Talking Willoughby, Brookswood, roads & marijuana with candidate Gail Chaddock-Costello…
The other week I sent a questionnaire to almost (I couldn’t find an email for a few) every candidate running for Council (not Mayor). The questions were intended to be nonpartisan, important, and focused on the future of Langley. I deeply appreciate the responses received as it would have taken these candidates serious time to respond. I hope that if you like the responses provided that you’ll share the posts of your favourite candidates. These posts are NOT endorsements of any candidate and the answers have NOT been edited. -Brad Richert
BRAD: Do you have a tangible solution for solving the highly perceived traffic woes in Willoughby, especially along 208th Street, 80th Avenue and 72nd Avenue.
GAIL: There is no quick fix to this issue as the road infrastructure was not developed at the time of housing construction. All of these roads need to be widened and the new Council will be planning for funding and working with Township planners to determine the best way to move forward. As a new candidate for council, I am looking forward to helping to address this issue as expediently as possible. In the meantime, increased bus routes and frequency could reduce the need for private car travel.
BRAD: Do you believe that road design in Willoughby’s NCPs are adequate for a build out population of 80,000-100,000? If not, do you believe they can be improved, if so, how?
GAIL: Current build out indicates that the road design will not be adequate for a population of 80 – 100,000 residents. Reviewing the NCPs now with renewed input from residents could lead to amendments to the Neighbourhood Community Plans which would ensure solutions are in place prior to continued housing development.
BRAD: Please provide up to 3 items that you believe can be improved in Brookswood’s NCPs that were missed in Willoughby’s planning. Will you advocate for these improvements before adopting further NCPs?
GAIL: The OCP in Brookswood has addressed many areas that were not fully addressed in Willoughby’s planning – the protection of water/aquafers; a tree bylaw and protection of green space with the new thirty meter set back from streams. It will be ‘less dense’ and as the NCPs for the Booth and Rinn areas are developed in the near future with community input, I’m confident they will include requirements to match infrastructure growth with housing development.
BRAD: A recent application for at Shepherd of the Valley in Willoughby was passed unanimously (absent Councillor Richter), changing the NCP zoning of Institutional/church to a high density comprehensive development zoning. Do you view NCPs in Willoughby (and soon Brookswood) to be very flexible “living documents” or do you maintain holding to a more strict interpretation of an NCP?
GAIL: I generally hold NCPs to a strict interpretation but that does not translate to no changes as the needs of the community evolve. With community involvement and input, there are times when changes can be relevant and appropriate.
BRAD: The Williams plan is moving forward with a traditional suburban style commercial core at the new 216th Street interchange. Do you believe for this plan adequately “future-proofs” the Northeast quadrant of Willoughby?
GAIL: I’m not entirely clear on what ‘future proofs’ means to you, but I have read the plan and it represents the needs/ input from the community and the future as currently envisioned. If changes are required, those will be reviewed by the community and Township Council. Proposed changes should fit within or be acceptable adjustments, to the approved NCP.
BRAD: Brookswood is moving forward with simultaneous NCPs. Do you support this? Explain. Should one NCP be done at a time. If so, which area is priority?
GAIL: The Booth and Rinn NCPs are proceeding and as these areas are closest to the existing infrastructure it makes sense that they are first on the agenda for future development. I think both can be done simultaneously. My concern presently is with development proposals that have been ‘in the que’ for several years being approved, unless they do adhere to the NCPs. The quicker the NCPs are developed; the more assurance Council can provide residents their views on development are being incorporated into the development plans approved by Council.
BRAD: Phased development has been discussed for Brookswood, but no mechanism is yet in place. Do you support phased development such as in South Surrey’s Grandview neighbourhood? Explain.
GAIL: Yes, I do support Phased development as it slows the growth and allows time for infrastructure to catch up with housing units. Phased development also permit ‘reviews’ by the community and the developers if alterations to the plan appear to better suit the final overall community. A willingness to make adjustments as needed, with Council and community input, could result in a new development being more highly regarded as a desirable, complete place to live.
BRAD: Parking is a common issue in many neighbourhoods in Langley, yet enjoys some of the most relaxed parking allowances in the region. Should new developments have more parking or less? Are there other parking-related solutions in your platform?
GAIL: Parking spaces need to reflect the real population likely to live in the neighbourhood. If basement suites are part of the plan then parking for tenants needs to be included. The future transportation plans call for an increase in transit options that would reduce dependency on cars. However, that is years away in practical terms. Park and ride centres such as Carvolth are great additions to new areas to encourage transit use and make it easier for residents to access transit.
My platform does not specifically address parking but if elected to Council I anticipate this will be an area for consideration in all new development proposals. I think a variety of options need to be explored depending upon the location and their NCP.
BRAD: Higher density in Langley is suggested as a means to increase housing affordability, pay for amenities/infrastructure and protect ALR land. Agree or disagree? Explain.
GAIL: Overall I agree. Higher density does reduce costs, leading to more affordable housing, providing funds for amenities and infrastructure and protecting ALR land. I don’t think high density is the only type of development that should be permitted as some families are still seeking single family homes. The proposed development in Fort Langley, in partnership with the Seyem Qwantlen group, includes not only a Cultural Centre and artists’ spaces but new housing on land currently owned by the Township. If built, the proposed homes would be a blend of row houses, town houses and single lot homes. Families have different needs and different budgets and developments including a blend of affordable housing should be a goal for all future developments, in my opinion.
BRAD: Some communities are banning the smoking of legal marijuana in all public places. Some are restricting the use of the substance in a fashion similar to tobacco cigarettes. What are your views on a potential municipal bylaw?
GAIL: The use of marijuana will be a personal choice which should not impact on the enjoyment of public spaces by others. I would support treating the smoking of marijuana in the same fashion as smoking cigarettes and attach the same restrictions.