent as well as a 6-storey, 144-unit apartment mixed-use building on the northwest corner of 201A Street and Fraser Highway. The mixed-use building will have 9,053 sq. ft. of ground-level retail space. Council also issued a development permit for each of these projects.

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

Proposed mixed-use project view from the corner of 201A and Fraser Highway. 20137 & 20139 Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Council approved a tender in the amount of $549,124.68 (excluding GST) to Klondike Infrastructiure Ltd. to replace the storm sewer under 46 Avenue, as shown in the following map, with a 300mm perforated storm sewer.

Location of storm sewer renewal. Select map to enlarge.

Monday, July 25, 2022

TransLink’s current and future plans to invest billions into transit vehicle renewal

The federal Gas Tax Fund, now called the Canada Community-Building Fund, is a permanent federal funding program to support local governments. In Metro Vancouver, all municipalities decided to direct 95% of this funding to support TransLink renewal projects. TransLink is required, among other things, to get approval from the Metro Vancouver Regional District board about how they plan to invest these funds and provide an annual report on how they used them.

Since the program started in 2005, TransLink has received over $1.6 billion to keep the transit system in a state of good repair.

TransLink uses this funding to purchase or refurbish buses, SkyTrain cars, maintenance vehicles, elevators, and escalators. Sometimes TransLink uses this funding for larger projects such as a new Marpole Transit Centre or renewed of the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre. Transit Centres are where buses are stored and maintained.

TransLink currently has $910 million in active projects at the end of 2021.

If TransLink wants to change the scope of its projects that use the Canada Community-Building Fund, it must get approval from the Metro Vancouver Regional District board. TransLink is requesting that $74.3 million be put back into the funding pool. The number of new buses needed over the next decade will be less due to lower transit ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic. TransLink can also reduce the number of original Mark I SkyTrain cars that need to be refurbished from 36 to 13 as a result of “a comprehensive condition assessment.”

If the board reduces the scope, there will be $327.9 million left in the funding pool. The funding, combined with the ongoing top-up of the fund by the federal government, will allow TransLink to invest an additional $1.6 billion over the next eight years to renew the transit fleets. The funding will be primarily used to purchase new trolley, battery electric and renewable natural gas buses.

For more information, please read the July 14th agenda of the Metro Vancouver Regional District Finance Committee.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

In Metro Vancouver, people are still throwing electronics and cardboard into the garbage

Garbage Can

In Metro Vancouver, recyclable items, hazardous items, and items that are part of a product stewardship program, such as e-waste, tires, or pesticides, cannot be put into the garbage. To keep people, municipalities, and companies honest, the Metro Vancouver Regional District inspects about a quarter of the loads arriving at regional waste transfer stations. If a load has banned items, the regional district will apply a surcharge to the load. This surcharge is to incentivize waste haulers not to accept banned items.

The following table shows the percentage of banned items found during inspections over the last three years.

Material 2019 2020 2021
Electronic Waste 30% 35% 26%
Cardboard 24% 20% 25%
Large Objects 5% 10% 11%
Mattresses 14% 9% 9%
Other Banned Materials 6% 5% 5%
Food Waste 4% 4% 5%
Gypsum 4% 3% 4%
Paint (Includes empty containers) 3% 4% 3%
Tires 3% 3% 3%
Clean Wood 2% 3% 3%
Expanded Polystyrene Packaging 1% 2% 3%
Green Waste 1% <1% 1%
Oil (Includes containers and filters) 1% <1% 1%
Recyclable Containers 1% <0.5% 0.50%
Recyclable Paper 1% <0.5% 0.50%

People putting electronics into the garbage is still a significant issue in our region, even with the easy access to Return-It Centres throughout Metro Vancouver. I wonder if we need to charge a deposit, like for bottles and cans, so people will be more likely to recycle and not throw out end-of-life electronics.

What shocked me was the amount of cardboard that ends up in the garbage, considering how universally easy it is to recycle that material.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has a third party reviewing its disposal ban program to provide recommendations to improve the program to encourage more waste reduction and increased recycling. I look forward to seeing the recommendations.

For more information, please read the July 15th Zero Waste Committee Agenda.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension Speeds Up Travel Times

One of the considerations, when people choose between driving or taking transit, is the time it will take to get to their destination. Compared to today’s transit network, or business as usual (BAU), the SkyTrain extension to Langley City will cut travel times along the Fraser Highway corridor in half.

The authors of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain business case state, “for people travelling to Surrey or Langley City centre, transit travel times become comparable, or even faster, to those made by car.”

The following maps show the travel time difference between the current transit network and the transit network with the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension in 2050.

Transit travel times from Fleetwood. Select map to enlarge.

Transit travel times from Langley Centre in 2050. Select map to enlarge.

Travel times include walking from the station head to the platform, wait time, boarding time, and time on the train.

The project will give people throughout the region better access to jobs because of these time savings. The following map shows areas in our region where people will have to travel no more than 60 minutes by transit to access jobs by 2050.

Change in transit access to jobs by 2050. Select map to enlarge.

For more information, please read the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain business case.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Council awards contract for $2.2 million renewal at City Park

City Park

Back in 2016, Langley City Council approved the City Park Master Plan, and over the years, the City has been renewing the park per that master plan.

City Park Master Plan. Select image to enlarge.

The federal government selected Langley City to receive $750,000 from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund. The City will use this funding to help pay for Phase 4 of the City Park Master Plan. Phase 4 includes a new sand-based natural grass baseball diamond and sports field. It also includes a new small amphitheatre at the northwest entrance to the park.

Phase 4 of the City Park Master Plan. Select image to enlarge.

The School Board has verbally committed to investing $35,000 to help offset the amphitheatre’s cost as Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary students will use it.

On Monday, Council awarded the tender for this project to Canadian Landscape and Civil Services Ltd. in the amount of $2,150,302.20 (excluding GST).

Monday, July 18, 2022

Surrey Langley SkyTrain Extension Business Case Approved. Procurement Starting.

Waterfront Station

On Thursday, the provincial government released the business case for extending the SkyTrain Expo Line from its current terminus at King George to 203rd Street in Langley City. The Province also announced that they approved the business case and that procurement for the project will start in December this year, with full construction starting in 2024. The Province expects the extension to enter service in 2028.

Alignment and stations for Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension. Select map to enlarge.

One of the interesting things about this 16-kilometre SkyTrain extension is that the Province is proposing to put out three different contracts for its construction. In the past, the Province has issued a single contract to build SkyTrain projects, whether in the public-private partnership model of the Canada Line or the design-build model for the Evergreen Line and Broadway Subway. The Province will be issuing three contracts for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension.

The three contracts will be for: the guideway, the stations and power systems, and trackwork and associated systems.

The Province believes, as shown in the business case, that three contracts will increase the competitiveness of the tender process, leading to lower costs. The Province also thinks it will lower the overall risks to the project.

Overall, the extension will cost $4.01 billion. The Province is funding $2.476 billion, the federal government, $1.306 billion, and TransLink/Surrey will invest $228 million.

The Province is also investing $60 million into walking and cycling infrastructure as part of the overall project. This funding will be available to build active transportation infrastructure along and near Fraser Highway to make it easier for people to walk or cycle to SkyTrain stations.

I am hopeful that Langley City will be able to use some of this funding to build out our safe active transportation network. As our community is only 10 square kilometres, virtually every corner of Langley City is within a 10 minutes bike ride of a SkyTrain station.

The project’s principal goals are to reduce congestion, reduce travel times, and give people travel options. In 2028, the Province predicts that the project will eliminate 20,000 daily auto trips. This number grows over time.

In its press release, the Province stated, “The development of housing and amenities for the Surrey Langley SkyTrain will also be guided by recent changes to the Transportation Act (Bill 16) that were passed during the spring 2022 legislative session. Bill 16 enables the Province to acquire land to build housing and community amenities that are integrated into transit stations or exchanges.”

I haven’t heard what this will mean on the ground. Does it mean the Province will acquire land to build affordable housing projects? I look forward to seeing the Province’s plan.

You can download the business case from the Province’s website.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

New map shows housing starts between 2017 and 2021 by neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver, including Langley

The Housing Research Collaborative, run out of the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC, recently released an interactive map showing the number of housing starts for all of Canada’s major urban centres. A housing start occurs when construction starts on a building with dwelling units—the map drills down to the neighbourhood level.

Townhouse construction

In Metro Vancouver, between 2017 and 2021, there were 126,133 housing starts. 72% of housing starts were apartments, 15% were detached houses, 11% were rowhouses/townhouses, and 2% were duplexes. About a quarter of the housing starts were in purpose-built rental buildings, and only 27 units were co-op housing.

Screenshot of interactive housing starts map focusing on Langley City. Select map to enlarge.

In Langley City, between 2017 and 2021, there were 1,953 housing starts. 76% of housing starts were apartments, 21% were townhouses/rowhouses, and 3% were detached houses. Only 9% of these units were in purpose-built rental buildings.

One thing to note is that, in Langley City, many strata buildings have the same owner for all strata units, effectively making them rental buildings. They would not show up as purpose-built rental buildings in these stats. Many owners build strata rental buildings to circumvent a Langley City bylaw. The bylaw prevents purpose-built rental buildings from being converted to strata ownership buildings in the future and requires a one-for-one replacement of rental units if a purpose-built rental building is ever redeveloped.

Not surprising to people living in Langley City, the neighbourhood with about 50% of all new housing starts was Brydon.

For more information, please check out the interactive map. I found the information insightful.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Langley City Council awards a further $30,555 in Community Grants. Total of $143,613 this year.

One of Langley City Council’s policies is to dedicate a portion of our casino revenue to Community Grants. Non-profit organizations or people in a neighbourhood can apply for a grant for any project, event, or initiative that would benefit people in our community.

Langley City normally has a winter and summer intake for grants. At Monday’s Council meeting, Council approved the following grants from the summer intake:

Organization Amount
Africa - Canada Education Foundation $1,500
Boys and Girls Club of Langley $5,780
Canadian Festival of Chili & BBQ $3,045
Fraser Region Community Justice   Initiatives (CJI) $2,000
Langley Community Services Society - Best   Babies $5,000
Langley Fastball Provincial Tournament $5,000
Langley Lawn Bowling Club $2,500
Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society $3,700
Silver Diamond Country Dancers   Association $1,030
Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society $1,000
Total $30,555

Earlier this year, Council approved $113,058.19 in Community Grants.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Public Hearing: 5-storey, 93-unit rental apartment at 53rd and 201A Street

Last night, Langley City Council held a public hearing for a proposed 5-storey, 93-unit rental apartment development on the northwest corner of 53rd Avenue and 201A Street. The proposed project will have 99 residents’ parking spots and 15 visitors’ parking spots. The building contains 20 two-bedroom units, with the remainder one-bedroom or studio.

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

Langley City’s Advisory Design Panel, which includes members of the public, architects, and landscape architects who volunteer their time, made the following recommendations about the proposed project:

  • Consider sharing or strengthening the relationship of the outdoor amenity space with that of the adjacent development to the north (which is being built by the same applicant as this proposed project.)
  • Consider moving the resident accessible parking stall closer to the elevator lobby.
  • Review the use of Dogwood trees for hardiness and incorporate additional shade-tolerant tree species into landscaping.
  • Consider the use of wood mulch as ground cover for the southwest communal garden plots.
  • Consider shifting the bike maintenance room to be adjacent to the bike storage room and allowing access between them.
  • Consider expanding the size of the elevator lobby in the parkade and improving visibility into and out of it through additional windows, relocating or reconfiguring the electrical room as necessary.
  • Consider providing additional communal garden plots.
  • Consider providing outdoor amenity space, landscaping, or solar panels on the roof.
  • Review the maneuverability of exiting the visitor parking area.
Image showing the relationship between the previously approved apartment on 53A Avenue and 201 A Street, and this proposed apartment. Select the image to enlarge.

The applicant moved forward with the Panel’s recommendations, except they did not move the accessible parking as it would impact the width of that spot or add anything to the roof.

Council received two emails from residents about the proposed project. The residents expressed concerns about parking and wanted additional crosswalks and sidewalks in the area.

As part of the redevelopment between 200th Street and 201A Street, a new sidewalk will be built on the north side of 53rd Avenue. The City will also create a raised crosswalk between 200th and 201A Street on 53rd Avenue to improve access to the school.

As for on-site parking, a series of parking studies completed by the Regional District found that it is underutilized in apartment buildings throughout the South of Fraser, including Langley City. Most rental apartments in Langley City charge for on-site parking, which could lead to some people electing to park their vehicles on the street for free.

I asked at the public hearing if the applicant would add extra soundproofing between units where the living room of one unit abuts the bedroom of another unit. The applicant noted that there is an extra layer of wall in the kitchen areas, and overall, they use wall assemblies that exceed BC Building Code requirements.

Monday, July 11, 2022

$9.8 Million in Projects for Campbell Valley Regional Park

Historic Langley Speedway in Campbell Valley Regional Park

Campbell Valley Regional Park is one of the significant parks in Metro Vancouver. In 2020, the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board adopted the Campbell Valley Regional Park Management Plan. This plan outlines a five-year investment vision for the park.

In short, the plan’s vision is to connect “people to natural and cultural landscapes. Its river valley, forests, and grasslands contain a diversity of ecosystems and experiences where visitors recreate, discover, and experience nature.”

I posted about the management plan back in 2020. In that post are detailed maps of the proposed improvements the regional district wants to make. I’ve included an overview map below.

Concept plan for Campbell Valley Regional Park. Select map to enlarge.

In its 2023 parks projects capital budget, the Metro Vancouver Regional District is looking for the board to approve $9.8 million in projects for Campbell Valley Regional Park over the next five years, which includes $1.2 million in 2023.

If the regional district board approves the projects, it will allow for the implementation of the Campbell Valley Regional Park Management Plan and the renewal of the Little River Loop Boardwalk.

Over the last few years, I’ve visited more national, province, regional, and local parks than in the previous ten years. I can say that Metro Vancouver has some of the best parks that I’ve been in because the district and board keep investing in them to help people connect with nature.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

More Details on RapidBus and Bus Rapid Transit Vision

A few weeks ago, the TransLink Board and the Mayors’ Council approved our region’s new list of 10-year transportation priorities. I posted about what this means for Langley as far as buses as well as walking and cycling in previous posts. I wanted to share some more information.

One of the first pushes will be to expand RapidBus. The current example of RapidBus in the South of Fraser is the R1 which runs down King George Boulevard in Surrey. The next route to be put in service is the R6 Scott Road RapidBus, scheduled to start next year. The following video shows some of the changes to the road network to speed up bus service.

The following map shows RapidBus routes that TransLink, in partnership will municipalities, plans to build out over the next decade. A new RapidBus between Maple Ridge and Downtown Langley through the fast-growing Willoughby area is a TransLink priority in the first half of the 10-year plan.

RapidBus Expansion Map Including Phasing. Select map to enlarge.

Following the rollout of RapidBus, a sort of BRT-light, will be full BRT or Bus Rapid Transit. TransLink is planning to build BRT along the 200th Street Corridor, replacing RapidBus in the next decade. This BRT route will “connect the city centre of Langley and the city centre of Maple Ridge with a fully traffic-separated BRT line featuring dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority across the 200 St - Golden Ears - Lougheed Highway corridor.”

BRT differs from RapidBus because its travel lanes are entirely protected and separated from travel lanes throughout 100% of the route. We don’t have anything like this in Metro Vancouver today.

This is an example of BRT in the York Region in Greater Toronto. It is closest to what BRT would likely look like along 200th Street.

Viva Rapidway BRT Busway. Select image to enlarge. Source: BeyondDC

One of the tricky things that will be required for BRT is the reconfiguration of 200th Street. I know 200th Street between Highway 1 and the Langley City border does have enough right-of-way to accommodate BRT, but it might be trickier getting that right-of-way through to the proposed 203rd Street SkyTrain station unless general travel lanes are removed.

The next step for this new 10-year plan will be for the region to develop a funding plan which will take the cooperation of the provincial and federal governments.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

2021 Caring for the Air Report – Metro Vancouver Air Quality Improving

Grant Narrows

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is responsible for managing air quality in the Lower Mainland. The regional district has prepared an annual “Caring for the Air” report for the past decade. This report is easy to read and contains helpful information for people. For example, this year’s report has tips on creating a homemade box fan filter for the annual wildfire smoke season.

The report also has information on some of the projects the regional district is sponsoring to help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emission. One project focuses on the film industry, where they will be looking at ways to replace portable diesel generators with clean energy sources.

It also contains information on the new residential indoor wood burning (fireplace) requirements coming into effect later this year.

Some good news is that gas pollutants continue to trend down except for ground-level ozone, which has slightly increased. This increase is due to ozone formed outside Canada that is coming into our region.

Gas Phase Pollutants. Select chart to enlarge.

Fine Particulate Matter impacts human health, which can decrease lung function, aggravate asthma, make breathing hard, and even lead to premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

The following graph highlights the significant impact of wildfires on Fine Particulate Matter and human health during the summer month.

Fine Particulate Matter. Select chart to enlarge.

For more information, check out the report starting on page 63 of the Climate Action Committee Agenda.

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Free Beer Nathan Pachal Mayoral Candidate Meetup (and Fundraiser)

Nathan at Farm Country Brewing

Although the fall municipal election may seem like an eternity away, with summer finally here, it is actually only around 100 days away!

After serving two terms as a councillor in Langley City, I'm excited to be running for mayor. Running for mayor is not something I take lightly. It is a big responsibility. I can only run for this position because of the support of people in our great community.

As a small token of my appreciation, I'd like to invite you to Farm Country Brewing for a beer (or other non-alcoholic) beverage on me, whether you are already a supporter or want to learn a bit more about me and what I stand for.

A mayoral campaign costs money to run, so I will also be accepting donations at the event. You can donate up to $1,250.00. I'll be accepting cheques or credit cards.

Date and Time

Thursday, July 21st
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM


Farm Country Brewing
5 - 20555 56 Avenue

Event Schedule

6:30 pm - Sign in and get a drink ticket
7:00 pm - Speeches
7:15 pm - Meet and Mingle

I look forward to seeing you at Langley City's premier craft brewery!