Monday, July 31, 2023

Growth Should Pay for Growth: Updating Langley City's Development Fees

Redevelopment Project

When development occurs in a community, or Langley City's case, redevelopment, we need to make sure that both infrastructure and services can accommodate that growth and that we can provide the same level of service to people and businesses in our community.

On the services side, new property tax revenue helps offset the increased cost of delivering services to a growing community. For example, more people and businesses mean we need more police officers, firefighters, bylaw officers, recreation services, library services, and park services which the City funds with property tax.

I sometimes hear folks comment that cities love development because it provides windfall property tax which, I can only guess some folks believe, gets hoarded into a Scrooge McDuck-type Money Bin. I can guarantee you this is not the case in Langley City. City Council puts every cent of property tax revenue collected from redevelopment back into the community to ensure we maintain our existing service levels even as our population grows.

The other way that municipalities can help ensure that "growth pays for growth" is through Development Cost Charges, Density Bonuses, and Community Amenity Contributions. The City charges or negotiates these fees during the redevelopment process and uses them to pay for transportation, below-market housing, parks, water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure required due to growth. This "growth paying for growth" system does have gaps, which I've posted about in the past.

For Development Cost Charges, the City is looking at increasing the rates as follows:

Type Measure Exisiting Rate Proposed Rate
Detached per unit $18,409 $46,078
Townhouse per unit $14,503 $32,858
Apartment per unit $9,549 $21,335
Commercial ft2 GFA $6.84 $14.61
Industrial ft2 GFA $3.03 $6.07
Institutional ft2 GFA N/A $14.61

GFA = Gross Floor Area

The City has completed several plans over the last few years, which outline what projects are required to accommodate growth. These proposed rates reflect the projects in those updated plans.

The City will seek feedback from our community, the development industry and development professionals over the next few months on these proposed rates. If any adjustments are required, they will be made. Council will formally consider updating the rates in the fall. If Council approves the rates, the City must submit the updated rates and what projects they will be used for to the provincial government for approval.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

New Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan for Langley City

Since 2021, Langley City staff and consultants have been working on updating our City's Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan. The City's old plan dates back to 2013, so it was time for an update.

The City developed this plan with our community via surveys, workshops, interviews, and emails.

Our community is growing, and we've reached the point where we need to invest significantly in new parks and major facilities.

Today, it cost around $25 million per hectare to acquire land. We must create new parks in the northwestern part of our community. The good news is that we can collect development cost charges to acquire this land, so it will not impact existing taxpayers.

For another example, we need an indoor pool which would cost around $17 million in today's dollars to build. Unfortunately, we would not be able to use development cost charges.

The following is the list of key recommendations from the new plan.


  • Acquire new parkland within developing areas
  • Major Park upgrades to City Park, Buckley Park, Douglas Park, Nicomekl Floodplain, BC Hydro Corridor, Penzer Park, Uplands Dog off-leash Park, Innes Corners Plaza, Conder Park, Rotary Centennial Park, Sendall Gardens, Brydon Park

Outdoor Amenities

  • Upgrade Park amenities – older multi-sport courts, shade at playgrounds, washrooms
  • Add Park amenities – accessible washrooms, community gardens, dog offleash area, picnic facilities, tennis courts, skate park, beach volleyball courts, bike pump track, adventure play area


  • Acquire land to support trail connectivity
  • More trails, paving and infrastructure
  • Increase wayfinding signs, especially in Nicomekl Floodplain

Recreation and Culture Programs and Services

  • More fitness classes, lifestyle, and social programs for all ages, and visual and performing art classes
  • More outdoor programs, events
  • Childminding with fitness facilities
  • More partnership, more focus on equity, diversity and inclusion

Indoor Recreation Spaces

  • Upgrade and expand Timms Community Centre
  • Replace or significantly renovate/expand Douglas Recreation Centre

Aquatic Facilities

  • Plan and build a new indoor aquatic facility
  • Upgrade Al Anderson Memorial Pool to improve the energy use and recreation opportunities for the interim or long term

Culture and Multi-Use Facilities

  • Explore opportunities for a Public Private partnership in the development of a Performing Arts Centre
  • Explore opportunities for a fundraising campaign
  • Replace Sendall House with an environmental and multi-use facility
  • New multi-use community building to replace the again lawn bowling facility

The following maps show existing and proposed new park, trail, and plaza locations.

Existing and Proposed Parks and Trails, North. Select the map to enlarge.

Existing and Proposed Parks and Trails, South. Select the map to enlarge.

Legend for Maps of Existing and Proposed Parks and Trails. Select the image to enlarge.

I invite you to read the full Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan. Council endorsed this new plan at Monday night's Council meeting.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Langley City Neighbourhood Askes for Increased Density Due to Past Flooding

Langley City's current Official Community Plan, which Council adopted in November 2021, expanded the areas where people could have the option of building "missing middle" housing. "Missing Middle" housing is townhouses, rowhomes and 'plexes which provide lower-cost housing options for families and typically include 2-4 bedrooms.

The Official Community Plan provides new opportunities for property owners to build "missing middle" housing along the 200th Street corridor and 208th Street corridor. In addition, the City now allows "missing middle" housing in the area bound by City Park, the floodplain, and 48th Avenue, as shown in the salmon colour.

Land-use plan for a section of the Blacklock Neighbourhood. Select the map to enlarge.

Besides wanting to provide the opportunity for people to build more family housing in our community, this area in the Blacklock Neighbourhood is also in the one-in-two-hundred-year flooding area. Most of the housing in this area is below our current flood construction level, meaning many people cannot or can only purchase expensive flood insurance. Enabling "missing middle" housing can provide an option for people to get the equity out of their property and move to housing above the flood construction level. During the Official Community Plan development process, we heard most of this neighbourhood wanted this.

At last night's Council meeting, we received a petition for the homeowners in the area as shown, requesting that the City allow 3-6 storey townhouses, rowhouses, or apartments within the boundary of their area.

Petition area. Select the map to enlarge.

These people have suffered from the recent flooding and want the City to allow slightly higher density to incentivize the quick redevelopment of their properties, as they want to avoid suffering through another flooding event.

Langley City Council received the petition at Monday night's Council meeting and asked staff to prepare a report with options for Council to consider.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

City Concerned About Regional Costs of “Piecemeal” Conversion of Rural Land to Industrial Uses Along Fraser Highway in Township. Surrey Proposes Redesignating Industrial Lands.

As I posted in May, the Township of Langley is seeking approval to convert 4.12 hectares of land at 23699 and 23737 Fraser Highway from the regionally designated Rural land use to Industrial land use from the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board.

Site of proposed regional land use change from rural to industrial. Select the map to enlarge.

In Metro Vancouver, we have an Urban Growth Boundry, which helps create a compact region that is easier and more cost-effective to services with transit, water, and sewer services while preserving rural and agricultural lands and greenspace, which helps preserve the environment.

Because the Urban Growth Boundry is so important if a municipality wants to convert rural or agricultural lands to other uses, it needs the approval, with a 2/3rd weighted vote, of the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board. Langley City, along with all other municipalities in the region, Tsawwassen First Nations, and Electoral Area “A” are part of the board.

Earlier this month, Langley City Council received a letter from the Metro Vancouver Regional District asking for our comments about this conversion of land from Rural to Industrial use. Langley City Council directed our staff to prepare a letter. At last night’s Council meeting, Langley City Council approved sending the letter that staff prepared to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board.

You can read the full letter on Langley City’s website. I wanted to share an excerpt.

If approved this proposed redesignation will support fragmented or ‘piecemeal’ urbanization outside of the Urban Containment Boundary. This in turn could lead to the need for future sewer and water service extensions, as well as transit service expansion, in areas that do not currently have these services. This will likely result in additional long-term costs for providing and maintaining regional and municipal sewer and water services, and will redirect valuable and finite transit service funding away from areas located along the Major Transit Network and other transit service priority areas within the Urban Containment Boundary.
It is also suggested that further study be undertaken, to identify water and sewer servicing requirements and costs associated with future urbanization along the Fraser Highway corridor and outside of the Urban Containment Boundary, prior to future regional land use amendments being considered by Metro Vancouver.

On another regional matter, Langley City Council received a request from the Metro Vancouver Regional District to comment on the proposed redesignation of 10.2 hectares of Industrial land in Surrey to general urban uses. This land is located within the Urban Growth Boundary.

Council directed City staff to prepare a response letter. Industrial land is in short supply in the region, but according to the Regional District, this 10.2 hectares of land would only be accessible via a residential area which could be problematic.

Proposed regional land use change from Industrial to Rural at 11420 157A Street in Surrey. Select the map to enlarge.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Going Above and Beyond - Langley City's proposed $15 million loan to support SkyTrain and Downtown Renewal

Last week, Langley City completed the Alternative Approval Process for a $15 million loan which the City is proposing to use to help purchase property to support SkyTrain and fund the renewal of the Fraser Highway One Way.

In 2021, Langley City completed an Alternative Approval Process and approved using a $7.5 million loan to purchase property to support SkyTrain.

These loans are components of a plan that started in 2020, which at the time contemplated Langley City borrowing $10 million per year over five years for the following:

  • $31 million in strategic land acquisitions to support preparing for SkyTrain, renewing downtown, and expanding parks
  • $3 million in parks and trails improvements
  • $6 million in Downtown Langley infrastructure upgrades
  • $10 million in City and recreation facilities expansions and enhancement

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted this original plan, so this year's and the 2021 loans are a subset of this original vision.

Previously, Langley City took out a $7 million loan for our water reservoir using the Alternative Approval Process. The City built the reservoir in 1999.

Municipalities have a cap on loan interest payments in BC. They can equal up to 25% of a municipality's stable revenue and no more. Stable revenue includes property tax and other recurring fees.

If a municipality wants to take out a loan and if that loan's interest payments plus a municipality's current loan internet payments would equal between 5% to 25% of the municipality's stable revenue, a municipality can go through either an Assent Voting or Alternate Approval Process per BC law to get voter approval.

In Langley City's case, our loan interest payments, even at $22 million, are under 5% of our stable revenue, meaning that Langley City did not need to complete either an Assent Voting or Alternate Approval process for this year's or the 2021 loan, but did so anyway as a matter of transparency and accountability.

You may have noted that I didn't talk about the loan during the Alternate Approval Process over the last month. The reason is that the provincial government strongly discourages Councils from appearing to promote the reasons for taking out a loan during the Alternate Approval Process period, as it could be seen as biased. Of course, the City must communicate that an Alternate Approval Process is occurring. In Langley City's case, we put in four newspaper ads (above the two required by the province), plus had information on the front page of Langley City's website and at City Hall.

We also saw democracy in action in our community throughout this process. People were writing letters to the editor and canvasing neighbourhoods collecting signatures for folks opposed to the City taking out a loan.

One of the comments I heard from some community members was that the City was sneaky about the loan. I had some conservations with folks and stated that the City and Council were very transparency about the loan, pointing to the fact that we included an insert in every tax notice (mailed to every property taxpayer) which, among other things, stated, "the City intends to borrow $15 million to purchase strategic property, fund infrastructure upgrades, and SkyTrain-related improvements to maximize this once-in-a-generation opportunity for residents and businesses."

Even though it wasn't required, Langley City did complete the Alternate Approval Process, and the results will allow the City to continue taking out the loan. Council will consider approving the $15 loan authorization at tonight's meeting.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

July 17 Council Meeting Notes: 3rd Reading for Pyramid Apartments Redevelopment. $28,990.78 in Community Grants Approved.

On Monday night, Langley City Council gave third reading for rezoning and the discharge of a land use contract which would enable the development of a 12-storey apartment building at 5360 204 Street. The current apartment building on that site is known as the Pyramid Apartments. The proposed building will have 317 strata units and 53 rental units.

A rendering of the proposed project at 5360 204 Street. Select the image to enlarge.

Because the current building is a market-rate rental building, it is subject to Langley City's one-to-one rental unit replacement and tenant relocation policies.

Last week, Council held a public hearing and received feedback from community members about this proposed project.

Before giving third reading to the rezoning, all members of Council expressed their reason for voting in favour of third reading.

Council acknowledged that we are in a housing crisis and need all types of housing: BC Housing subsidized housing, below-market housing, and market housing.

Councillors noted that the project was consistent with our Official Community Plan and exceeded several Council bylaw and policy requirements.

The project exceeds the City's one-on-one rental replacement requirement by providing 53 units above the 44 required. The project applicant also exceeds our tenant relocation policy by providing eight months' rent as compensation for vulnerable tenants above the six months per Council policy. They also offered tenants the right to return at 20% below market rent, exceeding Langley City's 10% below market rent policy. The applicant will also provide built-in A/C for all the rental units.

All members of Council noted that we need to reevaluate our Tenant Relocation Policy for future projects to ensure it is responsive and fair for tenants as our community redevelops.

Community members were also concerned about shadowing and privacy for neighbouring buildings. The building steps down to 8 stories to the east, and mature trees along the property line will be retained. Folks were concerned about traffic. City staff confirmed "no significant traffic impacts to intersections along 204 Street due to this development." Based on on-the-ground research of parking in other apartments throughout Langley City, the on-site parking exceeds current on-site parking utilization rates.

Later in the meeting, Council approved the following Community Grants for our mid-year intake.

Group Amount
Alano Club of Langley $2000.00
Bosnian-Herzegovinian Cultural Centre $2000.00
BGC (Boys and Girls Club of Langley) $1225.00
Eco Waves Community Volunteer Club $600.00
Fairy Godmother Foundation $1000.00
Fibromyalgia Well Spring Foundation $755.78
Langley Community Services Society (Best Babies) $5000.00
Langley Community Services Society (Langley Global Fest) $4475.00
Langley Fastball Association $5000.00
Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society $5400.00
Terry Fox Foundation $1535.00
Total $28,990.78

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Public Hearing Notes: 207th Street Apartment Building, Separation Distance for Spas and Salons, and Increasing Density in Industrial Areas.

On Monday night, Langley City Council held a public hearing for people to provide both written and verbal feedback about three matters.

The first matter was a rezoning bylaw which, if approved by Council, would enable the construction of an 8-storey, 78-unit apartment at 5404, 5406, 5408 and 5414 207 Street. The building will be split between rental and ownership units.

Render of the proposed 8-storey, 78-unit apartment along 207 Street near Douglas Crescent. Select the image to enlarge.

Council received five emails from people about this proposed rezoning. People expressed concerns about the height of the building, the building’s shadow, traffic, and on-street parking.

A person also expressed concern about the safety of the crosswalk on 207th Street and Douglas Crescent.

Another person wanted their property rezoned as part of this project.

Five people at the public hearing provided verbal feedback about the proposed project.

One person mentioned concerns about the capacity of the one-way lane behind the proposed project, as that is where the parkade’s access is from, and the loss of trees. They also wondered if the garbage/recycling area would be secured. The applicant noted the garbage/recycling would be in a secured room. City staff noted that the lane may need upgrading, but it would be the applicant’s responsibility if Council approves the rezoning.

Another person noted that the project could impact their privacy, and another was concerned about the proposed building’s height.

One person expressed the need for more below-market rental units in Langley City. Another person had general questions about land use in the area and how the City works to prevent situations where some lots could not be redeveloped. This situation is sometimes known as “orphan lots.”

A member of Council asked the applicant to consider adding A/C to all the proposed rental units.

As a note, there is around a 15-storey height limit for most parts of Langley City due to the Langley Regional Airport.

The next matter addressed at the public hearing was for a proposed update to our zoning which would place a 400-metre separation distance between future beauty/nail/hair/skincare salons or nonregistered massage establishments and existing businesses of the same type.

Existing business locations would be grandfathered to allow these uses. If a beauty/nail/hair/skincare salon or nonregistered massage establishment closed down, that location could be used for a future business of the same type within six months. Only after six months of beauty/nail/hair/skincare salon or nonregistered massage establishment being closed at a location would the 400-metre separation distance take effect.

Council received five emails about this proposed update to our zoning, and one person spoke at the public hearing.

The person presenting at the public hearing was from the Downtown Langley Business Association and spoke in support. In an email, a person from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce noted that the proposed update is “a reasonable response to what we know is an ongoing challenge.”

In an email, one person noted that our community needed more hair salons. They also had questions about business license impacts. Staff noted there would be no impact on current and future licensing for existing business locations that remain in operation.

In another email, an existing spa owner was generally supportive.

Another person in an email opposed the proposed zoning update. A person expressed in their email that they thought the proposed zoning update was overreaching.

The final matter address was for a proposed update to our I1 industrial zone to add accessory office uses, increase height to 30m for industrial buildings, and decrease our parking requirements to one space per 100m2.

One person who attended the public hearing spoke in favour of this proposed update.

Council will now have the opportunity to consider giving third reading to these proposed updates at a future Council meeting.

Council cannot consider any further feedback about these proposed changes to our zoning bylaw per BC law.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Development of New Cape Roger Curtis Regional Park on Bowen Island

Recently, the Metro Vancouver Regional District completed purchasing 97 hectares of land at Cape Roger Curtis on Bowen Island for a new regional park. The new park will have day-use activities like hiking and overnight camping.

Location of proposed Cape Roger Curtis Regional Park on Bowen Island. Select the map to enlarge.

These lands contain sensitive ecosystems, such as coastal bluffs, rocky headlands, and dry Douglas fir forests.

Site plan for proposed Cape Roger Curtis Regional Park on Bowen Island. Select the map to enlarge.

As part of the park’s creation, the Regional District is going through a rezoning process with Bowen Island Municipality, as the current permitted use is for larger lot housing.

As part of the rezoning process for the park, Bowen Island Municipality is asking for:

  • A bus shuttle service
  • A passenger ferry feasibility study
  • The Regional District to take over all municipality roads and trails within the park
  • The Regional District to provide $5.6 million to help build the Cross Island Multi-Use Path

Bowen Island is accessible by ferry services, and there is limited vehicle capacity to get to and around the island, so a big focus on the development of this park will be to provide active transportation (cycling) and public transit access options between the new park and Snug Cove (ferry terminal.)

The Regional District’s Visitor Use Management Plan includes the following key objectives.

  • Park access is sustainable. Car access to the park is limited, to reduce impacts to the community, local roads, and the ferry system.
  • Park visitors respect neighbouring properties, natural areas, and local amenities.
  • The park’s sensitive natural areas are protected and managed to avoid negative impacts from park visitors. Park visitors respect regional park bylaws and regulations to protect park ecology.
  • Park visitors are prohibited from accessing habitats or ecosystems highly vulnerable to human impact.

I’m excited about this new regional park which will help connect people with nature and help preserve a significant amount of sensitive and unique ecosystem in Metro Vancouver.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

The BC Rental Protection Fund: Metro Vancouver Looking to Purchase and Maintain Older Rental Buildings

Older rental building in Langley City

Earlier this year, the provincial government announced the $500 million "BC Rental Protection Fund." This fund will allow non-profit organizations to purchase older rent and co-op buildings.

Many older rental buildings and co-ops have not had proper maintenance over the years and must be brought into a state of good repair. Non-profits applying for that grant must have an asset management plan for these older buildings to get the funding.

Another condition of the funding is that any building purchased cannot be redeveloped or sold for 20 years. However, a non-profit could redevelop a property if it were approved by the funding program and resulted in an increase in affordable rental units.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District, through its wholly-owned, non-profit Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC), is looking into using the "BC Rental Protection Fund" to purchase older rental buildings near their existing housing.

MVHC managed 3,400 homes across 49 sites in our region though sadly, there is no MVHC housing in Langley City or the Township of Langley.

MVHC has identified five sites with adjacent old purpose-built rental buildings that they could use the "BC Rental Protection Fund" to acquire.

The Regional District's first step is to submit a pre-qualification to the BC Rental Protection Fund program. It will be interesting to see if MVHC does end up acquiring old purpose-built rental buildings.

I am also interested to see if any non-profits express interest in acquiring older purpose-built rental buildings in Langley City.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

July 10 Council Notes: Conversion of Rural Land in Metro Vancouver. Redevelopment Projects in City.

On Monday, Langley City Council held its regular meeting after a public hearing. There were three significant matters on the agenda.

In May, I posted about a proposal to convert 4.12 hectares of land at 23699 and 23737 Fraser Highway in the Township of Langley from the regional Rural land-use designation to the Industrial regional land-use designation.

One of the goals of the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy is to preserve rural, agricultural, and green space. One of the ways to do this is with regional land-use designations. Changing a regional land-use designation requires the approval of the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board. The board has its membership appointed by Tsawwassen First Nation, the 21 municipalities in our region, and Electoral Area "A."

Part of proposing a change to a regional land use designation is to seek feedback from all governments within and adjacent to the regional district. As such, Langley City received a letter from Metro Vancouver asking to provide feedback on this proposed conversion of rural land to industrial land. Langley City Council asked our City staff to prepare a response letter.

Langley City Council gave first and second reading to a rezoning bylaw which, if approved, would enable the construction of a 6-storey, 75-unit apartment building.

A rendering of a proposed building at 20214 & 20224 54A Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

This building, if approved, would replace two purpose-built market-rent fourplexes. As such, it is subject to Langley City's one-for-one market-rent replacement policy and tenant relocation policy.

Staff will now schedule a public hearing.

Council also gave final reading to discharge a land use contract and issue a development permit to allow the construction of a 6-storey building with 200 apartment units and 16,340 sq. ft. of ground-level retail space at 20785 Fraser Highway. You can read more about this project in a previous post.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Public Hearing Notes: Proposed Redevelopment Pyramid Apartments - 5360 204th Street

Last night, Langley City Council held a public hearing for the proposed rezoning and discharge of a land use contract for 5360 204th Street, also known as the Pyramid Apartments.

If Council approved the rezoning, the proposed rezoning would allow a 12-storey, 370-unit apartment project with 317 condominium units and 53 rental units with a range of unit types, from studio to 2-bedroom units. The square footage is between 307 and 840, depending on the unit type.

The current building is 3-storeys and contains 44 one-bedroom rental units.

A rendering of the proposed project at 5360 204 Street. Select the image to enlarge.

Because the current building is a market-priced, purpose-built rental building, it is subject to Langley City's one-for-one market rental unit replacement policy. The project's applicant is providing 53 rental units, which will be secured for the life of the proposed building through a housing agreement with the City. The applicant proposes building nine additional purpose-built rental units above City requirements.

This project is also subject to Langley City's Tenant Relocation policy for purpose-built rental building redevelopment. Langley City's Tenant Relocation policy goes above and beyond what the provincial Residential Tenancy Act requires.

The City's Tenant Relocation Policy focuses on informing current tenants about a potential redevelopment of their building early and often. It also focuses on helping people find and move to new rental accommodation and includes compensation. Finally, it enables people to return once a new building is completed at 10% below market rent.

Depending on people's length of tenancy and if they are considered a "vulnerable tenant," per Langley City's relocation policy, people are entitled to 2-6 months of their current rent over and about what the Residential Tenancy Act requires as compensation.

At the public hearing, the applicant noted they would go above and beyond Langley City's policy by providing eight months' rent as compensation and a 20% below-market rent discount for people who choose to return to the new building.

Langley City Council received three written correspondence about the proposed redevelopment project and heard from about two dozen people at the public hearing last night.

Most people who spoke at the public hearing were from the Countryside Estates strata apartment complex, which is directly to the south and east of this proposed project.

These folks were concerned about the building's height and number of units and how it would impact traffic, water and sewer infrastructure, parking, schools, the hospital, fire safety, and the shadowing of their building.

The applicant noted that the building's 9th thru 12th storeys are setbacks significant to reduce shadowing impacts.

The proposed building crosssection of 5360 204th Street. Select the image to enlarge.

City staff noted that the road and other City infrastructure will be able to handle the increased population if this project is approved. The Fire Department noted they have the equipment and training to deal with a building of this height. City staff also noted that there would be school capacity per a recent conversation with the School District.

While healthcare is a provincial obligation, City staff did note that the province is building a new hospital in Cloverdale.

One of the other concerns was flooding, as this site is within the floodplain. Unlike the current building, which has habitable areas below our current flood protection requirements, this proposed building will follow Langley City's brand new flood protection bylaw, which Council adopted in April. The proposed building will have a much lower risk of flooding habitable space than the current building.

People were also concerned that the parkade might collapse during construction, which could cause damage to Countryside Estates.

Folks were also concerned about the impacts of construction. Projects in Langley City must have a construction management plan to mitigate impacts during construction.

Three people spoke in favour of the project as they noted a housing crisis in BC, and that we need to build more housing now.

Several current tenants of the Pyramid Apartments also spoke, ranging from concern to satisfaction about the tenant relocation process. They also expressed general concern about the rising cost of market rent and displacement.

There were other speakers with other concerns, but I wanted to give an overall picture of last night's public hearing.

As the public hearing is now closed, Council cannot accept any new information or receive further comments about this proposed project per provincial law. Council will consider third reading of the rezoning and discharge of the land-use contract at its July 17th Council meeting.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Renewable Natural Gas: Yes for Transit, No for New Buildings

Over the last year, I've noticed more conversations about the role of renewable natural gas in helping our province meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

FortisBC is the main gas utility in BC. Its quarter-century goal is to have 75% of its natural gas from renewable and low-carbon sources. Renewable natural gas differs from low-carbon natural gas. Renewable natural gas comes from organic waste from landfills, farms, and sewer systems. Low-carbon natural gas comes from hydrogen, wood synthesis gas and lignin.

Renewable natural gas is the least carbon-intensive and environmentally destructive natural gas, so it is the gold standard as a transition fuel to a zero-emission future. However, there is some debate on where renewable natural gas should be used today as there is a limited supply.

At the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, many people discussed how renewable and low-carbon natural gas shouldn't be allowed in new construction. Some folks believe all new buildings should be 100% electric due to energy costs, the limited availability of renewable natural gas, and GHG reduction concerns.

Recently, the City of Richmond asked the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board to call on the provinces to, among other things:

  • Bring forward legislation implementing a 2030 GHG cap on the gas sector without further delay.
  • Reject the use of renewable natural gas and hydrogen in new construction to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals in the BC Energy Step Code.

At the same time, the region wants to use renewable natural gas for transit buses. The region can only expand bus service and meet the province's GHG reduction goals by using renewable natural gas.

TransLink Bus Maintenance Shop

I heard from TransLink staff at the June Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation Meeting that the province's "proposed BC Public Transit Zero Emission Vehicle purchasing, and fleet stock requirements will significantly impact the ability to expand bus service, achieve regional GHG emission reductions, mode share and vehicle kilometres travelled." TransLink wants the province to allow renewable natural gas buses for the foreseeable future as a way for TransLink to meet provincial GHG reduction goals.

A graphic from TransLink's presentation on Zero Emissions Bus Fleet Technology. Select the image to enlarge.

A regional perspective is emerging that renewable natural gas is a limited-supply fuel source that should be used only when we cannot meaningfully convert to electricity, such as in some industrial processes and for heavy-duty vehicles like buses.

Friday, July 7, 2023

My Journey from Langley City to Lions Bays on Transit

As a member of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, we are one of the two governing bodies for TransLink.

As a lifelong transit rider, I’m pretty familiar with the transit system, but there are places that I’ve never taken transit to.

To understand the experience of transit riders in every part of our region, I’ve been slowly visiting every mayor in Metro Vancouver on transit. There are 21 municipalities in Metro Vancouver, so this will be an ongoing project.

I hope my transit experiences visiting each mayor will help me make better decisions as a member of the Mayors’ Council as we work towards our new 10-Year Transportation Vision and implementation plans.

Yesterday, I took transit from Langley City Hall to Lions Bay.

As this is one of the more extreme transit journeys, I thought I would document it.

I left Langley City Hall around 8 am and arrived at Lions Bay Municipal Hall around 11:45 am.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

198th Street Potholes Patched

As we all know, 198th Street was full of potholes between 53rd Avenue and 56th Avenue. The road was in rough shape because of ongoing construction along the corridor.

Potholes patched on 198th Street

As part of completing the apartment building on 54th Avenue, the City required the developer to repave that section of 198th Street. Yesterday, a City contractor patched the potholes north of the repaved section.

The City still needs to completely repave the section of 198th Street north of 54th Avenue. The City will complete this repaving once the City completes the replacement of the water and sewer lines under that street. The City has scheduled this work for 2027.

The section of 198 Street between 53rd and 54th is still in rough shape as it is in an active construction zone. Of course, if there are potholes, the City will patch them. Once the townhouse project is completed, the developer will fully repave that section of 198th Street.

If you see other potholes on 198th Street or anywhere in Langley City, please report them at

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

The Healthy Social Environments Framework: Applying it to the Toxic Drug Crisis

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference the BC CDC-funded Community Action Initiative put on. The conference was centred on addressing the toxic drug crisis in our province. It included people with lived and living experience with substances, working in the health field, working in local governments, and elected to local government.

One of the workshops I attended during the conference was on what actions local governments (municipalities) could take around the toxic drug crisis using the Healthy Social Environments Framework.

Healthy Social Environments Framework. Select the image to enlarge.

In the workshop, my group chose to look at two facets of this framework. The first was on Service Environments, which is focused on the availability and coordination of services in a community. Examples of these services include but aren't limited to, healthcare, schools, childcare and early learning, seniors programs and facilities, Indigenous services, newcomer services, food and income supports, and recreation.

Brainstorming: Service Environments Facet of Healthy Social Environments Framework. Select the image to enlarge.

Our group looked at the coordination role that local government can play in connecting people with each other and with services provided directly by the province, local government, and non-profits.

We talked about championing a common system in each community where people's stories and needs are documented and available to all service providers (of course, with the proper private precautions.) This system ensures that people don't have to tell their story multiple times, don't fall through the cracks, and don't need to understand complex systems, as the system would include built-in referrals.

The coordination is further encircled with community space, training, and wrap-around services.

We are starting with this coordination in Langley City.

The second facet we looked at was Civic Engagement which is the degree to which people participate in political processes and positively contribute to their community.

Brainstorming: Civic Engagement Facet of Healthy Social Environments Framework. Select the image to enlarge.

There are barriers for some people to get civically engaged, such as a lack of time, health challenges, or because of being precariously housed. Our group thought that local governments needed to go above typical outreach practices and actively seek out people who are typically underrepresented in civic engagement processes today. When it comes to the toxic drug crisis in BC, it means including people with lived and living experience with substances.