Talking Willoughby, Brookswood, roads & marijuana with candidate Jonathan Houweling…
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.
JONATHAN: I’m advocating for immediate project commencement of 208th right through to the overpass. I also have a few ideas of negotiating land acquisition (staff estimate of $40+ million for the 61 properties seems to high.) Also, 72nd and 208th needs a right turning lane, yet simple traffic light program adjustment could solve some immediate issues there. I’m also curious to see how the new 216th interchange will affect things.
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?
JONATHAN: I like the idea, wherever possible, to build roads beforehand, or at least phase in. Waiting on developers to build their frontage works in principle and probably in some areas, but in an OCP like Willoughby it has not.
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?
JONATHAN: Phasing, 200th street widening, and a plan to attract / recruit medical services and professionals.
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?
JONATHAN: I believe there always has to be some flexibility in an OCP. For example, 30 years from now, there will likely be factors completely unseen today. I think we could be more strict under certain circumstances. Essentially, it’s using common sense to discern whether a community can or can not handle an OCP variation.
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?
JONATHAN: Traditional suburban style commercial, to my knowledge, isn’t the most walkable. I think we have (had) a real unique opportunity to try something better and new there, and we didn’t. I’m not sufficiently aware of the entire situation however.
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?
JONATHAN: I don’t have anything profitable to say at this point. In principle however, it makes initial sense that one NCP should be in place per neighbourhood.
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.
JONATHAN: I support phased development, particularly in hot / abnormal growth markets.
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?
JONATHAN: I live in Willoughby and about 50% of the evenings I get home and there is no street parking. There are about 35 spaces, and in the middle of the day, there are still usually 25 cars there. Our little area is preparing for another 60 unit complex, plus another 100 or so in a few more years. It’s absolutely not enough. I should note, in our complex at least, there are always about 10 empty visitor spots. Cars usually get towed after month one or two of not moving off the street. Many 2 or 3 bedroom town-homes have 3 or 4 vehicles, and since garages are usually too small to store a car plus belongings, the second vehicle goes on the road.
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.
JONATHAN: I don’t think higher density will increase net affordability, although it certainly sounds like it would. It would however protect ALR land, even though the vast majority of our ALR land is overgrown grass, forest, or horse pasture, and not used for agriculture. If my background offers anything, it’s ideas in becoming more self sufficient food producers, and becoming a Township in which new farmers want to move into.
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?
JONATHAN: I support restricting the use in a similar fashion to cigarettes, although I cringe a little when I think of the projected lack of motivation among stoned young people. I am concerned about productivity in the long term, and I can’t see cannabis helping this at all.