Council Update - April 17, 2023
Updated: May 8
At the April 17th, 2023 Regular Meeting of Council, there were several development applications approved, a few very informative and helpful presentations in relation to the future of Horne Pit, vigorous debate on several Notices of Motion, and (finally) the Terms of Reference for 200 Street 2040. This was in addition to the final adoption of the 2023-2027 Five-Year Financial Plan and Development Cost Charge Reserve Fund Expenditure Bylaw (say that five times fast).
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Election Signs Bylaw Amendment – Council Process Committee
Before the Regular Meeting began, however, there was the first Council Process Committee (CPC) meeting of the term to discuss the proposed changes to the election sign bylaw. This CPC meeting was held because at the previous Regular Meeting of Council, there was debate on the merits of having a select number of public locations where signs would be allowed to be displayed, as opposed to a full banning of them on public property. The changes to the motion as they stood at the start of the CPC meeting would mean that only those who own property, or have connections with people who own property, would be able to display election signs in the Township of Langley. During the CPC meeting, there was a free flowing and often passionate debate about the dangers of having signs placed along major roads, about the fairness of creating divisions between people who own property and those that don’t, and about the undeniable environmental benefits of reducing the number of signs made during election season.
In the end, after an hour of debate, there were no changes to the bylaw amendments that were presented at the April 3rd, Regular Meeting of Council. I fully appreciate the debate around safety issues pertaining to the placement of signs on public property (as is allowed now), and the environmental benefits that come from the reduction in the number of signs created. However, in my personal opinion, there is a clear signal being sent by not having at least one or two locations on public property where those of us who don’t own property can put up signs: our political opinions mean less. During the next meeting of Council on May 1st, we will have a final debate and discussion on the bylaw amendments before voting one way or the other. You can see my comments in the video below, and then give me your thoughts in the poll underneath.
Where should we allow election signs?
- Election signs on public and private property - no change
- Allow only on private property, no public signs
- Allow on both, but only a couple specific public spots
- No election signs allowed at all
Horne Pit Delegations
Near the beginning of our Regular Meeting, we had 3 presentations from different community members, all experts in their own respective fields. The consensus among the three, and among much of the correspondence we’ve received from the community, has been that as much as possible, most of the land that was the former gravel pit should be rehabilitated to a natural state to protect and preserve the sensitive ecosystem that is the Little Campbell River Watershed. Additionally, this land could be turned into a park that would provide the current and future residents of Brookswood and Fernridge the opportunity to have a significant park to walk, bike, or bus to with relative ease. Using much of the property as a park does not preclude the Township from using the remainder of the site for development, whether that development is residential, commercial, or institutional. My own thoughts on Horne Pit, and on having parks within urban areas, have been consistent over a number of years. You can find more details on where I believe we have an opportunity on this issue here and here. That being said, public consultation will give us a much better idea of what the community is looking for, and with such an important public asset as the Horne Pit lands, it will be important to get it right for the sake of many future generations.
200 Street 2040
Next, the Terms of Reference for 200 Street 2040 were approved by Council. I was pleased to support the Mayor in expanding the scope of this planning exercise, as this represents a multi-generational opportunity to get the 200th Street corridor right. What does getting it right mean exactly? Well, to me, this means first-and-foremost getting rapid transit down the corridor to connect people to the West Coast Express in Maple Ridge and with Willowbrook and Langley City’s future SkyTrain stations. This will help countless people get around easier, both the people who depend on transit to get around and those who depend on their cars. The more people we can help use transit more regularly, the less people are driving their cars, and the less traffic congestion we all deal with. Beyond this, 200 Street is slowly developing into the urban core of the Township, and this planning exercise will help guide this transition and allow us to deliver all of the services, amenities, and uses that people expect from this type of neighbourhood. I’m excited to see what the 200 Street 2040 planning exercise delivers, and I’m excited about the public engagement that will be a part of the process.
Development Applications and Community Amenity Contributions (CAC)
Before getting into the various development applications on the agenda, here’s the summary of the money that will be collected from the new applications approved at this meeting:
Base CACs: $378,328 (Qualico) + $177,810 (Qualico) + $625,456 (Apna) + $2,882,670 (Essence) = $4,064,264
CACs from new Council Policy that requires additional CACs for applications with more density than allowed in the applicable Community Plan: $75,000 (Qualico)
Qualico – Aldergrove Single Family #1
26739 and 26771 24 Avenue
This application was for 32 single-family lots in Aldergrove. As I’ve stated throughout the term, I don’t tend to support front-loaded single-family lots when there is the possibility of rear-loaded single-family or other housing forms. Even though I grew up in a front-loaded home (this is what I mean by ‘front-loaded, by the way: link), it’s a form of housing that has some drawbacks when trying to create walkable, adaptable neighbourhoods with adequate street parking. Despite my reservations, it was apparent that changing the site design on this application would be impractical, and so I supported it along with the majority of Council.
Qualico – Aldergrove Single Family #2
2542 267 Street
Another single-family application in Aldergrove, this application was for 15 lots that are all front-loaded. Again, despite my concern with the continued construction of this form of single-family homes, I have a problem with voting against housing during a housing crisis if there is no alternative. This application was approved.
Apna – Willoughby Townhomes
6862, 6876, and 6898 204 Street
This townhouse application contained 62 units within the Central Gordon Neighbourhood Plan, and was approved by Council.
Essence – Willoughby Mixed-Use
19925 and 19957 78B Avenue
This application was for a 4 building, 371 apartment unit development with almost 33,000 square feet of commercial space across 200th Street from the Langley Events Centre. It was approved by Council.
Langley 2023 – 2027 Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw and Development Cost Charge Reserve Fund Expenditure Bylaw
In my last Council update, I provided a more detailed explanation of what is included in the Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw, and you can find that update here.
At this Regular Council meeting, the Five-Year Financial Plan, Development Charges Reserve Fund Expenditure Bylaw, and the User Pay Utility Rate Bylaws were approved by Council.
Notices of Motion
If you’ve been paying attention to Council meetings so far this term, you know that a lot of governing has been done through Notices of Motion (NOM). Since local members of Council don’t have Private Members Bills or other such things like politicians do at the Provincial or Federal level, NOMs are our best way of advancing policies or projects that we want to see done. In the first 6 months of this term, members of Council have put forward and debated on a lot of NOMs so far, giving our staff a lot to work on as we all individually work to deliver the items we campaigned on.
On this week’s agenda, there were 4 NOMs, one from Councillor Richter (Council Access to Reports), one from Councillor Martens (RCMP Infrastructure within the Township of Langley), one from Councillor Ferguson (Noel Booth Park Security), and one from myself (Airport Master Plan Update).
The debate on Councillor Richter’s motion became rather heated at times, and if you are curious, you can watch the discussion below. Her motion was defeated by Council.
Councillor Martens’ motion regarding RCMP infrastructure was focused on exploring the possibility of centralizing the regional teams of the RCMP within the Township. There was a little debate on the motion before it was approved by Council.
The motion proposed by Councillor Ferguson was intended to provide Council with a memo that describes the security measures in place at various Township parks in light of the recent vandalism that occurred at Noel Booth Park. It was approved by Council.
The motion that I proposed to Council sought to initiate an update to the Airport Master Plan, and would enable Airport staff to initiate a review of many facets of CYNJ that would hopefully put it in a position to be financially viable in perpetuity, while generating operating revenues for the Township. There was no debate on the motions beyond my initial comments and a couple questions from Council before the motion was defeated. You can watch it happen below.
And that’s it! One of the longer meetings of Council so far this year, but overall a productive one. While I’m personally disappointed with the results of the CPC discussion on election signs and the defeat of my airport motion, that is the beauty of the democratic process. It’s back to work tomorrow to continue to work on delivering what I promised I would: a vibrant, exciting, and safe Township with some bold new ideas. These ideas might not always be supported by the majority of Council, and that’s okay: this job is about working in the best interests of the over 140,000 residents that we represent.