Tuesday - June 4, 2024 - Chilliwack's rail trail may head downtown

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Good morning!

Stop! Before you scroll down to our main story, we’ve created a quiz for you to take first. Can you tell BC’s fastest-growing cities from those with the slowest growth in the province? You can take the quiz here. It sounds easy, but Grace says it’s not, because these days growth doesn’t have all that much to do with things like the local economy or attractiveness of the community. In fact, many of the fastest- and slowest-growers are located next door to one another. It should only take a minute or two. I’ll report how our readers fared tomorrow.

– Tyler

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Traffic & Weather

🌤 Local forecast: Langley | Chilliwack | Abbotsford | Hope

🚘 Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google, and find DriveBC’s latest updates.

🛣 Click here for links to road cameras across the Fraser Valley, including those for the Coquihalla, Highway 7, Hope-Princeton, Fraser Canyon, and Highway 1 in Langley and Abbotsford.

NEWS

As thousands move to Langley, Abbotsford’s growth lags

Langley is one of the fastest-growing communities in BC—and the entire country. So is Mission. Abbotsford, just next door, is very much not.

Last year, the combined populations of Fraser Valley’s five largest municipalities grew by more than 17,000.

With population growth rates near five per cent, the two Langleys along with Mission were among BC’s five fastest-growing cities between 2022 and 2023. But as they boomed, Abbotsford’s population only ticked slightly upwards. (Chilliwack grew slightly faster than the provincial average.)

Related

Need to Know

🚔 Langley City staff saying splitting Langley’s RCMP would be inefficient and result in increased costs [Langley Advance Times]

💰 Langley Township has asked the City to pay $2.8 million for RCMP costs and is threatening to sue if it doesn’t get the cash [Langley Advance Times]

🔎 Mounties say a serial killer who lived in the Fraser Valley for a decade may have committed additional crimes [Fraser Valley Today] / He was convicted of a sexual assault during his time living in Chiliwack [Chilliwack Progress Archives]

🚔 Homicide investigators are probing the suspicious death of a 50-year-old Chilliwack woman [Global]

👉 Canada’s prisons are full of ‘pretendians,’ creating conflicts as non-Indigenous offenders seek access to cultural programs [National Post]

📽 A modular addition to a Langley elementary school was hoisted into place last week [Langley Advance Times] / In January, we wrote about how modular construction could speed up school-building efforts [FVC]

👉 A UBC study suggests that buying out Sumas Prairie properties flooded in 2021 could cost $1 billion—which would be less than protecting it [Vancouver Is Awesome]

🎤 The Harrison Festival of the Arts will be back this summer with the 45th Anniversary edition. Check out all the info here!*

*Sponsored Listing

SPONSORED BY FORT LANGLEY JAZZ FESTIVAL

Announcing the 2024 Free Festival and ticketed events: July 25-28

Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere, diverse music and headliner acts - and this year is no exception. Enjoy 2 days of free music, art and culture activities

Ticketed headliner shows:

  • Tribute to Duke Ellington jazz concert

  • Cool Blues Show

  • Blues Brother Revue Show

Advertising in The Current is easier than ever and supports our journalism. Just shoot us an email to learn how you can advertise.

The Agenda

Princess Avenue in downtown Chilliwack could be turned into a one-way street to extend the city’s rail trail | 📷 City of Chilliwack

Rail trail may be extended into downtown Chilliwack

Princess Avenue in downtown Chilliwack could be the next extension to the city’s rail trail, but that would mean turning part of the road into a one-way street.

Currently, Chilliwack’s Valley Rail Trail follows the SRY line through Sardis, over the highway, and north to Hocking Avenue. The protected pathway provides a space for pedestrians and cyclists, and the city has been gradually expanding it for more than a decade. The next phase of the rail trail would see it extend from Hocking Avenue north into downtown Chilliwack, and would use Princess Avenue between Mary Street and Young Road. (A staff report did not explain exactly how it could connect the rail trail’s extension current Hocking terminus to a rebuilt Princess Avenue; the Current has asked the city for more details.) 

However, Princess Avenue is too small to accommodate both street parking and a protected path. If the rail trail were to expand, the city would need to turn Princess Avenue into a one-way street going east. Parking could be retained on the north side of the road, with a three metre trail separated by a curb and trees on the south side.

The city will now be discussing the idea with businesses in the area. An engineering report noted that traffic disruptions would likely be minimal. The proposal will come back before council at a later date for a final decision on the project.

Ottawa rejects plea for Sumas Prairie flood-prevention funding

The federal government has told the local governments of Abbotsford, Princeton, and Merritt that they won’t be getting any money to build dikes and prevent a repeat of the 2021 floods in the three communities.

At a joint news conference in Abbotsford Monday, the mayors of the three communities blasted the decision, saying the feds had failed to follow through on commitments and promises made during and after the 2021 disaster. The three mayors, along with former Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, expressed anger at the decision and a sense of betrayal.

“I’m flabbergasted,” Braun said. “To us, a person’s word means everything and we were all counting on senior government to be true to its word … to come through with funding to prevent a similar disaster from happening again. I implore the Prime Minister and Minister Blair to follow through on your personal words to me.”

The three communities had requested money through the federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to pay for dike, infrastructure, and pump station improvements to protect against a future flood. (Merritt had sought $64 million, Princeton had applied for about $22 million, and Abbotsford had requested $1.6 billion.) The municipalities were recently told their applications had failed, possibly due to a lack of information. But they said they had trouble getting in touch with federal ministers; Merritt Mayor Michael Goetz said the communities had been “ghosted” and that phone calls and emails went unreturned.

Siemens noted that no communities impacted by flooding in 2021 received funding, and questioned the fairness of the process. He said it took three months to arrange a single meeting with a government parliamentary secretary about the status of the city’s application. Siemens said the city was told a half-hour before the meeting that its application had been denied because its 500-page application didn’t contain sufficient information.

“We feel completely abandoned by our federal government,” Siemens said.

The communities can apply again, but the three mayors seemed disenchanted by the entire process at large and prospects for future funding.

The mayors of Merritt and Princeton said their communities could try to pay for flood works over time if federal funding doesn’t materialize. Siemens said Abbotsford wouldn’t be raising taxes to pay for infrastructure that should be funded by the federal and provincial governments.

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🗓 Things to do

Robot help: UFV's Dr. Amir Shabani will be holding a talk in Abbotsford on Tuesday, June 4 about his work developing social companion robots and assistive technology for Alzheimer’s patients using AI and diversity principles. Tickets are free and available online.

Soul-fired art: Brushstrokes of the Soul, an artistic dialogue between two painters, will be coming to Chilliwack's O'Connor Art Gallery on June 5. Details online.

Open Michaud House: The Langley Memorial Hospital Heritage Committee is opening Michaud House to visitors on Thursday, June 6. Check out doctor's bags, nurses' uniforms, an iron baby cradle, and photos from the hospital's history.

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