Talking Willoughby, Brookswood, roads & marijuana with candidate Steve Ferguson…
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.
STEVE: 208 street needs to be 4 lanes as soon as possible. I see this in three waves:
- the overpasses to 80th ave finished immediately (mostly done…need to negotiate road alignments with owner/developers)
- 72 to 80…incentives to property owners for road allowances, particularly in cases where families are still living
- 64 to 72…mostly in ALR. The small slip needs to be approved by the land commission (should be accepted for safety and land use for public benefit)
The cost to the Township may need to be met through SHORT term borrowing. 80th ave, through planned signals, directional lanes, 4 lanes where appropriate, lights or traffic circles, and walkable/bikelanes for community benefit.
72 ave has always been a challenge, now that the Smith Plan has been approved, there is an opportunity to plan future road infrastructure as mentioned for 80th….Streetscapes that can accommodate walkable/bike lanes etc.
Measures should also be in place to prevent the concept of a speed zone.
There are other traffic routes that also need to be considered. The North/South Roads at and around 201, 204, 210 and perhaps others. Where as the community grows measures should be considered for traffic flows and safety…not to forget to mention First Responder routes.
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?
STEVE: Perhaps the Road designs are in place, in documents in the Willoughby Official Community and the accompanying NCP’s, however making them work, and being consistent with their delivery is of the utmost importance. 100,000 people is a huge amount of people and Langley needs to have Adequate transit, walkable communities, and appropriate School, Park, and hospital infrastructure to meet this high population need.
Back to road networks, it is also important to consider what people will be using for transport many years from now. Electric smaller cars and trucks, more home businesses, and other changes in work/live/play circumstances.
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?
- Less density than Willoughby
- School/park sites secured earlier on in the developing stages
Yes, I will advocate for them, monitor re-zoning applications, on-going development plans and work with the school district to meet the growing demands of our growing school population.
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?
STEVE:I understand that Council was trying to work with an Affordable Housing component for the Site, although I was NOT part of that decision, it seems to me that certain factors were either missed or ignored. The site is very close to tightly zoned residential areas (small lots with large houses). A road site network that is very close to 200 and impossible to put a turn-in lane to site. (from vehicles going east on 72nd
Council didn’t consider rat-racing going out of the site, and immediately onto residential streets.
The application also had Building heights not consistent with the NCP and surrounding built subdivisions. I say STICK to the PLANS, leaving consistency for existing residents and future homeowners. (I believe the vote was unanimous)
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?
STEVE: Council needs to be very careful NOT to make the Williams Commercial core a strip mall or unattractive business zone. I support the concept of BOUTIQUE BUSINESSES that are attractive and decorative (similar to 86 and 200 and 64 and Fraser highway). However there is indeed a HUGE demand for Service Commercial, Light Industrial, as evidenced by the Metro Vancouver future needs plan. Langley can certainly meet some of that need in the Williams plan.
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?
STEVE: I followed the Brookswood/Fernridge Community plan over the last 4 years. Council and staff put a huge amount of time and effort into public consultation, community meetings, workshops, and planning sessions. I attended many of them in schools, halls, and churches. The plan was passed by council by a strong majority vote. Interestingly enough, the NCP’s were pushed simultaneously after the Plan was passed, leaving residents confused by how the plan would be re-zoned moving forward. It would be perhaps more prudent to proceed with one area at a time, hence less inconvenience on Neighbours and more consistency on sticking to a firm NCP. The areas around 204-200…36 and 32 where construction is already taking place.
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.
STEVE: I would be more than prepared to look at Phased development since I (and many others in the room) suggested it at many of the community planning sessions that I attended. I live very close to the Grandview area. Traffic is a mess there, parking is a problem in some parts (not all) and the shops are all over the place. Even though much of the area is a HIGH street, it is only walkable in certain areas. So a HIGH street surrounded by Big Box retail. Langley residents may be surprised just how much density is within that area.
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?
STEVE: Fort Langley may have relaxed parking, perhaps some relaxed parking in Aldergrove. The rest of the Community is as good or better than the region. Surrey has allowed construction in some communities like Clayton to have illegal suites placed in homes (now legal) where there is absolutely no parking. (the suites are in the garages)
Council has been given a report on parking requirements to meet the needs of future growth. If elected I would analyze that document, consult with the public, land owners, and developers.
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.
STEVE: I only agree in certain prescribed, well-thought out urban planned areas. High rises and compact density needs to be well planned and obviously well situated.
I support protecting our valuable farm land and the ALR!
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?
STEVE: October 17 is just around the corner. The Federal government is working overtime to TRY and make sure certain standards are met, particularly around road safety and health matters. Marijuana now takes many forms: food, candy, etc. I believe it is the smoke part that may cause the concerns. SO, YES, since it is smoke, the same regulations should apply. The Township and other communities have other challenges, in particular the replacement of Food producing crops with Cannabis production. This causing huge odor problems for residents and anxiety for neighbours that see more greenhouse construction for Cannabis production.
Brad Richert | email@example.com