Thursday, August 25, 2022

Slower speeds are now the norm on local streets in small-town BC

During the past three years, I have travelled to more places in BC than I think in the previous 20 years. One of the things I keep an eye on when travelling is how other communities address traffic safety and create more walkable and bikeable communities.

Speeding, driver impairment, and poor road conditions are leading causes of death and injuries in BC. In fact, over 270 people are killed and many more injured on roads in BC each year.

One of the simple ways to make roads safer is to reduce speeds.

In most BC municipalities, the default speed limit is 50 km/h, which is too fast. If you are walking and a motor vehicle driver hits you at 30km/h, you have a 90% chance of surviving. At 50km/h, you have an 80% chance of dying.

This default 50 km/h speed limit was due to a false impression that municipalities need special permission from the province to lower the default speed limit below 50 km/h.

Last fall, I received an email from Bowinn Ma, the Minister of State for Infrastructure.

She stated that “municipalities do not need approval from the provincial government to change the default speed limit of 50 km/h on local roads within their communities.”

“To change a speed limit and make it enforceable, municipalities must pass a bylaw and install signs. There are no specific requirements under the Motor Vehicle Act for how many signs to install or where they must be placed in order to notify drivers and support enforcement of the speed limit.”

I’ve noticed that many smaller municipalities in BC are lowering the default speeds on their local roads.

The following sign is from Sayward, but I saw many other examples, including in places like 100 Mile House.

30km/h Speed Limit Sign

Now there are roads where you would set the speed limit higher than 30km/h, such as provincial highways and major corridors. 200th Street, 208th Street, Glover, Logan, the Langley Bypass and some sections of Fraser Highway and 56th Avenue would be those roads in our community.

On higher-speed roads, we need to continue separating walking, cycling, and motor vehicle traffic and redesigning intersections to reduce the likelihood of injury and death for all road users.

I am encouraged to see that smaller municipalities in BC are taking traffic safety seriously. We should be taking a cue from them to improve road safetly for more people in our province.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tree Protection During the Redevelopment Process

Trees in urban areas provide important services for our residents. They help capture and filter rainwater, moderate the urban heat island effect, and improve human health outcomes. These are some of the reasons why Langley City is working on an urban forest management plan. Regionally, the goal is to increase the total tree canopy in urban areas from 32% to 40% by 2050.

Langley City Council also passed a motion in June asking for an urban forest management plan that includes policy measures to retain as much of the existing tree canopy as practically possible during redevelopment. Currently, there are no policies in place.

I was recently in Toronto for work and walked through a central urban residential neighbourhood. While it may seem that Toronto and Langley City are worlds apart, they are similar because all development is redevelopment in both municipalities. There are no farm fields or woodlots to clear for urban development.

I noticed in Toronto that they protect trees during the redevelopment process. The following picture shows an example of the tree protection policy in action during redevelopment.

Tree protection in place during the redevelopment of property in Toronto. Select image to enlarge.

Toronto also has an extensive framework for tree protection, including policies to ensure trees are not damaged throughout construction during redevelopment. Toronto also has an urban forest management plan.

Toronto’s tree protection policies and bylaws don’t prescribe that every tree on a lot be preserved, but they ensure trees are kept during redevelopment when possible.

While not a policy now, Langley City worked with a developer to protect some trees during the redevelopment of the property at the northwest corner of 200th Street and 56th Avenue. I’m hopeful that, once completed and adopted, Langley City’s new urban forest management plan will make this the norm and not the exception.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Surrey and Township of Langley refuse to adopt new regional growth strategy

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has 22 members, which includes Tsawwassen First Nation and 21 municipalities. One of the significant responsibilities of the Regional District is to create a regional growth strategy. The creation of a regional growth strategy is provincially mandated. All members of the Regional District, including Langley City, must follow the regional growth strategy.

Metro Vancouver has some unique challenges when it comes to land use. We are surrounded by mountains, the US border, and the ocean. We have the largest and busiest port in Canada, which means industrial land is at a premium. We have the most fertile farmland in BC, protected mainly by the Agricultural Land Reserve. We also have a growing economy and population, meaning we need to build more housing. People in our region also believe in protecting greenspace, which helps clean our air and water.

Because of this, it is no surprise that each successive regional growth strategy has become more prescriptive.

The happy path for adopting an updated regional growth strategy is for all Metro Vancouver Regional District members to willingly vote in favour of the new policy. Langley City Council voted to adopt the new regional growth strategy, Metro 2050, back in June. In fact, all members of the Regional District except for Surrey and the Township of Langley have adopted the new regional growth strategy.

In Surrey, Council wants to remove the Rural regional land-use designation, changing it to the General Urban regional land-use designation. Rural land in Metro Vancouver has very low-density residential, agricultural, smallscale commercial, smallscale industrial, or institutional uses that do not require the provision of urban services such as sewerage or transit. Surrey sees rural areas as a “land bank” for future development. The regional growth strategy explicitly states, “Rural lands are not intended as future urban development areas and generally will not have access to regional sewerage services.”

Map of land with the regional Rural land-use designation in Metro 2050. Select map to enlarge.

This Rural land-use designation existed in the previous Metro 2040 regional growth strategy, so Surrey Council must get Metro Vancouver Regional District Board approval to convert rural land to urban land even today.

Township of Langley Council and the Regional District have a long-standing dispute focusing on an area around Trinity Western University called the “University District.” The Township of Langley and property owners in the area want to exclude 152 hectares of land from the regional Agricultural land-use designation even though the Agricultural Land Commission has only allowed for the exclusion of 23.4 acres from the Agricultural Land Reserve. While Township of Langley Council has other concerns that I believe the Regional District and its members will be able to address, the biggest challenge will be removing agricultural land for urban use. The challenge is that the majority regional viewpoint is that agricultural land, even if not actively farmed, provides ecological service to the region. In the Township, there is a significant view that land that isn’t Class 1 or 2 agricultural lands should be converted to industrial or urban uses.

Township of Langley’s proposed land use, left. Metro 2050 land use, right. University District. Select map to enlarge.

With the upcoming local government elections, adopting the new regional growth strategy will likely be paused into the new year.

If Surrey, the Township of Langley, and Regional District cannot find a happy path forward, it will become messy and legal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Election Update: I need your help. Would you like to put up a lawn sign or go door-to-door with postcards?

Nathan at Douglas Park

It is hard to believe that it is only about two months until the October 15th general election for Langley City Mayor and Council.

I enjoyed chatting with the folks who attended my mayoral launch event a few weeks ago at Farm Country Brewing. People were interested in how we need to work together as a City Council with provincial and federal levels of government, and our community’s vibrant non-profit sector, to move forward with meaningful, positive change for our community. I continue to be interested in hearing your ideas and working together to find the best ways forward.

It is only by working together with others that we can address community safety concerns, create more affordable housing, get people experiencing homelessness into housing with wrap-around support and treatment, and continue to expand public transit options for people.

We must also work together on getting the basics right, like fixing potholes, keeping park washrooms clean, and fixing uneven sidewalks.

The election campaign starts in earnest after Labour Day.

Are you able to help out?
Would you like a lawn sign?
Are you able to hand out postcards in your neighbourhood?
Would you like to go door-to-door with me to get to know people in our community, the challenges they face, and solutions for our community?

If so, I invite you to sign-up to volunteer at

Just as a mayor needs to work with others to get things done, I need your help for my mayoral campaign to be successful.

If you’d like to donate to the campaign, you can do so with your credit card at:

You can also write a cheque to:
Nathan Pachal Election Fund
16 – 19631 55A Ave
Langley, BC. V3A 0L5

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

SkyTrain is coming to Langley City. Why it matters for affordability.

My good friend Patrick Johnstone, a New Westminster City Councillor who is running for Mayor of New Westminster, and I talk about SkyTrian coming to Langley City.

We talk about the importance of building affordable rental housing near SkyTrain and the lessons Langley City can learn from New Westminster's effort to build affordable rental housing near SkyTrain. We also talk about how SkyTrian opens up more access to jobs for both Langley City and New Westminster residents.

Finally, we chat about how we can work together on the Mayors' Council and other regional boards if elected to Mayor in our respective communities to further the building of affordable transportation and housing in our region.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Overdose Awareness Month - Upcoming Community Event

Talking about overdose could save a life

August is Overdose Awareness Month. Because of the toxic unregulated drug supply in our province, people are still overdosing and dying in BC at record rates.

Unfortunately, more and more people know a friend or family member who has died or overdosed in our province.

There is a stigma associated with using unregulated drugs. This stigma means that people may not reach out to family, friends, and medicinal professionals out of fear of being judged as “one of those people.”

Many people use unregulated drugs recreationally, and there are ways to be safer. For example, you can get your drugs tested, including through the mail.

If you want to learn more about how to stop overdoses, please visit the BC government’s Stop Overdoses website, where you can also learn about reducing the stigma around unregulated drug use.

Community Event Poster

The Langley Overdose Response Community Action Team is hosting a community event at Douglas Park on Wednesday, August 31st starting at 6 pm. There will be a free BBQ, vigil, memorial walk, naloxone training, and other community resources. For more information, please visit the event’s Facebook page.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

TransLink invests $973,258 to improve walking and cycling access in Langley City

Yesterday, TransLink announced new funding to improve walking and cycling access in Langley City.

The 203rd Street bike lane end near Michaud Crescent, dumping people into traffic. Select image to enlarge.

The 203rd Street and Glover Road cycling lanes end abruptly in Downtown Langley, dumping people into traffic. TransLink is investing $350,000 to connect the gap between these two protected and safer cycling lanes. Protect, safer cycling lanes will continue along 203rd Street to Douglas Crescent, along Douglas Crescent from 203rd Street to 204th Street, and on 204th St from Douglas Crescent, connecting to the Glover Road cycling lanes. When completed, there will be a continuous north/south cycling corridor through the community.

TransLink will invest $283,500 to widen and pave the gravel trail between 200th Street at Michaud Crescent to 53rd Avenue along the BC Hydro Right of Way. The trail will be 5 meters wide.

Proposed Fraser Highway One-Way design. Angled parking on north side, parallel parking on south side, with continuous street tree corridor. Select image to enlarge.

In 2018-19, Langley City, in consultation with the business community and residents, proposed a new design concept to renew the Fraser Highway One-Way and Douglas Crescent, between 204th Street and 206th Street. Currently, Council has budgeted $8.5 million for this project to start in 2023. TransLink is funding $339,758 of this project to support the new proposed wider sidewalks along the Fraser Highway One-Way.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

SkyTrain to Langley – Province, TransLink, and municipalities agree to work together for affordable housing, among other things

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station

The SkyTrain extension from King George to Langley City is a $4 billion project. To maximize the value of building this extension, the Province, TransLink, Surrey, Langley City, and the Township of Langley have signed non-binding Supportive Policies Agreements and a non-binding Overarching Supportive Policies Agreement.

While these agreements are non-binding, they lay out the expectations of the province, municipalities and TransLink that are mutually beneficial, and help coordinate land use, affordable housing, and transportation funding. All parties will be monitoring these agreements well beyond the opening date of the SkyTrain extension.

Overall, everyone agrees the high-level objectives of the project are to:

  • Provide users with a positive experience
  • Facilitate increased share of sustainable modes of transport
  • Support active transportation
  • Support increased density in the adjacent communities
  • Support affordable housing
  • Support a healthy environment
  • Enhance regional goods movement, commerce and job opportunities
  • Deliver community benefits
  • Provide a service that is good value for money
  • Provide infrastructure that meets the needs of the community

One of the agreements’ more specific outcomes is coordinating land use around the 196th Street Station. Two sides of the 196th Street intersection are in Surrey, one in the Township of Langley, and another in Langley City.

Another specific outcome is to build higher-density, mixed-use (office, retail, residential) projects around SkyTrain stations. A significant outcome is to increase the ease of walking and cycling access to SkyTrain stations.

The final significant area of focus in the agreements is to build more affordable housing around SkyTrain stations, including provincially funded affordable housing through BC Housing.

You can read the Supportive Policies Agreement and Overarching Supportive Policies Agreement on Langley City’s website.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

July 25 Council Notes: Transition Housing, Salmon-Safe Program, West African Storytelling

Nicomekl Floodplain

Last Monday, Langley City Council heard presentations from three different organizations.

The first presentation was about the Salmon-Safe program. The Fraser Basin Council administers the Salmon-Safe program in BC. Developers or people in the agricultural sector can voluntarily apply to be certified with the program.

The certification looks at the following aspects of development projects:

  • Stormwater management
  • Water use management
  • Erosion prevention and sediment control
  • Pesticide reduction and water quality protection
  • Enhancement of urban ecological function such as by providing habitat for birds, bats and pollinators, managing invasive species, and reducing light pollution
  • Climate resilience planning
  • Instream salmon habitat protection and restoration
  • Waterway and wetland protection and restoration

The presenters noted that Langley City’s new Official Community Plan already aligns with the Salmon-Safe program and are looking for the City to promote the Salmon-Safe program when people apply to redevelop property in Langley City.

The second presentation was from Ishtar Women’s Resource Society. One service they provide is transition housing for women and children escaping abusive relationships. The presenters state there is a significant need for transition housing in Langley and that they had to turn away 700 women and children from transition housing in the last year.

The current transition housing in Langley is for shorter stays. Second-stage housing provides women and children with the support and services they need for transitioning to independent living. People typically stay in second-stage housing for up to two years.

There is no second-stage housing in Langley, and Ishtar Women’s Resource Society wants Langley City to work with them and the province to get this needed housing in Langley. Council supported this request.

Finally, Council heard from Dr. Charles Quist-Adade of the Africa-Canada Education Foundation. The organization will be hosting an African Story Telling Forum in Langley City. Council awarded them a $1,500 Community Grant. Dr. Quist-Adade thanked us for the grant and provided information about the upcoming event, including how they will highlight the Anansi West African folk tales.