Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Langley City Council Calls for Improvements to HandyDART Service

A few weeks ago, I posted that Langley City Council received a presentation from the Save Our HandyDART Coalition. HandyDART service is for folks who cannot use conventional public transit service without assistance. The Coalition outlined some challenges HandyDART users face, such as scheduling challenges and the growing reliance on taxis replacing HandyDART vehicles and specially trained drivers.

HandyDart Bus

They called on Langley City Council to co-sign an open letter to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, and TransLink, to review and improve HandyDART service.

Council Albrecht presented the following motion at last night’s Council meeting.

THAT Council authorizes the Save Our HandyDART Coalition to add Langley City Council as a signatory to the Coalition’s open letter to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming, which directs the TransLink Board to:
1. Fulfill TransLink’s original pledge to limit the percentage of taxi trips to 7% or lower of total HandyDART trips.
2. Provide accessible, affordable and increased HandyDART transportation as part of the government’s commitment to implement the Accessible BC Act.
3. Develop and conduct an unbiased Public Sector Comparator (PSC), with the full participation of HandyDART riders and workers, to compare the costs and benefits of insourcing to continued outsourcing as TransLink promised in 2016.
4. Develop and implement a plan to bring HandyDART in-house as a subsidiary of TransLink, including providing provincial and federal funds for permanent facilities for an expanded and electric HandyDART fleet.

Councillor Solyom noted some of the challenges his mother is facing getting signed up for HandyDART service. All members of Council wholeheartedly supported this motion.

Monday, October 30, 2023

November 11th Remembrance Day Ceremony in Langley City

People at Remembrance Day Ceronomy at Douglas Park

Langley City invites people to attend Douglas Park on November 11th to remember those who died in service to our country.

Gathering around the cenotaph symbolizes the traditional military night vigil, an act of honouring those who have died in service.

Mark your calendar for this year's ceremony as follows.

Date: November 11th, 2023
Time: Starts at 10:50 am sharp, so please arrive early
Location: Douglas Park Cenotaph - 20550 Douglas Crescent

Douglas Crescent and Park Avenue will be closed to motor vehicle traffic around Douglas Park from 6:30 am until 1:00 pm.

For those who cannot attend in person, the City produced an online ceremony, which you can watch at any time.

Many people and organizations lay wreaths as part of the act of honouring and remembrance. You can purchase these wreaths from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6 in Cloverdale. Further information about purchasing and informing the City that you will be laying a wreath is available on the City's Remembrance Day webpage.

Lest We Forget.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

If the Federal Government Wants Lower Development Charges, It Must Consider Increasing Infrastructure Funding

Pump room inside Langley City’s Water Reservoir

In June, I posted that the Metro Vancouver Regional District was considering increasing Development Cost Charges. The Regional District uses these charges to pay for water, sewer, and park infrastructure related to new housing (population) and commercial building growth.

One of the tenets of local government-funded infrastructure in BC is that "growth should pay for growth." Put another way, property tax and utility fees shouldn't be used to build new infrastructure to accommodate population growth.

Development Cost Charges are a per unit or square footage charges developers pay when constructing new buildings. The provincial government regulates and approves all Development Cost Charges.

Langley City is currently in the process of increasing our Development Cost Charges, as is the Metro Vancouver Regional District. Now, these charges are not a free lunch. If they are set too high, it can drive the cost of housing or commercial buildings up.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District Board is voting on proposed increases to its Development Cost Charges tomorrow, but there is a wrinkle. The Federal Government has decided to pause the Housing Accelerator Fund for all municipalities in Metro Vancouver. Langley City recently applied for $9.67 million from the program to help speed up and increase the number of housing units being built in our community.

The Federal Government wants the region to delay the implementation of the proposed regional Development Cost Charge increases. For specific projects, such as below marking housing built by non-profits, the Regional District will already reduce or eliminate Development Cost Charges. Still, the Feds want the region to consider expanding the reduction or elimination of Development Cost Charges to for-profit, market-priced rental construction (among other things.)

Unlike the federal or provincial governments, local governments in BC, such as the Metro Vancouver Regional District or Langley City, must have balanced budgets. For each exemption or reduction in Development Cost Charges, local governments must raise that "lost" revenue with property tax or utility fees that all property owners and renters pay for.

So if we exempted for-profit, market-priced rentals from Development Cost Charges, the City and region would have to transfer the cost of building new infrastructure to accommodate growth from developers to everyone.

There is another path forward. The federal government could come forward with additional, significant funding to pay for water, sewer, parks, and transportation infrastructure required due to population growth. They could even link it to reductions in Development Cost Charges.

I know that local governments, the province, and the federal government want to support building more housing faster, but we also need to pay for the infrastructure required to service these new housing units. While Development Cost Charges are far from perfect, they are essential for local governments, including Langley City, to pay for building basic infrastructure.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Filling the $600 Million Per Year TransLink Funding Gap

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TransLink's fare revenue crashed, but thanks to the financial support of both the federal and provincial governments, the agency could maintain transit service. While ridership is growing rapidly now, there are still some significant budget challenges.

TransLink's revenue is lower today than what we predicted it would be before the pandemic. It didn't account for the rising cost of almost everything due to inflation and geopolitical instability. The adoption of electric vehicles is also growing faster than expected. All this has led to a structural funding challenge for TransLink.

TransLink fare revenue is lower because people take transit differently. There are fewer 9-5 commuters and more weekend riders, which negatively impact revenue. Also, the Mayors' Council and the province froze fares and capped fare increases since the pandemic to maintain affordability. These actions and the change in ridership mix have led to a significant loss in revenue.

Fuel tax is also declining faster than expected as more people are buying more EVs faster than was predicted.

On the positive side, property tax revenue has been stable.

As revenue has declined, the cost to provide the same level of service has increased, which is a double whammy. We've all suffered from inflation, and TransLink is no different. Besides inflation, traffic congestion also impacts expenses. To maintain the same level of bus service, TransLink must operate more buses due to congestion. Congestion costs more than the planned expansion of bus service!

The following scary graph from today's Mayors' Council meeting agenda shows the funding challenges that TransLink faces today.

Graph of 2026-2033 increase in structural funding gap by drivers. Select the graph to enlarge.

On the positive front, the province has provided funding to fill the gap up to 2026, and they should be commended for this. This funding will give us time to get TransLink's financial house in order.

The Mayors' Council (on which I serve) and TransLink Board are working hard to solve the funding challenges with TransLink to ensure that we can continue to grow our transit system and maintain our regional road network.

Even today, TransLink continues to work with municipalities to speed up bus service to save money. These cost savings are why we have bus lanes in Langley City.

Together with the feds and the province, we will be able to balance TransLink's budget and provide a stable path forward. The alternative is massive cuts to transit service, which will increase congestion and increase the cost of living for people in Metro Vancouver.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Final Langley City Neighbourhood Meeting Tonight at Simonds Elementary

People at Langley City Neighourhood Meeting at Douglas Rec Centre

Over the last month, Langley City has hosted a series of meetings throughout our community. These meetings are open to anyone (no matter which neighbourhood you live in) and provide an informal opportunity for people to talk to City Council and staff about anything and everything about our community.

I know attending a Council meeting can be intimidating for many folks, so these neighbourhood meetings are set up like a trade show or science fair, with booths from the different City departments. You can visit each booth, ask questions and provide feedback at your own pace. Members of Langley City Council will also be wandering around, so you can come up to any member of Council to ask questions and provide feedback.

Like other members of Council, I have really valued the opportunity to talk with and hear from folks in our community at these meetings. I've heard some good feedback from people about housing, homelessness, and parks. I've heard clearly that folks enjoy our parks and public spaces and continue to want them to be top-notch. Around homelessness and mental health, I walked people over to our new Social Planning Services department booth so they could learn about the work that the City is doing to move forward on these challenges in a good way.

There are also Recreation, Finance, Bylaws, Engineering, Parks, Development Services, the Fire-Rescue Service, and the RCMP booths. There will be coffee and light snacks, a children's play area, and limited seating for folks.

The final neighbourhood meeting is today.

Time: 6 pm to 8 pm (You can arrive and leave at any time)
Date: October 24th, 2023
Location: Simonds Elementary School, 20190 48 Avenue

Monday, October 23, 2023

October 16 Council Notes: Property Tax Exemptions and Intelligent Community Forum

In BC, places of worship (such as temples, mosques, gurudwaras, and churches) are exempt from paying property tax. This exemption is called a statutory property tax exemption, and it only applies to the land underneath the actual place of worship building but doesn't include parking lots and landscaping. BC law also allows local governments to provide permissive tax exemptions for any land used by places of worship and non-profits, plus land that local governments use. This exemption is called a permissive property tax exemption.

Now, these exemptions are not free lunches. In BC, property taxes are calculated by dividing the money a local government needs by the total property value within that local government's boundary. So each exempt property, all other things being equal, raises the property tax on all other property owners.

Like many municipalities, Langley City maintains permissive tax exemptions for all land used by places of worship. Langley City also provides permissive tax exemptions for other non-profits.

Given the overall tax implications, the number of properties that receive these exemptions is rarely expanded.

Every year, Langley City Council must approve these permissive tax exemptions. This year, Council gave first, second, and third reading to a bylaw to approve the following permissive exemptions.

Organization and Address Amount
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver - 20676 Fraser Hwy $75,000.00
Vineyard Christian Fellowship - 5708 Glover Rd $47,668.00
Langley Seniors Resource Society - 20605 51B Ave $42,532.00
Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary - 20560 Fraser Hwy $39,533.00
Langley Lawn Bowling - 20471 54 Ave $34,548.00
Langley Care Society - 5451 204 St $29,696.00
Town & Field Church - 20719 48 Ave $27,336.00
Langley Community Music School - 4899 207 St $27,104.00
Vancouver Global Mission Church - 5673 200 St $25,974.00
Anglican Parish of St Andrew's - 20955 Old Yale Rd $23,773.00
Church of the Nazarene Canada Pacific District - 19991 49 Ave $21,371.00
Bridge Community Church - 5521 Brydon Cres $17,153.00
Encompass Support Services Society - 20616 Eastleigh Cres $14,642.00
Langley Food Bank - 20308 Logan Ave $12,181.00
Langley Community Services Society - 5339 207 St $10,274.00
Inclusion Langley Society 20689 - Fraser Hwy $9,384.00
Langley Stepping Stones - 20101 Michaud Cres $9,326.00
New Apostolic Church Canada - 19999 53 Ave $6,373.00
Langley Hospice Society - 20660 48 Ave $4,849.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 4570 209A St $2,888.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 4830 196 St $2,876.00
Council of the Salvation Army - 5787 Langley Bypass $2,647.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 19977 45A Ave $2,495.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 312-5650 201A St $1,109.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 210-20239 Michaud Cres $1,101.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 208-20239 Michaud Cres $1,093.00
Inclusion Langley Society - 210-5650 201A St $785.00
Total $493,711.00

In Langley City, these exemptions will result in a 1.27% property tax increase in 2023 for other property owners.

On a different note, at the same October 16th meeting, Council also approved authorizing the City's CAO Francis Cheung to attend and speak at the Intelligent Community Forum Global Summit in New York City from October 25 through 27 for an estimated cost of $2,500.00.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Council Supports Call to Reduce Speeding on 208th Street Hill

Crosswalk on 208th Street Hill

As I posted a few weeks ago, Langley City Council received a presentation from residents who live along Berry Hill/208th Street Hill. They expressed their ongoing concerns with speeding along that section of road, which has resulted in people crashing their vehicles into fences, hedges, and each other over time.

The residents produced an 86-person petition calling for action.

At last Monday night's Langley City Council meeting, we considered a motion from Councillor Albrecht.

THAT Staff request ICBC for speeding and red-light cameras at the intersections of 48th Avenue and 208th Street and 45A Avenue and 208th Street (pending this signals installation) or other applicable locations to provide tangible and measurable evidence that proves speed is a real and serious concern along this corridor.
THAT Staff review and explore engineering safety improvements, traffic calming, dedicated bus lanes or any other measures that will slow down traffic at Grade Cres and 208 Street specifically, along 208th Street Hill and other locations along 208 Street in general, including the associated costs as part of Langley City's new Transport 2045 plan.

Council unanimously endorsed this motion. I mentioned at the meeting that I already had a preliminary call with ICBC about speeding and red-light intersection cameras. ICBC stated that they do not have the capacity to install additional cameras at this time. I noted to Council that I have a further meeting with ICBC scheduled and will inquire how we can "get to yes" for these intersection cameras in Langley City.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

October 16 Council Notes: Digital Building Permit Pilot, 126-Unit Apartment

At the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference in September, the provincial government announced it selected Langley City, among 15 other local governments and Tsleil-Waututh Nation, as pilot governments for its new digital building permit tool.

This new digital build permit tool will be designed to:

  • Ensure the completeness of building permit application packages submitted to governments
  • Apply to the BC Building Code
  • Also include electrical permits
  • Track the progress of applications up to approval

The success of the pilot program will be measured on if:

  • It reduces paper submissions
  • It reduces incomplete or non-code-compliant submissions
  • It reduces developer or builder questions to governments about their building permit packages and progressing
  • Governments throughout BC can use the digital permit tool

Implied is that the digital permit tool will reduce the time it takes to issue building permits.

Besides Langley City staff time, there is no cost to the City for participating in this pilot program, though if the pilot program is successful, there may be ongoing software costs.

Langley City staff told Council we will fully engage in this pilot program.

On the topic of building, Langley City Council gave third reading to a rezoning bylaw which, if given final reading, would enable the construction of a 6-storey, 126-unit apartment at 19948 55A Avenue. You can read more about this in a previous post.

A front view of the proposed building. Select the image to enlarge.

Final reading of a rezoning bylaw is only considered by Council once an applicant has satisfied all the City's requirements, including building plan completeness, off-site engineering (such as water, sewer, storm sewer, sidewalks, bike lanes, lighting, and roadways), and payment of fees and deposits.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Save Our HandyDART Coalition Presents to Langley City Council

Last night, the Save Our HandyDART Coalition (which includes the Langley Human Dignity Coalition) presented to Langley City Council at our public meeting. The Coalition has been raising the visibility about some of the challenges with HandyDART service in our region.

The Coalition released the report "Access for Everyone? Publicly Operated HandyDART In Metro Vancouver" earlier this year. You can read a summary of this report in a previous post.

As I mentioned yesterday, HandyDART service has specially trained drivers and purpose-built vehicles to provide transit service for people with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability who cannot use conventional public transit without assistance.

Because there is a lack of HandyDART drivers, sometimes trips are replaced with taxi services. In 2022, 17% of trips were via taxi. Taxi drivers do not have the same special training or vehicles as HandyDART drivers.

Last night, the Coalition told a few stories about folks in Langley who use HandyDART but no longer trust the system.

One story was about someone who used HandyDART between home and work in Gloucester Industrial Estates, but their service was replaced with a taxi. The taxi arrived 90 minutes before that person's shift ended and left as the person was still on shift. This person had to find another way home.

They also told the story of a Special Olympian in our community who was asked to go for a coffee by a taxi driver, which isn't professional. They told another story of a Special Olympian who doesn't use HandyDART anymore because of the lack of predictability of the system; they have to rely on others to get around, which limits independence and dignity.

The Coalition noted that they believe there is enough money already to fund HandyDART service. They asked Langley City Council to support an open letter to TransLink asking to:

  • Fulfills TransLink's original pledge to limit the percentage of taxi trips to 7% or lower of total trips
  • Conduct an unbiased Public Sector Comparator to compare costs and benefits of insourcing vs continued outsourcing
  • Develop/implement plan to bring HandyDART in-house as a subsidiary of TransLink

Council Alberect put forward a notice of motion recommending to support the Save Our HandyDART Coalition's requested actions. At the meeting, all members of Council expressed their support, and Council will vote on the motion at our next meeting.

Monday, October 16, 2023

HandyDART 2022 Service Review. More Investment Needed to Reduce Taxi Trips.

TransLink staff included its 2022 HandyDART service performance report for the September Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation meeting.

HandyDART service is an integral part of our transportation system in Metro Vancouver for people with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability who cannot use conventional public transit without assistance. The service has specially trained drivers and vehicles for these folks.

In 2022, people took 964,800 HandyDART trips. As our population grows and ages, the use of HandyDART will continue to increase.

One of the concerns that I've heard from accessibility advocates is that HandyDART service is essential, and having it delivered with trained drivers and specialized vehicles is critical.

Because there aren't enough trained drivers or specialized vehicles due to various factors, TransLink, via its contractor Transdev, provides some trips via taxi services. In 2022, 17% of trips were via taxi.

Restated, I've heard that the number of taxi trips concerns folks who rely on HandyDART service and their advocates.

The following graph underscores why. It is about driver training, and there is a clear difference between HandyDART drivers and taxi drivers.

Satisfaction Scores for Driver Skills to Assist Passengers with a Disability. Select the graph to enlarge.

Taxi drivers are doing their job, but HandyDART drivers are specially trained with purpose-built vehicles for folks who cannot independently use conventional public transit. These reasons are why there is such a difference in rider experience.

The following chart shows on-time performance. When trips were lower during 2020 and 2021, on-time performance was high. As the number of HandyDART trips increases, on-time performance declines. These number shows the need to invest in HandyDART service continually.

Average Monthly HandyDART Early and On-Time Performance. Select the graph to enlarge.

As a note, on-time means when service is delivered within +/- 15 minutes of its scheduled time.

The final chart shows trips denied or refused for various reasons. In 2022, this was about 0.5% of total trips.

HandyDART Trip Denial and Refusals by Year. Select the graph to enlarge.

For more information, please read the full 2022 HandyDART Service Performance Review.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Only You Can Prevent Cooking Fires - Fire Safety Week in Langley City

Fire Safety Display

It is Fire Prevention Week in Langley City, and this year's focus is on cooking fires.

Cooking is a leading cause of fires in homes, and these important safety tips that can reduce the risk of fire:

  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, boiling, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, or curtains away from your stovetop

If you have a cooking fire:

  • On the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

In my kitchen, we have a small kitchen fire extinguisher near the stove.

Today and tomorrow, Langley City Firefighters will help you bag groceries while providing important fire safety tips.

The locations and times are:

Fraser Crossing Safeway at 20871 Fraser Highway
Thursday, October 12th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

No Frills at 5501 204th Street
Friday, October 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Save-On-Foods at 20151 Fraser Highway
Friday, October 13th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Please visit the National Fire Protection Association Fire Prevention Week website for more safety tips.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Building Bike Lanes, Bus Lanes, and Sidewalks to Reduce Congestion in Langley City

A family on bikes on 53rd Avenue

One of the questions I get asked by folks occasionally is why Langley City has been changing some general travel lanes into, or building new, bike lanes, bus lanes, and sidewalks.

Langley City has been doing this for decades. The first project was the Fraser Highway One-Way, which, up until the 1980s, was a two-way road.

One of the facts about Langley City is that our community has limited space for transportation, so we have to make the most efficient use of the space available. The following chart is from the National Association of City Transportation Officials. It shows that sidewalks, bike lanes, and bus lanes carry an order of magnitude more people per hour than general travel lanes.

From Transit Street Design Guide, Designing to Move People. People per hour by lane type. Select the graphic to enlarge.

Langley City is an extremely walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible community (even without SkyTrain.) Giving people safe travel options means we can reduce congestion as our community grows. This congestion reduction is only possible when a community has safe and convenient walking and cycling infrastructure and fast, frequent transit service.

The report from the Canadian Automobile Association titled “Breaking the Bottlenecks: Congestion Solutions for Canada” also supports building walking and cycling infrastructure to reduce congestion.

Experience in other countries shows that building segregated bike lanes that makes cycling commuters feel safe and secure can be a relatively low-cost way to reduce urban congestion. Policymakers should also consider better integrating bike sharing with transit systems as a true “last mile” solution.

While it is counterintuitive, the transportation investments that Langley City is making will ensure that our community keeps moving, freeing up road space for commercial traffic and people with no choice but to drive.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

A Family-Friendly Langley City Needs More Townhouses and ‘Plexes

Langley City is holding several neighbourhood meetings this month. At last week’s meeting, I talked with a person who asked me what I thought about all the density in our community. I said that we do need more housing in Langley City. As we aren’t creating more land, we can only accommodate new residents comfortably through redevelopment and increasing housing types and where they can be built. The alternative is overcrowding and continued sky-high rents and mortgage payments.

People at a Langley City Neighbourhood Meeting

Since we’ve been a City, we’ve allowed diverse housing types like apartments and townhouses and commercial/industrial uses north of the Nicomekl River. Most people know that secondary suites are allowed in all neighbourhoods in Langley City, but many forget that townhouses have been built in all neighbourhoods north of Grade Crescent for at least 40 years.

The significant change in our Official Community Plan is that we’ve expanded the areas where townhouses and ‘plexes can be built, added new neighbourhood nodes that permit small-scale retail/services, and introduced the ability to build garden suites in select areas.

The following map highlights the different land uses and where they are allowed in Langley City.

Langley City Land-Use Map. Select the image to enlarge.

I noted that Langley City Council did keep certain areas as detached housing (suburban) with secondary suites only but that the provincial government (through provincial law) is looking to allow between 3-4 units of housing to be built on all lots, which goes above and beyond Langley City’s current Official Community Plan.

While this was a very technical conversation, I had two conversations recently which impacted me at a human level and really drove home the reason we need to allow more housing options in our community, including more townhouses and ‘plexes.

One of my friends lives in an apartment in my neighbourhood and is moving their blended family together. They were looking for a townhouse in Langley City but couldn’t find one, so they had to move to Maple Ridge. While Maple Ridge is a great community, they wanted to stay in Langley City.

Last week, I participated in an RCMP ride-along, and we stopped at Penzer Action Park. I spoke with a young person who had her small one with her. I asked her what she liked and didn’t like about Langley City. She said that while she loved the convenience of our compact community, she wanted a bit more space than her apartment and was looking for a townhouse but couldn’t find anything.

For a community to be vibrant, it must be family-friendly. These two stories highlighted to me why it is so important to increase where people can build townhouses and ‘plexes. I don’t want people with families to move out of our community because they cannot find appropriate housing to meet their needs.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Langley City's Neighbourhood Meetings Kick Off Tonight

People at a 2019 Langley City Neighourhood Meeting

Langley City will be hosting the first of four neighbourhood meetings tonight. The City paused these meetings during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, so these are the first meetings since 2019.

The meetings are an opportunity to ask questions and share feedback with Langley City Council, City Staff, and the RCMP. These meetings are low-key and informal.

The meetings are set up like a trade show or open house; there will be information booths from Recreation, Finance, Bylaws, Social Planning Services, Engineering, Parks, Development Services, the Fire-Rescue Service, and the RCMP. Council will be mingling around if you have questions and feedback for us as well.

There will also be coffee and light snacks, a children's play area, and limited seating for folks.

All the meetings start at 6 pm and end at 8 pm. You can drop in anytime and stay for as little or as long as you like.

These are the dates and locations:
October 5th: Douglas Recreation Centre, 20550 Douglas Crescent
October 11th: Uplands Elementary School, 4471 207A Street
October 19th: Nicomekl Elementary School, 20050 53 Avenue
October 24th: Simonds Elementary School, 20190 48 Avenue

I look forward to seeing you at one of these meetings.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Langley City Applies for $9.67 Million From Fed’s Housing Accelerator Fund

Townhouses under contruction

The federal government announced its Housing Accelerator Fund earlier this year. Ahmed Hussen, the federal Minister of Housing at the time, came out to Clayton to present the plan to Mayor Locke, Mayor Woodward, and myself.

The Housing Accelerator Fund allows municipalities to pick from a suite of options that will help deliver additional housing over and above what they would otherwise be able to process by 10%.

The funding for this program is based on a formula, so if Langley City were successful, we would receive $9.67 million over four years.

If Langley City received the grant, we would complete the following:

Create standard pre-approved garden suite plans to reduce the time and cost of building these units on existing detached lots - an estimated 14-unit increase over baseline.

Create standard pre-approved plex-home plans to reduce the time and cost needed to build - an estimated 8-unit increase over baseline.

Reduce parking requirements for new housing projects within 200 metres of transit to lower the cost of housing and increase the viability of building more housing - an estimated 88-unit increase over baseline.

Implement density bonusing to support creating below-market rent housing - an estimated 40-unit increase over baseline.

Waiving Public Hearings for affordable housing projects consistent with the Official Community Plan to speed up these projects - an estimated 24-unit increase over baseline.

Implementing a new/enhanced application processing systems, migrating from a paper-based system to a digital system to speed up processing time and enable City staff to process more applications - an estimated 24-unit increase over baseline.

Delegating the approval of select minor Development and Development Variance Permits to City staff to speed up the processing time for projects such as garden suites - an estimated 48-unit increase over baseline.

If the City implemented these actions, it would enable the processing of 1,680 housing units over the next three years. This is 247 units over the estimated 1,433 that the City would otherwise have processed.

Langley City’s application received the support of our MP, John Aldag.

Council approved applying to the fund at its September 25th meeting.

Now, the federal government recently paused granting Housing Accelerator Funding to Burnaby and Surrey for what I’m hoping is a misunderstanding about regional development cost charges (DCCs.) DCCs are charged on every new housing unit, commercial, or industrial development to help pay for infrastructure required to support growth. You can see Langley City’s combined DCCs on the City’s website.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Community Presentations: Speeding on 208th Street. $20,000 Raised for Douglas Park School by Pickleballers

Last Monday, Langley City Council had two deligations at our meeting. The Douglas Park Pickleball Club was the first delegation. They spoke about their recent pickleball tournament, which saw about 250 players and raised $20,000 to support Douglas Park Community School. This tournament was a great success, and Council thanked them. The Club asked Council to install more pickleball courts in Douglas Park. Staff noted that, while not proposed for the 2024 budget year, additional pickleball courts for the park are in the upcoming five-year capital projects plan.

The 2023 Douglas Park Pickleball Charity Tournament.

Council next received a presentation from Arnold & Valerie Sikkema. They presented their neighbourhood's concerns about speeding on the 208th Street Hill, otherwise known as the Berry Hill (as 208th Street used to be called Berry Road.) They provided a compelling presentation about the many crashes on that section of road, including through people's hedges and fences. They also presented an 86-person petition to ask Langley City to take action.

A damaged sign due to the latest crash at Grade Crescent at 208th Street. Photo by Councillor Mike Solyom.

Councillor Albrecht presented a Notice of Motion as a result of this presentation for Council to consider at its next meeting. The motion is that:

Staff request ICBC for speeding and red-light cameras at the intersection of 48th Avenue and 208th Street and 45A Avenue and 208th Street (pending this signals installation) or other applicable locations to provide tangible and measurable evidence that proves speed is a real and serious concern along this corridor.
Staff review and explore engineering safety improvements, traffic calming, dedicated bus lanes or any other measures that will slow down traffic at Grade Crescent and 208th Street specifically, along 208th Street Hill and other locations along 208 Street in general, including the associated costs as part of Langley City's new Transport 2045 plan.

Anyone can present to Council at a meeting. Please view Langley City's Delegations and Community Spotlight request process for more information.