Talking Willoughby, Brookswood, roads & marijuana with candidate Stacey Wakelin…
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.
STACEY: I do believe, first and foremost we need to adjust the way we view this problem. We can widen roads and still continue to have traffic issues. Ideally, new neighbourhoods will be increasingly walkable and feature increased transit routes. The more we can enable residents to walk, take transit or bike, the more cars we take off the road throughout the day. This will positively impact the environment, the people that live here and other drivers on the road—win/win for everyone.
I do not think that there is a “quick fix” and limited options available. I would be in support of whatever plan gets this project up and running, in the most fiscally responsible manner. I do believe allowing 208th St. to remain in its current state isn’t acceptable and is unsafe.
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?
STACEY: I believe all solutions to road congestion should be based on lessening our dependence on vehicular traffic.
Students need to be able to walk independently, or with a walking school bus, or bike safely to their catchment school. It would be wonderful if driving our children to school was an exception, rather than the rule.
Schools that offer special programming in another catchment district need to be serviced by transit that is safe, on-time, and affordable with bus shelters and benches.
An ideal world would be where everyone could be employed within walking/biking distance of their home, but that’s not yet the case. Commuters need to carpool, take public transit, or for those lucky few – to walk, or bike to work. We need efficient public transit, both local and regional that will run often enough for commuters to make connections all day long. People are working around the clock.
With less personal vehicles on the road, money previously spent on road maintenance, could go towards public transit, multi-purpose trails, lighting, and/or crosswalks.
The bottom line is that it has to be more convenient for people to take other modes of transport than to take their car. It would be a real revolution if we could return to the one car household.
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?
STACEY: I would like to see any environmental concerns addressed and tree retention issues (bylaws) resolved. I would like to see the road issues in Willoughby not be repeated and transit needs addressed.
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?
STACEY: I do not believe the NCPs should be “living documents” and one would hope they were created with the utmost care and we should be holding them to a more strict interpretation. If down the road, something comes to light from an environmental standpoint and there needs to be some variation, that is a different story. But consistently tweaking to add density, etc–that I do not agree with.
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?
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?
STACEY: As a resident of Willoughby, it is my opinion that phased development would be the best route to take. Instead of beginning several development projects, it makes sense to begin in the areas that are more populated. If I were to pick the first area, it would be Booth and/or Finn. It is also of utmost importance that this process is transparent and community feedback is respected.
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.
STACEY: See above
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?
STACEY: I believe parking should be limited in residential neighbourhoods.
Houses and apartments almost always come with a garage/driveway or a parking stall. I’d suggest that parking on streets in these neighbourhoods be zoned ‘no parking’ on one side of the street, and ‘no parking except for those with a valid parking sticker’ on the opposite side of the street.
Parking stickers would have limitations. For example, renters of a basement suite would qualify for one but a third vehicle for a homeowner with a two car garage/driveway would not.
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.
STACEY: I do agree with higher density development, as opposed to urban sprawl. I am not against development, but do believe we need to strive for smart development. We should be encouraging quality and not merely quantity. We need to ensure that developments are adding to our community and not a future problem to be dealt with down the road. Keeping regulations tuned for efficiency, has helped many other communities in North America and Europe make construction easier, removing delays due to red-tape and in theory have the potential to pass savings along to consumers. I do not believe that mass producing townhouses or condos is the best route to take. I would like to address the fact that what is affordable to some, is not affordable to all. We should be offering mixed use developments and encouraging developers to address the need for rental inventory, as well. High density can have positive effects on a community: greater access to facilities, better transportation or walkability and lower levels of social segregation. Creating communities that are inclusive of all residents needs should be our goal.
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?
STACEY: I believe this should be dealt with in the same manner as tobacco cigarettes. I am all for no smoking in public spaces.