Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Magic of Christmas Festival – This Weekend

People enjoying the Innes Corners Plaza Christmas Display

For the first time, Langley City will be hosting the Magic of Christmas Festival. This event takes place outdoors in the Timms Community Centre parking lot on Saturday, December 3rd, from Noon until 8:00 pm, as well as Sunday, December 4th, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

There will be Christmas crafts for kids and adults, a Santa letter-writing station, ice carving and snow sculptures, a beer garden, food trucks, and of course, a visit from Mr. and Ms. Claus (they know where the place to be is.)

The Langley Arts Council will be setting up an Artisan Craft Market running from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday. There will be over 40 artisan booths and a daily draw for 500 downtown dollars which you can use at participating Downtown Langley merchants.

There will be live Christmas music performances throughout Saturday and Sunday. Please visit Langley City’s website for the full list of artists and showtime.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Immigration by the numbers in Langley

Canada is a country of immigrants, and we continue to welcome people today.

Community Day

The federal government recently funded the Langley Local Immigration Partnership (LLIP). LLIP helps facilitate information sharing and coordination between agencies that provide settlement services for recent immigrants to Langley. Yesterday, I spent some time at their breakfast information-sharing event. I wanted to share some insights I learned.

The most significant driver of immigration is economic; there aren’t enough people in Canada to fill the available jobs. Canada also welcomes refugees and other people on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, about 20% of all people that come to Canada.

Outside of Ontario, Metro Vancouver to a top destination for immigration.

From the latest census data, 41.8% of people living in Metro Vancouver were born outside Canada. In Langley City, 23.3% of people living in the community were born outside Canada. 22.8% of people in the Township of Langley were born outside Canada.

Between the 2016 and 2021 censuses, Langley City and Township saw the fastest growth in immigrant populations in Metro Vancouver.

The top source countries for all immigrants in Langley City are India, the Philippines, the UK, and the US. In the Township of Langley, it is Korea, India, the UK, and China.

Monday, November 28, 2022

TransLink’s new Climate Action Plan. Reducing GHG Emissions, Building a Resilient System.

TransLink staff will present their Climate Action Plan to their board on Thursday. The plan is based on the objectives to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, with an interim reduction of 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and to ensure that its infrastructure and operations are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

TransLink will replace its current non-electric fleet with battery-electric buses and renewable natural gas buses to reduce GHG emissions. This change is already starting with Route 100, scheduled to be fully battery-electric by 2024. TransLink will also pilot renewable diesel buses.

TransLink also operates significant maintenance, control and storage facilities and will implement a Net Zero Facilities Strategy.

We are already seeing the impacts of climate change today. By 2050, we will see longer, more extreme heat waves, heavier rain and snow events, increased flooding, rising sea levels, and more storms.

An extreme snow event impacted the 555 bus route.

The Climate Action Plan outlines the infrastructure most at risk due to climate change, such as power substations, tunnels, bus maintenance and storage facilities, bridges, bus loops, and stations. TransLink will complete climate change risk assessments for all its infrastructure and processes and then incorporate mitigation measures into its operating procedures, asset management plans, and renewal plans.

TransLink’s seven-point Climate Action Plan. Select image to enlarge.

With hotter summers, TransLink will need to ensure that heat stress impacts are reduced for its staff. As such, it will research the “efficacy and feasibility of personal cooling technology and revised uniform specifications for Technician, SkyTrain Attendants, Operators, and Transit Police.”

TransLink will also improve cooling for its customers and start implementing shading infrastructure, such as cooling/misting systems and shade trees, in partnership with local governments. They will also update their Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines through the lens of climate resilience.

Partnership is essential. TransLink will work with Indigenous peoples, local governments, the provincial government, the federal government, and the private sector to advance climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

These actions are a small sample from the plan. You can read the complete plan in the December 1st TransLink Board Meeting Agenda.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Langley City September thru October Property Crime Map

Langley City September thru October Property Crime Map. Select image to enlarge.

I want to highlight some key points about the Langley City September through October property crime map. The majority of our population and essentially all brick-and-mortar businesses are located north of the Nickomekl River, so you would expect to see more incidents north of the river.

Theft from auto continues to be a challenge in our community. The advice of securing all things in your vehicle remains as relevant as ever. People will do a smash-and-grab for loose change or a garage clicker. Catalytic converter theft continues in Langley City, and that is categorized as theft from auto. At last night’s Crime Prevention Committee, we learn that a small, known group of people are responsible for these crimes but that getting a conviction in court is difficult.

Block Watch continues to have a positive impact on reducing property crime. For more information about Block Watch and how to set up one in your neighbourhood, call the Langley RCMP Detachment Block Watch coordinator at 604-532-3213.

Hopefully, the provincial government’s recent announcement to address repeat offenders based on the report “A Rapid Investigation into Repeat Offending and Random Stranger Violence in British Columbia” will reduce property crime.

Arson means any fire that is started, including fires that may be started by people who are living rough.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

November 21 Council Notes: External Auditor Appointed, Public Meeting Times

Yesterday, I posted about redevelopment matters that Langley City Council addressed at its Monday meeting. I will post about the remaining items addressed today.

Under BC law, municipalities must have their financials audited by an independent firm. BDO Canada LLP has been Langley City’s external financial auditor, but its current term has ended. The City put out a new tender for an external audit; BDO Canada LLP was the only firm to respond. We were budgeting $37,000 for BDO Canada’s services previously, but now we will be paying the following rates:

2022: $65,377
2023: $65,377
2024: $69,978
2025 & 2026: To be negotiated after the completion of the first three years.

Council asked Staff why the cost went up and was told it was due to inflations and general price increases in the market. Council approved BDO Canada LLP as our external auditor from 2022-26.

Council approved the following 2023 dates for its regular public meetings, which will start at 7 pm in person in the Langley City Council chambers:

January 16, 30
February 13, 27
March 6, 20
April 3, 17
May 1, 8
June 5, 19
July 10, 24
September 11, 25
October 16, 30
November 6, 20
December 4, 11

Council also approved moving the start time of the December 5 and December 12, 2022, public meetings from 3 pm via Zoom to 4 pm via Zoom to allow all members of Council to participate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

November 21 Council Notes: Duplex, Apartment by Nicomekl School, Garbage Enclosure

Langley City Council addressed three development matters at its meeting yesterday.

The first item was a Development Variance Application to allow a duplex to be built at 19907 53 Avenue. This neighbourhood has two-storey duplexes which have been around for over 30 years.

Front elevation drawing of a proposed duplex at 19907 53 Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Langley City Council received an email from a property owner in the area who is opposed to the duplex. At the meeting, Council heard from an owner concerned about the construction impact on his property. The appliance of the duplex noted how they would mitigate construction impacts and offered to provide his phone number to the concerned owner.

Council asked if the duplex project would impact future development in the area as the official community plan allows apartment buildings up to six storeys. Staff noted that it wouldn’t affect the ability to build future apartments in the area.

Council also asked how City staff would prevent illegal suites from being built, as the project has separate exterior entrances to the basement. City staff noted that they would work to ensure that suite-like elements aren’t included in the basement design and construction, and that they would likely require a convenient to be registered on the land title to prevent a suite.

Council approved the Development Variance Application.

Council also approved a Development Variance Application to allow the BC Kinsmen Housing Society to construct an enclosure to protect their garbage, recycling, and organics bins at 5525 209 Street. Due to confusion, Council received several emails from residents concerned that the property was being turned into a garbage dump. Staff addressed the concerns, noting that it was only to protect existing bins for the apartment complex.

Rendering of a proposed apartment at 5302 200 Street, 20030 53A Avenue, & 20011-20031 53 Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

Council gave first and second reading for a rezoning which would enable a 6-storey, 84-unit apartment to be built on the northeast corner of 53rd Avenue and 200th Street. Before giving first and second reading, Council asked City staff several questions. Council asked how the Langley School District participates in planning for schools based on population growth and development. Staff noted that the School District works with the City to develop projections for students and that the School District is working on expanding Nicomekl Elementary School. Council also asked if there would be any safety improvements to the road as the proposed apartment is by a school. Staff noted that the City would be building a mid-block crosswalk by the school as part of redevelopment in the area.

Council also asked staff to forward questions to the project applicant about air conditioning within units, parking stall assignment, and green roof maintenance for the applicant to address at the public hearing, which the City will now be scheduling.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Langley Christmas Bureau needs your help to ensure all families have a Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree of Toys

The Langley Christmas Bureau helps ensure that all families with children in Langley City and Township have a festive holiday season.

Families receive one gift certificate, toy, and book per child, as well as a food hamper.

Over 100 volunteers and Langley City municipal staff support the Langley Christmas Bureau.

The number of families utilizing the Bureau has been steadily increasing. Last year, they supported 1,756 children.

The Bureau needs your help to raise $240,000 this year.

You can donate online at

You can also send a cheque to:
Langley Christmas Bureau
20399 Douglas Crescent
Langley, BC V3A 4B3

You can donate new toys or gift cards by dropping them off at Langley City Hall (20399 Douglas Crescent.) If you donate gift cards, write the dollar amount on them.

If you donate money, you will receive a tax receipt.

Help make a family’s holiday season a special one.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Inaugural Meeting of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council

Mayors’ Council

Yesterday, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation. Together with the TransLink board, it governs regional transportation and transit in Metro Vancouver.

The meeting started with a Cedar Brushing Ceremony, and we heard from Chief Rhonda Larrabee of Qayqayt First Nation and Michelle George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation about their family’s and their lived experiences.

Aftward, all members of the Mayors’ Council affirmed their Oath of Office. Brad West, Mayor of Port Coquitlam, was acclaimed chair of the Mayors’ Council. Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley put their names forward for vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council. The Council elected Mike Hurley as the vice-chair. The chair and vice-chair also sit on the TransLink board. The provincial government is working on updating legislation to allow a third member of the Mayors’ Council to sit on the TransLink board. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie was acclaimed as the choice for the third member by the Mayors’ Council to sit on the TransLink board once the provincial government updates TransLink’s governance.

Next, Kevin Quinn, the CEO of TransLink, provided a quick update to the Mayors’ Council. He noted that overall ridership was 81% of 2019 levels at the end of October, with weekday ridership at 74% and weekend ridership at 84%. He also stated that ridership is over 100% of 2019 levels in the South of the Fraser and Ridge-Meadows. Quinn said they recently increased transit service hours by 11% in the South of the Fraser. He said office work has fundamentally changed, and that will impact how transit service will be delivered going forward in our region. It will also affect how we fund transit. One of the systemic challenges that the Mayors’ Council must solve over the next year or so, with the province and the federal government, is getting stable funding for TransLink.

Quinn talked extensively about Bus Rapid Transit which is part of the new long-range plans for TransLink. I’ll be posting more about this over the coming months and years.

After the public meeting, Mayors’ Council members, including myself, attended an orientation workshop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Drinking from the Firehose: Langley City Council Orientation Workshop

One of the significant differences between BC local government councils, the federal parliament and the provincial legislature is that councils are continuing bodies. In parliament and the legislature, all committee work, bills, and motions are reset when an election is a call. After an election, they must restart from the beginning for any motions or bills they want to move forward.

For Council, we continue as if an election didn't occur. For example, if a rezoning application was at third reading, the new Council would consider fourth and final reading.

All the means that newly elected Councils need to get up to speed lightening fast.

Langley City Council has been going through a Council Orientation Workshop for the past two days and continuing today. This workshop is a much-needed refresher for those who served in the last term and is a crash course for newly elected councillors. Regardless of who, it is drinking from a firehose.

Council Orientation Binder

We started the workshop with the presentation "Congratulations! You are a Council Member - Now What?" We've reviewed the roles and responsibilities of Council, good governance, and the legal framework in which local governments operate.

We've received overview presentations about the City's various departments, including the RCMP; Fire-Rescue Service; Administration; Corporate Services; Development Services; Engineering, Park & Environment; and, Recreation, Culture & Community Services.

Some topics we dived deeper into included reviewing land-use planning, ethics, conflicts of interest, and financial management. We spent a good amount of time discussing the City's budget and financial planning process.

Today, we will focus on strategic planning and setting policy as a Council. This process is how we implement our ideas into projects and policies for City staff.

While the amount of information delivered during the workshop can be a bit overwhelming at times, both staff and those who served on Council previously will support all Council members as we get up to speed together.

Monday, November 14, 2022

We Need a New Approach: Unregulated Drug Poisoning, Pharmacies, and Drug Checking

Death caused by using unregulated and illicit drugs is still high in BC and the Fraser Health service area, including Langley City, though it has been trending down recently.

One of the challenges with unregulated drugs is that you never know what you get. Samples analyzed by the Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project found that while most samples contained what they said they were, up to 20% were mixed with other substances with concentrations all over the place. For example, drugs laced with fentanyl had a median concentration of 9.7% in the samples tested, but some samples had 0.1%, and others had 80% plus.

One way to help people is to expand access to rapid drug testing in a way that reduces stigma.

One of the ways to reduce stigma is to integrate testing into places and services that people always use. For example, going to the doctor, then going to the blood lab for a STI test has less stigma associated with it than going to a specific STI clinic. Everybody goes to the doctor and the blood lab.

The same should be with drug testing.

Right now, there are only two places to get drug tested in Langley City and Township, and both locations are within a 2 minutes walk of each other in Downtown Langley. The only location with regular hours is the Fraser Health - Public Health Building, which operates weekdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

The Fraser Health Public Health Building certainly isn’t a place that most people would go to, even if they could make it between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. While Downtown Langley may have some testing services, people in Aldergrove, Brookswood, Walnut Grove, and Willoughby are certainly not going to travel out of their way for drug testing.

How can we expand drug testing access and reduce the stigma associated with testing? Pharmacies.

A sign for a pharmacy

People go to pharmacies for various reasons, and accessing a pharmacy in BC is easy.

Pharmacies already help people with unregulated drug treatments, including Opioid Agonist Treatment. Pharmacies also know how to help with public health emergencies.

Pharmacies in BC could provide Take-Home Fentanyl Test Strips, including giving people consultation on how to use the test strips.

As long as there are unregulated drugs, people will overdose and tragically die. We need to expand access to testing services in a low-barrier, stigma-free environment. For me, this means looking at places where people already go to access health services. If pharmacies can help with COVID-19 testing, they can certainly help with unregulated drug testing.

I should point out that the opinions in the post are mine and don’t necessarily represent the views of Council or Langley City.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Langley City’s 40th Inaugural Council Meeting

The inaugural meeting of Langley City’s 40th Council occurred last night. The meeting started with the new Council being marched in with an honour guard and piper. We were honoured with songs from Kevin Kelly representing Kwantlen First Nation.

Councillors White (not seen), Albrecht, Wallace, Mayor Pachal, Councillors Mack, James, Solyom (Left to Right). Photo by Rob Bittner. Select image to enlarge.

One of the traditions in Langley City and many other cities in Canada is to have a Mayor’s Chain of Office. The chain has the City’s coast of arms, maple leaf, and wheat and sickle adornments. It is engraved with the names of every Mayor in the history of the City. After 40 Councils, my name is the last that will fit on the chain as it is. For future mayors, they will get a new or modified chain of office. The chain is only worn on the most formal of occasions, such as the inaugural Council meeting.

Mayor’s Chain of Office. Photo by Lois Dawson. Select image to enlarge.

Members of Council took oaths of office and gave their inaugural addresses. The common theme was coming together with our diverse experiences and backgrounds as a Council to address the challenges in our community and move Langley City forward to improve the quality of life and prosperity of residents and businesses.

You can watch the addresses from Mayor and Council on YouTube:

During this meeting Council appointed Councillor Albrecht to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board of Directors for 2022/23, with Councillor Wallace as the alternate. Council appointed Councillor Wallace to the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board for 2022/23, with Councillor Albrecht as the alternate.

Council also approved the Deputy Mayor’s schedule as follows:

November 5 - December 31, 2022: Councillor Mack
Jan.1 - February 28, 2023: Councillor Wallace
Mar.1 - April 30, 2023: Councillor White
May 1 - June 30, 2023: Councillor James
July 1 - August 31, 2023: Councillor Solyom
September 1 - October 31, 2023: Councillor Albrecht

The Deputy Mayor acts as the Mayor if the Mayor becomes unavailable for any reason.

Finally, Council approved returning to in-person Council meetings starting January 1, 2023. The reason for this delay is that the Langley Christmas Bureau will use the Council Chamber over the next month and a half.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Metro Vancouver Regional District’s $2.3 Billion 2023 Budget

No Trespassing Sign on Cleveland Dam at Capilano River Head

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has a significant budget, as it provides our region’s drinking water, sewage treatment, and solid waste management.

When you get your property tax bill, you might notice a line item called “METRO VANCOUVER.” This line item is only a small part of Metro Vancouver’s revenue.

Metro Vancouver fees are built into the water and sewer user fees on your property tax bill. In Langley City, about 60% of these fees go to the regional district, while the City uses the remaining fees to manage and upkeep the local distribution system.

Metro Vancouver’s solid waste fees are embedded into the City’s garbage rate or the rates of private garbage collection companies, as they pay a weight-based fee whenever they use a Metro Vancouver Transfer Station to drop off garbage.

The Regional District’s 2023 budget will be $2.3 billion, with $1.082 billion for operating costs and $1.247 billion for building and renewing infrastructure. For a comparison of scale, the City of Surrey’s overall budget was about $600 million, and Langley City’s overall budget was about $58 million in 2022.

The following graphics provide a high-level breakdown of the budget.

Overview of 2023 Metro Vancouver Budget. Select graphics to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

The 2023 budget will be about a 4.5% increase compared to the 2022 budget.

Please check out the full budget documentation at Metro Vancouver’s website for more information.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Proposed new provincial electoral district silences Langley City residents’ voices

Langley City resident Sandra Brynjolfson, myself, and Councillor Teri James at the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission public hearing yesterday. Select the image to enlarge.

The independent BC Electoral Boundaries Commission reviews the electoral districts for MLAs every other provincial election. The Commission is mainly concerned with ensuring that each district has similar populations and, as much as possible, contains the same “community of interest.” A “community of interest” doesn’t necessarily mean municipal boundaries but what people consider part of their daily life, including schools, places of worship, parks, recreation, shops, and services.

The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission released its preliminary report on electoral districts. Langley is growing from two to three electoral districts, but where they placed the boundaries needs adjustment.

This map shows the current electoral district, which includes Langley City.

Map showing the current Langley electoral district. Select map to enlarge.

This map shows the proposed new electoral district.

Map showing the proposed new Langley-Murrayville electoral district. Select map to enlarge.

When I think of my “community of interest,” it includes the Langley Regional City Centre. As shown in the map below, this area is a major urban centre for our regional district. It includes Willowbrook and Langley City.

Map of Langley Regional City Centre. Select map to enlarge.

I rarely left this area during the restrictions between 2020 and earlier this year. My family doctor and dentist are in Willowbrook. Even my post office pick-up is in Willowbrook. I frequently shop in both Langley City and Willowbrook. Of course, I shop in Langley City whenever possible.

With SkyTrain coming, the interconnection between Willowbrook and Langley City will strengthen further, though having 1/3rd of Willowbrook Mall in Langley City and 2/3rd in Willowbrook in the Township of Langley is a pretty strong connection today!

Even the delivery of housing services is integrated into the Langley Regional City Centre. For example, the Gateway of Hope emergency shelter is in Langley City, while supportive housing, which helps people transition from experiencing homelessness to being housed, is located in Willowbrook.

These on-the-ground realities are why I was shocked that the newly proposed electoral district cleaves the Langley Regional City Centre in half and tacts on Murrayville. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited, not driven through, Murrayville beyond going to the hospital.

The proposed electoral district skews heavily toward the rural areas of Langley, which means that the voice of Langley City residents may be lost in this proposed new electoral district.

For these reasons, I presented at a public hearing yesterday about the proposed new electoral district, asking that any new or adjusted electoral district keep the Langley Regional City Centre whole.

All people who attended the public hearing and provided feedback on the proposed electoral district with Langley City asked for the same thing. Keep the Langley Regional City Centre whole.

You can provide feedback online or attend a virtual public hearing. Please visit the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission website to find out how. You can provide your feedback by the end of November 22nd.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Remembrance Day Service in Douglas Park

Remembrance Day Service

Langley City will be hosting an in-person Remembrance Day service. The service will start at 10:50 am at the Douglas Park Cenotaph.

The order of service is:

Greetings - Emcee Jim McGregor
"O Canada"
Invocation Prayer - Pastor Steve Nicholson
Last Post - Steve Thompson
Two Minutes of Silence
In Flanders Field Poem - RCMP Constable
Lament - Piper Rob Duff
Rouse - Steve Thompson
Act of Remembrance - Emcee Jim McGregor
The Lord's Prayer & Scripture Reading - Pastor Steve Nicholson
"O God Our Help in Ages Past"
Act of Homage - Emcee Jim McGregor
Laying of the Wreaths - Official Wreaths followed by Community Wreaths
"Amazing Grace" - Piper Rob Duff
Benediction Pastor - Pastor Steve Nicholson
"God Save the King"

Please note that Douglas Crescent, from 204 Street to 206 Street, and a portion of Park Avenue will be closed from 6:30 am to 1:00 pm on Friday, November 11th.

For more information, please visit the Langley City website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Air Quality Advisories Trending Up in Metro Vancouver

The Metro Vancouver Regional District recently released a chart showing the number of air quality advisories issued per year over the last two decades.

Number of days of air quality advisories in the Lower Fraser Valley. Source: Metro Vancouver

The regional district issued fewer air quality advisories in the first decade than in the second decade. Between 2003 and 2012, there were 36 advisories issued. There were over double that between 2013 and this summer.

The two primary causes are ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Fine particulate matter is primarily caused by forest fires, while ground-level ozone occurs as a reaction between higher temperatures and fossil fuel, cannabis production, agricultural activitiy, and other solvent fumes. Both are increasing due to the impacts of climate change.

Metro Vancouver's new Climate 2050 plan calls for reducing volatile organic compounds such as fossil fuels, which should help reduce ground-level ozone.

Please read the Air Quality Advisories During the Summer of 2022 report for more information.