Community Update on the Township of Langley’s Ongoing COVID-19 Response

Read this community update on the Township of Langley’s ongoing COVID-19 Response and Restart plans including: essential service provision, our planning process to keep employees and community members safe, supporting local businesses, how we are safely reopening, and the next steps.

A Global Pandemic

The Township of Langley is committed to the personal, social, and economic well-being of our community members and employees. This includes providing essential services, and ensuring facilities and park amenities operate in a safe manner. This became especially important on March 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization declared the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic, and on March 18, 2020 the BC provincial government declared a state of emergency. As the pandemic continued to have a massive impact globally over the past year, the Township of Langley, along with other municipalities around the world, made difficult yet very important decisions to suspend non-essential programs and services to keep people in their communities safe, reduce virus transmission, and flatten the curve. We will continue to look to reopen services that were previously suspended when it is determined safe to do so based on public health orders and other available guidance.

Continuing Essential and Important Services

Providing essential services for community members is important.  With an increase in people staying at home during the pandemic, our employees have been focused on keeping essential services functioning while delivering other important services such as budgets, processing development and building permit applications, issuing licenses for businesses, constructing transportation infrastructure and other projects vital to support the growth in our community.

Supporting Local Businesses and Our Economy

Throughout the pandemic, the Township has also focused on the economy through support to our local business community. As the pandemic continues to have an impact on many local businesses, ongoing initiatives remain in place to provide assistance where possible. Important information and resources are available on invest.tol.ca.

A Cautious Restart

On May 6, 2020 the Province announced their four-phased 'BC’s Restart Plan'. Shortly thereafter, planning began on how the Township would safely reopen park amenities, facilities, and restart the delivery of services that were suspended because of COVID-19. The Township’s restart plan aligns with the BC Restart Plan but must also follow mandatory Public Health Authority orders, notices, guidance, and other legislated rules put in place with the ultimate goal of reducing the spread of the virus. Given that COVID continues to impact our community, we believe our cautious approach continues to be the right one for the Township.

User Groups Information

Park facility bookings for approved sport user groups was also carefully planned and introduced in 2020 and continues in 2021. Historically, user group bookings for park facilities such as baseball diamonds occurred in both neighborhood and community-level parks. To help avoid issues related to physical distancing during practice time transitions, and to ensure neighbourhood parks remain available for community members in the immediate area, some user group bookings continue to be centralized in only one park. Furthermore, park facility, pool, and arena bookings for youth sport associations are being prioritized to align with guidance from the Provincial Health Officer. To assist user groups in implementing COVID-19 protocols that are required by the various public health orders and sport-specific guidance, and to meet Township specific protocols, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has developed template safety plans that are now incorporated into the facility booking process.

Fiscal Responsibility

In correspondence and complaints received from some community members, there have been suggestions that taxes already pay for operating recreation centres and offering services, so there are no financial implications or barriers to reopening. It is important that community members understand that recreation facilities are funded and operated through both taxes and user fees.

As the pandemic progressed through 2020, the Township assessed its financial position and made difficult adjustments to its staffing levels to ensure essential services continued to be provided, while curtailing costs related to non-essential services and program delivery that were going to be impacted by COVID from a health and safety perspective.  

User fees at Township recreation facilities are heavily subsidized based on projected usage (i.e. revenue) levels. As physical distancing continues to be a requirement throughout this pandemic, usage remains substantially lower than pre-COVID-19 levels. As the Township moved through the process to develop the 2021 budget it was evident there were significant funding shortfalls. Fortunately, the Provincial government provided funding to assist with offsetting revenue shortfalls but a property tax increase was still required.

The Township strives to be fiscally responsible with our finite tax dollars, and given the Township’s reduced revenues to date, and the economic challenges being felt by many community members caused by COVID-19, prudent financial management is more important than ever before.

Provincial Vaccination Program

The government’s vaccination plan has being implemented and should be completed over the coming months. Public Health is leading this program and will provide updates to the public accordingly. For more information on the provincial vaccination effort, please visit this BC Government website. We understand there may be some assumptions that once people are vaccinated they can return to normal pre-pandemic behavior and the Township will resume our regular operations and offerings. Again, the reopening of additional Township amenities and services will be guided by Public Health orders, while incorporating some decisions we feel are best for OUR community. We are hopeful that the completion of the full vaccination process will occur as quickly as possible, but until then we must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep our community safe.

Next Steps

The Township continues to monitor and follow government and health authority orders and guidance, monitor the vaccination program and outcomes, and research and plan for the reopening of more amenities, programs, and services. It is of the upmost importance that facility rules are followed to keep our community safe. With spring now here and the summer season around the corner, we encourage all community members to get outside and explore, discover, and enjoy the Township’s 84 parks, 83 sports fields, 76 playgrounds, kilometres of walking trails, picnic areas, and more. Please visit tol.ca/parks to find an enjoyable outdoor experience for your whole family here in your own community while being safe and following guidelines.

More Information

Township of Langley COVID-19 information and updates can be found at tol.ca/COVID19, including the Township’s COVID-19 Safety Plans, frequently asked questions, recent updates, facility and park facilities status updates, and other information.  As more facilities and amenities reopen, our website remains the most up to date source of information.

Emergency Operations Centre
Township of Langley