Q2 for a Better Langley: STRIP MALLS

BETTER LANGLEY: A number of 1-1.5 storey strip malls with significant surface parking were approved in the last 5 years.  Is this the style of development you see as resilient, economical, and sustainable? Do you support the further development of such projects?


BETTER LANGLEY FAVOURITE ANSWERS HIGHLIGHTED IN GREEN

A note about highlighted answers: Better Langley favourites are selected based on progressive principles of economic and environmental sustainability as researched through the works of Jeff Speck, Charles Marohn, Charles Montgomery, Donald Shoup, Melissa & Chris Bruntley, Charles Schwartz, Ken Greenberg and many others. Additionally, my academic background in political science, philosophy, religious studies, and real estate all provide both knowledge base, process of critical thought, and, yes, biases. In order to reduce personal bias, answers were read anonymously, separate from the candidate before selecting a “favourite” to highlight. Non-highlighted answers are not necessarily “bad” answers – sometimes more explanation was desired.


MAYORAL CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)

SPARROW (Independent): I have been a strong proponent for mixed use walkable communities, and I have a voting record that speaks to that. Best practices for community planning principles have shifted from the example of the traditional strip mall and surface level parking, to mixed use developments that provide shops and services at your doorstep you would otherwise have to drive to. We should strive for more than just accepting the status quo and look to innovative ways in which we can build the community around us. 

WHITMARSH (Independent): It makes sense to utilize the available land the best that we can. Multi-use buildings of two or more floors with residential, commercial and childcare components is a good utilization of land. I believe that we can wisely manage the parking requirements in new buildings to balance the need for walkable communities and the continued use of vehicles to get around the Township.

WOODWARD (Contract with Langley): No, these are obsolete, and very harmful to the long-term of our community. They continue to be approved because of a status quo out of touch with modern planning principles. We need to change it.

COLEMAN (Elevate Langley): If it fits within the zoning for the area it is difficult to say no. Property owners have rights.

Having said that, it’s not sustainable to have too many projects like the ones you describe being built.

Elevate Langley will encourage parking and alternative energy – like solar panels – on rooftops. They are underutilized spaces. We need to fully utilize then in innovative ways.


COUNCILLOR CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)

GARDNER (Independent): No, and No. Strip malls are one of the least sustainable uses of urban space, which should support mixed use, preserve green space, and include affordable housing. Zoning, parking, and setback requirements all contribute to the style of developments we end up with. We must accept responsibility at the municipal level for our communities’ form, urban design, and sustainability since we set the requirements for developers to build here. Developments last for 50 or more years, so it is important that we design for the standards of tomorrow.

ELEVATE LANGLEY (Group Response): If it fits within the zoning for the area it is difficult to say no. Property owners have rights.

Having said that, it’s not sustainable to have too many projects like the ones you describe being built.

Elevate Langley will encourage parking and alternative energy – like solar panels – on rooftops. They are underutilized spaces. We need to fully utilize then in innovative ways.

WARD (Independent): As with any design, there are trade-offs. If we desire to maximize pedestrian, cycle, and accessible communities then we need to consider not over relying on on an abundance of parking and a minimum number of parking stalls threshold in all cases. In my view, we need to seriously consider alternate designs which emphasize and support walkability and accessibility. All designs have strengths and weaknesses; the strongest factor for me and whether to support a particular style is how commercial areas support the local residents first in terms of safety and accessibility. It goes without saying that these malls and enterprises have to be economically viable for the owners as well.

ARNASON (Independent): No. I strongly support mixed use developments which create walkable communities and promote alternative travel modalities.This requires communities to be designed to enhance opportunities for people to receive local services within a 5 to 10 minute walk of their residence. Travelling shorter distances through the effects of urban design reduces car usage based on the “compact cities” model approach. Our newly adopted climate action strategy also requires a large reduction in transportation-related GHG’s in order to limit temperature increases beyond the recommended IPCC limits. Changes to land-use planning to reduce cars, develop more public and active transportation, and a more evolved generalized transportation strategy leads to more carbon neutral and liveable cities. If re-elected, I will continue to prioritize mixed use development as well as live work and other opportunities to reduce travel and to further contain urban sprawl.

CHANG (Independent): I believe in a plan that includes a variety of options. That said, I believe that 2-3 story buildings may better serve in wise use of available land and may offer more housing options.

PRATT (Independent): No, it is none of these things, and I would not support further development of these projects in the future. We need to look beyond an auto-oriented community that pays a small amount of property taxes per acre, and build the mixed-use, missing-middle density that is better for the environment, people’s quality of life, and the Township’s coffers. We cannot claim to be building walkable or sustainable communities and then permit these kinds of projects moving forward.

MORAES (Independent): I do to an extent. I feel we also must build up and not just out in area. Area is limited in our township in order to sustain our farms.

CONTRACT WITH LANGLEY (Group Response): No, these are obsolete, and very harmful to the long-term of our community. They continue to be approved because of a status quo out of touch with modern planning principles. We need to change it.

RESPONDEK (Independent): Considering land is at a premium, building vertically versus horizontally is logically sound. 3 to 4 storey complexes make much more economical sense and would be a more efficient use of space. Strip malls over time tend to get destroyed and replaced with condos. It does not make much sense to me to develop projects of this type in the future.

RICHTER (Independent): No and No.

TOWNSLEY (Independent): Not as they are currently. I see small shops located in the heart of communities as a hub for gathering and an opportunity to get people away from their vehicles. Nobody wants to walk in a parking lot, so we need to make sure new development contains underground parking and above ground sidewalks, bike paths and bike parking racks.

Where strip malls go wrong at present is that we need to develop those spaces as mixed use and sustainable developments that not only generate opportunities for the community to gather, but to work, play and live. This makes sense from a tax revenue perspective and fosters community in general. We don’t have to have urban sprawl, but can develop the small-town feel in new development at the same time addressing the housing crunch.

SUARÉZ RUBIO (Independent): No. I don’t approve this method of development. I lay more my interest in getting one big shopping mall as metro town, WillowBrook or bigger with an arcade and entertainment for kids and youth, and encourage local businesses both retail and agricultural to open up their store there.

Also, I want more an idea of an open market, where farmers can go sell their crops, produces and fruits, while serving the commun good and in this way, break the monopoly of big grocery store and bring local food to a more competitive market. One that can offer organic food and products at a more affordable cost to Canadians, but specially to seniors and students.

POITRAS (Independent): I do not support strip malls. Auto-oriented strip malls are not sustainable or an efficient use of our limited urban lands. Developers need to bring high-quality projects that will encourage more walkable neighborhoods. We need to ensure mixed-use (office, retail, residential) projects replace the idea of outdated strip malls. An outcome to replacing strip malls with mixed development is an increase of walking and cycling in these higher density area.

DARNELL (Independent): The existing strip malls are a fact and way of life. Adding residential and professional space above the strip malls was well as ensuring adequate parking is one way to maintain the convenience and contribute to the ethereal walkable community model.

JOEHL (Independent): These types of commercial and retail developments are not the future of the ToL. While in principle I’d allow it, it is extremely disappointing that a developer would want to invest in this kind of model, and I don’t understand the financial incentive to do so. Underground and tower parking are great ways to cater to the automobile-centricity of our Fraser Valley culture and still minimize the physical footprint. It is not the council’s role, but I’d love to encourage a move away from vast, spacious surface parking lots. I would look at all the parking requirements for businesses and recommend changes necessary to send the message that these are undesirable outcomes.

VAN POPTA (Contract with Langley): Say no to ill designed strip malls! Any commercial like this should encompass housing above, eyes on the street, sidewalk facing access etc etc. There’s so much more current and relevant urban planning information available that we shouldn’t be designing communities based on 80’s ideas and then be stuck with it for 50 years.

KUNST (Independent): I would prefer to see more mixed-use development projects going forward.


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