Talking Willoughby, Brookswood, roads & marijuana with candidate Harold Whittell…
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.
HAROLD: I would take a proactive approach. Bring together township staff and main property owners/developers and discuss real options. There has already been talk that several developers who own 80% of the property on 208th are willing to participate to get 208th done. We need to work with them to make this happen. It would also help to narrow down what can be done with available resources to give the best return and outcome, prioritise. After looking at options with stakeholder involvement, if a satisfactory timeline cannot be determined with the needed results, then I would support the TOL moving ahead with the “borrow and build” method. We NEED 208th street to be finished for many reasons, but most importantly for the quality of life for Willoughby residents living there now and those soon to call Willoughby home.
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?
HAROLD: No. I think that the roads were originally configured using a 20 year old plan that has been amended greatly since inception. I would imagine with all the extra density Willoughby has had added already, it is likely that we need to take an inventory and re assess.
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?
HAROLD: I am hopeful that as the NCP’s are developed more consideration is given to smart tree retention and the impact loss of green space has on the quality of life of the neighbourhood. Grass swales are not forests. The road system in Willoughby as discussed is lacking capacity. Decisions need to be made to support alternate transit options as things build out. The parking in Willoughby is a nightmare. End tandem parking. Require developments to provide realistic parking, often the requirements are based on outdated numbers and do not represent the real demographics of the neighbourhood. As mentioned above, we need to take a look at how we provide for the major roads network in our developing areas. 208th cannot be repeated. Proper phasing of developments and having NCP’s mesh together make sense.
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?
HAROLD: I fall in the middle range. Flexibility is required, but the justification needs to be made to warrant a significant amendment. I believe one of the reasons we have run into many contentious issues in different communities is the seeming lack of consistency by not supporting our OCP’s. The document is to be updated every 5 years as per the LGA, but it seems there is little community consultation if any, on these renewal/updates.
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?
HAROLD: I am concerned that this plan may have broader implications in it than we are being made aware. Some of the “explanation” of the thinking behind it referred to the “University District Plan”, coming in the next few years. As I hope for Brookswood, when the NCP’s are rolled out, they need to dovetail in with the next NCP. I hope due diligence has been done with Williams to have it fit with the University plan and the existing NCP’s. There were many concerns raised about the “fit” of Williams with the Willoughby Town Centre area, raised by developers in Willoughby. This struck an alarm bell with me.
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?
HAROLD: No, NCP’s should be done in phases to be sure servicing is done in a logical sense. Possibly 2 NCP’s could develop together if there is synergy. The last thing Brookswood needs is to have years and years of partially built roads and infrastructure spread across the whole area. It seems common sense to start with the northern area and work south, as there is some servicing ready to start on.
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.
HAROLD: Yes, it seems a common sense approach.
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?
HAROLD: Parking that is actually used. End tandem parking. Parking needs to be adequate for the project, I think the parking bylaw could be reviewed to be sure it is representative of today’s needs and uses. I would also look at using available spaces for “overflow” parking( TOL owned lots, or underutilized areas like under power lines etc) These could be built basic and then in the future when transit other options are more readily available the areas could be repurposed.
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.
HAROLD: I am not sure density always equates to greater affordability or pays its share of amenities or infrastructure. I do believe we need to build up, not out to preserve our ALR lands. If all we do is give a density increase to a developer, I do not believe they pass these savings along to the home buyer, this is market driven. However, if we use “density bonus” to receive higher CAC’s or other things for the community then the theory works. I have not seen much of this type of win/win in the TOL to date.
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?
HAROLD: I would regulate the use of marijuana in a similar fashion to alcohol. I would also approach any distribution or sale to venues that have proven age identification systems in place. Liquor stores, pharmacies etc.