Langley’s new planner is a nearby foreigner with expertise in environmental sustainability and affordable housing.
Mayor Tim Callison’s appointment of Brigid Reynolds, a 20-year career planner, of British Columbia, Canada was unanimously confirmed Monday night by the city council. Reynolds will join the city March 29.
Her resume paralleled two of the city’s priorities — environmentalism and affordable housing — in its comprehensive plan, the guiding document for the next couple of decades. Langley, as a coastal city, has a lot of critical areas including bluffs and wetlands that must be accounted for in its planning policies. Reynolds’ career showed she had the knowledge and expertise Langley needed, the mayor said.
“She’s from a very similar background of where she lives and where she works,” Callison said.
She brings a wealth of knowledge in planning policies, according to her resume, having most recently served the Municipality of North Cowichan on Vancouver Island’s east coast since 2006 to present day. She is eligible to work in the United States.
There, she was responsible for applications, long-range planning policy and processes, with specialties in energy conservation and sustainability. For almost a decade she was the community’s energy manager and developed a program called “Better Off North Cowichan,” that promoted home energy conservation, the implementation of “green” elements into the zoning bylaw and emission reduction policy preparation.
A review of her resume revealed a long career dedicated to growth management policy adherence in Canada, low-impact environmental plans such as grant writing for public transit projects, fish habitat protection and critical areas, and supporting housing and health matters for seniors and people with disabilities.
Langley has searched for a new planner since late 2015 when former planner Michael Davolio officially resigned. From late October through February, planning duties were handled by interim planner Jack Lynch. Without him since Feb. 26, permit processing was stalled other than basic application reception.
A search committee was established to vet candidates and narrow the field of a dozen to three frontrunners before eventually making a top nomination to the mayor for consideration. Dominique Emerson, an appointed city councilwoman and a member of the search committee, echoed the mayor’s reasons for selecting Reynolds.
“She has experience in small communities, that was something that was important to us, especially communities that had a shoreline and were fairly rural, kind of our kind of place,” Emerson said.
The new planner will be responsible for taking the city’s comprehensive plan update to the end point this spring, reviewing land use/development applications, revising city code, advising the city’s planning board, arts commission, design review board and parks and open space commission, and in a semi-political capacity balancing the desire for growth with the desire for maintaining the city’s rural character.
Reynolds’ career proved to the search committee that she could handle the job, despite concern that her career was related to Canadian planning and growth policies. During an interview, Emerson said she was impressed by Reynolds’ knowledge of the Washington Growth Management Act and planning laws.
“I thought I was pretty familiar with it, but she was far more familiar with it. … She had done her research,” said Emerson, who previously served on the city’s planning advisory board that worked to adhere to the state act.
Callison said he did not ask her about controversial topics such as the once proposed funicular on the Cascade Avenue bluff or the once proposed waterfront walkway that would require eminent domain. Such projects may resurface, in time, but will involve more “bottom-up” discussion and public participation, something Callison said Reynolds’ career exemplified.