We asked, they answered: Langley City council candidates talk homelessness, low-income housing, more

Langley City council candidates were asked to answer one or both of the following questions:

A: The City of Langley is facing ever-increasing challenges with homelessness, including open drug use, camping on public property and lack of washroom facilities. Demand for services is increasing and placing more pressure on local outreach agencies. As a council member for the City of Langley, how would you go about addressing this problem?

B: Low-cost housing in the City is, in some places, being replaced by new, more costly, development, while in others, it is simply deteriorating without available funding for proper upkeep.

What do you see as the City’s role in ensuring that low-income residents have access to safe, affordable housing and, if elected, what steps would you take to address the issue?

Peter Fassbender

(mayoral candidate):

A: As I did previously as mayor, I would encourage our Council and City staff to work closely with all other Provincial and community agencies to address all these complex issues. I strongly believe we need to be flexible and willing to find creative approaches. At the same time, we need to be cognizant of the concerns of our citizens to what is a growing issue.

My experience and involvement locally, regionally, provincially and even at the federal level, has shown me, we can not do it alone. We can also not point fingers at others and say it is their issue to solve. There are initiatives that we can as a local government take on to help. One clear example was when we provided land to the Gateway of Hope to build the Shelter and Transitional Housing facility that we currently have. It faced opposition and we recognize today that it was not the ultimate solution. However, it was on piece of the bigger picture.

While we want to help individuals who are in our community who have complex needs, we also need to ensure they have the wrap around supports they require. We also need to protect our citizens from the side affects we face from Homelessness, Mental Health and the Opioid Crisis. Providing access to facilities such as washrooms etc., is a local issue that needs to be addressed. Not easy when there is abuse of those facilities and creating concerns for other residents. That said, we need to have those discussions and partner where we can with other community groups.

During my previous tenure as Mayor we had a community table where we brought all agencies together to find solutions that were realistic and achievable. I would encourage our Council to reactivate that approach and as Mayor I would again be a champion that approach. If we are not part of the solution, we will be part of the problem. We can achieve more by partnering than being isolated from each other.

B: Affordable market/rental housing is an issue that is faced across the province. The City of Langley currently has the highest number of low-cost rental housing units per-capita in Metro Vancouver. Even so, much of it is older and in need of renovation or re-development.

It requires a multi-pronged approach. The province and federal government need to partner with communities and provide incentives for developers and community groups to build more affordable units. For the first time in many years, the federal government has, through CMHC, provided very attractive long-term loans to developers to build, renovate and manage more rental properties. B.C. has also opened, through BC Housing, more funds for communities and social agencies to apply for funds to create more social and rental properties.

The City of Langley should meet with the other levels of government and advocate for that support in our City and in the region.

It is very difficult for a local government to directly fund or build housing.

However, local governments can provide municipals lands, as the City did for the Gateway of Hope, or other incentives such as density bonuses, reducing Development Cost Charges all of which would help to see social housing options being provided.

The City also should, through zoning and policy initiatives, encourage a more balanced approach to the mix of housing options. Removing red tape and expediting approvals will also ensure the speedy delivery of units to the community. Finally, the City of Langley should advocate and work with our neighbouring communities to encourage them to provide similar options and incentives. As the mayor for the City of Langley if I am elected, I will use all my experience and contacts to make sure that we meet the needs of our community for the benefit of all of our citizens.

Val van den Broek

(mayoral candidate):

A: We need to continue our partnership with federal and provincial levels of government to secure more housing and more medical services (for addiction and mental health) that some homeless require. I think we need to address this problem regionally, a partnership with the provincial and federal governments, as all other municipalities are dealing with the same issues. The Band-Aid approach we’re currently using isn’t helping anyone.

Resources are stretched to the limit and we have a shortage of nurses, whom we need to deal with the mental health and addiction issues. Protective services are stretched to the limit and their hands are tied because it’s not a crime to be homeless and they’re also dealing with the opioid crisis.

We need to augment our Integrated Case Management Team to adequately help people. They’re currently at maximum caseload and there’s a long waiting list. Our current council has advocated to the provincial government for more case workers and will continue to do so until we get results.

We need an urgent care centre, so we can have outreach workers connecting nurses to community locations such as senior centres or shelters. It would benefit the entire community. The centre would improve quality of care and also provide more care to more people.

One in six people in B.C. don’t have a family doctor. It would alleviate emergency room wait times and could cater to 1,300 patients a week. I’d like to see a housing-first type program, where the idea is to give people shelter first, then focus on drug abuse, mental disorders or other personal issues. It’s hard to get a job or get better if you don’t have a stable place to live. The tax revenue from marijuana should be going directly back to communities to deal with these issues.

B:Most of our current rental and low-income housing is at the stage of redevelopment. We need to encourage rebuilding larger with a variety of living units at an affordable price without displacement. We need to continue working with developers and owners and BC housing to find places for people to live when demolitions are going to happen. As a current City Councillor, we’ve already had success. When the Carroll Court Apartments had a fire and was to be rebuilt, staff worked with the owner and BC housing to place all the tenants into new homes.

Paul Albrecht:

A: The extremely complex issue of homelessness is affecting all communities in Metro Vancouver, and for that matter the entire world. Here in Langley City our homeless population is much more visible due to our size as well as the services available. That said, I believe that we have an amazing community of caring and compassionate people who want very much to help. Our provincial government has recognized the issues facing local governments and have implemented housing, addiction and mental health initiatives to assist communities. It seems to me that we have an opportunity to make positive steps around these issues, we have tools and finances available, and we have community services and groups (non-profit and faith-based) with a passion to help. I have had face-to-face meetings with the Ministers of Mental Health and Housing, our province is ready and willing to help.

All we need, and this sounds simple, is to develop and strengthen our community relationships with a focus to effect change. For example, why not look at offering work for services, (haircuts, showers, dental) why not bathrooms to provide some dignity?

This may be a difficult challenge for some, as egos may need to be parked, political alliances may need to be put aside and some may even need to think outside of the box and/or processes in order to do what is best for our community, its residents as well as for humanity itself. In my mind until all partnership groups are ready to genuinely come to the table these issues will continue to grow.

I know that I am willing to step up and do my part for our community.

B: Low cost housing is an interesting issue that I struggle with on a couple of fronts. First, I have yet to find a definition of ‘affordable’ for communities such as ours, and secondly Langley City is not and has not been in the business of developing/providing housing. We do have substantial rental housing that is in need of replacement. I do support the protection of existing rental stock as well as the replacement of aging inventory, but not at the expense of evicting current tenants, changes to bylaws and providing incentives can address these areas. The B.C. government has identified financing opportunities for community partners to assist in filling the housing gaps in B.C. communities.

Again, the opportunities are before us, we simply need to develop and strengthen relationships with community groups both non-profit and faith-based, the City needs to provide some flexibility and financial reward in order to address the gaps in the housing continuum.

Dave Allison:

B: I am running for council for three basic reasons #1 Protecting housing for seniors and the community. #2 Push back to some degree on the street life to insure a safe community. We need to solve the issue of a growing homeless population. #3 We need to connect youth with the community in a positive way.

The #1 issue for me is how does the future land on our senior population and those with lower incomes. I have read the Nexus of Community Plan and I don’t like the culture of this report, it in many ways is a fairy tale with a bad ending for seniors and lower income residents.

Are we going to be swallowed up by GVRD planning or are we going to stay as an independent community? We can’t have it both ways, I believe I have the courage to stand our ground to protect the day to day life of our residents especially our senior population. If life is good for seniors it is good for all. I believe the best future for the City of Langley is to solve the homeless issue and street crime and protect the community for our senior population.

I have not only talked about this, I stood my ground a little over a decade ago protecting the housing of over 100 seniors at the Lions Housing Society Complex. We stopped a development that would have seen over 100 seniors evicted. We found a better way that allowed the development without any evictions. I am not against growth, but I don’t warship on the alter of growth. If I’m elected, seniors will have a tough advocate that will stand for their interest. I make no apology for this position.

The City of Surrey and the Township of Langley are massive, their growth and development is beyond our control. To use a boxing term, it puts us on our back foot, we must endure their growth. We need to stand our ground in the best interest of our residents. If we want to maintain our quality of life we need to adjust to the growth around us. The Township of Langley and City of Surrey have a population equal to Vancouver and collectively have six times the land mass. We could end up as nothing more than a neighbourhood in an area of over a million people within a decade or so if we are not careful.

Langley City is six square miles dead center of this area, with 25,000 people already here.

We must have the courage to insure we protect our community and not fall victim to growth for the sake of growth. We need to have a measured approach to growth and go by the standard of “do no harm” when considering development. Growth cannot come at the expense of destroying lives there is always a better way we need win win alternatives.

I, with others, vetted this out for real about 12-14 years ago when we (The Rainbow Residents Association) opposed a development being proposed by the Lions Housing Society. This would have resulted in displacing over 100 seniors to accommodate a development. We opposed this in a very difficult climate. We stood our ground and stopped the evictions. We then helped with a process that allowed the objectives to be met. The construction of a new building housing seniors that need assisted living and no tenants were evicted to achieve the goal, it was a classic win win.

It was not easy however we did not destroy lives and the complex is much better off. I believe growth and development is possible, but it can’t come at the expense of peoples lives and community. There is always a way, but you can’t let the culture that wants growth to succeed at all costs if it is at the expense of community and people’s lives. I will govern based on who lives here now not for some future populations wants and needs.

I believe the City Council and the staff of the City have done a very good job and I do not feel I am running against the current council. I do believe I will bring a resolve and strength to the oversight of council going forward, I will stand for those in our community that need a strong voice to advocate for their interests.

The growing homeless population and street crime issue is the result of growth and we need to get a solid grip on these issue before simply agreeing to more development. We can’t displace people who are vulnerable, I will have to moral courage to stand by my convictions. I have proved this in the past and will do it going forward.

Randy Caine:

A) The greatest single crisis anyone can face is homelessness.

Under this threat an individual rapidly begins to lose hope. The ever increasing despair continues to undermine the mental and emotional wellbeing of that individual.

And be certain, desperate people will do desperate things. Imagine your first night curled up seeking shelter behind a dumpster. How long would you last? Cost associated with homelessness, increased health care costs, policing, crime, etc. have been placed at $100 per individual per day while housing for those less fortunate costs roughly a third of that while at the same time getting to the heart of the challenges facing these individuals.

The Housing First program in Medicine Hat is a testament to that fact.

Once lacking support from the current mayor he now speaks with pride and conviction for Housing First.

This program through its success has brought a community once overrun with homelessness to a point where all have a home.

In direct response to this, Regina and Saskatoon are following in the same footsteps. These are compassionate, caring and fiscally responsible solutions not left wing ideologies. We simply need a council that will step up. Vote for change, vote Randy Caine for councillor.

Jeff Jacobs:

A: When I talk to the people living in the City of Langley about making Langley City a more livable community, almost every person asks what are you going to do about the homeless and drug addiction problems plaguing the area.

The City of Langley already has a very high rate of police per capita with nearly half of the city’s budget currently going towards policing.

We’ve tried over the years to resolve many of the issues by increasing the number of police, to no avail.

Instead we should be taking some of those funds and invest them in support groups similar to the Intensive Case Management team that are currently in place to help address some of the homeless and addiction problems in the area.

The City is already indirectly funding many factors in regards to social housing and homelessness. With home prices continuing to rise, more and more people are finding themselves edging closer to what can eventually lead to becoming homeless. I think all levels of government need to take a more proactive approach to dealing with issues that can help prevent homelessness before it begins. Funds should be spent more on preventing homelessness instead of dealing with the aftermath.

Take, for example, places like Medicine Hat where they have for the most part eliminated homelessness.

By increasing the amount of support that is out there, combined with a timely method for getting people housed, they have found that this more proactive approach to solving homelessness in fact costs only 20 per cent of what it was costing to deal with the ongoing issues related to keeping people homeless.

It’s fiscally responsible for the City to take action in addressing these issues, as the outcome is multi-tiered with greater safety combined with a more livable community for all residents.

Teri James:

A: I believe we need to genuinely explore options for supportive housing (including low-barrier) by working with neighboring communities, Fraser Health, our MLA and MP. Affordable housing is also a key component as part of the solution, as some homeless people find themselves in their current situation due to lack of affordable housing. I would possibly suggest for this the allocation of a certain number of units per development that are designated as such.

The camping on public property and lack of washroom facilities will never be fully addressed until we collectively seek out or assist with providing housing. Drug use is an entirely different challenge, as it is an addiction and must be dealt with as such.

I think it’s important that we not lose sight of the main three reasons why people find themselves homeless – lack of affordable housing, drug use and mental health issues – and in my opinion, each issue must be addressed individually on a case by case basis.

B: Low-cost housing in the City is, in some places, being replaced by new, more costly development, while in others, it is simply deteriorating without available funding for proper upkeep.

What do you see as the City’s role in ensuring that low-income residents have access to safe, affordable housing and, if elected, what steps would you take to address the issue? We have one of the highest ratios of “low-income” housing in Metro Vancouver, but unfortunately what that translates to in some cases is run-down conditions. As these derelict locations are replaced, I would like to see the new developments be required to allocate a certain percentage of units to “affordable housing” – not to be confused with “low-income housing”, thereby providing people with affordable places to live, and more importantly, places they can be proud of and want to take care of.

Not including the issues noted above, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the City of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

I see the single greatest issue in our community being the homeless issue, and I have done my best to address this in question A.

Bruce Kilby:

A: The homeless situation is complicated having several categories that often overlap. The drug addicted are the most visible however, there are those with mental health issues, aging-out foster care youth, and even seniors who are homeless. Each category needs a comprehensive strategy involving local and senior government ministries working together to find solutions.

Langley City provided land and resources for the Gateway of Hope that was suitable when built but the need has grown with visitors from other jurisdictions. With a regional plan involving the Township of Langley and Surrey, a progressive step process could be developed from basic shelter, to counseling and rehab, to training and work placement shelters.

The Ministries of BC Housing, Health and Family Supports would be crucial in these strategies.

I support the Integrated Case Management team of Mental Health,Social Workers and RCMP who visit, counsel and offer willing participants alternative and positive lifestyle options. I feel a second team is warranted, along with additional firefighters to help save lives in the opioid crisis.

It is not the City’s mandate to provide housing, however I would support grants and tax incentives be given to support societies and agencies willing to build new or improve existing social, senior and low-income rental housing.

Taxpayers are frustrated at the disregard public camping creates. The garbage, needles and feces left behind often makes these public spaces unusable costing the city in remedial clean up.

The longer the encampments are left to set up, the more unusable the public spaces become.

I support moving them along under the provisions of the BC Supreme Court ruling. I recommend additional bylaw officers to cover weekend and after-hour enforcement and the later closing of public washrooms.

Not including the issues noted above, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the City of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Petty crime is often attributed to the drug addicted homeless. Residents want a timely response by police when reported. Overwhelmed courts are often cited as reasons for not proceeding with charges resulting in safety, and the sense of safety, being compromised. I would like to emphasize the need for enforcement or the impunity to crime will continue.

Residents feel unsafe in the downtown area, parks and flood plain paths. Highly visible bike and foot patrols by law enforcement along with criminal proceedings would go a long way in restoring confidence.

Gayle Martin:

B: There is only one low-cost housing residence, due to a fire, that has been replaced by a new development. Prior the new development being approved the City required the owner to provide a relocation plan for all existing tenants, no one was displaced.

The re development that is taking place on the western edge of the city are where the single family homes date back to the 1950s and ’60s. They are being replaced by family-oriented condominiums, which young families are moving to.

Thirty-five per cent of the housing in Langley City is rental, one of the highest in Metro Vancouver.

Many of these units date back to the 1960s and ’70s. and in some cases deteriorating. What council can do is lobby the provincial and federal governments to offer incentives to the building owners to improve the existing housing stock. Many years ago Langley City adopted a policy that existing rental stock cannot be stratified, therefore avoiding demo-evictions.

Through zoning council can also require rental-only developments, but presently there are no restrictions on rental purpose developments and many have been built over the past years. Several years ago we approved legalizing secondary suites so affordable housing would be available. Council can also require a percentage of units be designated to low-income housing. This is something I have brought to council, however to date this is not required, I will continue to pursue this.

Andrew Mercier:

A: Homelessness is the single biggest issue facing the City of Langley. Fixing the problem will require hard work and tough conversations. The City needs to take every practical step in its power towards addressing this crisis, while lobbying the provincial government for more resources to address it.

Currently, the burden is falling on community services and outreach groups that are under a disproportionate amount of pressure.

By addressing the social issues we can free up the police to deal with the crimes like the plague of auto theft occurring in the City.

I support prioritizing supportive housing. Supportive housing would ensure that people have a roof over their heads, and access to the treatment and services they need for dealing with mental health and addictions. This was the approach taken for the Whalley strip in Surrey—it has been a great success both in getting people off the street, and reducing the crime rate.

The biggest hurdle towards implementing supportive housing is the location. Langley City does not have a large land-base, and the amount of land that is directly owned by the City is small.

But this isn’t just a Langley City issue. I would advocate working with the Township and Surrey to secure land for modular-based supportive housing. It is possible to spread supportive housing throughout these communities so that they are better able to absorb the effects of their implementation. There will need to be consultations.

In the immediate term, there is still the problem of used needles and feces in public places. It is magical thinking to believe that if we leave this problem unaddressed it will solve itself. I would advocate for more needle disposal boxes in public areas and a public washroom in high traffic areas. The City must be practical about this problem.

B: Langley City is suffering an affordability crisis. The cost of rent is through the roof, and folks on the margin are at risk of losing their housing. Housing insecurity is a major issue that the next Council needs to tackle. This issue is particularly problematic for seniors in the City, as they constitute a disproportionate amount of the renting population north of the Nikomekl river.

If elected as a Langley City Councillor I would support the implementation of rental-based zoning to take pressure off the rental market. Rental-based zoning would allow the City to zone particular areas as rental-only and set parameters for the type of development permissible in those zones going forward. Significantly, the City could include an ‘affordability’ clause in the zoning bylaw which could stipulate a formula for a percentage of affordable rental units in a new development.

The trend towards replacing affordable rentals with luxury developments is counterproductive and, at the end of the day, only serves to hurt the residents of Langley City. Rental-based zoning could also be used to protect existing rentals in cases where a building is demolished for redevelopment.

I would also support creating incentives to promote the development of affordable rental-units and fast-tracking those applications. Creating affordable housing is not an area where red tape is helpful.

In terms of addressing deteriorating rental units, I would support a structured redevelopment of BC Housing properties in order to add stock and improve the quality of life of the residents who reside there—but only if this process does not displace current tenants. The City would need to work with BC Housing to ensure that this happens in a structured, managed, way.

Not including the issues noted above, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the City of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Langley City has a significant problem with auto crime that is frankly shocking. Every day that I have been out door knocking I have encountered someone who has recently had their car broken into. Having grown up in the City, I can say that I have never seen an auto crime problem this bad in Langley City within my lifetime.

There are neighbourhoods in the City that are treated as shopping malls for crime. Thieves routinely check car door handles until they find an open vehicle and then loot it for its contents. Some residents undergo multiple break-ins a month. A significant aggravating factor for this problem is that often the cost of the items stolen—an iPhone or some tools—isn’t high enough to justify the $300 deductible from ICBC.

It is easy to downplay the issue of auto crime, and dismiss it as petty property crime that is covered by insurance or blame the victims for forgetting to lock a car door, but the fact of the matter is that residents are right to demand the peace of mind of knowing that their possessions are safe while they sleep.

Langley City is fortunate to have one of the highest police-to-resident ratios in the Lower Mainland, but the resources of the police force are already under considerable pressure. The City needs to work with the police to seek creative solutions in addressing this issue so that the cost of deterrence—installing private cameras, etc—is not downloaded onto residents. If elected as a City Councillor I would support measures to address this problem, such as more resources tied specifically towards auto crime, more police drive-bys of residential neighbourhoods in the evenings, the encouragement of neighbourhood watch programs and a dedicated auto crime officer.

With SkyTrain around the corner, the need to get on top of auto crime is even more pressing. The police department in Langley needs to be prepared for the future that will come along with the vision detailed in the City’s nexus plan.

Dana Miller:

A) As a council member for the City of Langley I would communicate a multi-pronged approach to implement the 2008 submission from Stepping Stone Community Services Society that was informed by their 2006 to 2008 BC housing pilot project outreach work with 40 to 70 people who were homeless, and ensure the rezoning of the Quality Inn with 49 units, integrative health services included, expediently as people who are homeless climbs beyond 200 people, safeguard our most vulnerable populations; children and seniors, with a zero tolerance to needles in parks, and advise Fraser Health Authority their decision was flawed to house people with addictions in Evergreen Timbers with seniors.

Nathan Pachal:

A: The City of Langley is facing ever-increasing challenges with homelessness, including open drug use, camping on public property and lack of washroom facilities.

Demand for services is increasing and placing more pressure on local outreach agencies. As a council member for the City of Langley, how would you go about addressing this problem?

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Metro Vancouver has been climbing over the last decade. The Metro Vancouver Regional District estimates that 4,000 people are in immediate need of housing, and that number will only continue to grow.

Reducing homelessness is not only the right thing to do, but it is also economically prudent. When someone is homeless, it costs taxpayers on average $55,000 per year in local and regional resources. It costs $37,000 to provide that same person housing annually, a significant difference.

One municipality cannot reduce homelessness alone; it is a regional challenge, and will take local governments working together with the provincial and federal governments to tackle.

As a council, we have lobbied for a specialized provincial team to tackle these complex issues. In partnership with Fraser Health & BC Housing, we are now connecting people who are homeless with the stable housing, and health & social services that they need.

This program has been successful but is now fully subscribed.

If I am re-elected, I will continue to advocate to ensure that this program is expanded, and that other levels of government provide resources for our community to address homelessness.

I will support a Community Liaison Coordinator position in the City. This individual would work with other governments, and non-government and faith-based organizations, to make sure that resources are being delivered in the most effective way possible.

While supportive housing is funded by the provincial and federal governments, and operated by non-government or faith-based organizations, municipalities are responsible for approving zoning changes required for supportive housing.

I will advocate for new supportive housing in our regional centre as this is the only way to get people off the street and into a stable environment.

B: Low-cost housing in the City is, in some places, being replaced by new, more costly, development, while in others, it is simply deteriorating without available funding for proper upkeep. What do you see as the City’s role in ensuring that low-income residents have access to safe, affordable housing and, if elected, what steps would you take to address the issue?

There are different types of housing required for people depending on their needs. This is referred to as the Housing Continuum, which refers to everything from emergency shelters to home ownership.

This summer, Langley City council approved our new community vision called “Langley City: Nexus of Community.” Our new community vision calls for an update to both our Official Community Plan and our Zoning Bylaw. The vision notes that there are current deficiencies with our land-use bylaws such as a lack of tools to support affordable housing options that span the Housing Continuum.

As the Nexus vision moves forward, it will require public consultation early and often. If re-elected, I will work hard to make sure all members of our community have the opportunity to be meaningfully engaged in this process.

Some of the tools that I believe we need to explore include:

• Creating rental-only zones, especially along Fraser Highway.

• Developing policies to ensure that people who are currently in affordable housing are not displace.

• Providing property tax exemptions for some affordable housing projects.

• Reducing Developer Cost Charges for affordable housing projects.

• Providing zoning that supports a variety of housing types and sizes.

• Approving a bylaw to ensure that landlords keep their buildings safe, clean, and in good working order.

• Allowing “bonus density” which enables a developer to build more units of housing than otherwise permitted in a zone if the developer agrees to build or provide funding for a certain number of affordable housing units that remain affordable over time, by partnering with organization such as the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation.

Mike Solyom:

B: I think the City has a role in setting baseline requirements when it comes to approving developments, and can look to Vancouver for some inspiration, which in some cases requires at least 20 per cent of a new development be dedicated rental housing made available to low- to moderate-income households.

Some of the deteriorating homes that are replaced by new builds should be zoned as mixed-use to allow for services that can be easily reached by the tenants that move in.

This would alleviate some of the difficulties seniors with mobility issues encounter when trying to access the services they require on a regular basis. Large sections of Langley City aren’t very walkable, and more must be done to improve that.

Safety is a concern right now for many people who live in the Langley Lions, due in part from Fraser Health’s attempts to integrate mental health and addictions clients with the established low-income seniors cohort.

This stems from the fact that little housing is available for Fraser Health to work, making it difficult to keep these vastly different demographics apart.

This experiment has not had satisfactory results. The City needs to allow for proper housing to be developed to alleviate this pressure, or it must provide it itself, similar to what Surrey did this past summer.

Lastly, I think that overall the development that has been occurring recently is not using our available land as efficiently as possible.

Low density row-homes are not bringing enough supply to the market to prevent housing costs from increasing even further out of people’s reach.

The federal and provincial governments have both been attempting to cool price increases for the past two years or so with some success, and it’s time for the municipal government to start taking an active approach as well.

Not including the issues noted above, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the City of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

I see the city’s greatest challenge being a side-effect of demographics. Residents of the city are on average older and lower-income than the Township, and the trend in this direction will put greater pressure on taxpayers to fund the services that the City does and plans to provide going forward. Langley City must make itself attractive to higher income Millennials looking to start families here.

We need a more active night-life to engage locals; I look back fondly to the days of Ethical Addictions at the start of the one-way, where people of all ages could come to hang out, grab food, study, or just enjoy some late-night live music. I fully support the proposal to build a performing arts theatre in our downtown core, as the additional Demand would hopefully be enough to keep more of our restaurants and amenities along the one-way open past dusk.

Rudy Storteboom:

A: The homeless situation weighs on me everyday. I am not comfortable knowing that people are living in such desperate circumstances on my street. The cost of accommodating the increasing number of people who are “living rough” in our community continues to climb. Cleaning up homeless camps and dealing with vandalism and street crime is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Homeowners tell me their quality of life is being threatened. Though we may find room for the homeless in our hearts, we struggle with finding a place for them in our neighbourhoods or in our homes.

During my time on Council, The City of Langley has made some progress. In October 2015, when the BC Supreme Court determined to allow overnight camping in our public spaces, Langley City Council adopted the Homelessness Strategic Plan.

We have contributed land for the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope, successfully requisitioned an Integrated Case Management Team to search out and assist people who are “living rough”, introduced the opioid blocker Naloxone as a life-saving tool for our first responders, established a Bylaw for specific terms of use at Douglas Park and enhanced our Bylaw Enforcement Team with key personnel, specific training and specially outfitted bicycles.

My own efforts to establish partnerships with our local Rotary Club and TransLink so a public washroom can be provided at the city’s bus loop has not produced results. My direct requests for help from The Hon. Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing continue. There has been no progress in my advocacy to stop Fraser Health Authority from passing out syringes in our parks but my demand for a plan to collect spent needles has delivered some positive results, due in part to a funded Rig Rider collection program (please call 604-812-5277 for service). Also, I have pushed for provincial partners to sue big pharmaceutical companies and this is getting traction. Networking with the development community has introduced new ideas to our federal counterparts who recently released The National Housing Strategy.

Langley City front-line personnel and first responders deal with homeless issues everyday! Until our local government’s mandate is changed, by legislation, I plan to continue working with every tool that is currently available, in order to deal with the very difficult challenge of homelessness in Langley City.

B: Langley City is fully developed. You can’t build something new without tearing something down first.

Langley City is already a leader in housing affordability. The 1999 Official Community Plan pre-approved greater density north of the Nicomekl floodplain.

In 2006, Langley City legalized secondary residences for greater density and affordability. Last year, we approved more new housing units than ever before. Currently, Langley City has the most affordable housing available in Metro Vancouver.

Also, we have a greater percentage of supported housing per person than most regional municipalities.

While houses south of the floodplain are being renovated or replaced, older buildings north of the Nicomekl are being replaced with multi-family residences for sale or for market rent.

Langley City collects Development Cost Charges (DCCs) from these new construction buildings to pay for needed infrastructure improvements. Also, higher density attracts more and better public transportation.

Langley City has already used most of the tools that are available for municipalities to create affordable housing such as: re-zoning for higher density, providing vacant municipal land (last used for the Gateway of Hope), providing density bonuses, offering alternative development standards (virtual parking option), adjusting development cost charges, expediting development approval (fastest in the region).

Properties waiting for redevelopment are held to community standards by our Bylaw Enforcement Team. In 2015, we received national recognition for our innovative strategies to offset demolition costs in order to encourage redevelopment.

I will continue to work with our Planning Department, the development community, social service agencies and higher levels of government to be sure that all available resources are used for reasonable amount of affordable housing options. Older supportive housing will need replacement soon. The dormant Langley City Development Corporation could be to used redevelop our downtown, generate new revenue and offset property taxes.

Looking forward, we are poised at an exciting crossroad that offers incredible opportunities for new growth and redevelopment in the City of Langley. Our city is a gem in the Fraser Valley and we need experienced, caring, and visionary leaders who are able to balance budgets and harvest new opportunities while still protecting and promoting our close-knit community values.

The challenges that are on the horizon will need a team of representatives who choose to work together, to draw from available resources and to deliver new ideas that prepare us for the future.

Please remember to vote Oct. 20

Rosemary Wallace:

A:

Shortly after moving to Langley City 23 years ago I started volunteering at Saint Joes Back Door Soup Kitchen. It was set up to help the less fortunate, those that were homeless and seniors.

It was a place for soup, conversation, a place to find clothing, food and to talk to outreach workers.

The need grew over the years and more and more people came in that were struggling.

Struggling with substance abuse, loneliness and mental health. The outreach workers were doing everything in their power to help but finding resources and housing were a concern for many.

Although The Gateway Of Hope has alleviated much pressure over the years I feel that they are not equipped the ever growing need of those faced with mental health issues and substance abuse.

Homelessness is complex and every human being has a story and reason why they are homeless.

Seeing seniors living out their lives on the streets in disheartening for they are faced with so many medical issues already.

As a society we have neglected to come together in addressing and working with those who face the constant struggle of mental health and survival.

There are far too many neglected

individuals fighting to end their pain through substance abuse. Some of our vulnerable youth are becoming victims to the streets and drugs. So it is systemic, the more we ignore the stories,factors,

traumas, poverty, addiction and mental health of the individual the cycle will continue.

Municipal government has to work alongside agencies and other levels of government to find viable solutions in finding supportive housing and services to help the most vulnerable heal. The

community has the right to feel safe and protected and we need to work together in ensuring that the citizens of Langley City have the best quality of life. The Langley Youth Hub listened to the

voice of youth and worked together with other stakeholders and partner groups in affording a place for youth to have a wrap around approach to care in one place. If elected on council I would like

to continue as a region in addressing homelessness, addiction and mental health. There is a lot of work to be done and there is no easy solution.

B: Low cost housing is being replaced in the City and more people are being forced out because they cannot afford to live in costly developments.

Many residents that have lived in Langley are having to look elsewhere and the challenge for them is that there is not enough available, accessible and affordable housing options specially for those who are on a fixed income.

This puts a great deal of stress on students, families and seniors to access housing that meets their diverse needs. The cost of living, aside from housing costs, as gone up considerably and does not measure to the cost of what many people bring in, specially those working at a minimum wage.

There are many seniors on fixed incomes that are challenged to afford a decent quality of life because of the cost of housing and living.

I worry about the amount of seniors forgoing looking after their own physical and emotional needs because of the stresses they are faced with.

I am a strong believer in inclusion and seniors have a lot to offer through life experience and lived history.

We need to work together with the Metro Vancouver Regional Housing Strategy and as a City Council hold accountable those who have promised to come up with more available affordable housing. I understand the need for development and its economic benefits but also understand that the diverse needs of those living in Langley City.

We need to come up with creative affordable sustainable housing through co-op housing, housing designed to bring people together and housing that serves the needs of seniors in the community and have them feel included.

If elected I would like to work towards looking at the National Housing Strategy, Age-friendly Community Strategy and BC Housing, so to come up with solutions in affording the citizens of Langley City accessible, affordable and appropriate housing options.

Not including the issues noted above, what do you see as the single greatest challenge facing the City of Langley today and what steps would you take to address it?

Langley City is long overdue for an arts centre. I feel as an artist and someone who has invested a considerable amount of time within schools and the community creating opportunities for artists we need to have a facility that can host the expansive arts community within Langley.

I feel that in creating an arts centre much like the Cultch in East Vancouver Langley City would be able to support visual and performing artists. The Cultch has a theater space that has a max of 285 seats.

An arts centre could host theatre and music performances, film festivals, dance recitals art talks, lectures and conferences. Also a gallery space, pottery studio and artisan gift shopcould be created into the space to support local artists.

The creation of an Arts Center could be a hub of activity in its structure to be used as for educating about the arts, culture and history. It could be a hub of activity that runs 7 days a week in partnership with stakeholders who have an invested interest in the integration and showcasing of the many art disciplines. An arts center would bring others to the downtown core and wouldentice business owners to stay open longer. Although there are many logistics that go into the operating and structure of an Arts Center I believe it is time to make that commitment to come up with a business model, look to the provincial and federal governments through attaining grants that are targeted towards arts and culture. The City also has money that goes towards infrastructure from funds received from the Cascades Casino. There are philanthropists out there that believe in the value of what arts bring to a community and to the visual and performing artist.

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