Councillor Bob Long had hoped to include funding for widening a short stretch of 208th Street. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Councillor Bob Long had hoped to include funding for widening a short stretch of 208th Street. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Tax increase of 3.85 per cent coming for Langley Township property owners

The new budget is on its way to approval.

Langley Township has passed a budget with a 3.85 per cent tax increase, after cutting out or deferring a number of projects.

The possible tax increase for the year started at more than seven per cent, with increasing costs driven by provincial taxes, and an increase in salary for unionized employees.

There will be steeper increases in municipal water, sewage, and trash pickup fees, driven by increasing costs and the construction of new treatment facilities by Metro Vancouver.

The tax increase is in line with those passed in recent years, but up from the 2.47 per cent increase in 2018. Township property owners have seen increases of 3.99 per cent in 2017, 3.93 per cent in 2016, and 3.69 per cent in 2015.

One item that isn’t in the final budget plan is a widening of 208th Street.

Councillor Bob Long said he was disappointed that a widening of 208th Street between 82nd and 84th Streets couldn’t be included in the final document.

The plan was to fund the widening from development cost charges (DCCs), so it wouldn’t have made any difference to the final tax rate.

The possible widening of portions of 208th Street within Willoughby were discussed several times during the budget process, but ultimately much of the plan has been pushed off to future years.

Between the 208th Street Overpass and the Willowbrook Connector in the south, 208th Street was originally a two-lane country road with ditches and asphalt walking paths on both sides.

As houses, condos, and townhomes sprouted along the route in the past decade, developers have widened parts of the road to its full four lanes, with bike lanes and broad sidewalks. However, those improvements end abruptly where development stops, leaving the road two, three, or four lanes wide at unpredictable intervals.

Pressure from residents resulted in a phased plan under which the Township would widen some portions of 208th to finish critical sections.

But early on in the budget process, Township council voted to remove $3.1 million from the 2019 budget for studies and a small amount of construction work at 82nd and 84th Streets.

Long had hoped to see that portion, in front of Willoughby Community Hall, built soon.

“My understanding was it could have been done this summer,” Long said.

But council voted to push the start of work on 208th back to 2020.