Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature, call it “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online each Sunday.
Langley City councillors are being asked: With SkyTrain on the way, will future Langley City parking plans include pay parking in some downtown areas?
Mayor Val van den Broek
A. With the arrival of SkyTrain (which will get people out of their cars and using transit) and the recent approval of our new Official Community Plan, we can keep moving forward with our revitalization plans for Langley City.
One plan is to use an evidence-based decision-making approach to decide our future parking needs. With the help of TransLink, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and other agencies, we will conduct several assessments ensuring discussions are conducted with everyone who has an interest.
There are many variables to review when it comes to parking, such as including pay or not pay options, resident only parking areas, parkades, and numerous other factors.
This will be a very detailed and long process, which in the end, will be a part of our entire transportation plan.
The City’s master transportation plan will guide the future of transportation, respond to the changing needs and trends of the community, and create a safe, convenient, and accessible transportation network for all users. Your input will help shape the community into a more walkable, livable, and sustainable place for all residents and visitors.
Transportation is an essential part of everyone’s daily lives – it affects how we move throughout the community, determines how the environment looks and feels, and how people interact. Transportation decisions affect a community’s health, environment, and economy.
Have your say! Complete the 15-minute online transportation plan survey by Monday, Nov. 29.
Councillor Paul Albrecht
A. This is an interesting question that is not really possible to answer at this time.
That said I will try to provide some insight or thought process for future consideration.
With SkyTrain coming to Langley City, the dynamics and demographics of our community will be changing.
We are currently updating our Official Community Plan in anticipation of the kinds of needs our community will require due to the arrival of rapid transit.
Part of this update is the completion of a comprehensive parking plan for all aspects of our community, not only the downtown business area.
We will be reviewing private on-site parking and public street parking in residential, retail, commercial, and industrial zones. This study or report about parking in our community will provide a variety of options for council to consider.
Until that time it is too difficult to say for certain. I expect that the notion of implementing pay parking in our community would not occur for quite some time, if at all, and certainly not until the arrival of SkyTrain.
Councillor Teri James
A. With SkyTrain coming, I believe a comprehensive parking strategy should be developed for the community, and primarily for the downtown. This is being proposed as part of the 2022 budget and is something I will be supporting.
Parking meters may be suggested as part of the strategy’s findings, and I believe that this is something we will need to take a close look at for a couple of reasons.
If parking in the downtown core remains free, there would be no question that people who are catching the SkyTrain would park their cars in the free parking and hop on the rapid transit. Parking is at a premium as it is, and that would be very detrimental to the businesses who need the parking for their customers.
If we were to build a parkade to accommodate the SkyTrain traffic, it is likely that there would be a cost to park there, but if the rest of the downtown is free parking, many people wouldn’t use it.
So as much as our community is accustomed to free parking, and may be opposed to parking meters, it is ultimately an option we must consider seriously if we want to ensure that the parking situation doesn’t get out of hand when SkyTrain arrives.
Councillor Gayle Martin
A. Pay parking may be in the future in Langley City. The city will be undertaking a master transportation plan during the next year, along with a study on parking. This will help determine what the needs will be once SkyTrain has arrived.
Councillor Nathan Pachal
A. With SkyTrain coming to our community and most areas north of 53rd Avenue within a 10-minute walk of a SkyTrain station or a quick bike ride, one of the best ways to address parking is to provide safe and comfortable sidewalks and bike paths.
While some households may have two cars, with proper walking, cycling, and transit infrastructure, only one may be required. This strategy will help reduce congestion and address climate change.
On-street parking is also a part of the puzzle, and the City has never completed a comprehensive parking study for our community.
I look forward to supporting a parking study as part of the 2022 budget. This study will review regulations and provide recommendations for loading zones, accessible parking, permit parking, metered parking, time-limited parking, and resident-only per block parking.
The study will recommend where to apply different parking management strategies. For example, most areas south of 53rd will likely not need any parking management, while areas right next to SkyTrain stations will need more aggressive on-street parking management.
Councillor Rudy Storteboom
A. Finally! Passenger rail service is coming to our community.
SkyTrain will bring a new era of public transportation to Langley City.
The overall business plan for the Surrey-to-Langley SkyTrain extension is established. Now, the details have to be worked out. Construction of the line is expected to be complete by 2028.
As well as revenue from paid parking, TransLink’s business model uses a share of the regional fuel tax and some local property tax, as well as transit fares and a parking tax, to pay for their operations, improvements, and expansion.
A TransLink park & ride is expected to be included in the Langley City Centre Station site. This would be the familiar hourly paid parking for day trips on SkyTrain. Though there are currently some spots for monthly paid parking on a Langley City lot, there are no new plans for any other paid parking areas in Langley City.
Councillor Rosemary Wallace
A. As Langley City’s plan to densify in areas of the anticipated SkyTrain stations, a parking strategy could be something that City council investigates, and that may include paid parking in certain downtown areas.
City council could also look at the idea of shared parking during the days that accommodates people’s different work schedules.
It is crucial that we look toward a future that is less reliant on cars so we can reach the city’s and region’s goals in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other modes of connectivity could be attained through a ride-sharing program and a bicycle rental program in areas in close proximity to the SkyTrain and in some downtown areas.
As we look forward to the coming of the SkyTrain, it has the potential to alleviate the stresses put on those trying to afford ways to get to and from work, and to be able to travel outside their own communities.
Affording cars for people is just another added stress.
In the meantime, we must find ways to make transportation more accessible and equitable.
Next week’s Langley Township councillors are being asked: Should Langley Township restrict residential development in areas prone to high-stream flow, including in the Nicomekl, Salmon, and Fraser River floodplains?
Watch for their answers online next Sunday.