Thursday, April 6, 2023

Why we need a diversity of housing options in Langley City

As I posted about yesterday, the provincial government will require local governments to allow 3 or 4 units of housing in all residential zoning, with legislation coming in the fall with further details.

In our new Official Community Plan, Langley City allows townhouses, rowhouses, and ‘plexes along 200th Street and 208th Street and up to three housing units in some of our traditionally single-detached housing areas. More housing options allow more people to have the possibility of home ownership. Most people cannot afford to own a single-detached home these days.

Even before Langley City’s new Official Community Plan, we’ve had townhouses and ‘plexes in traditionally single-detached housing areas for decades, including along 203rd Street, 50th Avenue, and on the west side of City Park.

I had a resident send me an email asking why we allow different housing forms in traditionally single-detached areas, expressing concern about greenspace. I wanted to share a slightly modified version of my reply below.

The starting points for various housing types in Langley City are:

  • $380,000 for an Apartment
  • $500,000 for a two-bedroom Townhome/Rowhome
  • $730,000 for a three-bedroom Townhome/Rowhome
  • $1.4 million for Single Detached Home

A single-family home is about double the price of a townhome or rowhome and is unaffordable. According to Stats Canada Census information, the median household income in Langley City is $77,000.

This stat means that most households in Langley City could afford an apartment and, if they built up equity in that apartment, afford a townhouse/rowhouse. Buying an apartment first, and owning it for around 15 years, was the only way I could afford my townhouse. I could never afford a single detached home even though I had a well-paying job.

A single-detached house is unobtainable for the majority of British Columbians.

With the cost of housing in mind, that Langley City’s population is growing to support our economy, with Skytrain coming, and factoring in that we are only 10 square kilometres, our only option is to densify to provide affordable housing options for the majority of people.

The type of infill housing within traditional single-detached neighbourhoods envisioned in Langley City’s Official Community Plan is a primary residence with a secondary suite and a coach home.

Here are examples of townhouses and ‘plexes in traditional single-detached housing neighbourhoods in Langley City today.

Townhouses on the right and single-detached homes on the left along 201A Street near Sendall Gardens.

‘plexes on the left and single-detached homes on the right along 207A Street near City Park.

We must also preserve greenspace and support our region’s objective to protect farmland and expand conservation lands. These protections and expansion are something I strongly believe in. I do not support building sprawl on farmland and rural areas.

In Langley City, we are working to replace invasive plants in our natural areas, such as the floodplain, with native plants.

Langley City is looking to acquire property to expand our green space, especially in the northwest part of our community. We are also creating an urban forest management plan to grow the urban forest canopy. We will include a policy to protect trees to ensure that trees are not needlessly clear-cut as part of the redevelopment process. We will also invest heavily in street trees to grow our tree canopy.

We must have great natural spaces and well-maintained parks with increased population density. Langley City Council continues investing in our parks, trails, and natural areas. We are also creating a new Parks and Recreation plan so that people can stay active and connected.

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