Mr. Pachal goes to City Hall

Langley City Hall March 2016

I drove to Langley City Hall a couple of weeks ago (two guys with a canoe, above) to watch our friend Nathan Pachal take his oath as the newest member of City Council. He collected just over 35 per cent of the vote in a local by-election; in a race with nine candidates this was good enough for a win.

NathanNathan is a student of urban issues, a dedicated transit user and the editor at the South Fraser Blog. Langley City is a densifying municipality of 25,000 people bordered on the south, north and east by the sprawling Langley Township and on the west by the massive City of Surrey. A 2014 community profile sets out the hope that Langley City will become the commercial and artistic hub for a suburban market area of 250,000 people.

The City is already the social services hub for this market area; its affordable apartments accommodate people from a wide area, helping to give Langley City the lowest average household income of any municipality in Metro Vancouver. As Nathan pointed out in an interview, it’s a small suburban city with inner city issues.

“There are a lot of seniors on the edge of homelessness, a lot are couchsurfing. With a new federal government, there may be more focus on seniors’ housing. If we could tap into that, it would be great…but we don’t want to be the only municipality for social housing in the South of Fraser. Every municipality should be accommodating a range of people at different socioeconomic points, from million-dollar housing to supportive housing.”

The City’s success in growing its economy will depend partly on future decisions about the northward expansion of its Downtown. Already a decent urban village (as reported here in 2013), the Downtown is seen as a future arts and entertainment district. “I’d like to see live-work artist space,” says Nathans, “as well as an arts centre to serve the Langleys. That would bring positive activity to our community at all hours of the day.”

Nathan is tracking his success as a city councillor as part of his frequent online posting. In March, he transferred his “City of Langley Solutions Tracker” from his temporary campaign website to a more permanent home on South of Fraser. Here are Mr. Pachal’s top 10 objectives, with progress reported to March 2016:

Implement 203rd Street Greenway

“Progress: The City of Langley has received funding to implement changes along 203rd Street between Grade Crescent and Michaud Crescent. As of March 2016, I am working with residents along the corridor, the HUB Langley, City Staff, and Council for a plan that will reduce traffic speed, making walking and cycling safer, preserve some parking, and keep existing trees along the corridor.”

Improving lighting in our parks and around Downtown

Progress: Not Started Yet

Removing garbage, needles, and graffiti; repair damage on streets and in parks

Progress: First step, Council adopted Community Crime Prevention Strategic Plan in March 2016.

Sidewalk Improvement: Install new where needed, widened to modern standards where needed, ensure obstruction-free walking area

Progress: Not Started Yet

Implement traffic calming where requested by residents

Progress: As of March 2016, working to see improvements made along 203rd Street.

Expand protected cycling lane network

Progress: As of March 2016, working to see improvements made along 203rd Street.

Implement safer pedestrian crosswalks

Progress: As of March 2016, working to see improvements made along 203rd Street.

Move forward with action plan to reduce homelessness

Progress: Not Started Yet

Make Downtown Langley a destination

Progress: Not Started Yet

Work towards building an arts centre in Downtown

Progress: Not Started Yet

A page from the City of Langley's 2014 community profile

A page from the City of Langley’s 2014 community profile

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