Thursday, June 13, 2024

Stay Informed this Summer With Air Quality Advisory Updates

With summer upon us, we are entering the air quality advisory season. Climate change has caused an increasing frequency and severity of wildfire smoke and heat waves. Throughout the province, we are experiencing droughts.

Example of Metro Vancouver air quality map. Select the map to enlarge.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is responsible for monitoring and issuing air quality advisories. This year, they are upgrading these advisories to make them easier to understand and including actions people can take when under an air quality advisory.

Air quality advisories by type between 2004-2034. Select the chart to enlarge.

Actions include:

  • Taking it easy and limiting outdoor activities. If you must be outside where an N95-type mask
  • Running portable air cleaners
  • Continuing to manage pre-existing chronic health conditions such as asthma, COPD or other lung diseases, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Protecting outdoor workers by finding alternate duties indoors, providing N95-type masks, and giving frequent breaks. Disconutinung work if required
  • Providing indoor space for people who are unhoused
  • Reducing indoor sources of air pollution (i.e., smoking and vacuuming)
  • Implementing solutions to reduce smoke from entering and staying in commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings

You can find the latest air quality updates at http://airmap.ca/. You can also sign up for air quality advisories, bulletins, and updates to be delivered to your email inbox at https://metrovancouver.org/services/air-quality-climate-action/mailing-list.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Langley City's 2023 Annual Report Released

Langley City 2023 Annual Report Cover

Like all municipalities in BC, Langley City prepares an annual report. The City just published its 2023 Annual Report, which is now available online. The report contains information about Langley City's organizational structure and each department. It explains each department's purpose, key accomplishments in 2023, and plans for 2024.

For example, the report explains that the Recreation, Culture, and Community Services Department manages community events and recreation facilities and collaborates with other government and partner organizations to support people's social, economic, environmental, physical, and mental well-being.

Three of the eight accomplishments for this department in 2023 include:

  • Welcoming 27,696 participants at single session (drop-in) fitness classes, an increase from 19,910 participants in 2022.
  • Increasing youth drop-ins by 1,000 in 2023, both in social and sports activities.
  • Continuing to expand lesson registration opportunities at Al Anderson Memorial Outdoor Pool.

The report also includes information on permissive tax exemptions granted and community grants awarded in 2023. As required, the annual report also states that no member of Langley City Council was disqualified from holding office in 2023.

Finally, the report contains Langley City's audited financial statements for 2023.

I invite you to read the report. You can formally provide feedback on the annual report in person at Langley City Council's June 17, 2024 meeting, by sending an email, or by writing a letter. More information on how to provide feedback is on Langley City's website.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

June 3 Council Notes: 2024-28 Financial Plan Update Approved. Traffic Fine Revenues Received.

As I've been posting for the last little bit, Langley City Council has been going through the approval process of updating our 2024-2028 Financial Plan due to changes in our capital projects plan and to reflect the estimated debt servicing costs to support the $15 million loan approval process throughout the financial plan's life. Council gave final reading and adopted the amended 2024-2028 Financial Plan at its June 3rd meeting. You can learn about the updated capital projects in a previous post.

In 2004, the Province began returning 100% of traffic fine revenue to local governments. At the time, Langley City Council directed this funding back toward the RCMP, which continues to help fund three RCMP members.

Langley City recently received our 2023 payment from the provincial government of $473,000. At its last meeting, City Council thanked the Province. The following table shows the revenue received in previous years.

2018 - $452,388
2019 - $475,823
2020 - $600,619
2021 - $534,333
2022 - $453,396

I'd like to see this revenue go down year over year as it would show that we are designing safer roads and that people are also driving safer.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Langely City Updates Zoning to Allow 'Plexes Everywhere and Removes Minimum Parking Requirement in Transit-Oriented Areas Per Provincial Law

To comply with provincial law, Langley City Council gave first and second readings to a zoning bylaw update on June 3rd, enabling provincial transit-oriented area zoning and "Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing."

Map showing transit-orient areas and where new "Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing" will be allowed due to changes to provincial law. Select the map to enlarge.

Provincial transit-oriented zoning sets the minimum height that local governments must allow near SkyTrain Stations and bus exchanges. The province has a 20-storey minimum height closest to stations and exchanges that steps back the further you get from the station and exchange areas.

Due to the Langley Regional Airport, federal regulations set the maximum height to around 12 storeys in most of Langley City. These federal regulations overrule provincial law. A small section of Langley City by the Willowbrook SkyTrain Station is outside the federal airport regulation area, and it already has no maximum height in our current Official Community Plan.

Due to federal regulation and Langley City's current Official Community Plan maximum height and density requirements, this provincial minimum height and density requirements will not impact our community.

Now, there is one significant provincial change: within transit-oriented areas, local government cannot set on-site residential parking requirements except for accessible parking. This change means developers will have to determine their own residential parking needs. Experience in all other parts of North America shows that developers will still build parking even with no minimum parking requirements. It also shows that there will be little impact on on-street parking utilization.

People can still build lower than Langley City and provincial height and density standards.

The other change to Langley City's zoning bylaw is to allow "Small-Scale Multi-Unit Housing" in all RS-1 and RS-2 detaching housing zones. This change allows up to four housing units on each lot, with a maximum of six units within 400 metres of a frequent bus stop. Again, people can still build detaching housing with only one housing unit on a lot if they choose. All other City requirements, including setbacks, heritage, height, and environment protection regulations, will still apply.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Replacement of Pedestrian Bridge Near Langley Senior Resources Centre

Bridge connecting the Nicomekl Trail system to 53A Avenue that is being replaced. Select the image to enlarge.

There is a pedestrian suspension bridge that crosses the Nicomekl River, connecting 53A Avenue to the floodplain trail network. While this bridge is unique, it is also at the end of its life and inaccessible for some people who use mobility aids.

The following shows the location of the bridge in question.

Location of the bridge replacement project. Select the map to enlarge.

Langley City Council recently awarded a tender to Rocky Layne Ltd. to replace this old pedestrian bridge with a modern, accessible one for $843,000. Council also contracted Associated Engineering (B.C.) Ltd. for $50,449 to oversee the project. The total cost of the bridge replacement is $1,019,949, which includes a contingency.

Because the Nicomekl River is a salmon-bearing river, the work must happen within a 65-working-day window, starting in July. During the construction period, a marked detour will be in place.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

May 27 Council Meeting Notes: Townhouse and Apartment Proposals

At its Monday, May 27th meeting, Langley City Council gave third reading, also known as approval in principle, for two development proposals.

The first proposal that Council considered was for a 26-unit townhouse complex on the northeast corner of 50A Avenue and 208 Street. You can read more about this in a previous post. Council raised four questions about the application at first and second readings, which the applicant of this proposal addressed.

The applicant provided a plan to ensure that tradespeople would park on the construction site rather than on the street. The applicant must also complete a traffic impact assessment and ensure that 208 Street and 50A Avenue stay open to all vehicle movements. They will also need to provide a cash contribution to upgrade the crosswalk at the intersection to a pedestrian-activated signal.

Council also had some concerns with the façade 50A Avenue. The applicant updated the design.

Render of updated façades from 50A Avenue (5030, 5040, 5052, 5064 208 Street and 20845 50A Avenue.) Select the image to enlarge.

Finally, Council was concerned about the over-programming of a small open space in the project. The applicant updated it to a pet relief area/greenspace.

Plan showing the updated greenspace with a pet relief area. Select the image to enlarge.

The second proposal Council considered was for a 5-storey, 132-unit apartment building at 20719-20731 Eastleigh Crescent. You can read more about this proposal in a previous post. Council was concerned about tradespeople parking during construction. The applicant noted that they also own the Eastleigh Professional Centre, which will be used for parking.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Langley City Council Supports Regional Rail Network

GO Train

I’m excited that SkyTrain is coming to Langley City. It will be transformative, but it is only one piece of the transportation puzzle to create more travel choices for people living on the South Coast. Mountain Valley Express Collective Society, or MVX, is advocating for a regional rail network connecting the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, and the Sea-To-Sky Corridor.

They recently presented to Langley City Council, asking for our support. Council at the May 27th meeting passed the following motion:

WHEREAS the Mountain Valley Express Collective Society requested Langley City Council to support their efforts in lobbying the Province of BC and TransLink to bring a world-class regional rail network to the south coast of BC;
WHEREAS Metro Vancouver risks falling behind other global cities as well as failing to meet important environmental and equity goals without a world-class regional rail network;
WHEREAS a world-class regional rail network would not only connect major regional destinations such as Vancouver International Airport, Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminals and destinations in the Fraser Valley and Sea to Sky region but would also provide economic benefits to, and enhance the quality of life of, the residents of these regions;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Langley City Council lobby the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Chair of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation to conduct a study on regional rail and integration with future rail rapid transit on a variety of productive corridors and establish a directory of properties that should be preserved/ monitored to ensure they are designed to accommodate future regional rail/rapid transit stations and corridors.

Monday, June 3, 2024

May 27 Council Notes: Financial Plan Updates and Letters of Support

A few weeks ago, I posted that Langley City's independent auditor gave our 2023 financials a clean bill of health and that, as part of year-end financial results and annual reporting, we need to amend our 2023-27 Financial Plan to reflect the actual numbers.

I also posted about changes to the 2024-28 Financial Plan to reflect changes in capital projects and funding sources. These changes are typical and occur throughout the year.

Langley City Council provided an opportunity for people to provide feedback on the 2023-27 and 2024-28 Financial Plans. However, Council did not receive written feedback, and no one spoke to these items at last Monday's Council meeting.

As such, Langley City Council gave final reading to adopt the updated 2023-27 Financial Plan.

As I posted in early May, Langley City is still awaiting loan authorization. One of the approval steps occurs at the Metro Vancouver Regional District. The Regional District asked that we update our 2024-28 Financial Plan to reflect the estimated long-term debt servicing costs between 2025 and 2028. As a result, Council rescinded third reading of the amended plan, which it gave two weeks ago, and gave third reading of the updated Financial Plan with the long-term borrow cost estimates. Council will consider final reading and adopt this update tonight.

Council also gave final reading to adopt an updated Public Notice Bylaw, which I posted about previously.

Langley City Council received a letter from the City of Abbotsford asking to stand in solidarity with their request to the federal and provincial governments to provide funding for long-term flood mitigation. Council asked City staff to draft a letter of support.

Council also received a letter from the Fraser Valley Ringette Tournament asking for support. We asked staff to refer them to our Community Grant program.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

You Need to Attend the Langley Initiative's Inaugural Meeting - June 18

When I first got involved in local Langely civic life, I joined VALTAC. This community group's goal was to restart the Interurban, bringing back passenger rail to Langley and beyond. This blog was originally the blog for VALTAC.

Very quickly, a few of us who were part of VALTAC realized there was a gap in Langley City and the Township, as no one was advocating for "Smart Growth" at the time. Passenger rail was only one piece of building a great "Smart Growth" community. We started South Fraser OnTrax, held community workshops and meetings, and advocated to both Langley City and Township Councils. We brought in experts from around the world.

These groups made me feel a part of the community and that I was contributing to improving Langley. These experiences eventually led me to run for Langley City Council.

These real grass-roots community organizations, like VALTAC and South Fraser OnTrax, are essential to a healthy democratic society. This is why I was so excited when I met The Langley Initiative co-founders Dammy and Armaan. They originally planned for their first meeting in January, but it was snowed in. They pushed back their first meeting, and I wanted to pass on the details of their new first meeting.

Pictures of The Langley Initiative Co-Founders Dammy Ogunseitan and Armaan Lilothia
The Langley Initiative is born out of a deep commitment to fostering a more engaged and informed citizenry. Our motto, "Empowering Citizens, Advocating for Change," encapsulates our mission to create a platform where the voices of the people can be heard and translated into meaningful action.
The inaugural meeting will serve as a crucial starting point for the Langley Initiative. During this gathering, we will outline our goals, discuss key issues affecting our community, and strategise on effective ways to bring about constructive changes. We envision a collaborative approach, drawing on the distinct perspectives of our residents to address issues that matter most to all of us.

Details of the inaugural meeting are as follows:

Date: June 18, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: CoWorks by Elevate - 20627 Fraser Hwy, Langley, BC V3A 4G4

We encourage all Langley City residents who are passionate about creating a positive impact to attend and contribute to the conversation.

If you want to learn more about the Langley Initiative, visit their website at https://www.thelangleyinitiative.ca or email them at info@thelangleyinitiative.ca.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Discover Langley City Spring Tourism Update

Discover Langley City is our community's Destination Marketing Organization (DMO). All DMOs in BC have the mandate to promote their community of interest to encourage tourism and overnight stays. Like all DMOs, Discover Langley City is primarily funded by a hotel stay tax, which people pay when they stay at a hotel or Airbnb. Discover Langley City also receives grants and a small fee for service from Langley City.

Langley City Council recently received our biannual update from Discover Langley City.

The biggest news is that Discover Langley City will be opening a permanent summer Visitor Information Centre in Downtown Langley. It will be staff with younger people with the support of the Canada Summer Jobs wage subsidy. Discover Langley City is working with the province on potentially getting visitor information directional signage installed on provincial highways to help people get to the new Visitor Information Centre.

Digital marketing is key to getting folks excited about coming to Langley City. Discovery Langley City has worked with influencers to help amplify its marketing efforts. This marketing includes viral successes like for Estrella's Montreal Deli & Cafe, a unique find in Metro Vancouver. The campgain resulted in 165k+ views and 4k+ shares, resulting in people making the trip to Estrella's and Langley City.

Example of tearaway map from Discover Langley City presentation. Select the image to enlarge.

Old-fashioned rack cards, which you see at airports, ferries, bus depots, and tourist hotspots, are still popular, as are the tearaway maps you get when you want to know what's around your hotel. Discovery Langley City completed a refresh of all their paper-based materials.

Discover Langley City is working with Indigenous Tourism BC to build relationships to help grow and promote Indigenous tourism experiences in Langley City and the surrounding area.

As you are out and about this summer, look for Discover Langley City's Mobile Visitor Centre at events throughout the community.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Council purchases new $3.5 million 100' platform fire truck and new street sweeper

Last night's Langley City Council approved purchasing a new 100' platform/ladder fire truck to replace the current truck, which is reaching its end of life.

Platform fire truck extended at Community Day. Select the image to enlarge.

This truck is a very specialized piece of firefighting equipment; only Surrey and Langley City have a 100' platform fire truck in the South of Fraser. This truck benefits Langley City and neighbouring communities, such as the Township of Langley.

The City's platform truck was an essential piece of equipment used to fight the 2021 Willoughby Fire, the largest building fire in Langley's history. The platform truck and Langley City firefighters helped prevent the fire from spreading to additional sites.

Reference drawing for the new platform fire truck. Select the drawing to enlarge.

With the new platform truck, Langley City will continue to be able to help our neighbours and keep our community safe.

Council approved purchasing the new platform fire truck from Safetek Fire Trucks for $3.5 million. The truck will be delivered in about two years.

Example of street sweeper: Source: Seth Granville

Langley City Council also approved purchasing an Elgin street sweeper from Vimar Equipment Ltd. for a net cost of $418,310.20. We will be replacing our current street sweeper, which is eight years old. The City will trade in our current street sweeper as part of the deal with Vimar Equipment Ltd. Street sweepers are usually replaced every eight years. The new street sweeper will take about two years to be manufactured and delivered to the City.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Your Input Needed: Langley City’s New Economic Development Strategy

People working on a production line at CKF, Inc.

I wanted to share the following news release from Langley City:

Langley City is updating its Economic Development Strategy, focused on job creation, investment attraction, and business retention and expansion. To gather valuable feedback, residents and the business community are being asked to share their ideas about how to boost the economy and enhance quality of life through an online community survey open from May 22 through June 24, 2024. The survey seeks to understand what drives people to invest in and relocate to Langley City, and how to nurture business growth and entrepreneurship.
“We want a ‘made in Langley City’ Economic Development Strategy that combines the local knowledge of people who live, work, and own businesses in our community with world-leading best practices,” says Mayor Nathan Pachal. “Our Economic Development Strategy will only succeed if we can capture the diverse ideas from within our community.”
Ongoing work includes a community leaders workshop and interviews with community and business leaders.
The Strategy also aims to connect the dots to a broader community development action plan that enables job creation, including lifestyle-focused services/amenities, placemaking, downtown enhancement, housing choice and affordability, and more flexible commercial form and function for today’s entrepreneurs needing more nimble solutions.
The Strategy is scheduled for completion in Fall 2024.

Fill out the survey now.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Final May 13 Council Meeting Updates

Over the last week or so, I've posted about Langley City's May 13 Council meeting, including updates on our finances, improvement project changes, housing matters, childcare, and road and water construction projects. Today, I'll be finishing my coverage of that meeting.

Council received a presentation from Langley City resident Bruce Downing. He expressed concerns and some potential solutions to addressing urban wildfires in the Nicomekl Floodplain and general considerations about responding to and addressing the aftermath of disasters. Council passed a motion to have staff review Mr. Downing's recommendation and prepare a response. He also called on Council to design "Langley City" ball caps.

As a note, anyone can make a presentation before Council, but you must book time. You can find out how in the "Delegations and Community Spotlights" section of Langley City's website.

Council gave third reading to updating our public notice bylaw, which outlines how we provide notice for non-legislatively required notices. This update is a housekeeping matter; you can read more about it in a previous post.

Council also gave final reading to our tax rate bylaw, which implements the tax rate from our approved 2024 budget. You can also read more about this in a previous post.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Langley City isn't Banning Childcare in Our Whole Downtown. Langley City Expanding Where You Can Create Childcare Centres.

Yesterday morning was a rought start for me. I woke up to a headline from a local news outlet claiming, "Langley City council looks set to ban additional daycares in its downtown." Social media was full of hot takes about this headline, mostly from folks who don't live in Langley City. Global News, CKNW, and CTV also called up. The problem with this is that Langley City is not proposing to ban additional daycares in our downtown area. I spent most of my day setting the record straight.

We are proposing to put a moratorium on new daycares in a small two-block area of our Downtown, known locally as the Fraser Highway One-Way Area. I'll get into the reasons for that later. This area represents about 9.5% of our downtown area.

Langley City Council is committed to creating new childcare spaces. We are investing $4.2 million, in partnership with the provincial government, to add 74 new childcare spaces in our Douglas Park Recreation Centre, about 100 metres from the Fraser Highway One-Way.

Langley City completed a Langley City Child Care Action Plan, outlining the need for child space in three categories: under 36 months, 30 months to school age, and school age. While there is a massive need for childcare across the spectrum, school-age child care (before and after-school care) is severely limited in Langley City.

The following map shows current childcare facilities in our community. Currently, Langley City allows childcare by right in most commercial areas, on school sites, and in recreation centres. Langley City also allows home-based childcare (up to eight childern) in detached homes by right. Over the years, Langley City Council has also rezoned additional sites for childcare centres.

Map of Langley City with childcare locations. Select the map to enlarge.

Given the need for more childcare spaces, especially for school-aged children, Langley City will introduce a new zoning bylaw, scheduled for July, that will allow childcare facilities in all residential and commercial areas of our community. If you want to build a childcare centre, Langley City will not get in the way.

Now, back to the Fraser Highway One-Way area. This area is about 1/3rd the size of the Willowbrook Shopping Centre site. It is the heart of our community and has been our retail main street/high street for over 100 years. The following map shows our downtown area in purple and blue. We are considering putting the moratorium in the blue area.

Map of Downtown Langley with childcare locations. Select the map to enlarge.

If you ask people what they love about Langley City, they will say our walkability and the Fraser Highway One-Way area. Like any shopping area, it thrives because of its diverse shops and services. Active spaces like restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, bookshops, and unique retailers draw locals and out-of-towners to a shopping area, helping all businesses thrive.

Too many service businesses, such as doctors' offices, dental offices, and even daycares, can and do kill a shopping area. All these services are good when spread out and exist in the Fraser Highway One-Way area today.

About every 100 metres (a 1-minute walk), there is a childcare centre in this Fraser Highway One-Way area. There are four centres in this area, with a proposed fifth. This concentration of daycares impacts the diversity of shops and services in this small two-block by 1.5-block area, creating dead zones and impacting other small business owners as daycares drive down foot traffic, a key metric for retail businesses.

Langley City is investing in childcare. We are building childcare facilities in our recreation centres and expanding where people can build childcare centres in our community. At the same time, we are considering putting a moratorium within a small 9.5% area of our Downtown to ensure the continued success of entrepreneurs and small business owners in our cherished Fraser Highway One-Way retail area.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

May 13 Council Notes: Apartment and Townhouse Projects

Last Monday, Langley City Council reviewed several development applications.

The first application was for a proposed 26-unit townhouse complex at the northeast corner of 208th Street and 50A Avenue. The proposed project includes one two-bedroom unit, 23 three-bedroom units, and two five-bedroom units. The project follows the City's Townhome & Plex-Home Best Practices Guide. The City developed this guide based on residents' feedback in our traditional detached housing neighbourhoods.

Rendering of proposed townhouse project at 5030-5064 208 Street & 20845 50A Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

For example, all of the proposed units include double-wide garages. The project also includes five on-site visitor parking spots. The units are setback and step down in height off 50A Avenue and do not include balconies that can look into neighbouring properties. As part of this project, they will provide a new public pathway to Nicholas Park off 50A Avenue. The large trees on the corner will also be retained.

Council gave first and second reading for this proposed townhouse project.

Rendering of proposed apartment project at 20719-20731 Eastleigh Crescent. Select the image to enlarge.

Council also gave first and second reading for a 5-storey, 132-unit apartment building at the corner of Eastleigh Crescent/56th Avenue/208th Street. The building will have 115 one-bedroom units and 17 two-bedroom units ranging from 440 sq. ft. to 740 sq. ft. As there are several active projects in the area, Council asked for details on where tradespeople will be parking throughout the project's entire lifecycle. The applicant committed to getting this information to Council before third reading. Of note, the parklette on the east corner of Eastleigh and 56th will be getting renewed. The parklette will remain public property.

Council gave third reading to rezone the property at 20256 - 20272 54A Avenue to accommodate a 6-storey, 114-unit apartment project. You can read more about this in a previous post. Third reading acts as an "approval in principle", allowing the project applicant to finalize the details and requirements of their project before Council signs off with a final reading.

Council gave final reading to rezone and issued a development permit for a 6-storey, 96-unit apartment project at 19701-19729 55A Avenue. You can read more about this in a previous post.

Council also gave final reading to rezone, secure rental units through a housing agreement, and issued a development permit for a 6-storey, 75-unit apartment project at 20214 & 20224 54A Avenue. You can read more about this in a previous post.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Updating Langley City's Financial Plans and Improvement Projects

Yesterday, I posted about Langley City's 2023 audit financial statement and that we received a clean bill of financial health. Today, I am highlighting amendments to our 2023-27 Financial Plan and 2024-28 Financial Plan.

As part of basic housekeeping, once we've received our 2023 audit financials, we need to update the 2023-27 Financial Plan and Capital Projects and Improvements Plan to reflect those financial results. Council gave first, second, and third reads to approve this update in principle.

As we move through the year, the City and Council's priorities for improvements and projects change. We can also receive funding for projects from the federal government, the province, TransLink, ICBC, and others. These changes mean that Council must approve amendments to the plan throughout the year. On Monday, Langley City Council gave the first, second, and third readings to approve the following changes in principle.

  • Langley Bypass Roadway and Cycling Improvements - Received additional funding from TransLink.
  • 200 St Culvert Upgrade at Brydon Crescent - Received additional funding from TransLink.
  • Major Road Network Rehabilitation - Received additional funding from TransLink.
  • SkyTrain Multi-Use Path - Received $4 million from the province to create a walking/bike path along the entire SkyTrain route in Langley City.
  • Building a Safer Langley - Received additional funds from the federal government.
  • Local Government Climate Action Program - Received additional funds from the province.
  • Road Rehabilitation - Received additional funds from the federal government.
  • Demolition of Buildings Adjacent to City Hall / Timms Centre - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Fire Hall Exterior Building Envelope Repair - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Fire Ladder Truck Replacement - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Fire Department Thermal Image Camera - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • City Park Baseball Diamonds Upgrade - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Miscellaneous Property Purchase - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • 208 Street Water Service Repair - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Sewer and Drainage Replacements - Reallocated funds from City reserves
  • Water and Sewer Hydraulic Modelling Software - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Township of Langley Imposed RCMP De-integration Study - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • RCMP City Detachment - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • City-Wide Parking Study - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Douglas Crescent & 203 St Intersection Safety Improvements - Reallocated funds from City reserves.
  • Fraser Highway, 201A St to 203 St Water Main Replacement - Reduced Budget
  • 46 Ave, 196 St to 200 St Repaving - Deferred project to free up funding
  • Mayor Roads, Left Turn Lanes - Deferred project to free up funding
  • Fire Hall HVAC Renewal - Deferred project to free up funding
  • Park Equipment – Chipper & Trailer - Deferred project to free up funding
  • Rail Notification System - Deferred project to free up funding

You can view the entire document of changes on Langley City's website.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Langley City's 2023 Consolidated Financial Statements Pass Audit

Langley City must have its financials audited annually. The audit forms part of the City's Annual Report, which Council releases in the summer. Langley City's independent auditor, Kristine Simpson, from BDO Vancouver, gave our 2023 Consolidated Financial Statements a clean bill of health.

In 2023, Langley City had about $59.4 million in expenses. Due to increased usage, the City had a small $212,372 operating deficit for water service. This deficit was caused by the timing of the Metro Vancouver Regional District's billing cycle compared to the City's water billing cycle. This deficit will be corrected when people pay their 2024 water utility charges.

Other departments had an overall surplus. Any surplus is put into reserve accounts to help fund capital projects, such as repaving roads or enhancing parks. The City transferred $3.9 million in operating surplus to reserve accounts in 2023. The biggest driver for the 2023 surplus was about $762,000 in unneed debt service charges, as we are still working through the $15 million loan authorization process. The debt service charge is baked into our tax rate. RCMP detachment operations were also under budget, creating a $567,00 surplus.

The remaining surplus is primarily due to underspending on staffing. This surplus is due to temporary staff vacancies, unused overtime allocations, new positions hired part-way through the year, and unfilled positions.

The City's goal is to have a balanced budget, but we cannot have a structural deficit under BC law. This requirement means that the City must budget conservatively, which generally means we will have a small surplus at the end of the fiscal year.

This year, we had a larger surplus for reasons I previously noted. One of Council's action items is to ensure that we have a plan for filling these positions. Council also asked staff to develop a budget surplus policy to formalize what we do with budget surpluses. City staff will present this policy to the Council for consideration this summer.

For more information, please read the City's report on the 2023 Consolidated Financial Statements.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Fraser Highway Road Renewal and Water Main Replacement Project Approved (Between 201A and 203)

Last night, Langley City Council issued a tender for replacing the water mains under Fraser Highway Between 201A Street and 203rd Street and repaving the road. This total project is $2.8 million. Richco Contracting Ltd. is the contractor for the project for a cost of $2.1 million. ISL Engineering and Land Services Ltd. is the contract administrator for $71,160.00. The contract administrator ensures that the contractor stays on course and on time. The remaining project cost is reserved for contingency and will be returned to the City's reserves if those funds are not needed.

There are many active road projects in and around our Downtown area. As you have seen in our last two budgets, Langley City Council is committed to working on the basics: water, sewer, and roads. You are seeing the results of these Council decisions in action. Construction is disruptive, but the results will be better roads and the continued safe delivery of water and sewer services.

City staff and Council know that SkyTrain construction will start soon. We've priority work in our Downtown area, west of 204th Street, to ensure we are not conflicting with the major construction of SkyTrain through our community.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Who Took My Property Tax in 2023

Langley City Council is reviewing our 2023 Consolidated Financial Statements at tonight's public meeting. One of the questions I frequently get is why the tax bill is higher than what I talk about when Council reviews and ultimately approves a budget and property tax rate.

The primary reason is that only about 58% of property tax collected is controlled by and goes to Langley City. The rest goes to other governments and organizations that set their property tax rate.

The following interactive chart shows who got what slice of property tax in 2023.

There are a few caveats. First, the Downtown Langley Merchants tax is only charged to commercial properties in our Downtown. Also, the Municipal Finance Authority collects about $4,000 in property tax, which is too small to show on the chart.

Finally, most property tax bills include water, sewer, and garbage fees. These aren't property taxes. In 2023, Langley City collected $17.8 million in fees.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Deadline: Book Your Booth for Langley City’s Community Day

People browsing Community Day booths

Langley City’s Community Day is just around the corner on June 8th. This is a fun-filled, family-friendly event with a dedicated kids’ activity zones, face painters and balloon twisters, food trucks, an artisan craft marketplace, a beer garden, and live musical entertainment.

Community Day was founded to help people connect with local non-profits in Langley. It gives people a great opportunity to learn about the good work going on, learn about resources they may use, and inspire people to donate their time and money to help further the good work in Langley.

The Community Booths are still a very important part of this festival. If you are a non-profit and want a free booth, Langley City is now accepting applications. Please complete the Booth Application Form and submit it to Langley City before May 24th. If you are a business and would like to sponsor Community Day, fill out a Booth Application Form by the deadline, too. The City will send you a sponsorship package.

Community Day is one of my favourite events, and I look forward to it being better than ever this year!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Proposed Metro Vancouver Changes to Protect Rural Lands and Combat Climate Change Impacts

Metro Vancouver is a compact region with growth concentrated within our urban growth boundary. This boundary helps preserve rural lands (which local governments control) and acknowledges the agricultural land reserve (which is managed by the provincial government.)

All member municipalities in Metro Vancouver agree to be bonded by the Metro 2050 Regional Growth Strategy. We have a solid Regional Growth Strategy, but there is always an opportunity to improve it, including when it comes to taking action to reduce climate change impacts in our region.

Metro Vancouver Regional Land-Use Map. Rural Areas in Light Green. Select the Map to Enlarge.

While the current Regional Growth Strategy does say that municipalities should protect rural land from urban development and not consider it urban land in waiting, the only actual definition of what the rural land use designation supports is around sewer servicing. The Regional District is looking to define rural land use further, as the current lack of a definition creates some ambiguity. Why is this important? Protecting rural land is an easy way to preserve our green space and prevent urban sprawl, which helps combat the impacts of climate change.

The Regional District is also looking to set policies that protect and enhance ecosystems within rural areas, as over 70% of the loss of sensitive and modified ecosystems in the last decade occurred outside the urban growth boundary.

The Regional District is also looking to enhance other climate-change-related policies in our Regional Growth Strategy, including encouraging making streets more biking- and walking-friendly.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Langley City Council's Provincial Calls to Action Supported by Other Lower Mainland Local Governments

Langley City is part of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA), which covers the Fraser Canyon from Boston Bar, the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, and the Sea to Sky corridor to around Pemberton. Local governments in this area represent about two-thirds of BC's population. The LMLGA is one of five local area associations in BC.

Building Inclusive Spaces in Langley City Presentation at this year's LMLGA Conference. Select the image to enlarge.

Besides providing education and advocacy, the LMLGA annual conference is where locally elected representatives debate resolutions from various local governments in the area and, if supported by the majority of those at the resolutions session, are submitted to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for debate at their annual conference for all local governments in our province. The resolutions supported by the UBCM membership are submitted to the province as "the will of local governments" in BC. The UBCM advocates for these resolutions to the province in the hopes that the provincial government will take action on some of the resolution recommendations. The province always responds to supported resolutions, even if the response is that they will take no action.

Langley City Council just returned from last week's LMLGA annual conference. At the conference, attendees debated 60 resolutions, of which four were submitted by Langley City Council. I'm happy to report that the LMLGA membership supported all four Langley City Council resolutions and that the LMLGA will forward these resolutions to the UBCM for debate in the fall annual conference.

The first resolution from Langley City Council calls on the provincial government to reimburse local governments when firefighters respond to medical calls due to the chronic underfunding of the Ambulance Service in BC.

The second resolution calls on the provincial government to expand its "HEART & HEARTH" homelessness reduction programs from "priority" communities to all communities in BC. These programs include building new permanent and temporary shelter spaces and providing required associated program support for people experiencing homelessness.

The third resolution asks the province to take action on its Courthouse Capital Asset Management Plan, including building new courthouses in areas with limited court access, such as Langley, which has no courthouses, and expanding existing courthouses.

Langley City Council's final supported resolution asks the provincial government to provide more financial and staff support to help local governments implement the province's new housing legislation, regulations, and policies.

For more information, you can download the complete resolution package from the LMLGA website.

Monday, May 6, 2024

April 29 Council Notes: Film Festival, Ottawa Mission Debrief, and Housekeeping Matters

Over the last week, I’ve posted about some of the items discussed at last Monday’s Langley City Council meeting. Today, I’ll cover the remaining items.

Langley City held its first-ever local film festival last year. The City’s Arts, Recreation, Culture & Heritage Advisory Committee is starting the work on planning for the 2025 film festival. While the Committee is looking for sponsorship for the festival, it asked Council to reserve $15,000 from the City’s Public Arts Fund. The City will use any sponsorship money to reduce the need to use the Public Arts Fund. Council approved this request.

As I posted, Langley City Council recently completed an advocacy mission to Ottawa. I presented a report on the mission at the Council meeting, including these next steps:

  • Setting up further meetings with MP Paul Chiang’s, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, office to connect with Langley immigration and settlement services agencies to discuss the need for more built and social infrastructure.
  • Forwarding the Provincial Nominee Program Immigration feedback from MP Tom Kmiec to MLA Andrew Mercier.
  • Following up with CMHC to obtain a formal explanation of why we were not successful with our initial Housing Accessorator Funding application.
  • Learning more about the new Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund and how Langley City can apply for funding.
  • Setting up a meeting with MP Harjit Sajjan to explore PacifiCan funding for our proposed Performing Arts and Cultural Centre.
  • Restarting meetings with Transport Canada to change the height limited regulation in Langley City, which currently limits building height to 12 storeys due to the Langley Regional Airport.

Langley City Council also approved Anton Metalnikov, Planner, to attend the Canadian Institute of Planners national conference in Edmonton from July 9th to 11th.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to approve-in-principle a housing-keeping item to remove non-legislatively required public notices from our public notice bylaw.

Council also gave final reading and approved updates to the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw and Parks and Public Facilities Regulation Bylaw, which I posted about previously.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Development Matters: Proposed Apartment on 54A Avenue. Securing Rental Units.

On Monday, Langley City gave first and second reading to rezoning 20256-20272 54A Avenue to allow a 6-storey, 114-unit apartment building. If approved, the building will have 18 studios, 69 one-bedroom units, and 27 two-bedroom units.

All development applications go through Langley City's Advisory Design Panel, which includes architects, landscape architects, and community members. The panel provides design recommendations to enhance development projects. The panel provided 18 recommendations, of which 15 the project applicant incorporated into an updated design. You can view all the recommendations from Langley City's website.

Langley City Council asked questions about traffic management and trades parking as the area has many active building construction projects. Council was assured that there would be coordination. Council reminded the applicant to be a good neighbour and provide easy-to-find contact information for people who already live in the neighbourhood.

As public hearings for residential rezoning are no longer permitted in BC, Council will consider third reading for the rezoning at an upcoming meeting.

Render of the proposed project at 20256-20272 54A Avenue. Select the image to enlarge.

You can read about this proposed project and follow its progress on Langley City's new development application portal.

Council requires that if a market rental building is redeveloped, the rental units must be replaced, one for one. To secure the replacement units for the life of a building, both the City and the applicant redeveloping a building sign a binding housing agreement. Council gave first, second, and third reading to a housing agreement bylaw for the proposed project at 20200 54A Avenue to preserve eight rental units.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Langley City $15 Million Loan Approval Process Continues. Property Tax Bylaw Approved in Principle.

Last summer, Langley City completed an Alternative Approval Process to allow the City to take out a $15 million loan to help purchase property to support SkyTrain and fund the Fraser Highway One Way renewal project. It can take more than a year for a local government to get that money in the bank.

Once it has gone through the municipal approval process, the provincial Inspector of Municipalities must approve allowing a municipality to take out a loan. Langley City received approval from the Inspector last year.

In BC, the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia, a service of all Regional Districts in BC, provides long-term borrowing for municipalities. Munipicailites must submit their provincially approved loan request to their regional district. The regional district board must approve the request and submit it to the Municipal Finance Authority; the regional district gets the money from the Municipal Finance Authority and transfers it back to the municipality. This process is a lot, but it makes sense in the broader BC context. One thing to remember is there are a lot of small municipalities in BC. In fact, five regional districts have a lower population than Langley City! This lengthy process ironically ensures that we can pool loans more efficiently to get a better interest rate and lower borrowing costs, which means lower taxes over time.

Langley City Council approved submitting our loan request to the Metro Vancouver Regional District for the fall loan intact. If all goes well, we should receive the money in our City's bank account at the end of this year.

Regarding finances, Langley City Council approved our budget earlier this year, which included a property tax increase of 9.97%. Langley City Council must pass a bylaw annually to enable the collection of property tax for that year. Langley City Council gave the first, second, and third readings for our 2024 tax rate implementation bylaw. This bylaw sets the "mill rate" for 2024. A "mill rate" is the tax per $1,000 of property value.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Council approves tender for $4.2 million Douglas Recreation Centre Childcare Expansion

Douglas Recreation Centre

In May 2022, the provincial government provided $2.4 million to support expanding the Cookie Monster Preschool program at Douglas Recreation Centre, which would provide much-needed childcare space for our growing community. This expansion will create an additional 74 new childcare spaces, for a total of 84 spaces. The upgraded preschool program will have space for infants and toddlers, as well as before and after school care. Originally, the province provided $2.4 million, but due to increasing construction costs, the province topped up that funding to $4.4 million.

The total project cost is $4.2 million. It includes renovating the unused second floor, current multipurpose room, and preschool room of Douglas Recreation Centre to support childcare. It also includes a new elevator, a new multipurpose space, an additional playground for infants and preschoolers, and various building upgrades.

Langley City staff have been working to get the project to the construction stage. The City received 12 construction proposals and recommended that Council approve issuing the major construction tender to Edifice Construction Inc. for $2,763,861.39, excluding taxes. 

Langley City Council approved issuing the tender last night.

The project also includes furnishings and two passenger vans for $450,000 within the $4.2 million project budget.

The federal government provided $100,000 to support the installation of the new elevator.

Construction will start shortly.

Monday, April 29, 2024

TransLink releases bus congestion-busting plan to speed up service and lower costs.

Last year, TransLink spent $80 million to maintain existing bus service levels due to congestion. This number grows each year. For example, TransLink spent an additional $2 million in 2023. As congestion grows, so does the time for a bus to complete its route. So, more buses are needed to maintain the same service frequency.

Over time, TransLink has invested in partnership with willing municipalities on bus priority measures to speed up bus service, using those cost savings to invest in more bus service in our region. Speeding up service and saving money is why Langley City and TransLink added bus lanes around Downtown Langley a few years ago.

This year, TransLink plans to invest a one-time $17 million to speed up bus service along five corridors: Kingsway, 49th Ave, Granville St, Marine Dr, Hastings St in Vancouver and Burnaby.

Map of five selected corridors for bus priority investment. Select the map to enlarge.

This investment will pay for itself in under ten years as TransLink will not have to continue to add buses to maintain the same level of service on these corridors.

Based on a comprehensive evaluation of travel corridors that factored in congestion and transit ridership, TransLink developed the following map, which lays out where we should invest in bus priority measures to save money and speed up service.

Bus Priority Vision Map. Select the map to enlarge.

Corridors with Very High Intensity priority need all-day bus lanes. Such measures are needed along sections of Fraser Highway, 203rd Street, and Logan Avenue in Langley City.

Medium to High Intensity priority corridors would see some time-of-day bus lanes and intersection improvements to keep buses going. Low Intensity priority corridors would see smaller measures such as bus stop relocation to keep service speedy.

Reducing congestion will require the support of municipalities to install transit priority measures, which can be easier said than done, as sometimes this means changing general travel lanes into bus-only lanes in already congested areas. Though counterintuitive, swapping general travel lanes into bus lanes increases the number of people travelling along a corridor. TransLink works with willing municipalities to implement these measures.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Attend a Langley City Village Cafe - Connect with Others, Access Resources, Help Build our Community

We are building a vibrant, healthy, safe, and resilient community in Langley City. We must go beyond business as usual to meet this goal, which means engaging fully with all community members. I've posted about our Citizens Assembly, which will help us improve community safety. This Assembly is only one piece of the puzzle as we develop and implement a comprehensive Social, Cultural and Economic Development Framework for Langley City.

Langley City is inviting community members to attend a series of Village Cafes over the coming months. These cafes will include service agencies, organizations, City staff, and community groups. These drop-in events are free for any member of our community to attend; no registration is required.

At the cafes, you can connect with others, learn more about available services in Langley City, participate in fun community solution labs, and help shape our City's Social, Cultural, and Economic Development Framework.

The City is hosting a series of cafes, as shown below. You can attend as many as you like, as each cafe will have a different focus.

Langley City Village Cafe Poster. Select the image to enlarge.

Friday, May 10
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Timms Community Centre, MPR 2
Focus: Community Health, Wellness, Safety and Belonging

Wednesday, June 12
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Timms Community Centre, MPR 1
Focus: Employment, Education, Training, and Transportation

Friday, June 28
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Linwood Park, 20100 55A Avenue
Focus: Community Building

Tuesday, July 16
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
City Park, 4949 207 Street (Near AAMP Pool)
Focus: A Community Celebration of Langley's Diverse Culture

For more information, please email dkbeno@langleycity.ca.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Langley City Needs Provincial and Federal Action to Increase Housing Supply

Last year, the provincial government introduced the "Housing Supply Act," which enabled the province to set the number of new housing units that the province believes should be built in a municipality over a period of time. They rolled out the housing targets to the first batch of municipalities last year and are now rolling out targets to another 20 municipalities, including Langley City. Eventually, all municipalities in Metro Vancouver will have provincially imposed housing targets.

One of the main reasons for imposing these targets is to get some municipalities to streamline their development approval processes; I've heard horror stories about how it can take years to get a building permit in some municipalities. In Langley City, our development process is speedy and measured in months. However, I've noticed a slowdown in the number of development applications we've received lately.

When I asked some home builders why there has been a slowdown, they told me that interest rates, labour costs, and supply costs are the primary drivers for their slowdown.

I asked them about what government programs have been helpful. They pointed to the federal government's Apartment Construction Loan Program, which provides low-cost financing for rental apartment projects where at least 20% of housing units are priced to what a typical working household could afford. Continuing to make improvements and increasing funding for this program will enable more housing to be built.

BC Housing is the primary funder for traditional affordable housing projects, but it is known that they can be slow. For example, Langley City approved 981 units of seniors-focused affordable housing in 2021 for the Langley Lions Housing Society. It is now 2024, and phase one of the project has just restarted construction. The province must double down on efforts to speed up BC Housing projects.

Langley Lions Housing Society lots sit empty as it waits for phase two funding from BC Housing. Phase one is under construction in the background.

The Langley Regional Airport has out-of-date federal regulations that impose an artificial 12- to 15-storey high limit within most of Langley City, including near SkyTrain stations. We've been talking to the federal government, including going to Ottawa last week, to ask them to remove this artificial limit around our transit-oriented development areas.

Access to low-cost construction financing, slow BC Housing projects, and the Langely Airport's out-of-date high limit restrict housing construction in Langley City.

While municipalities don't build housing, Langley City will continue to do its part to ensure the speedy processing of building applications to ensure people have a place to call home. We will also continue to advocate and partner with the federal and provincial governments to reduce the barriers in our community and enable more housing to be built faster.