Usually a long Monday night in the council chambers is due to a controversial public hearing. However, this week’s meeting crawled along due to lengthy presentation about rail safety, a multitude of citizen delegations and a couple developers defending their applications despite having little or no opposition at public hearing.
Rail safety in Langley
The evening meeting started off with Canadian Pacific’s Mike LoVechhio, Director Government Affairs, presenting Council with technical updates on rail safety, including preventative and reactionary measures. Councillor David Davis pressed the Director on several specific crossings around Milner/Glover Road area, where there have been a history of some derailments and fairly noisy cars. Mr. LoVecchio noted that the crossing at Glover and Crush in particular is receiving a significant upgrade.
Delegations on Recycling, Dogs, Rabbits, Cannabis and Parties
There were 5 delegations to council from members of the public including Charity Gosling, who was advocating for a one-stop recycling facility in the Township or even in Surrey. Wendy McMillan and Cynthia Hamilton want better signage at Yorkson Community Park to deter pet owners from letting their dogs run loose. Animal activist Patricia Tallman offered a detailed description of the problem with abandoned rabbits in the Township and to propose a management strategy. Andrew Gordon from Kiaro urged council to speed up the development of its retail cannabis plans. Misty vanPopta expressed significant concern with the increased usage of the Fort National Historic Site and the impact on the surrounding community.
New Applications for a Daycare, single family homes, duplexes, & a new hotel
There were a handful of new applications that passed first and second reading on Monday night. Urbanex Walnut Grove Development Corp. is looking to add daycare usage to the CD-14 zoning for their property at 9497 201rst Street in Walnut Grove. In the Latimer neighbourhood of Willoughby, the Sikham and Saran families are looking to subdivide their 3 lots into 17 single family lots and 12 duplex lots at the 20400 block of 74B Avenue. The Mitchell Group, who is a significant campaign contributor to Mayor Froese, Councillors Blair Whitmarsh, Margaret Kunst, Steve Ferguson and former councillors Angie Quaale & Bev Dornan, is looking to build two 11-storey hotel buildings with 264 rooms and a banquet/conference facility at 198A/200th Street and 86th/88th Avenue in the Carvolth development area.
Mitchell Group Hotel renderings and siting:
Update to Subdivision Bylaw and Final adoption of Tree Bylaw
The evening meeting saw some discussion at the first, second and third reading of the minor update to the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw. There was some discussion regarding this update. Councillor Richter wondered why this couldn’t be sent to a public hearing, but Mayor Froese and Mark Bakken indicated that as a regulatory bylaw, a public hearing isn’t necessary. Councillor Richter looked to make a deferral for a staff presentation which led to a short presentation by Ramin Seifi about the impact of the changes in the bylaw.
One of the changes made in the bylaw is an update to road standards including a shift to a standard of having parking on two sides of a street rather than one side. Another change was to require LED streetlights. There were also updates to includes new design parameters around stormwater management due to climate change and incorporation of tree protection issues. Councillor Blair Whitmarsh also looked for clarification on residential streets widths as he was under the impression that for parking on both sides that 20 meters is required, not the 18.5 meter proposed. Staff responded that in the past that residential roads with one sided parking were 16.8 meters but in changing to two lanes, that lanes and boulevards could be narrowed slightly to mandate a 18.5m minimum with dual side parking.
Council also officially adopted the new Township of Langley Tree Protection Bylaw. Although I was initially in favour of a tree protection bylaw, the lack of commitment to a tree management strategy and the ignorance of the destruction of trees in urban development areas renders this bylaw essentially useless and could potentially do more harm in the long term to tree protection strategy than good.
Woodward Motion: Public Art Funding Policy
The evening meeting ended with a motion by Councillor Eric Woodward for staff to propose an amendment to the Public Art Policy to allow for funding in neighbourhoods that do not have their own public art funding program, such as in Willoughby.
Public Hearing: 1 Development Permit + 5 Public Hearings
After a short break, the public hearing component of the evening commenced with a development permit hearing and several rezonings.
The development permit for what appears to be a Tim Horton’s Distribution facility at the 5100 block of 272nd Avenue received no submissions from the public and passed through Council unanimously.
One small two-lot subdivision in Murrayville had no opposition, but the proponents planner, former Mayor Kurt Alberts, took the opportunity to speak anyway to provide evidence that the neighbours are in favour of the subdivision.
The Oakbrook Foundation’s application to build a small Plymouth Brethren-based school (60 students) around Fraser Highway at 234th Street and 44th Avenue. This was the only public hearing to have any opposition this week, as some residents of the mobile home park across the street expressed concern with added traffic and noise pollution. The remainder of the submissions were from members of the PB community who supported the school being built. The proponent delivered a lengthy explanation of the school system and defence of the application.
Infinity (through Carvolth Development Ltd) also had their new office building up for public hearing, which also had no submissions from the public, but the proponent took the time to address, in extensive detail, some concerns that some councillors had brought up during first and second reading. These concerns were related to the trees that were being removed that were not in the protected riparian area, culvert management, the request to cut trees sooner due to avoiding bird nesting season and possible green roofs. The proponent indicated that the green roofs would be too onerous of a project, but argued that they have done extensive greenway work on site. Councillor Eric Woodward asked why not make it bigger. The proponent stated that this is a fairly large project for them as they are residential builders, not commercial. They also intend on holding onto the building for their own office space.
The Mitchell Group also had their 70 single family lot and 62 duplex lot subdivision at 7300-7400 block and 197th to 198b Street up for public hearing, but no submissions were heard. The interesting item on this application is the zoning for an elementary school and park that, if built, would finally provide the residents of Routley with a nearby school.
Narrowing the road allowance from 20m to to 18.5m and allowing parking on both sides of street may make developers happy but will do little to facilitate traffic circulation.
Why we do not physically separate bicycle traffic from vehicle traffic when we have an opportunity to do so in areas being developed contines to baffle me. Sometimes the cheap way is not the best way.
I don’t think it affects developers at all. Narrowing roads and allowing for more street parking are both crucial new urbanist smart growth principles. These are still almost 10 ft lanes at the very minimum, which is a full foot larger than progressive planners ask for. Narrower lanes with dual parking slow traffic, which is one of the ideals of a more walkable community.
Keep in mind that these are bylaw minimums. Personally, I would be in favour of narrowing the lanes even more to make room for a seperate bike path.