Monday, October 31, 2022

2023-25 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley

Public shower, laundry, and washroom facility in Port Alice

Recently, the Langley Housing & Homelessness Table, which includes representation from people in the community, non-profits, businesses, faith-based organizations, and government, completed a plan called “2023-2025 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley.

This plan addresses the needs of people in all of Langley, as homelessness doesn’t end at our municipal borders. Langley City or Township cannot act in isolation. We must work in a coordinated fashion.

The top action from this plan include:

  • Building a Community Service Hub to provide a central access point for community services and a safe place for individuals to go during the day. A community service hub would also provide toilets, showers, and laundry access.
  • Building more supportive housing with on-site services for people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness and complex care housing for people with overlapping mental health and substance use issues who need a level of support beyond existing housing options in Langley
  • Providing better support to help people transitioning out of youth government care, leaving health care and correctional facilities, and aging seniors on fixed incomes, including hiring workers to help people access appropriate community supports and services to prevent people from slipping through the cracks.
  • Building a second extreme weather response shelter in Langley.
  • Creating second-stage housing for women and children fleeing abusive relationships.
  • Strengthening partnerships with organizations developing housing to connect builders with government programs to accelerate the construction of affordable housing.
  • Creating public awareness programs to help people understand the experiences people in our community include around the impacts of stigma, challenges newcomers face, colonization and intergenerational trauma, traumatic brain injuries, adverse childhood experiences, and gender-based violence.
  • Advocate for increased staff to help support housing and homelessness services in Langley.

The plan includes case studies and other additional actions, and I recommend that you review the action plan.

Like any plan, the key will be in implementation. I know that the new Langley City Council will be reviewing this and other plans as we work to reduce homelessness in our community.

The 2023-2025 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley was informed by previous work completed, such as:

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Take Langley City’s Trashy Survey

Garbage Bin

Langley City has a mix of garbage-only containers and garbage and recycling containers in parks, trails, and along the street. In the fall of 2021, the City completed an audit of what people throw into these containers.

The City found that people threw a lot of pet waste into these bins; 44% of the waste in these bins was pet waste. Compostable waste was the next largest category of things people discarded at 23%. The study also found that many people were not sorting waste at the current garbage/recycling bins. This lack of sorting means that all things put into the garbage or recycling bins along the streets end up in the landfill or burned. In a previous post, you can read more about this and see more detailed information about the waste audit.

Our goal as a City and region is to divert waste from going to the landfill or being burned, so the City is working on how we can divert waste from our public containers. The City needs your help.

The City is asking people to take a 5-minute survey about public waste containers in our community.

The survey covers where you think the City should locate containers, how the City should handle pet and food waste, and what style of container would make it easier for you to sort waste, among other questions.

The survey is open until the end of the day on November 10th.

Take the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CoLPublicWaste

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

October 24 Council Notes: Budget Changes, Tax Exemptions, UBCM Grants

As I posted in September, Langley City Council amends its capital budget several times per year to account for revenue sources or project changes. The City might receive a grant for a project, or a project’s scope could change, for example. Council gave three readings to the most recent change to the capital budget at the September 19th meeting. Council provided an opportunity for people to give feedback on the proposed budget changes, either through email, mail or by appearing in person (via Zoom) at last Monday’s Council meeting. Council did not receive feedback, so Council gave final reading to the budget changes, approving them. You can learn more about the changes in a previous post.

Council also gave final reading to grant tax exemptions to certain charitable and non-profit organizations in our community. You can learn more about who received the tax exemption in a previous post.

At its September 19th meeting, Council approved City staff applying for a $24,600 grant administered by the Union of BC Municipalities to help with asset management. There was a mistake in the grant name, so Council approved a housekeeping motion directing staff to change from applying for the “UBCM Local Government Development Approvals Program” grant to the “UBCM 2022 Asset Management Planning Program”.

Council also approved staff applying to the “UBCM Community Preparedness Fund Volunteer & Composite Fire Departments Equipment & Training” grant for $25,356. If the City is successful in receiving the grant, the City will purchase new live fire training equipment and deliver two training programs each to 10 career and paid-on-call firefighters.

At the end of Monday’s Council meeting, each member of Council thanked those who served over the last four years who were not reelected.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

New “King Taps” to replace “Red Robin” at 200th and the Langley Bypass

Yesterday was the final meeting of the current Langley City Council. The recently elected Council’s first meeting is on November 7th, but because Councils are continuing bodies in BC, the business of City Hall continues uninterrupted.

Council issued a development permit for redeveloping what is currently a Red Robin restaurant at 6141 200 Street at the Langley Bypass into a new King Taps restaurant.

View of the building from the parking lot. Select the image to enlarge.

All projects requiring rezoning or a development permit go through an Advisory Design Panel, a committee of Council that includes landscape architects, architects, accessibility representatives, the RCMP, and general members.

The Design Panel made the following recommendations:

  • Review additional noise mitigation measures for the patios, including the potential for vertical elements
  • Consider a refresh of the existing landscaped areas
  • Provide more design interest to the 200 Street elevation, and the wood fa├žade adjacent to the seasonal patio in particular, such as through the use of branding, vertical landscaping, or additional architectural features
  • Review the security of the seasonal outdoor patio, including the use of physical barriers
  • Consider adjusting the accessible parking space-adjacent landscape strip, such as replacing it with a concrete seat wall
  • Provide an additional accessible parking space

Based on the feedback from the Design Panel, the project’s applicant increased the size of the landscaping strip next to the accessible parking spaces and increased the number of accessible parking spaces from two to three.

The applicant also updated the 200th Street frontage of the building.

Below is the initially proposed design.

The original design of the building fronting 200th Street. Select the image to enlarge.

The following is the updated design.

Updated design of building fronting 200th Street. Select the image to enlarge.

I was happy to see the building better integrated with 200th Street with the updated design. While this part of town is a typical shopping mall today, with SkyTrain coming, this area will become more walkable if it follows the trajectory of other mall sites by SkyTrain stations in our region. It is good to start building walkable, urban-designed buildings today in preparation.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Census finds the average age of Langley City’s population hasn’t changed

People at Community Day

With the increase in population in Langley City and the construction of new apartments and townhouses over the last five years, I’ve seen many more families, and our schools have been busier. Anecdotally, it would seem that the population of Langley City is getting younger, but is that the case?

The following table looks at the broad age groups of people living in Langley City from census data.

Age Range 2016 2021
0-14 years 15.1% 15.3%
15-64 years 65.7% 64.7%
65 years and older 19.2% 20.1%
85 years and older 3.3% 2.9%

In 2016, the average age was 42.5, and the median was 42.2. The average age was 42.5, and the median was 41.2 in 2021.

In Metro Vancouver, the average age was 41.0, and the median was 40.9 in 2016. The average age was 41.7, and the median was 40.8 in 2021. Ages in Langley City and Metro Vancouver have remained relatively consistent even as the population increases.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A mayor is not the president of a municipality

I was handing out postcards in one of the townhouse complexes in Langley City. A kid rode his bicycle up to me and said, “Hey, are you running to be president of Langley City?” I chuckled and said, no, I was running to be mayor. We had a conversation about what a mayor does.

I’ve watched many TV shows over the years. When a mayor is involved in the storyline, they often have absolute authority over their community alongside the sheriff.

In the US, many communities and states operate under the “strong mayor” system. The mayor is essentially the CEO of a municipality, having the ability to hire/fire management and broad authority to manage the day-to-day of a municipality. Councillors are like the board of directors, setting the budget and policy.

In BC, we operate under the “weak mayor” system. If councillors are like the board of directors, a mayor acts as the chair of the board. A mayor has one vote like every other councillor. Mayor and councillors hire a municipality’s Chief Administrative Office (CAO). The CAO is the only employee of the mayor and councillors and is responsible for hiring/firing management, managing the day-to-day of a municipality, and implementing the budget and policies of council.

As the chair, a mayor has several important responsibilities to enable a productive council. The first is to act as a council facilitator, working to ensure that council is operating smoothly, that all councillors are empowered, and that council does not end up in deadlocks or dysfunction.

The second is to act as the representative of council, working with the CAO to implement council policies in the municipality.

The third is officially representing the municipality with residents and business owners, at events, or with the province and federal government.

In Metro Vancouver, mayors are also appointed by provincial legislation to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, which oversees TransLink.

In BC, mayors have some special authority that councillors do not.

Mayors can:

  • Establish standing committees to consider any matter, and report back to council their findings
  • Suspend municipal officers and employees, though a majority vote of council can override the suspension
  • Schedule a council meeting
  • Have council reconsider a matter or re-vote on a matter

While a mayor in BC does have a lot of responsibilities and some special authority, it doesn’t reflect what you see on many TV shows and movies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Inaugural Langley City Council Meeting November 7th

Over the past few days, I’ve had a few people inquire about the inaugural Langley City Council meeting. This meeting is when Council will swear their Oaths of Office, and the Mayor will participate in the Mayor Chain ceremony.

This inaugural meeting is a public Council meeting, so anyone is free to attend.

The details are:
Monday, November 7th
7:00 pm
Langley City Council Chamber
20399 Douglas Crescent

You may want to arrive at least 15 minutes early as the inaugural council meeting usually is well attended.

Interestingly, the current Council has one more meeting on October 24th. Unlike at the provincial or the federal level, where after an election, all policies that are in progress die, City Council is a continuing body. This continuation means that any motions and bylaws in progress continue forward; if a bylaw were at its third reading today, its next step would be the fourth and final reading under the new Council.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Surrey Langley SkyTrain Extension Update

Surrey Central SkyTrain Entrance

The provincial government is in the process of building a SkyTrain extension to Langley City along Fraser Highway. TransLink regularly provides updates about the project to its board which I wanted to share below.

July 2021 — Prime Minister Trudeau announced $1.3 billion in federal funding to extend the Expo Line 16 kilometres from Surrey City Centre to Langley Centre. The total project cost estimate prepared by the Province is $3.94 billion.
September 2021 — the TransLink Board approved committing up to $150M to the early property acquisition and review of a future OMC5 [SkyTrain Maintaintaince and Storage Facality in the South of Fraser] to support operations of the SLS extension and provide long-term train storage and maintenance capacity for the Expo and Millennium Line network.
October 2021 — the Province announced it was delivering the Surrey Langley SkyTrain (SLS) Project and the Project would be delivered in a single phase to Langley Centre. TransLink completed the transfer of staff and professional services contracts to the Province. An Assignment and Assumption Agreement between TransLink and the Province was executed on November 18, 2021, completing the transfer of staff and professional services contracts.
May 26, 2022 — The 2022 Investment Plan approved by the Board and Mayors’ Council includes the Surrey Langley SkyTrain to be delivered by the Province and construction of Operations and Maintenance Centre 5 to support the expanded SkyTrain Network.
July 14, 2022 — The approval of the business case is announced. The Province will deliver the project in three procurement packages: Guideway (Design-Build-Finance), Stations (Design-Build), and Systems & Trackwork (Target Price). Procurement would include a request for qualification (RFQ), shortlist of proponents, and Request for Proposals (RFP) prior to selecting the preferred proponent and award of each procurement package.
August 2, 2022 — Request for Qualifications for the Guideway contract is issued. The project brief identifies the Request for Proposals is targeted for release in January 2023.
October 3, 2022 — Request for Qualifications for construction of eight new SkyTrain stations, including active transportation elements, such as cycling and walking paths around the stations is issued. The project brief identifies the Request for Proposals is targeted for release in January 2023.

The project's construction is expected to begin in 2024 and be in operation in late 2028.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Small Changes, Big Results for Active Transportation in Langley City

Simple changes can make the biggest difference in improving a community's walkability. For example, a few years ago, the City repealed a policy that prevented the installation of mid-block crosswalks. This change has resulted in new crosswalks at Sendall Gardens at Grade Crescent and now a new crosswalk at Brydon Lagoon and 53rd Avenue.

Crosswalk at Brydon Lagoon on 53rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Crosswalk at Sendall Gardens on Grade Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

These crosswalks improve the safety of people walking, cycling, and wheeling.

The City also has a history of building walking connectors to shorten walking distances on otherwise dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs.

The City recently put in a sidewalk through the 196th Street sound wall at 55A Avenue. If someone wanted to get to 56th Avenue and 196th Street before on public streets, they would have to walk 1 kilometre out of the way back to 198th, which added 10 minutes to what would otherwise be a short walk. Why does this matter? A new SkyTrain station will be at the end of the 196th Street overpass at Willowbrook Mall.

Sidewalk through to 196th Street from 55A Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

These small improvements help give people options and support active transportation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Please vote in the 2022 Langley City Municipal Election. Vote on either October 12th or 15th.

It’s really easy to vote in the Langley City municipal election. If you received a voter information card, please bring it when you vote. If you don’t have the card, please bring two pieces of valid id which combined include your address and signature.

I encourage you to vote and let your voice be known because municipal government has a direct and meaningful impact on your quality of life.

You can vote on Wednesday, October 12 and Saturday, October 15, at Timms Community Centre from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

To vote, you must be 18 or older, a Canadian citizen, have lived in BC for at least six months, and currently live in Langley City.

More info about voting and to see canidate profiles, please visit: https://langleycity.ca/cityhall/city-council/2022-general-local-election

You can also watch the 2022 Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum for Langley City to learn more about the people who are running.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Transit ridership continues to recover, fastest in Surrey

TransLink Bus

Over the past few years, I’ve been closely watching transit ridership recovery in Metro Vancouver. TransLink presented more information about ridership recovery at their latest board meeting.

Ridership recovery by mode. Select the table to enlarge.

As has been the trend, ridership is recovering faster in Surrey and the South of Fraser. The following table shows recovery by subarea.

Ridership recovery by area. Select the table to enlarge.

Ridership is the slowest to recover in Downtown Vancouver primarily due to the shift in office workers working from home or working some days at home and others in the office. Overall, the City of Vancouver still has the busiest transit routes by volume. This reduction in people going to the office may be a trend and could provide TransLink with an opportunity to shift away from a “getting people to/from Downtown Vancouver” network to a more balanced all-day, frequent, “get people anywhere” network. TransLink could redistribute service to early mornings, afternoons, and late night, which would help people get to shops, services, friends, and fun and benefit shift workers.

TransLink has already started redistributing bus service hours to the South of Fraser to meet demand.

Redistribution of transit service hours. Select the table to enlarge.

It will be interesting to see the fall transit ridership numbers and if there is a more pronounced return to offices in Downtown Vancouver or if we are in the new normal for office worker transit use.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

My Interview with Aaron Pete of “Bigger Than Me”

At the beginning of September, Aaron Pete invited me as a guest on his podcast “Bigger Than Me.” Besides being a podcaster and writer on Substack, he completed the Juris Doctor program at the Peter A Allard School of Law at UBC. He is also an ambassador with Indigenous Tourism BC and was recently elected to the Chawathil First Nation Council.

Aaron’s long-form interviews include guests that cover various topics, from well-being to politics to beekeeping. Aaron and many of his guests bring an Indigenous lens to topics covered.

Aaron and I chatted about why and how I got involved in politics, the barrier that minorities can face in politics, the issues in Langley City and some solutions, and why I decided to run for mayor of Langley City.

I’ve put the podcast video in this post, but you can also subscribe to “Bigger Than Me” on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast, as well as subscribe to his Substack. I highly encourage you to check out his podcast and writing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Langley City applied for $32 million and received $13 million in grants over the last four years

Grants from the federal and provincial governments, as well as TransLink, are an important revenue source for local governments in Metro Vancouver to help fund projects. Langley City staff spend considerable effort searching for available grants and applying to grants that will help our community.

I’ve posted about some of the grants Langley City has applied for and received over the years. I thought it would be good to share the grants Langley City staff have applied for over the last four years.

The table shows if the City successfully received a grant.

You may need to swipe <-> to view the full table on a mobile device.

Year Applied Grant Name Source Project Title Project Amount Successful Grant Amount
2019 UBCM Community Care Planning Grant Provincial/UBCM Child Care Action Plan $25,000.00 Yes $25,000.00
2019 UBCM Housing Needs Assessment Provincial/UBCM Modus Housing Needs Assessment $40,000.00 Yes $29,932.50
2019 Canada Summer Jobs Federal Day camp leaders $7,762.00 Yes $7,762.00
2019 Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) - Community, Culture & Infrastructure Federal City Park Field Upgrade $1,500,000.00 No $0.00
2019 Community Works Fund - Gas Tax Federal Road Rehabilitation $575,000.00 Yes $266,474.50
2020 Cdn Mental Health Association for Community Action Initiatives Cdn Mental Health Association Harm Reduction Activities (Stepping Stones & Lookout) Peer Supports - Rig Riders $50,000.00 Yes $26,995.42
2020 Municipal Asset Management Program FCM Watermain Condition Assessments $62,500.00 Yes $50,000.00
2020 Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) - COVID-19 Resilience Federal 206A Pedestrian Bridge - Active Transportation Stream $400,000.00 No $0.00
2020 EMBC Flood Mitigation Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation Provincial 46 Ave, 206A St to 207 St Storm Sewer $486,000.00 No $0.00
2020 Canada Summer Jobs Federal Day camp leaders $16,352.00 Yes $16,352.00
2020 COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant Provincial Recovery from impacts of COVID-19 $4,151,000.00 Yes $4,151,000.00
2020 Community Works Fund - Gas Tax Federal Road Rehabilitation $745,000.00 Yes $132,591.15
2021 CPRA Green Jobs Initiative Cdn Parks & Rec Association Green Jobs Youth Employment $45,696.00 Yes $45,696.00
2021 Canada Community Revitalization Fund Federal City Park Field Upgrade $1,500,000.00 Yes $750,000.00
2021 UBCM Asset Management Planning Program Provincial/UBCM Buidling and Property Condition Assessment $55,000.00 Yes $15,000.00
2021 UBCM Asset Management Planning Program Provincial/UBCM Pavement Condition Assessment $33,260.00 Yes $14,390.00
2021 UBCM Poverty Reduction Planning and Action Stream 1 Grant - Plans and Assessment Provincial/UBCM Living Well Langley, A Poverty Reduction Strategy $25,000.00 Yes $25,000.00
2021 National Disaster Mitigation   Program Federal Nicomekl River Flood Mapping Project $120,000.00 Yes $120,000.00
2021 Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) - Environmental Quality Program Provincial Fraser Hwy and Douglas Crescent Revitalization $10,387,834.00 No $0.00
2021 Canada Summer Jobs Federal Day camp leaders $23,940.00 Yes $23,940.00
2021 Community Works Fund - Gas Tax Federal Glover Road Watermain Upgrade $744,000.00 Yes $271,455.60
2021 South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Translink Bus Speed and Reliability Hotspot Study $97,000.00 Yes $97,000.00
2021 Translink Municipal Road Network Translink Langley Bypass Culverts $1,414,267.00 Yes $695,613.82
2021 South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Translink Glover Road - Major Road Network Bike Lane (MRNB & BICCS) $3,368,196.00 Yes $1,234,940.00
2021 South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Translink 208 St - Major Road Network Bike Lane (MRNB & BICCS) $1,716,221.00 Yes $1,213,265.00
2022 UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Fund Volunteer & Composite Fire Department Equipment & Training Provincial/UBCM Volunteer & Composite Fire Department Equipment & Training $26,356.00 Pending
2022 UBCM Local Government Development Approvals Program Provincial/UBCM Asset Management Program   Development $49,200.00 Yes $24,600.00
2022 Local Government Planning Grant Provincial Facilities Condition Assessments $10,000.00 Yes $10,000.00
2022 Translink Bicycle Infrastructure Capital Cost Share Translink Downtown Cycling Enhancements $350,000.00 Yes $350,000.00
2022 Translink Walking Infrastructure to Transit Translink Fraser Hwy Upgrades, 204 St to 206 St $291,758.00 Yes $291,758.00
2022 Childcare BC New Spaces Fund Provincial Douglas Recreation Centre childcare expansion $2,360,750.00 Yes $2,360,750.00
2022 Canada Summer Jobs Federal Day camp leaders $23,490.00 Yes $23,490.00
2022 Local Government Climate Change Program Provincial Climate Action Program $170,082.00 Yes $170,082.00
2022 BC Hydro Greening Grant BC Hydro Tree Canada $4,500.00 Yes $4,500.00
2022 Community Works Fund - Gas Tax Federal Road Rehabilitation $400,000.00 Yes $138,864.46
2022 Building Safer Communities Fund - Phase 1 (2022-23) Federal Initiatives to tackle gun and gang activities $91,656.80 Yes $91,656.80
2022 Building Safer Communities Fund - Phase 2 (2023-24) Federal Initiatives to tackle gun and gang activities $320,798.82 Pending
2022 Building Safer Communities Fund - Phase 3 (2024-25) Federal Initiatives to tackle gun and gang activities $320,798.82 Pending
2022 Building Safer Communities Fund - Phase 4 (2025-26) Federal Initiatives to tackle gun and gang activities $183,313.61 Pending
Total $32,191,732.05 $12,678,109.25

As a note, the federal government sometimes works with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to administer grants. The provincial government sometimes works with UBCM to administer grants.