Friday, March 31, 2023

Call for Artists: $1,000 Honorarium for Winning Fall Streetlight Banners Design

Langley City Streetlight Banner at City Park

Every season, Langley City crews and contractors put up over 200 banners highlighting our community’s positive energy. The banners incorporate colours of the season as well as capture some aspects of the season, such as summer vibes, walking through nature in the spring, or shopping Downtown in the winter.

Langley City has a call for artists to design this year’s fall banners. Each artist should submit two designs which should complement each other.

The banner design should:

  • Reflect Langley City in the fall
  • Be a drawing, painting, block printing, photograph, or vector art
  • Be simple, big, bold, easily seen from street level, and able to stand out when viewed at a distance
  • Use vivid, vibrant, and contrasting fall colours that provide reasonable legibility under low-lighting conditions
  • Use a limited colour palette with no yellows, oranges, or pastels, as they fade quickly

The banner designs will be judged, and the winning artist will receive a $1,000 honorarium ($500 per banner)

The deadline to submit your design is May 19, 2023, before 3:00 pm.

Please visit Langley City’s website for more details, including the technical specifications and how to submit your banner design.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Digging deeper into the Province's $7.2 million grant to Langley City

As was well publicized, the provincial government transferred $1 billion to local governments in BC via their one-time Growing Communities Fund. Langley City is receiving $7,186,000. Langley City received a letter which specified further details about the grant.

The City will be receiving a direct despot on March 31, 2023.

The provincial government will allow local governments to use the grant for the following:

  • Water, sewer, solid waste, and stormwater projects
  • Local government costs for affordable/attainable housing developments
  • Childcare facilities
  • Local government projects that service, directly or indirectly, neighbouring First Nation communities
  • Public safety/emergency management equipment and facilities (not already funded by the federal or provincial governments.)
  • Local road improvements, including sidewalks, cycling infrastructure, and lighting
  • Improvements that facilitate transit service
  • Natural hazard mitigation
  • Parks
  • Recreation facilities (including meeting spaces)

What is also interesting is the funding formula based on population and growth. The formula is such that smaller municipalities get higher per capita funding, as do higher-growth communities.

The Province's "population growth" number is determined by subtracting a local government's 2021 population from its 2016 population. The population data is from BC population estimates.

The following shows the Province's formula for divvying the grant.

Population Range From To Adjustment Factor
Very Small 0 2,000 100%
Small 2,001 5,000 80%
Small-Med 5,001 10,000 60%
Medium 10,001 20,000 40%
Large-Med 20,001 40,000 20%
Large 40,001 150,000 10%
Very Large 150,001 900,000 5%

Flat funding of $500,000 +
Adjusted Population x $365 +
Population Growth x $1000

These are Langley City's numbers. Based on BC data, Langley City had a population of 28,963 in 2021 and 25,888 in 2016.

2,000 x 100% = 2,000
3,000 x 80% = 2,400
5,000 x 60% = 3,000
10,000 x 40% = 4,000
8,957 x 20% = 1,791
Total Adjusted Population: 13,191

Population Growth: 28,957 - 27,083 = 1,871

Flat funding of $500,000 +
13,193 x $365 = $4,815,445 +
1,871 x $1000 = $1,871,000
Total: $7,186,445

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Single-Use Items Bans Coming Down the Pipeline

Overflowing garbage can

At the latest Zero Waste Committee meeting, Metro Vancouver Regional District staff provided an overview of single-use item restriction regulations from federal, provincial, and local governments.

The problem with many single-use items, especially those used out of home, is that they turn into litter on our streets, parks, and natural areas. Worse, they get into our oceans and waterways, breaking down into microplastics that enter our food system. Litter has an economic cost, including cleanup costs borne by local governments.

The federal government recently banned the manufacturing and importing of the following plastic items starting on December 20, 2022: checkout bags, cutlery, stir sticks, straight straws, flexible straws packaged with beverage containers, and ring carriers. The federal government also banned foam takeout containers. Businesses can use up existing stocks until December 20, 2023, when the federal government will ban the distribution of these single-use items.

The provincial government previously allowed local governments to regulate the sales and uses of checkout bags, drinking straws, foam takeout containers, utensils, and stir sticks. Federal regulation effectively eliminates the need for local government to regulate those single-use items.

The provincial government released an “intentions paper” on single-use items, which includes a proposed list of items they are considering banning.

In addition to what the federal government has already banned, the provincial government is proposing to ban starting in 2024:

  • All containers, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, film wrap, and cups made from polystyrene foam, PVC or compostable plastic.
  • All packaging made from oxo-degradable plastic, including oxo-degradable bin liners, dog waste bags and clothing packaging.

Monday, March 27, 2023

March TransLink Mayors’ Council: Provincial and Federal Policies Put Pressure on Transit System

On Friday, I attend the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation meeting. The Mayors’ Council is one of the two governing bodies of TransLink. TransLink’s CEO Kevin Quinn provided his monthly update on the transportation agency. He noted that ridership continues to rebound and is at 84% of 2019 levels. He also announced “Transit for the Planet” for Earth Day on April 22nd, where there will be giveaways at major SkyTrain stations.

TransLink staff presented at the meeting that the transit system faces uneven pressure due to provincial and federal government policies that are helping to transition to a clean future and ensure we have a growing job market.

These pressures include higher than expected immigration levels to Metro Vancouver, with people settling in the South of Fraser and areas well served by transit. The South of Fraser also has lower levels of work-from-home than over parts of the region. Transit ridership is well above 2019 levels in the South of Fraser, and some routes are now overcrowded.

2021 census tracts where recent immigrants comprise a high proportion of the population. Green is around 5%, Light Blue is between 5-10%, and Dark blue is above 10% of the population. Select the map to enlarge.

The rapid uptake of electric vehicles as part of the CleanBC Plan is reducing the revenue TransLink needs to provide transportation services, as gas tax revenue is declining as people adopt EVs.

The provincial government announced $479 million in stopgap funding to keep our transportation system running as we work towards new stable funding for TransLink, which will take the provincial government’s support to replace the gas tax.

The federal government’s immigration policies support our economy, but also strain local and regional infrastructure. The federal government should speed up the implementation of their permanent transit fund to help build transit to support our growing population.

Later in the meeting, the Mayors’ Council approved sending an official submission to the provincial government on their BC Clean Transportation Action Plan. The mayors asked the province to:

  • Incorporate the already approved regional goals, targets, strategies and actions from Transport 2050, Climate 2050, and Metro 2050 into the BC Clean Transportation Action Plan.
  • Collaborate with TransLink and Metro Vancouver to implement these approved regional plans, focusing on funding and implementing Transport 2050: 10-Year Priorities.
  • Work with TransLink and Metro Vancouver on the Driving Down Emissions project to identify and evaluate viable regulatory and policy tools to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Langley City Council Set City’s Priorities for the Coming Year

There are two ways that municipal councils can set the direction of cities. One way is through motions proposed by induvial council members, and the other is through adopting strategic plans developed by all council members. In either case, the majority of council must be in favour for them to be in effect. The challenge with using motions is that they are ad-hoc and make it challenging for city staff to know the priority of a motion’s objectives compared to all the other objectives a city has. Most motions also require financial resources and staff time, which can undermine other objectives. For these reasons, strategic plans are the preferred way to move forward on the objectives of a council.

Langley City Council will be working on a five-year rolling strategic plan, but Council wanted to get to work quickly, so we adopted an interim plan for this year. The following are the objectives that Council asked Langley City staff to work on over the next year.

  • Evaluate our financial planning process to ensure that it is not only robust, timely, consultative, and transparent but also takes into account current and long-term strategic priorities as well as capital and operating budget requirements identified under the Official Community Plan, asset management plans, and various long term infrastructure plans;
  • Assess potential risks to the City services and partnerships due to political, economic, social, and environmental changes and uncertainty, thereby being able to develop mitigation plans to offset the risks;
  • Review and update the current Tenant Relocation Policy to provide a suite of reasonable and appropriate housing relocation options that will protect the interest of tenants who will be relocated due to redevelopment;
  • Support the Healthy and Resilient Community Dialogue Series that engages community leaders, provincial agencies, social service groups, community partners, residents and business owners, industry experts, and practitioners to examine homelessness, health, social issues, community safety, and well-being issues affecting our community. Through these conversations, we hope to identify best practices and develop a community action plan that addresses the issues and assists us with community planning decisions; and,
  • Ensure we remain focused on completing previous strategic initiatives such as moving forward with Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Nations, updating our Zoning Bylaw to prepare for SkyTrain, creating a Sustainability Charter & Urban Forest Management Plan to tackle climate change and its impacts, and renewing the Fraser Highway One-Way to replace century-old infrastructure.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

TransLink invests $3.1 million into road, walking, and cycling improvements in Langley City

Glover Road Bike Lanes

Besides transit service, TransLink provides funding to improve and maintain the regional road network and funds active transportation infrastructure to make walking, rolling, and cycling safer and more comfortable.

TransLink has funded significant active transportation projects, including the 203rd Street, Glover Road, and 208th Street bike lanes. TransLink has also funded the Duncan Way multi-use path, Langley Bypass Logan Creek culvert replacement, and bus lanes along Fraser Highway, 203rd Street, and Logan Avenue.

TransLink is funding paving the BC Hydro trail between 53rd Avenue and 200th Street and the Downtown bike lane project, which will start construction soon.

This year, TransLink is investing an additional $3.1 million toward the following projects:

  • Building safer and protected bike lanes on the south side of Michaud Cresent - $1 million
  • Enhancing walking/rolling safety at the Douglas Crescent/203rd Street/56th Avenue intersection - $0.2 million
  • Upgrading the Langley Bypass roadway and active transportation infrastructure (from Fraser Highway to 56th Avenue)* - $1.1 million
  • Renewing the culvert under 200th Street at Brydon Creek - $0.8 million

*The City will be applying for additional funding from TransLink in 2024 and 2025 for this project

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

March 20 Council Notes: Freedom of the City, More and Fasters Bus Service for Langley, HUB Cycling Award, and Development Policies

At last night’s Langley City Council meeting, Council held an official ceremony to bestow the Freedom of the City to former Councillor Gayle Martin for her 32 consecutive years of service to our community. She received recognition in front of family, friends, and members of the public. The City held a small reception after the Council meeting for Ms. Martin.

A picture of the Freedom of the City for Gayle Martin. Select the image to enlarge.

HUB Cycling, a charitable not-for-profit organization that promotes cycling and cycling education, awarded Langley City for the Glover Road Protected and Safe Bike Lane Project. Council accepted the award last night.

TransLink’s CEO Kevin Quinn also attended last night’s Council meeting as TransLink was the major funding partner for the Glover Road Project. At the meeting, Quinn also updated Council on TransLink’s 10-year vision. Besides SkyTrain to Langley, TransLink continues to increase its funding of active transportation infrastructure projects that support making rolling, walking, and cycling safer and more comfortable.

TransLink’s CEO Kevin Quinn presents to Council the agency’s 10-year priorities vision. Select the image to enlarge.

TransLink also plans to invest significantly in bus service, and not just regular bus service. TransLink plans to build RapidBus in Langley, which connects White Rock, Campbell Heights, Brookswood, Langley City, Willoughby, Walnut Grove, and Maple Ridge. TransLink plans to build Bus Rapid Transit between Langley City and Maple Ridge along 200th Street. Bus Rapid Transit travels in bus-only lanes along its entire route and has traffic signal prioritization to ensure that buses are never stuck in traffic. Bus Rapid Transit will give people a way out of congestion. TransLink also wants to create an express bus route between Newton and Langley via Highway 10.

Later in the meeting, Council gave final reading to our new Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw, which I previously posted about. Council also approved our new policy, “CO-82 – Latecomer Policy.”

The City may require a developer to upgrade water mains, sewer trunks, and roads as part of a development project. These upgrades may also benefit future development projects that will not have to pay for them, which is unfair. Besides equity, if these infrastructure upgrades have a large enough cost, a developer may forgo a project, slowing down new housing construction. The latecomer policy allows a developer who upgrades City infrastructure the opportunity to recover the cost from future developers whose projects would also benefit from the infrastructure. The City administers this policy for a fee, so there is no cost to the taxpayers.

Council also approved applying to the UBCM Poverty Reduction Planning and Action Stream 2 funding grant to support the “Living Well in Langley, A Poverty Reduction Strategy.” If the City receives the grant, it will be used to reopen Station Café in Timms Community Centre as a social enterprise. The café will support food service skills training, provide living wage employment, and provide access to fresh, healthy, local and sustainable food at an affordable cost.

As part of BC law, I had to read the following at the Council meeting:

THAT the report of the Chief Election Officer dated March 13, 2023, regarding public notice of Cherise Okeymow’s failure to file her campaign financial disclosure statement and pay the required late filing fee of $500, be received for information.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Coming this June: Connecting 203rd Street and Glover Road Safe Bike Lanes

Langley City has partnered with TransLink to build our safe cycling network over the years. The 203rd Street bike lanes and Glover Road bike lanes form the north-south safe cycling route for our community, but there is a gap in Downtown Langley. This gap limits the usefulness of this current safe cycling route.

TransLink is funding 100% of a $350,000 project to connect the safe cycling north-south route along Douglas Crescent and 204th Street.

The following shows the proposed design.

Crosssection of 203rd Street. Select the image to enlarge.

Crosssection of Douglas Crescent. Select the image to enlarge

Crossection of 204th Street. Select the image to enlarge.

A bonus of the project is that it will increase on-street parking along 204th Street if the business owners along that section of the street favour moving parking from the east side of the street to the west side.

The City plans to start construction in June this year. For more information, please view a presentation available online.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Renewing the Century Old Fraser Highway in Langley City

When you go down Fraser Highway between 203rd Street and 206th Street, it may not seem like it, but many buildings are over a century old. Fraser Highway was originally known as Yale Road and was the main highway. Langley Prairie’s (Langley City today) downtown was and still is a major commercial hub.

Yale Road was one of the first paved roads in the Fraser Valley, and sections of the road were designed to handle tanks in preparation to defend the country during World War II. The one-way section of Fraser Highway still has thick tank-proof concrete underneath the current asphalt layer.

Downtown Langley Prairie in the early 1940s. The second to last building on the left is now Mac’s Framing and The Loft Studios. Select the image to enlarge. Source: Roads & Other Place Names in Langley, B.C., by Maureen L. Pepin

Fraser Highway is one of the oldest roads in Langley and has some of the oldest underground infrastructure in our community. Underneath this section of Fraser Highway are wooden storm sewer pipes, vitrified clay sewer pipes, and asbestos* cement water pipes. This section of the road is in critical need of repair.

With Council approving Langley City’s 2023 budget, the City will start the process of renewing Fraser Highway between 204th and 206th Street. The project’s estimated cost is $18.2 million, and construction will not begin until at least 2024.

Renewing the underground infrastructure will require digging up the existing road surface and sidewalks. As the street will be dug up anyway, the City plans to underground the utility poles, renew the public realm with wider sidewalks that could support outdoor patios, and plant new street trees.

Based on a comprehensive engagement process in 2018-19 with the business community and residents, the City selected the following design for the public realm.

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.

As this first engagement process was over five years ago, the City will again hold a comprehensive engagement with the business community, including conversations around minimizing impacts to business during the reconstruction process.

*It is safe as it is embedded into the cement even as it degrades.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Learn more about past recipients of Langley City’s Freedom of the City Honour

As I posted about last week, Langley City Council unanimously conferred the Freedom of the City to Former Councillor Gayle Martin for her over three decades of service to the community. The Freedom of the City is the highest honour a municipality can grant a citizen.

Langley City has conferred the Freedom of the City to five other people over the history of our municipality.

The past recipients are as follows.

(Conferred April 15, 1957) Richmond Archie Payne Esquire (JRMC) – In 1923, Dr. Benjamin Marr and Archie Payne planted 36 Big Leaf Maple trees at intersections throughout Langley. These trees honoured local soldiers who fought in World War I and didn’t return. He was one of Langley’s early magistrates, today known as provincial court judges.

(Conferred March 24, 1975) Hunter Bertram Vogel – He was the first mayor of Langley City, serving from March 15, 1955, to May 29, 1955. He was also a member of BC Legislative Assembly serving Delta from 1963-1966 and Langley from 1966-1972.

(Conferred November 18, 1983) David Leon Nicholas – He was the mayor of Langley City from January 6, 1969, until January 8, 1973.

(Conferred April 27, 1995) Reginald Henry Easingwood – He was the mayor of Langley City from December 6, 1982, until December 6, 1988. He also served as a City Councillor. His service to the community was reflected in his membership in various service organizations as a Kinsman, Mason, Shriner, and Rotarian.

(Conferred March 10, 2008) John B. Jeffery - He served in the RCAF during World War II. His dedication to community service includes being the President of the Red Cross, the Royal Canadian Legion Legion (Branch 21,) the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and the Langley Amateur Athletic Association. He also wrote for the Langley Advance and the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

On March 5, 2001, the Royal Canadian Legion was granted the Freedom of the City. Besides honouring people, a municipality can also grant the honour to “a distinguished unit of the armed forces of Canada or another nation.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The History in Langley City’s Street Names: Glover, Grade, and Michaud

Cover of Book - Roads & Other Place Names in Langley, B.C.,

Paul Weme of the Langley Foundation recently gifted me the book Roads & Other Place Names in Langley, B.C., by Maureen L. Pepin. The name of the book is pretty self-explanatory.

The roads’ names in Langley link to some of our community’s setter history, but without context, you would never know the connection or the importance of those names.

The following are a few excerpts about road names from that book.

Glover Road

The Langley Trunk Road from Langley Prairie (Langley City) to Fort Langley was renamed Glover Road following WWI after Lieut. F.W. Glover, who had been Langley’s Municipal Engineer before he enlisted. He is listed on the Fort Langley cenotaph as having died after the WWI Armistice, presumably from injuries received during the war.
Historial photo of Glover Road. Select the image to enlarge.

Grade Crescent

Grade Crescent is part of the original route of the Vancouver Victoria & Eastern Railway… The cut through High Knoll Park is the old railway grade.

Michaud Crescent

Joseph (1841 – 1909) and Georgiana (Moran) Michaud first came to Langley in 1878 from St. Philippe de Kamouraska, Quebec, the first French settlers in the municipality. They settled in an abandoned stopping house on Smugglers’ Trail. Ten years later they built Michaud House which is the oldest house in Langley City and has been restored by the Michaud family, the Heritage Society, and the Langley Arts Council. A replica of their drawing room, including furniture and pictures belonging to the Michauds, is in the Langley Centennial Museum. Maximilian Michaud, Joseph’s older brother, owned 600 acres in the area which he had bought after many years spent in Hope, New Westminster, and Vancouver. The first Roman Catholic mass in Langley was held in the Michaud home by an Oblate father. The small former school house in Innes Corners was moved across Yale Road into the Michaud hayfield to become the first Langley Catholic church, called St. Joseph’s, after the uncle of Joesph Michaud, also called Joeseph. Joseph Michaud’s hogs and cattle thrived on pea vine and crab apples which grew on the Hudson’s Bay Co. farmland [along Glover Road.]

Monday, March 13, 2023

Community Day Booth Application Period Open

People at Community Day

Langley City’s annual Community Day will take place on Saturday, June 10th, between 11 am and 8 pm. Besides being a fun-filled day of food, activities, and live entertainment for the whole family, Community Day is about helping people get to know local organizations in Langley. In fact, the original purpose of Community Day was to highlight the services of non-profit organizations.

Langley City is now accepting booth applications for this year’s Community Day.

The booth categories are Community Groups & Organizations, Sports & Leisure, Community Businesses, and “Other.”

The general criteria are that organizations and booths:

  • Be Community Based
  • Be Not-for-Profit*
  • Be Family Oriented
  • Have Educational Display
  • Not sell products or services

Download the Booth Application Form

As a note, the application is due by May 1st.

If you are a Community Business, there is a $50 application fee. Space for Community Business is limited, and the City’s Community Day Committee may not select your business for a Community Day booth.

If you are in the “Other” category, the City’s Community Day Committee must approve any display materials and handouts before the event.

*Unless you are a Community Business

Thursday, March 9, 2023

March 6 Council Notes: $15 Million Loan Authorization Bylaw. Development Matters.

As I posted earlier this week, Langley City Council approved its 2023 budget. One component of the budget is taking out a $15 million loan which the City will use to purchase property and fund SkyTrain-related improvements, such as road realignment, to ensure we maximize this $4 billion once-in-a-generation opportunity for residents and businesses in Langley City.

In BC, local governments must get approval from the provincial government for any loan they want to take out. Unless a local government reaches its borrowing limit, the provincial government approves these loan requests. Langley City Council approved sending our $15 million loan request to the province.

As a note, local governments can only use loans for one-time capital projects. They cannot use loans to offset ongoing operating costs.

Local government must also hold either a referendum or go through an alternate approval process to ensure that voters in a community can have their say. As the City has done for our previous loan, Council approved using the alternative approval process.

During this process, eligible voters do not need to take action if they support the loan. If they are opposed to the loan, they must complete an Elector Response Form. If 10% of eligible voters oppose the loan, it will have to go to a binding city-wide referendum.

The alternative alternate approval process is well-defined, and the City must treat the process with the same sensitivity as an election. The process will start once we get approval from the provincial government.

Langley City Council also approved updates to our Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw and Media Relations Policy as two housekeeping matters.

The Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw’s most significant changes were to align it with our new Official Community Plan and enable Latecomer Agreements. For some projects, a developer may have to build infrastructure, such as a road, sidewalks, or pipes, that will benefit more than just their project. The developer can sign a Latecomer Agreement with the City, enabling them to recover the cost from the developers of future projects who use that infrastructure. The City is currently working on a Latecomer Policy.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Former Langley City Councillor Gayle Martin Granted Freedom of the City.

Gayle Martin (left), handing out napkins at the 2019 Breakfast with Santa.

The Freedom of the City is the highest honour a municipality can grant to a person in acknowledgment of their distinguished service to the community. City Council rarely grants the Freedom of the City, and it can only be awarded by a unanimous vote of Council.

Besides acknowledging an individual’s outstanding and exceptional service, it allows that person to vote in any Langley City election for the rest of their life, no matter where they live.

Langley City Council conferred the Freedom of the City to former Langley City Councillor Gayle Martin.

Among many other things, Gayle Martin served as a City Councillor for 32 consecutive years. She is the longest-serving elected representative in the history of the City.

Council will officially present the Freedom of the City to Gayle Martin at the March 20th Langley City Council meeting. The presentation will start at 7 pm in the Council Chamber at City Hall (20399 Douglas Crescent.) It is open to all members of the public.

The following is the motion that conferred the Freedom of the City to Gayle Martin:

WHEREAS Gayle Martin has served on Langley City Council for 32 consecutive years from 1990 to 2022, longer than anyone else in the history of Langley City Council, and sat on countless internal and external committees, task groups, boards, and working groups over this period;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin has been an avid volunteer in the community. She was a founding member and past president of Soroptimist International of the Langleys. She held many roles with the board of directors of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce including serving two years as president. She is a committed volunteer at the Gateway of Hope where she is also a member of the community council. She has volunteered for St. Joe’s soup kitchen and Critter Care Wildlife Society;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin played an instrumental role in numerous community building projects during her tenure that were transformative for Langley City, some of notable achievements include the Downtown Langley Master Plan and public realm project, Sendall Gardens upgrading, City Park upgrading, Innes Plaza Renewal project, Casino/Convention Centre/Hotel development, 204th Street Overpass project, Langley City Fire Hall No. 1 construction, Douglas Park Spirit Square project, Al Anderson Memorial Pool Expansion project, new cenotaph at Douglas Park, McBurney Plaza Renewal project, Timms Community Expansion project, creation of the Langley City: Nexus of Community visioning document, and approved countless numbers of development applications that created homes for many and brought economic prosperity to the community;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin served on the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors representing Langley City for 29 years and played a pivotal role in shaping the region;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin served on the Lower Mainland Local Government Association Board of Directors for many years and served as the President during 1994- 1995 term, representing local governments’ interests dealing with Federal and Provincial jurisdiction and to come together, share their experiences and take a united position on policy-making;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin served on the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) Board of Directors for 16 consecutive years and served as the Vice Chair for two years and Chair for four years. As Chair, she was instrumental in leading FVRL through the pandemic, as well as in the advocacy work for provincial funding at the UBCM conferences;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin, with her knowledge, expertise, and historical knowledge, has mentored, guided and provided invaluable advice to many incumbent and new members of Council;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin met with various Ministers and officials at senior levels of government over the decades lobbying for the implementation of initiatives, programs and projects with supportive funding that would ultimately benefit Langley City and its residents as well as various community groups and the people that these groups served;
AND WHEREAS Gayle Martin held fast to her belief in fiscal responsibility to the residents and business owners of the community over three decades, by ensuring that taxation increases were kept at reasonable and acceptable levels;
AND WHEREAS Freedom of the City is the highest honour that a city can bestow upon an individual;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT in appreciation and gratitude of her dedication in serving others, Langley City Council, confers the Freedom of the City of Langley on Gayle Martin.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Langley City Council Approves its 2023 Budget

Last night, Langley City Council adopted its 2023 budget and 2023-27 Financial Plan Bylaw. Like all bylaws, the budget and Financial Plan go through three readings and final adoption.

Third reading of a bylaw is where Council thoroughly debates and proposes amendments to bylaws. If Council approves third reading of a bylaw, it is known as “approval in principle.” In the case of a rezoning bylaw, it is between third reading and final adoption when a proponent of a rezoning would finalize all the requirements and financing for their development project.

In BC, there must be one day between third reading of a bylaw and final adoption. To me, the final adoption of a bylaw serves two purposes. It ensures developer accountability in the case of rezoning and serves as a “cool down” period for other bylaws.

If Council wants to amend a bylaw after third reading, but before its final adoption, they must rescind third reading of a bylaw, debate and makes proposed amendments, and revote on third reading. Revoking third reading of a bylaw is a serious matter.

Over the weekend, the provincial government announced how it will allocate its one-time $1 billion grant to local governments. Langley City will be receiving $7.2 million.

Council debated rescinding third reading of the budget last night. Council discussed applying the $7.2 million grant to help offset the $15 million investment to support SkyTrain. This change would result in lowering this year’s proposed property tax by 1.8% (about $46.70 for detached home and $19.38 for attached home property owners.)

Like most municipalities in BC, Langley City has a growing infrastructure renewal debt. In response, Langley City Council has been slowly increasing its “infrastructure levy” property tax component over the years. 1% of this year’s property tax will increase the “infrastructure levy” to help close the gap as Langley City must complete $242 million in infrastructure renewal over the next decade.

Given our need to renew infrastructure and our current funding gap, Council decided against rescinding third reading of the budget bylaw and adopted the budget bylaw.

Once the province provides the $7.2 million to Langley City and specifies how we can use the grant, Council will likely amend the budget to invest this grant into infrastructure renewal.

Monday, March 6, 2023

One-Third of People Travelling on 200th Street Use Public Transit in Peak Periods

When you drive along Fraser Highway or 200th Street, you might think that only a few people are using public transit along those corridors, but that isn’t the case.

TransLink recently released the first part of its 2023 Bus Speed and Reliability Report. One of the maps that stood out to me was a map of bus mode share in 2021.

Bus mode share in 2021 during AM peak travel period. Select the map to enlarge.

On 200th Street between Langley City and Walnut Grove, 33-45% of people travel along that corridor on public transit during peak AM travel periods. Between Langley City and King George SkyTrain Station, 21-35% of people travel along Fraser Highway on public transit, with the highest percentage in Langley City.

Along 72nd Avenue in Surrey, up to 72% of people travel along that corridor on public transit during peak periods.

TransLink staff presented this report at the March 2nd Mayors’ Council on Regional Transporation Meeting. At that meeting, I asked if the percentage of people using transit was similar in the peak PM travel period. TransLink staff said that a similar percentage of people used public transit along the identified corridors on the map.

Some people might think this doesn’t make sense, given what they see on the roads daily, but buses are way more efficient at moving people around. For example, a 40-foot transit bus with just six passengers uses less road space per passenger than private automobiles. A 40-foot transit bus can hold about 70 people. If you look at buses in Langley, they are usually full during peak AM and PM travel periods.

For more information, please read the “2023 Bus Speed and Reliability Report.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Langley City Council calls for fair taxation and a new deal for municipalities to invest in infrastructure

In BC, municipalities are part of two organizations that help represent our combined interests to the province government. They are part of local area associations and the Union of BC Municipalities.

While these organizations do many other things, one of the ways that they help advocate on behalf of local governments to the provincial government is through the resolutions process.

I will explain how this process works and share two resolutions Langley City Council submitted at our last meeting.

Water Infrastructure in Langley City

Local governments, like Langley City, will pass resolutions at Council meetings that they would like to see forwarded to their local area association. In Langley City's case, this is the Lower Mainland Local Government Association.

Representatives from local governments debate these resolutions at their area association's annual convention. For resolutions that pass, they get forwarded to the Union of BC Municipalities. At the Union of BC Municipalities annual conference, local government representatives from throughout the province debate these resolutions. For the ones that pass, the Union of BC Municipalities forwards them to the province as these resolutions represent what local governments want the province to take action on.

The first resolution that Langley City Council forwarded to our local area association was around residential property taxes. Because there is only one residential tax rate per BC law, and because detached and attached housing change values at different rates, it leads to inconsistent property tax changes. The following tables show the change in tax rates over the last several years by housing type in Langley City.

Change in average attached housing valuation and property taxation between 2014 and 2022 in Langley City. Select the table to enlarge.

Change in average detached housing valuation and property taxation between 2014 and 2022 in Langley City. Select the table to enlarge.

As a note, attached housing includes apartments, townhouses, and rowhouses.

The motion is:

WHEREAS the Province of British Columbia specifies that there is one assessment class for all types of residential properties even though the assessed value of attached and detached residential properties change values at different rates and other jurisdictions, such as Ontario, allow different tax rates for attached and detached residential properties;
WHEREAS in Langley City, a 4.94% property tax increase in 2018 resulted in a 0.4% decrease for detached residential properties and a 14.31% increase for attached residential property, and in 2022, a 4.35% property tax increase resulted in a 12.49% increase for detached residential properties and 3.37% decrease for attached residential properties;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province of British Columbia amend the BC Assessment Act and the Community Charter to allow the residential class to be split into two distinct residential classes so that a different rate may be applied to each type to account for the difference in the rate at which attached and detached residential properties change their value and to allow local government to more accurately charge for the cost of providing services to attached and detached residential properties.

Langley City Council approved the second resolution around infrastructure funding. Like all municipalities in BC, we are responsible for most public infrastructure on the ground, such as transportation, sewer, and water.

In Langley City's 10 square kilometres, the City owns $600 million (replacement value) in transportation, sewer, and water infrastructure. In the next decade, we need to invest $242 million to keep this infrastructure in a state of good repair. Like all municipalities in BC, we need more financial resources to do this. Today, we all have growing infrastructure debts. We have this problem because local governments collect less than 5% of all taxation, with the rest going to the feds and the province. We need a new deal from the feds and the province.

The motion is:

WHEREAS Canada’s infrastructure deficit is estimated to be as high as $570B with almost 60% of the deficit within municipal jurisdictions.
WHEREAS the costs to replace and repair municipal infrastructure for critical services such as roads, arenas, bridges, drinking water, and wastewater systems are estimated to be $141 billion, which is well beyond the financial capacity of municipalities across the country due to limited revenue generation options, and all while costs for infrastructure renewal continue to escalate at an exponential rate.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Canada create a sustainable and reliable municipal asset management fund, like the permanent Building Canada’s Public Transit Future Fund, to increase investments in infrastructure renewal, which is essential to enhance public safety, reduce health risks, ensure economic sustainability, and lessen the financial burden on future generations to pay for the infrastructure deficit.

I look forward to debating these motions at this year's conferences.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Council Notes: Rezoning and 2023 Budget

On Monday, Langley City Council gave third reading to its 2023 budget, also known as the Financial Plan 2023-2027.

I’ve made the following post about this year’s budget which you can read for more information:

Langley City’s 2023 Budget Overview

A Deeper Dive into Langley City’s Proposed 2023 Budget: On-going Operating Budget

A Deeper Dive into Langley City’s Proposed 2023 Budget: One-time Capital Projects

Council will vote on the final reading to adopt the budget at its March 6th meeting.

Langley City Council also gave final reading to a rezoning and issued a development permit to enable the construction of a 15-unit townhouse project at 19665 & 19669 55A Avenue. You can read more about this project in a previous post.

A rendering of the view of the project from its internal drive. Select the image to enlarge.

A rendering of the view of the project from 55A Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.