Talking Willoughby, Brookswood, roads & marijuana with candidate Bob Long…
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.
BOB: Grid lock is a part of life these days so there is no easy answer. I think the traffic woes are equally or more obvious on other routes in and around the region. As the Willoughby neighbourhoods near completion, more walkability will give residents choices rather than always the single trip in an automobile. There simply are never ‘enough’ when it comes to roads as the supply of folks in cars to fill them is never ending as people transverse the region.
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?
BOB: I trust that the professionals have done their due diligence in design, if you or your readers have expertise that has been overlooked then please chime in. We want liveable neighbourhoods, not highways. Again, I stress that complete neighbourhoods are the answer so we can work, shop and get the needed services close to home.
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?
BOB: The planning for Brookswood is far different than Willoughby for sure. The plan adopted by council followed an extremely extensive public process. Of course, suggested improvements should and can be considered by council, but lets follow the plan adopted. Here is the link – it is a comprehensive read: https://webfiles.tol.ca/bylaws/Brookswood-Fernridge%20Community%20Plan%20Bylaw%20(No.5300).pdf
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?
BOB: The zoning change in this application was somewhat unique as not a lot of the NP allow for institutional. But yes the plans are ‘living documents’ and council may move the densities around as long as the population at build out stays the same.
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?
BOB: The Williams plan with proximity to the freeway and Walnut Grove called for this style of commercial core – however the employment lands will add a significant new mix to the area. Workers are somewhat “part-time” residents and will likely use the services and shop too.
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?
BOB: I think moving ahead with applications as they are submitted makes sense. Lands ready for development will need to have services in place, so this acts as a built in “phasing” mechanism.
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.
BOB: Phasing has its problems with land values – which will affect house prices. That’s not going to help with affordability
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?
BOB: Not sure I would agree that we have ‘relaxed’ parking requirements, but the more you allow for cars the more cars you will get. I think council stepped ‘backwards’ when it restricted ‘tandem parking’ as getting cars off the streets is the real objective. Also making sure that folks actually park cars and not boxes in their garages is important.
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.
BOB: Density belongs in areas where services are available within close proximity. And of course transit service must also be close by.
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?
BOB: The rules should be consistent within the region. A bylaw could be crafted and adopted on a regional level. A good project for the LMLGA.ca