The West Shore – news updates
Wednesday, May 9 ~ LANGFORD. An upcoming accommodation tax levy of 2% will help the City of Langford market their municipality as a tourist destination.
An accommodation tax of 2% is set to come into effect in the City of Langford starting November 1, 2018.
The new Hotel Room Tax Requisition Bylaw No 1778 was handily approved without debate at the municipality’s Special Council Meeting on April 30. First, second and third readings were done April 16.
The 2% levy will be charged on the purchase price of accommodations such as hotel room nights and Air B&B stays.
The additional municipal revenue is intended “to finance marketing of the City of Langford as a tourist destination”.
[As first published in the May 4, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]
Wednesday, May 9 ~ LANGFORD. So much to do this Mother’s Day weekend in the west shore!
Single-day tickets for the 2018 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens on May 12-13 at Westhills Stadium in Langford can be purchased through www.canadasevens.com or by calling the Ticket Rocket Box Office at 1-855-842-7575 from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
General Admission tickets are $30, with a reduced-price point of $25 for groups of 10 or more, and $35 for select Reserved seating.
In its fourth year at Westhills Stadium in Langford, the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens will also offer a unique promotion in honour of Mothers’ Day on Sunday May 13. Fans can buy three GA tickets and get a fourth ticket free when using the code MOMPLUS3 .
Organizers are encouraging fans to include this weekend of sport and celebration in the family plans this coming Mother’s Day.
Monday, May 7 ~ WEST SHORE. The next Canadian Blood Services mobile blood donor clinic in the west shore will be on Victoria Day, Monday May 21, at the usual location: Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Avenue in Colwood.
Clinic hours will be 12 noon to 6:45 pm on that holiday Monday. Appointments can be made at www.blood.ca but drop-ins always welcome. Lots of parking.
Last month, the first Grad blood donor drive held at Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood saw 82 students as volunteer donors, producing 58 usable units of blood. Most were first-time donors!
>> This article first published on page 5 in the May 4, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
#itsinyoutogive Canadian Blood Services
Saturday, May 5 ~ LANGFORD. Under bright sunny skies on Saturday May 5, a steady stream of drop-in visitors came to the Belmont Residences presentation centre on Division Avenue in Langford, 1 to 3 pm.
Otherwise surrounded by the churned-up ground of a construction zone, the sales centre is a bright modern open space, now open six days a week (Mon-Thurs and Sat-Sun), from 12 noon to 5 pm. A three-person sales team will always be on hand.
Appointments are recommended but drop-ins are welcome, says on-site Project Coordinator Cathy Noel.
The sales centre includes a complete 2-bedroom, 2-bath furnished show suite. The layout of the B1 floorplan brings you directly into the kitchen in view of the inline living/dining room area.
About 80% of the 80 units in the Phase 1 of Belmont Residences include the ‘flex room’ says Belmont Residences Sales Director Peter Gaby. There are three different 2-bedroom+flex floorplan styles, says Marcela Corzon, Director of Development, Ledcor Properties Inc.
The flex space (approx 70 sq ft) is likely to be a popular feature, situated immediately upon entry to the suite. In the show suite it’s set up as a small home office but could be used for a variety of purposes such as sewing room, exercise space, or storage.
Each of the Phase 1 of Belmont Residences condo strata units will have their own vehicle parking space. Natural gas and hot water will be included in the strata fees. Heating is by electric baseboard.
Phase 1 pre-sales start around June 9, with occupancy targeted for the first few months of 2020, says Gaby. Phase 2 will offer 90 condo units, followed by an apartment building with 156 rental units, and later on a few townhomes.
Friday, May 4 ~ LANGFORD. For fun and skill-building, about 35 youth from around Greater Victoria took part in a rubgy clinic at Westhills Stadium in Langford on Friday afternoon, May 4. The activity for girls and boys was free. Parents came to watch.
The kids had fun and professional rugby players from Canada Women’s Sevens had a chance to interact with potential new athletes.
And it was a ramp-up to the 2018 HSBC Women’s Sevens Rugby Tournament game coming up May 12-13 at Westhills Stadium by which ticket sales are one way for spectators to donate to KidSport when they purchase tickets online. www.canadasevens.com/womens
The KidSport program helps remove financial barriers to participation in a wide variety of sports, explains KidSport Greater Victoria executive director Jill Shaw. She says that last year two girls were funded by KidSport for their registration in rugby that summer, thanks to donations from ticket-purchasers in May 2017 that amounted to about $500.
“Last year KidSport overall funded a total of $400,000 to pay for sport registrations for 1,400 youth,” said Shaw, out on the Westhills Stadium field on Friday.
Canada Women’s Sevens team captain Ghislane Landry was happy to participate in the youth clinic. “We train so hard, sometimes we forget about the big picture. Activities like today are about growing the grassroots of sport,” Landry told West Shore Voice News. “It’s important to be interacting with the community,” she said before joining a group of eager youth to starting tossing around the rugby ball.
Back on February 27, the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre was officially opened on Glen Lake Road behind Westhills Stadium. Landry said at the time that the new home for rugby players would be a boon to the sport. Today she said: “Before, we were spread out across the country. This way we feed off each other and this leads to good things for the program.”
Drills, games and skill-building exercises continued for about an hour in the warmish weather under slightly overcast skies, familiarizing them with the game of rugby. The clinic was open to all interested youth.
The HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens two-day tournament next weekend at Westhills Stadium will feature 12 of the world’s top women’s rubgy seven’s teams. It’s the fourth stop in a five-stop world tour series. Rugby Sevens is a fast-paced, shorter version of traditional rugby with only seven players per side.
The 2018 series kicked off in Dubai at the end of November, followed by Sydney Australia in January 2018, Kitakyushu Japan in April 2018, now Langford next week Sat May 12 and Sun May 13, and finishes up in Paris June 8 to 10. https://www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series-seriesinfo
Thursday, May 3 ~ LANGFORD. TRAFFIC ADVISORY for May 3 & 4. This only matters if you’re in a hurry through Langford.
As first reported yesterday (with map), traffic signals are off at the intersection of Jacklin Rd & Jenkins Ave today Thurs May 3 and tomorrow Fri May 4 (7:30 am to 4:30 pm both days).
Traffic control is on site. At mid-afternoon today, the traffic delay is about 5 minutes for each direction. Pedestrian and cyclist management too.
This is ahead of the May 7 to 11 installation of underground water mains in the area (7:30 am to 4:30 pm), says City of Langford Engineering. As a landmark, this is at the Jacklin-side of the Westshore Town Centre.
Since mid-February, the closure of all Jacklin/Jenkins through-traffic to Sooke Road has seen the new Division Avenue (through the under-construction Belmont subdivision) carry traffic — without a hitch — from Jenkins (Kelly Rd) over to Jacklin at the SD62 administration building location.
The 2nd annual plant sale fundraiser for the garden project at SD62’s Westshore Centre for Learning & Training (Colwood Campus, 2139 Sooke Rd) is coming up Saturday May 12, 10am-4pm.
Grade 11 students have been busy planting under the guidance of Jennifer Freeman of Zero Mile Solutions a large variety of vegetable starts including 25+ varieties of heirloom and organic tomatoes.
“This year we have partnered with a local grower from Saanich to offer hanging flower baskets, fuscia hanging baskets, and annual flowers,” says plant sale organizer and sustainability teacher Debbie Lodewijk.
“We will have BC-grown blueberry, raspberry and strawberry plants and a selection of culinary herbs and herb garden planters,” says Lodewijk. “Saanich Native Plants will be on site with a variety of native plant species. In addition, Earl Claxton Jr who is an elder of T’sawout First Nation will share traditional knowledge about native plant species. Marge Emery will have information about propagation and care of mason bees. Judy Campbell will sell cedar wood creations her husband makes including cedar planter boxes, wishing wells, garden benches, and lattice. Local artist Rebecca Barnard will have a selection of Mother’s Day handmade cards and gifts for sale.
This year the garden project did not receive support funding from the YMCA (a spillover effect from the YMCA apparently seeing less government funding in this area), which has left the Colwood Campus project with a shortfall of $14,000 (labour and supplies) compared to last year, says Lodewijk. But some new partnerships are in the works coming up in June, she says.
Meanwhile, garden boxes that were previously being rented at Colwood Campus by members of the public are now issued to Colwood-area elementary school classes and teachers to support the demand from various schools in the district.
Blueberry, raspberry and strawberry planters can be pre-ordered by email: email@example.com
Wednesday, May 2 ~ LANGFORD. TRAFFIC ADVISORY for May 3 & 4.
Traffic signals will be off at the intersection of Jacklin Rd & Jenkins Ave on Thurs May 3 and Fri May 4 (7:30 am to 4:30 pm both days), says City of Langford Engineering. Traffic control will be on site. Some traffic delays.
This is ahead of the May 7 to 11 installation of underground water mains in the area (7:30 am to 4:30 pm).
Since mid-February during the closure of all traffic directions at Jacklin/Jenkins, the new Division Avenue that runs through the under-construction Belmont subdivision has carried Jenkins-Jacklin through-traffic from Jenkins over to Jacklin at the SD62 administration building location.
Tuesday, May 1 ~ LANGFORD/COLWOOD – WestShore. At the last minute there has been a change with the Sooke School District (SD62) setup for 2018-2019 bus registration. The online registration system will still open at 9 am on Wednesday, May 2 but routes cannot be chosen by families.
“We have been testing the bus registration system and we realized that it just wasn’t ready in time,” said SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull on Monday afternoon, April 30. “Rather than delaying registration, we decided to stick to our deadlines and use a system that we know works,” he told West Shore Voice News. “The timing is unfortunate but as of late last week, we were trying to determine a possible solution that would work for us,” said Cull.
Parents were advised by email on April 30: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, our new online route selection and registration system will not be ready this year. We want to be able to give you a program that will work seamlessly for you, and at this time, we’re not confident our new system will be able to make registration easier for you.”
As in previous years, SD62 will use the School Cash Online system for school bus registration. Registration is free. Register here http://www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation/
What does this mean for registration and bus route selection?
• Registration will open on time
• Parents will not be able to select bus routes.
• Experienced Transportation staff will place your child(ren) on the best routes as per your home address and school.
• If you register by June 1, you will be notified as to which bus routes your child(ren) will be on before the end of the school year.
• Bus passes will be handed out prior to or during the first week of school in September. Bus passes only apply to middle and secondary school students. Attendance will be taken in the elementary grades.
• Drivers will enforce passes during the first week of school in September.
“Many of our buses and routes fill quickly. Please register close to opening so that you get a spot!,” the school district wrote to parents.
Info and Frequently Asked Questions are presented near the bottom of the Transportation page http://www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation/ or contact the Transportation Department via email – firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250) 474-9845.
Monday, April 30, 2018 ~ LANGFORD. The City of Langford will be issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the retail sale of cannabis and related products, open May 1 to June 1. [View this article on its own page]
The motion was approved at a Special Council Meeting this evening, April 30. The RFP was prepared in consultation with the City’s lawyers.
Following presentation of a staff report by Langford CAO Darren Kiedyk that included details of the guiding principles for the sale of non-medical cannabis products within the Langford municipality, the motion to go ahead with the cannabis RFP was moved by Councillor Lillian Szpak who heads up the City of Langford Protective Services Committee. Mayor and Council supported the motion.
Council has now directed staff to wait to see how the Province of BC and the Capital Regional District (CRD) will be regulating and enforcing issues of cannabis odour and nuisance prior to granting any temporary use permits that are related to retail sales of cannabis and related products.
Langford says it expects the provincial government to be outlining remaining details of BC’s non-medicinal cannabis regulatory framework in “the coming months”. The federal government is coursing quickly to a July 1, 2018 cannabis legalization deadline that evolved from promises made during the federal Liberal campaign in 2015.
Langford’s guiding principles for the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use include that businesses selling those products not be located within:
• 500 metres of any other location where the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use has been authorized (with the exception of Goldstream Avenue, where two locations may be considered);
• 300 metres of any school;
• 300 metres of any group daycare;
• 150 metres of Centennial Park, Veterans Memorial Park, City Centre Park, Westhills YMCA, and regional or Provincial park, or any of the three lakes in Langford (Langford, Glen, Florence); • 50 metres of any land zoned R1 (one-family residential) or R2 (one- and two-family residential) except within the city centre.
Potential cannabis retailers will need to provide a proposed plan for financially assisting the City of Langford with policing and bylaw enforcement costs, including the costs of additional training and administration as associated with:
- Ensuring that the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use in a particular location is in compliance with the regulatory framework and all applicable city bylaws;
- Minimizing the impact on the neighbourhood of the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use;
- Addressing nuisance issues relating to public use of cannabis products for non-medicinal purposes;
- Addressing impairment issues relating to public use of cannabis products for non-medicinal purposes; and;
- Providing educational initiatives and materials associated with the above impacts are related social concerns.
Saturday, April 28, 2018 ~ LANGFORD. Belmont Residences will welcome the public to their show-home opening on Saturday May 5. The new Belmont Residences development is under construction in Langford. [View this article as a separate HTML page]
The opening of their new sales centre will be celebrated at a public event coming up Saturday May 5. The opening will feature a fully-built show home, starting at 1 pm (to 3 pm).
Belmont Residences is a new master-planned, 24-acre, 440-unit multi-phase development. Housing options include 1-bdrm (approx 622 sq ft), 2-bdrm (approx 878 sq ft), & 2-bdrm+flex (approx 1,050 to 1,224 sq ft) homes with prices starting from the low $300,000’s to low $600,000’s.
The 2,500 sq ft Belmont Residences Sales Centre features a site model showcasing one of Langford’s most anticipated new communities and detailed information about the first building. Visitors may tour a fully-furnished 2 bedroom + flex display home.
The public opening will include a preview of the new U-Bike service, which is officially expanding to the City of Langford in partnership with Belmont Residences. Visitors will be invited to grab a bike and explore the nearby neighbourhood, parks, and amenities including the adjacent Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
The sales centre is at 915 Division Avenue (corner of Jenkins Avenue), across from the Westshore Town Centre.
Belmont Residences comprise seven residential market and rental buildings targeting first-time home buyers, working professionals, and downsizers. The development is enhanced by 160,000 sq ft of commercial amenities (being developed by Crombie REIT), including a landmark Thrifty Foods spanning 53,000 sq ft.
Adjacent to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and numerous parks, lakes, and outdoor spaces, Belmont Residences is set to become a vibrant centre for the City of Langford. Calling itself the new heart of the West Shore, Belmont Residences is being seen as the ‘it’ place for those seeking an urban-meets-suburban lifestyle.
The Belmont Club area will include common spaces, kids room, music/craft rooms, and multi-purpose spaces.
[This article first published on page 4 in the April 27, 2018 print/PDF edition of West Shore Voice News]
April 26, 2018 ~ COLWOOD. Construction of a housing development that will provide 82 rental units in Colwood is well underway. [View this article on its own page]
The Helios project at 2006 Sooke Road in Colwood will provide rental options families, seniors and people with disabilities. The BC Government is partnering with Pacifica Housing and the City of Colwood for the project that is expected to be complete by summer 2019. Construction is already underway by contractor Townline Housing Solutions.
The Province will provide $8.4 million in capital funding and $10.2 million in construction financing. The City of Colwood will contribute $328,000 through their affordable housing reserve fund. Pacifica Housing has provided the land valued at approximately $4 million (12 aging townhomes of the Helios project are now being replaced on that land with the 82 new units).
Demand for rental housing is considered to be at crisis levels in urban centres in BC. Through the new Building BC Community Housing Fund, government will invest close to $1.9 billion over 10 years to deliver safe, secure and affordable housing for BC renters.
“Our community has been struggling under the weight of this housing crisis, along with the rest of the province, for far too many years,” said Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin. “I am excited for the people who will be living in these homes. Our government is working hard to create the partnerships needed to build even more projects like this to help people find a place to call home.”
The project is situated on the well-travelled Sooke Road (Hwy 14) across from Royal Roads University. This offers transit accessibility and is considered walkable to Colwood’s commercial core.
“Colwood is proud to support Pacifica Housing on the construction of 82 affordable rental units at Helios in Colwood,” said Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton. “Current housing costs and low vacancy rates can make homelessness a frightening possibility for people with low or moderate incomes. The kind of safe and affordable housing Pacifica provides is the foundation people need to build the life they envision for themselves and their families.”
Helios will include homes of various sizes, from studios to three-bedroom units aimed at low-to moderate-income households. The projected range of monthly rent levels is broad: Studio $825; 1-bedroom $950; 2-bedroom $1,225; and 3-bedroom $1,575. Operated by Pacifica Housing, the project will include pedestrian walkways, a playground and community gardens.
“We are thrilled to be working with our partners to increase the affordable housing stock for families in the Western communities,” said Dean Fortin, executive director, Pacifica Housing. “People should be able to work in the communities where they live, and projects like Helios make that possible.”
“A variety of housing is essential to the growth of Colwood,” says Colwood Councillor Rob Martin. “Colwood City hall will need to continue working with our development community to create affordable, accessible housing that allows tenants and owners to age in place, and to provide supports for this to be successful,” said Martin.
Vancouver-based Townline Group of Companies (contractor Townline Housing Solutions) is building the new 82 rental home Helios project at 2006 Sooke Road in Colwood.
“To address the issue of housing affordability for British Columbians, the Province is curbing speculation in BC’s housing market and building 114,000 affordable market rental, non-profit, supported social housing and owner-purchase housing through partnerships. Budget 2018 launched the largest investment in housing affordability in BC history — more than $7 billion over 10 years.” ~ BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
April 26, 2018 ~ WEST SHORE. You can check out the SD62 2018-2019 school bus route for your child ahead of the online registration that starts Wednesday May 2 here: www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation
There are two new buses and at least one new route starting this fall.
This is the first year that routes are posted ahead of the registration period, so that parents have time to study the routes and plan the ways their child(ren) will get to school each day.
It’s also helpful to the school district to have user-load analysis established before the start of school in September. This helps with decisions about any needed route adjustments, bus driver staffing, fuel cost management, etc
West Shore Voice News provides regular coverage of Sooke School District 62 news and governance. SD62 provides public education to families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca up to Port Renfrew. Schools are located in Langford, Colwood and Sooke.
Sunday, April 22 ~ LANGFORD. Improved access to post-secondary education and training for people living in the fast-growing west shore and Sooke communities will be explored by developing a community solution, the BC Government announced this week.
“I’m excited that we’re engaging with community partners to improve access to post-secondary education and training,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.
For this project, Royal Roads University (RRU) will receive $250,000 from the province on behalf of the three public post-secondary institutions on southern Vancouver Island. RRU has been charged with managing the development of a report for potential program delivery options in Langford, based on need.
RRU is the appropriate choice to lead the study, says RRU President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon. RRU has a successful track record for offering a unique, applied, demand-responsive, ‘change maker’ approach in its academic model.
“I welcome the ministry funding and opportunity to work with other post-secondary institutions and community partners in the region,” says Cahoon. Community partners for this initiative include students and parents, Sooke School District 62 (SD62), West Shore municipalities, Royal Roads University, Camosun College, the University of Victoria and First Nations. The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training will also be involved in the local planning process.
Cahoon sees the initiative leading to the creation of a solution that meets the post-secondary educational needs of fast-growing west shore which includes Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, Highlands and View Royal.“This is about supporting a community need with a collaborative approach and innovative solution. That’s a net gain for everyone, especially for students and families,” he said this week.
In 2017, the west shore area had an estimated population of about 74,000, while Sooke has a population nearing 14,000. For the City of Langford (itself with a population over 40,000) the annual average population growth rate over the last 10 years was 4.7%, making it one of the fastest growing regions in BC.
“We need to guarantee easy affordable access for our students to post secondary education,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young. “The west shore and Sooke are 19% below the average for students transferring on to university and we must remove the barriers and find the solution to get more students from Langford and westshore area to enroll in post secondary,” he said this week.
“We’ve been looking at ways to advance the delivery of post-secondary education and training to programs in the west shore for a number of years,” said Mayor Young. “It makes a lot of sense to give students pursuing a post-secondary education the opportunity to do that in the community they live in.”
“Giving our students the ability to transition to post-secondary education or training, while continuing to live in their home community, is a great option,” said SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. “Students can stay in a familiar place where they are comfortable, continue working locally and potentially save money by living at home,” said Cambridge.
Not all Grade 12 grads go on to post-secondary right away. As of 2013-2014, the provincial average of Grade 12 grads going directly into post-secondary in September following their June graduation was 49.7% while SD62 only saw a 38% transfer rate.
According to BC Ministry of Education stats, after two or three years (for employment, travel or life in between), there is also a significant number of high school grads who return to the education system in post-secondary.
Sunday, April 22 ~ COLWOOD. Colwood Councillor Rob Martin (a 2018 mayoralty candidate) is challenging the municipality’s OCP process. Martin will be requesting at Colwood Council on Monday April 23 to allow a late addition agenda item that will put forward a motion to suspend the future Official Community Plan (OCP) process until after the October municipal election.
“The building of the new Official Community Plan has been a 2-year process that falls perfectly within the window of the next municipal election period. This is an excellent time for the community, through the election process, to decide how Colwood will look and grow moving forward for the next decade,” said Rob Martin this weekend. “I believe there are some philosophical and policy decisions that need to be highlighted and debated in the coming election. By postponing the future OCP process to after the election, this will allow candidates to deliver their vision of Colwood’s future,” he said.
“Staff have worked hard developing our newest OCP,” says Martin. He calls the OCP “a collaboration of input from the political, public and staff”. However, Martin says that as he continues to have numerous meetings with members of the community ” it appears that significant changes are needed to the draft OCP”. He says: “These are political decisions which the Mayor and Council should be debating during this election cycle.”
The development community was represented by development consultant Mark Holland at earlier council meetings, expressing first generally and then in great detail about various aspects of the OCP that would contribute to housing unaffordability in Colwood at it grows forward.
Sunday, April 22 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. The Capital Regional District (CRD) has launched a new set of climate action activity kits in partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL). Climate Action To-Go Kits are available in all 12 branches of the GVPL as well as the Sooke, Sidney/North Saanich and Port Renfrew branches of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, the Salt Spring Island Public Library and the Camosun College Library.
Available to borrow from libraries across the region, these take-home kits contain a range of practical tools and activities that will help residents learn about and take action on climate change in their everyday lives.
“Our Climate Action To-Go program is a highly interactive way for residents to better understand how their household can reduce energy use and prepare for the realities of climate change in the future,” says CRD Director Judy Brownoff, chair of the region’s Environmental Services Committee. “Earth Day is the perfect time to re-launch these kits in our region, building on the past success of this program with a number of new tools focused on transportation and climate adaptation.”
Each updated Climate Action To-Go Kit gives residents the opportunity to:
• Measure their home’s optimal lighting using a digital illuminance light meter
• Measure their household’s appliance electricity use with a Kill-A-Watt meter
• Discover air leaks in walls and around windows using a thermal leak detector
• Tune up a bike or track steps while learning about local active transportation routes
• Test showerhead water efficiency
• Learn about expected climate changes while preparing for both adaptation and emergencies
“These kits provide the public with free tools and information to monitor—and ultimately adjust—the consumption of valuable resources,” says Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library. “They connect learning with action.”
‘Arise’ will feature art, silent auction, live entertainment, appies from 7 pm to 11 pm. Being held at the Royal Colwood Golf Club, 629 Goldstream Ave.
Wednesday, April 18 ~ LANGFORD. The face of Langford continues to rapidly evolve. And people are getting used to it. On Monday evening April 16 at Langford Council, the Public Hearing on rezoning of several properties in the 2600- and 2700-blocks of Sooke Road (Bylaw 1767) was relatively tame.
The proposed zoning change from C3 (District Commercial) and CS1 (Service Commercial) along that stretch of mostly old commercial buildings and long-time services would see a new C9 (Community Town Centre Pedestrian 9) designation. That would allow for a mixed-use development that may primarily include high density residential as well as commercial.
New development along that stretch of the well-travelled Sooke Road would probably be a visual improvement in the older neighbourhood.
There was discussion of setbacks and sound barriers. The cluster of current properties, under rezoning, would as a unit back onto Page Road near Glen Lake Road. All of this is situationally near the intersection of Happy Valley Road (across the street from the proposed new development). The Galloping Goose trail would run behind the proposed property development.
The maximum height of a future development there would be 6 storeys, said developer Jim Hartshorne (on behalf of Oakcrest Estates). He addressed Council in a brief followup to questions that arose during the public hearing. Hartsthorne also said that providing adequate parking would be a key limitation on density. Adjacent road paving and road safety improvements as well as some drainage improvements are part of the mix.
Council approved 2nd and 3rd reading of Bylaw 1767.
The City of Langford does well by developers. If this project is approved, amenity contributions from the developer would be $2,684 per new residential unit ($2,074 to the General Amenity Reserve Fund, and $610 towards the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund). As market-housing units, these costs eventually get passed onto the homebuyer.
Sunday, April 15 ~ LANGFORD. Construction of the 160,000 sq ft Belmont Market project at Jacklin Road and Division Avenue in Langford is moving along rapidly, announced developer Crombie REIT this week.
Phase 1 of the commercial development will consist of over 74,000 sq ft across 14 storefronts, opening in Fall 2018.
Confirmed tenants (as of April 2018) include: Thrifty Foods, Scotiabank, A&W, Westland Insurance, Great Clips, Edo Japan, Fatburger, and Good Earth. Other tenants joining Belmont Market in later phases include KFC, Eye Etiquette and Anytime Fitness.
The Belmont Residences 440-home community (284 market homes and 156 rental units) is being developed on 24 acres at the same location by Ledcor Property Development.
>> As first published in the April 13, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News
Thursday, April 12 ~ NATIONAL (reporting from Langford). Worldwide attention has been paid all week to the tragic crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team. Of the 29 passengers on the bus, 16 died.
The bus collided with a semi-trailer unit include 10 players, the bus driver, two coaches, the athletic therapist, a volunteer statistician and a broadcaster. The truck driver had two weeks driving experience for driving a truck of that size. The driver of the semi was not injured but is now receiving trauma counselling.
RCMP had initially indicated 14 fatalities having occurred as a result of the Friday April 6 crash. But by the next afternoon, police said in a news release that another person had died (due to a mixup in identities by medical personnel). This week, on Wednesday April 11, athletic therapist Dayna Brons, 26, who had been injured in the crash, died in hospital. She had been the only woman on the bus.
The 13 others on the bus were injured, some of them critically. At least one has a broken back and will not be able to walk, but he is already talking about taking up Paralympic hockey.
The first funeral of more to come was held today April 12 in Humboldt.
A crowd-source funding page on Go Fund Me — for victims and those impacted by the crash — is at https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos .
The page was started by a hockey mom with the Humboldt Broncos Jr Hockey Association Inc within hours of the crash. Now just over five days later, the $4 million goal on that page has been immensely exceeded, reaching $9,888,498 by about 3 pm PDT.
There have been 117,258 donors contributing to the support fund as of this afternoon. The list includes families, individuals, hockey clubs and sports teams, businesses (including a bank branch, car dealerships and travel agency, a couple of Tim Hortons franchises, health associations and schools, professionals including a financial services company and the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and the Toronto & Area Road Builders Association.
The donations made today range from $5 to $5,000. Most are in the $20 to $250 range. Many are made in a person’s name but some are anonymous whether the amounts are large and small.
Hockey sticks are being laid to rest against walls, porches and public places. It’s a gesture of empathy and support has been adopted worldwide following this tragedy, showing support for the families, friends and team-sport community that has been impacted by the crash. Today April 12 people were asked to wear hockey jerseys to demonstrate their support.
Weather conditions were bright and clear on the day of the accident. But the corner at Hwy 35 and Hwy 335 in northern Saskatchewan has been considered by locals for years to be a dangerous one due to crossing management (a stop sign for one highway but through-traffic for the other) and a tall stand of old-growth trees that might be found to have blocked the sightlines for traffic from one or both directions.
Friday, April 6 ~ The District of Metchosin was recognized as being ‘age-friendly’ in 2012 when it was established (as one of 45 communities in BC) with a Provincial Age-friendly Recognition Award. And they keep up the good work.
Metchosin offers their facilities, assets and staff to provide support for seniors within the community, including:• Metchosin, Arts and Culture Association (MACCA) – The District provides space in the 1914 portion of the School to the Association www.metchosinartcentre.ca• Metchosin Community House – The District provides the ‘House’ to the Association through a service agreement https://sites.google.com/site/metchosincommunityassociation/ • Seniors Resource Information Centre (SIRC) – The District has a service Agreement at $15,000/year to provide deliverables to support seniors www.metchosinseniors.ca
In addition, the above organizations work with the Metchosin Fire Department and Emergency Operations Centre to: • Ensure they are aware of frail and potentially vulnerable residents; • Participate as a resource to the Care and Compassion and the Emergency Support Services units; • Promote emergency preparedness programs for seniors • Collaborate to provide programs (e.g. flu shots).
On this 2nd anniversary of the on-duty death of Cst Sarah Beckett, the ceremony will be held in the lobby at the West Shore RCMP Detachment in Langford at 12 noon.
Beckett will be recognized and remembered on the Wall of Honour.
As space will be limited, it is requested the public respectfully provide space within the foyer for family, RCMP members, and invited guests.
“We cannot thank the community enough for the outpouring of support they have given us since Sarah’s death. Sarah was killed two years ago but it seems like yesterday for us. This is a chance to give her the honour she deserves,” says Constable Matt Baker of the West Shore RCMP.
The lobby will be remain open throughout the day and during business hours for anyone who wishes to view the Wall of Honour and offer their respects.
Wednesday, April 4 ~ LANGFORD. A groundswell of discontent has arisen in Langford over the BC NDP Government’s housing policy.
Set off by a public and political vocal backlash about the BC Speculation Tax that was allowed room to grow for about five weeks between rollout of BC Budget 2018 and a fuller explanation of tax implementation, now the complaints are widespread about housing. The cost to build housing and the prices at which market homes must sell… these are economic issues of supply and demand.
The pushback is coming not just from those who will be directly affected by the tax that sees vacant homes. It’s also from the developers who produce homes and rely on a marketplace that can afford them, including Realtors who will feel the squeeze in trying to sell continually more costly homes. In Langford, about 70% of residents are homeowners. The Westhills area alone sells about 150 homes per year.
Now the City of Langford — the fastest growing municipality in BC — has broken ground at a formal level, their Council agreeing at their April 3 regular council meeting to write a letter to the BC Ministry of Finance requesting that Langford be exempt from the Speculation Tax. Further to that, Langford Mayor Stew Young on behalf of the city was authorized by his council to write a letter to the Minister of Finance Carole James and BC Premier John Horgan expressing concerns over the tax. And on top of all of that, Council hopes that the entire Capital Regional District (CRD) will be excluded from the Speculation Tax or that the Province will consider allowing municipalities within the CRD to opt-in or opt-out of the tax on a case-by-case basis.
Clearly leading Langford in its fast-paced economic growth in recent years, Langford Mayor Stew Young said at council last night that Langford attracts investment from outside the region as a way to help the economy. The Speculation Tax is already spooking would-be buyers from Alberta and beyond. Young feels that other Canadians should not be pushed away from BC, that the tax was supposedly originally intended to eliminate speculation by foreign buyers.
At the council table, Mayor Young suggested that perhaps those who have written the new tax details at the Finance ministry are missing the impact of the consequences of their policy-driven paperwork, that “they don’t understand, or perhaps they don’t own homes”. Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak pitched out “what happened to co-op housing and rent control?” as two examples of “housing choices that are missing in their plan”.
After hearing presentations from developers, the president of the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB), and others on the supply-side of the housing equation, Langford Council readily adopted this break-rank move to be the first municipality in BC to formally oppose the Speculation Tax. However the part about getting the CRD on board -– not so much, said Councillor Denise Blackwell, who reminded fellow councillors that due to the governance structure of the CRD board that Victoria and Saanich (which of all CRD municipalities are probably feeling the most pressure on housing affordability and supply) have the majority of votes at the CRD board table. And Mayor Young said that in his recent meeting with the Finance Ministry that there didn’t appear to be much room for sway.
Keeping in mind that this was in March at the tail-end of the winter season in which the housing market is in its usual pre-spring quiet zone, Westhills reports a 20% drop in visits to their show homes (detail update since last night) and a 15% drop in visits to their website in recent weeks . “The market doesn’t like uncertainty,” said Dale Sproule, Manager of Real Estate Sales & Marketing , Westhills Land Corp. “The best way to keep the housing crisis in line is to have more product, not more taxes,” he told Council.
VREB president Kyle Kerr said that a 10% drop in housing values would result in a $90 billion loss in equity across the province. However, he reiterated what housing analysts have long surmised, that housing values in south Vancouver Island will always see high demand due to desirable geographical factors. Indeed, house prices went up again in March 2018 to now an average sale price of $903,052 in overall Greater Victoria (up over $26,000 in one month from the February overall average sale price of $876,397). The west shore breakdown for March 2018: $754,867 in Colwood (12 sales), $723,450 in Langford (53 sales), and $554,704 in Sooke (27 sales).
In that light, like all the other speakers, Kerr concluded that increased supply is the way to maintain an active market. He noted that some homeowners are now not able to renew their mortgages under present market conditions. Since last fall, the dampening effect of the mortgage qualification ‘stress test’ effective January 1, 2018 coupled with now three interest rate hikes since summer 2017 has had the Bank of Canada’s desired impact of putting the brakes on an overheated (over financed) housing market. Naturally, the developers and Realtors are going to squeal at the impact.
The BC Real Estate Association in their April 4 Market Intelligence report calls the BC Government’s attempt “ to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policy” would cause home construction activity to “fall dramatically” and that home builders would cut back production 25%. “That’s 10,000 fewer housing starts in the first year alone,” says BCREA, saying the overall impact of the new housing policy will have a “negative shock” on home prices that would impact both homeowners and renters. BCREA reports are penned by their chief economist Cameron Muir and economist Brendon Ogmundson.
Last week, Finance Minister Carole James clarified that the speculation tax applies only to non-residents with multiple properties that are sitting empty in major urban centres. “Home prices didn’t spike overnight, and our housing problems can’t be fixed with a single budget,” she said.
In the BC Government’s 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in BC a $6.6 billion investment over 10 years to deliver 114,000 affordable homes is listed, intended to “fill gaps in the market including homes for growing families, home for seniors, housing options for women and children fleeing violence, and homes for students”. Rental units for “the missing middle” defined as “skilled workers” are being addressed with $378 million over three years and over $1.8 billion over the next 10 years. None of this directly addresses the supply side of the traditional mainstream real estate market that the developers and Realtors are calling the alarm on. But if the provincial government fully intends on dampening house prices (hand in hand with federally-imposed efforts that seem to be working), it seems they have indeed already stepped on the toes that make housing happen.
Saturday, March 31 ~ WEST SHORE. Even though schools were closed for the second week of spring break, the BC Ministry of Education delivered funds.
An announcement of $3,381,049 was made for Sooke School District 62 (SD62) which serves schools in the west shore — the fastest growing school district on Vancouver Island. These are capital funds that were first applied for in June 2017, finally coming through for 2018-2019. It will help SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull update his budget documents for presentation to the SD62 board at their April 10 Education Committee of the Whole for further discussion.
CAPITAL FUNDS FOR SOOKE SCHOOL DISTRICT SD62 (2018-2019):
- $1,250,000 in School Enhancement Program funding for building enclosure upgrades at Ruth King Elementary, and dust collection system upgrades at Dunsmuir Middle, Spencer Middle, and Edward Milne Secondary.
• $475,396 in School Bus Replacement Program funding for three replacement busses.
• $1,655,653 in Annual Facilities Grant (AFG) funding, which flows to the Sooke School District annually for routine school maintenance costs.
These funds are for building envelope improvements, the purchase of three replacement busses in the SD62 30-bus fleet, and building maintenance of the 27 schools that SD62 owns and operates in the west shore (Langford, Colwood and Sooke).
This latest funding announcement comes on the heels of the ‘bonus’ funding that SD62 has enjoyed in recent months. Just before Christmas, $23.3 million was received from the BC Government to buy land on which to build two new schools (one elementary, one middle) in the expanding Westhills area of Langford, and $23.2 million earlier this month to expand Royal Bay Secondary by almost half its size again (up from 800 seats to 1,400 by Sept 2020).
“The $1,655,653 received as the Annual Facilities Grant (AFG) is the first year it has increased a tiny bit,” says SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, explaining that the grant hasn’t increased in almost a decade despite expansion of the school district in terms of both student count and number of schools. Almost 400 more students are expected to be registered in SD62 for September 2018, over and above the approximately 10,500 students in schools this 2017-2018 academic year.
“The bus fleet is getting younger,” said Parmar. Getting three new buses will decrease the average age of busses in the SD62 fleet. There is one more bus in total this year in the fleet, to help accommodate the student population increase.
SD62 will be dealing with a few dents in the operating side of the budget in 2018-2019, said Parmar. With the changeover of Medical Service Program (MSP) fees for SD62 employees from 50% (of current rates) in 2018 then switching to the Employer Health Tax in 2019, there is a crossover phase to carry that cost. And less will be paid by Camosun College starting Fall 2018 for their leased Neighbourhood Learning Centre space at Belmont Secondary, as they give up use of that space during the day for regular use by Grade 9-12 students; Camosun classes tend to be popular in the evening. Some of that dip in operating revenues will be assisted by the Next Generation Network Wi-Fi costs being covered by the government (until now SD62 had to pay that), Parmar explained.
Thursday, March 29 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. TRAFFIC ADVISORY extended to April 4 through Easter Weekend
>> Lane shifts continue on Highway 1 at Admirals/McKenzie
Drivers are advised to watch for temporary shifts in the travelling lanes on Highway 1 as work to connect and test the below-ground watermain system continues on the McKenzie interchange during the Easter long weekend, the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure advised today, March 29. This was previously projected to wrap up March 30.
For southbound traffic, the highway will continue to have jogs on either side of the Admirals/McKenzie intersection. Northbound traffic has a minor diversion north of the intersection. At night, this winding route takes a bit of extra caution and attention while crews continued their work.
These temporary alignments are designed for motorists to pass through safely at 50 km/h. Drivers are asked to keep moving through the construction site while following signs, watching for workers and obeying the construction speed limit of 50 km/h.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure thanks motorists for their patience while this work is completed.
Thursday, March 29 ~ WEST SHORE. The Easter long weekend is coming up March 30 through Monday April 2. Various communities are having family-style Easter egg hunts and it’s a popular weekend for family visits and travel.
This week ahead at the Pilgrim Coffee House in Colwood they’re recommending a moment of reflection, humbly posted at their coffee-cream station in their little shop at 1910 Sooke Rd:
“Hit your pause button for a minute. Think about hope. Maybe you need it, or a friend. Maybe the community, country and world are in need of it. What if we all built on hope resurrecting new life in the places that need it most.”
The Pilgrim Coffee House page on Facebook often has thoughtful posts each week.
Pilgrim Coffee House hours this Easter long weekend are Good Friday March 30 (8am to 5 pm), Saturday March 31 (7am to 6 pm), and Easter Sunday April 1 (8am to 5pm). Closed on Easter Monday April 2, for a pause.
The long-time forest-scene mural on the walls at Pilgrim will updated this spring. Stay tuned on that!
LANGFORD / Millstream Overpass for March 28 & 29
Today Wednesday March 28 & Thursday March 29: additional lane closures in southbound lanes on Millstream Overpass for installation of curbs and sidewalks. Expect traffic delays.
If travelling from areas north of there (e.g. Costco/Millstream Village, Bear Mountain, Highlands), it is suggested by the City of Langford Engineering folks that you use the Leigh Road Interchange for access to Hwy1.
More news about the Millstream Overpass upgrades was published in the WSV March 23 weekend digest (pg 1).
Sunday, March 25 ~ WEST SHORE. The collection tally at the March 19 west shore blood donor clinic in Colwood was 91% of target (92 units collected). That’s even with the donor attendance goal of 101 being surpassed.
There were 10 deferrals, often due to people having travelled and not enough time passing before they are again allowed to give blood. https://blood.ca/en/blood/abcs-eligibility
Typically, only 50% of Canadians can donate at any given time and 1 in 60 actually do, says Ann Chabert, Territory Manager, Canadian Blood Services.
An upbeat community spirit was palpable in the room at Church of the Advent where the complex mobile unit was set up on Monday. People were cheerily greeted, directed to the computer-station check-in, and comfortably seated in the waiting area. Nurses worked the room to screen donors, draw blood, and help with any followup health issues. Technicians stacked the drawn blood on refrigerated trays. Volunteers helped with cookies and juice.
The next two west shore region clinics are on Mon April 9 at the Sooke Legion 12:30-7:30pm, and Mon April 23 at Royal Bay Secondary, 9-4.
Sunday, March 25 ~ WEST SHORE. What does it matter that the long-time format of holding a monthly Education Committee of the Whole (ECOW) meeting is getting replaced with two new committee meetings each month?
With only about three months left in the 2017-2018 academic year, Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Superintendent Jim Cambridge sees it as a way to receive more input from stakeholders, including parents. “The board is working on being more transparent,” said Cambridge in his report at the March 13 SD62 board meeting.
The new Education Policy Committee will meet on the first Tuesday each month, the new Resources Committee will be on the second Tuesday, with public board meetings on the third Tuesdays.
Education Policy Committee discussions will include student education and school district policies, in other words “how and why we do our business,” said Cambridge. Resource Committee discussions will include budget, transportation, and capital programs. A few trustees will sit on each committee. Reports and “possible motions” will come forth from committees to the board, which could consolidate any remaining policy threads under Cambridge (2009-2018).
The ECOW on April 10 at Journey Middle School is the last ECOW. ECOWs have also been an opportunity for trustees and the public to tour each school location where the meetings were held, with the principal at each school having that opportunity to showcase the school and the achievements of students and teachers.
Friday, March 23 ~ GREATER VICTORIA.
TRAFFIC ADVISORY – March 24 to 30
Lane shifts returning to Highway 1 at Admirals/McKenzie
Drivers are advised to watch for temporary shifts in the travelling lanes on Highway 1 as work continues on the McKenzie interchange, the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure advised today, March 23.
From Saturday, March 24, through Friday, March 30 while the water main system is connected and tested, traffic will run on the same temporary alignment that was put in place for a limited time in February.
For southbound traffic, the highway will have a bend on either side of the Admirals/McKenzie intersection, and northbound traffic will have a minor diversion north of the intersection.
These temporary alignments are designed for motorists to pass through safely at 50 km/h. Drivers are asked to keep moving through the construction site while following signs, watching for workers, and obeying the construction speed limit of 50 km/h.
>> Photos of construction zone on Hwy 1 near McKenzie Interchange [West Shore Voice News – March 23, 2018]
Tuesday, March 20 ~ BC. There will be a test of the BC Emergency Alerting System at 1:55 pm PDT on March 21, 2018.
The test is being conducted by Emergency Management BC.
This is part of a Canada-wide Alert-Ready system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent and possible.
Please note that text messages will NOT be tested at this time. Testing of wireless alerts will begin in May 2018.
You can currently expect to receive emergency alerts via Canadian radio and TV, cable and satellite operators.
Alert Ready is a Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts.
Monday, March 19 ~ LANGFORD. A stabbing in the early morning hours of Saturday March 17 outside the Langford Lanes bowling alley on Langford Parkway is being investigated by West Shore RCMP. One man was left with stab wounds to his upper body after a confrontation with one other man. The victim was transported to local hospital in stable but serious condition.
The two men were in a verbal argument which led to a fight, resulting in the victim suffering several stab wounds. The suspect fled the area prior to RCMP arrival. A police dog was set out to locate the suspect but was unsuccessful. There is no threat to the general public, says West Shore RCMP.
The West Shore RCMP Major Crime Unit is spearheading this investigation with the assistance of Island District RCMP Forensic Services. “We continue to follow up on leads and interview potential witnesses. Although we have identified a suspect and are actively looking for him, the investigation is ongoing and are looking for the public’s assistance with any information they have,” says Cst. Matt Baker, media rep, West Shore RCMP.
If you have any information about this investigation, contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online www.victoriacrimestoppers.ca .
UPDATE March 20: On March 19 the West Shore RCMP arrested the suspect in the March 17 Langford Lanes bowling alley stabbing. The accused is 20 year old Austin Bonner who was held over night and appeared in Colwood Provincial Court where he was charged with aggravated assault. The victim remains at a local hospital in stable but serious condition. The accused and victim were known to each other.
Sunday, March 18 ~ WEST SHORE. Construction of the new Millstream Fishway to help with salmon preservation is slated to start in July.
The fundraising goal of the Peninsula Streams Society is $205,000 to match the Dept of Fisheries and Oceans RFCPP funds for 2018-19. They are currently one-third of the way there. Some funding is confirmed, some has been requested, and some still needs to be found. Total project cost is about $450,000. Some of that has already been raised and spent in 2017-18 on design work.
“Bottom line, we are within sight of the goal to begin construction in the coming 2018-2019 fiscal year,” says Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce. On March 14 a cheque for $7,500 was presented to Peninsula Streams by the Esquimalt Anglers Association whose volunteers also donate “a lot of hours” at Goldstream Hatchery.
“People understand that salmon enhancement is truly a regional issue. The Millstream Creek is not in Esquimalt but they recognize that projects of this kind support salmon fishery throughout the south Island.
“Stepping up”, explains Ian Bruce, is a deliberate pun. The Peninsula Streams Society is working with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Society and others to build the fishway (a series of concrete steps) that will enable coho salmon and cutthroat trout to get further up the Millstream Creek.
Currently, fish passage is blocked at Atkins Road by a large perched culvert that is too high up for the fish to jump into. The fishway will allow the fish to continue upstream, gaining access to an additional 8 km of habitat.
In total, Peninsula Streams Society is seeking 15 ‘step sponsors’—one per step—who will each contribute $7,500 towards the project costs, as well as smaller donations from groups and individuals. Esquimalt Anglers are the fifth group to contribute. Other step donors include Trotac Marine Ltd and Ralmax. Municipalities including the City of Langford, as well as Ecoasis at Bear Mountain, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation have also contributed to the project.
Sunday, March 18 ~ LANGFORD. An increase in the number of Langford residents seeking assistance with federal programs has prompted a change in hours at Alistair MacGregor, MP’s constituency office in Langford.
Effective Tuesday March 20, Alistair MacGregor’s Langford community office will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 am to 3 pm. The office which is at 3202B Happy Valley Rd (corner of Sooke Road) will also accept appointments for outside of those drop-in hours.
MacGregor’s team can help constituents with inquiries relating to federal programs and services, such as: • Immigration and citizenship applications • Visitor visas and Canadian passports • Employment Insurance, income taxes, other federal taxes & benefits • Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security • Veterans Affairs • Federal Funding.
“I am here to ensure that my constituents of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford have a strong voice in Parliament and I encourage constituents to contact my office with any federal concerns,” stated MacGregor. “When I am not in Ottawa, I am always happy to meet with residents of Langford and discuss how we can build a better Canada,” he said this week.
MacGregor’s office can be reached by phone at 1-886-609-9998 or email at email@example.com
MacGregor’s main constituency office is on the other side of the riding, in Duncan.
[First published in the March 16, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News, page 3]
Saturday, March 17 ~ LANGFORD. Rugby Canada’s Chairman Awards each year recognize members of the rugby community who have gone above and beyond to support the organization.
Rugby Canada Chairman Tim Powers acknowledged support by the City of Langford since the 2012 opening of the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence and office in Langford, followed in 2014 by providing an opportunity to build a high-performance training centre across the street on Glen Lake Road.
The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre officially opened February 27, 2018.
Powers recognized five people with awards for pulling together the training centre, starting with City of Langford Mayor Stewart Young who was instrumental in securing the land and funding opportunities that allowed Rugby Canada to break ground and kick off a campaign to help fund the new building. The HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens Vancouver Tournament attracted over 77,000 fans to BC Place, March 10-11.
The award ceremony was held on March 8 as part of getting the excitement rolling for the HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens Vancouver Tournament at BC Stadium, March 10-11.
Langford hopes to attract bigger sporting events to Westhills Stadium once seating is expanded.
Saturday, March 17 ~ GREATER VICTORIA TRAFFIC ADVISORY. Cyclists and pedestrians are advised of a temporary detour Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18 along the Galloping Goose Trail, between Grange Road and Belgrave Road. It’s part of ongoing work for the McKenzie interchange project.
The detour will allow rock-scaling operations to be completed along this section of the trail to prepare for retaining-wall construction, and to reinforce the foundation of the pathway.
Given that the Galloping Goose Trail is used by many for their weekday commutes, the ministry scheduled the detour over the weekend to limit disruption for as many people as possible. Due to the precise nature of scaling operations, work must be done in daylight, as opposed to overnight.
Signage along the trail has notified cyclists and pedestrians of the upcoming detour since Friday, March 9. The detour route will be posted and monitored by the contractor throughout the weekend.
Friday, March 16 ~ COLWOOD. Expansion of Royal Bay Secondary school announced today.
Royal Bay Secondary school with a student population of 1,085 is beyond the building’s original capacity of 800 students. So it was a welcome announcement today in the school gym by BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming that $23.2 million has been provided to Sooke School District 62 (SD62) for expansion of the school to accommodate 1,400 students. Construction will begin this September, with the additional student spaces expected to be ready by Fall 2020.
With an audience well over 120 people — including a full gym class of Royal Bay students plus SD62 trustees and senior staff, Langford councillors and senior staff, BC Ministry of Education staff, and media — Minister Fleming said that SD62 is the fastest growing school district in BC, and that every student should have a proper learning environment. “It’s an amazing community that is growing an incredible pace. It’s a great area for young families in Greater Victoria, but with growth is facing some unique challenges,” said Fleming. “As a government we are trying to ensure that our investments are able to keep up with the kinds of change that we’re seeing in dynamic areas like this one.”
Fleming reiterated the BC NDP government philosophy that “education is a critical investment for our province” that contributes to future prosperity and economic diversity of BC. Fleming said that education in a positive school environment helps students prepare for an ever-changing world, giving them the tools to succeed in building “happy good quality lives, contributing to their community, and be able to live in a beautiful community like this”. He called the $23.2 million a long overdue investment. “A positive learning environment is exactly what students deserve.”
The additional classroom spaces will replace what is now a count of 10 portable classrooms (the number of which could very likely increase before Fall 2020). SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge says the portables are well-equipped with new desks, chair, projectors and WiFi, but that being out in a portable lends to a disconnect from the main flow of the school action. Royal Bay has a bright open lobby, an active social Commons area, a vibrant and spacious learning centre, food services area and lounge areas in the hallways near the lockers.
“In Sooke School District 62 we make sure we’re ahead of the curve, ahead of the growth,” said SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar today during the formal announcement. The previous government built schools to current capacity. The current government is working to population projections. Parmar explained that SD62 will work with the same architect that designed the school for its opening in Fall 2015.
“This school board knows how to do construction on time and on budget, and on an aggressive timetable,” said Minister Fleming. In addition to the government’s funding, SD62 is contributing $2 million from their capital fund. There will be 21 new classrooms and a second smaller gym, an additional level added to make the building a 3-storey structure, and 120 more parking stalls.
Introductions were made at this morning’s announcement host Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) in whose riding Royal Bay Secondary was essentially a hub around which the Royal Bay community has grown. Accompanying Fleming and Dean at the podium and backed up by a group of teen soccer players, were Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Royal Bay Secondary Principal Windy Beadall, and a student leadership rep Maddy Morrison.
Fleming added that about 95% of the hiring that has needed to be done has been done to restore class ratio since the Supreme Court settlement in 2016. School districts got $50 million to hire more teachers. Teachers have been recruited in the past year from other provinces.
There are still gaps for specialist teachers, said Fleming. There are shortages for French Immersion teachers, which Fleming said is being addressed, including recruiting French-speaking teachers from Belgium and France; the demand for French in the classrooms has increased 30% in the last 10 years, he said. A fund of $1 million has been established for recruitment and retention. Fleming expects a report in the next six weeks with recommendations to help train new teachers in ways to improve retention, starting with September 2018 intake.
Royal Bay Secondary is in Colwood. Land for two new schools in Langford (one elementary, one middle school) was announced in December 2017. SD62 operates schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke, serving families in those communities as well as Highlands, Metchosin, and Juan de Fuca in East Sooke and up to Port Renfrew.
Friday, March 16 ~ LANGFORD/COLWOOD/SOOKE. School Bus Routes for SD62 students are now posted for the 2018-2019 school year. In previous years, the registration process did not pre-identify the available routes, so this is a new level of service to parents and families in their decision-making for Fall 2018.
At this link http://www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation/school-bus-routes/ parents/guardians can find a suitable route/stop and make a note for when registration opens in late April.
How to register:
- Select your route and stop – 2018/19 School Bus Routes
- Register online with your route (registration for the 2018/19 school year will open in late April; detailed instructions will be issued mid-April)
Questions about SD62 bussing can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, March 16 ~ LANGFORD. For one day next week — Wednesday March 21 – the City of Langford is asking motorists to avoid use of the Millstream Overpass during some improvements for traffic signal installation on the overpass and on Hwy 1. All signals and streetlights in that area will be without power on that day in that commercial area of Langford, says the city’s engineering department.
Motorists travelling southbound on the Trans Canada (TCH/ Hwy 1) can use the Exit 16 Leigh Road interchange. Motorists travelling northbound can use Exit 15 McCallum Road to access the Millstream Corridor.
The work cannot be done at night due to the power supply being offline during the installation from 7 am to about 9 pm. The contractor Raylec Power has indicated they will manage the project so that the street lighting portion does not remain off when dusk occurs later in the day. Sunset is at 7:28 pm PDT on March 21.
Traffic control personnel will be on the overpass working within an approved Traffic Management Plan. Three lane closure trucks and six personnel are anticipated throughout the work zone, or more, to ensure safe passage for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Emergency vehicles will be given priority. March 21 is during spring break for schools in the area, with less of a traffic load expected.
The project is on schedule. aiming to complete by April 30.
Thursday, March 15 ~ WEST SHORE. Soil contaminant testing offered to food growing households in the west shore
The Compost Education Centre, in Victoria is a non-profit organization which celebrated its 25th year anniversary last year. With an overall mandate of providing composting and ecological gardening education to residents in the Greater Victoria area, it is a gardening and compost haven for gardeners at all stages of experience.
The Centre runs educational workshops in schools across the districts from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley, as well as classes for the public, and organic plant sales year-round. Their bread and butter is small-scale backyard composting.
Many are preparing to begin planting their gardens, and CEC executive director Marika Smith says that the most important thing to know is how to “grow you soil before you grow your food”. Most of the commonly asked questions heard at CEC are around how to compost in backyards and in apartments.
“The best soil amendment is your own compost,” says Smith. But as there are few regulations on commercial compost it’s difficult to know its quality. Producing compost takes time, and it can’t be sped up although a greater volume of compost material can help create heat which can help speed up the decomposition process, but ultimately, it will still take time.
If you live in an apartment or have a small townhome patio, worm composting bins are a great alternative to look into for supplementing your balcony gardens. Applying compost to your garden every season will produce increasingly healthier soil, which in turn supports better garden growth.
Most often when a garden doesn’t flourish, poor soil quality is to blame. Basic soil nutrient analysis is available at CEC by donation. Soil contaminant testing can be pricey but is Now in its third year, CEC’s Healing City Soils (partnered with Royal Roads University) is reaching out in 2018 to Colwood, Langford, and View Royal.
The program is creating a region-wide soil quality map by collecting and analyzing 100 soil samples for contaminants each year. Sampling sites are volunteered by homeowners who are intending to grow food. Testing runs from mid-March til mid-May. It’s a way to receive a normally costly soil contaminant analysis for free. Results are confidential. Soil remediation info and followup workshops are available. Applications available to March 27 at www.compost.bc.ca/healing-city-soils/
Upcoming workshops include Backyard Rainwater Management March 24, and Composting Basics April 7. Fact sheets, workshops, and info can be found online: www.compost.bc.ca
Composting goals are to breed beneficial bacteria, fungi and other microbes that work in the soil to make nutrients readily available to plants. As well, compost creates a full-spectrum nutrient and mineral resource to enrich garden soil.
Article by Sophia Romanchuk, for West Shore Voice News
Wednesday, March 14 ~ LANGFORD. An increase in the number of Langford residents seeking assistance with federal programs has prompted a change in hours at Alistair MacGregor, MP’s constituency office in Langford.
Effective Tuesday, March 20, Alistair MacGregor’s Langford community office hours will change to include both Tuesdays and Wednesdays for drop-ins 10 am to 3 pm.
The office at 3202B Happy Valley Rd (at the corner of Sooke Road) will also accept appointments for outside of those drop-in hours.
MacGregor’s team can help constituents with inquiries relating to federal programs and services, such as:
- Immigration and citizenship applications
- Visitor visas and Canadian passports
- Employment Insurance, income taxes, other federal taxes & benefits
- Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security
- Veterans Affairs
- Federal Funding
“I am here to ensure that my constituents of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford have a strong voice in Parliament and I encourage constituents to contact my office with any federal concerns,” stated MacGregor. “When I am not in Ottawa, I am always happy to meet with residents of Langford and discuss how we can build a better Canada.”
You can reach MacGregor’s office by phone at 1-886-609-9998 or by email at email@example.com
Four career staff at the fairly new high school in Colwood that opened in 2015 have developed the event. “They have been working closely with the provincial curriculum redesign,” says Royal Bay Principal Windy Beadall.
The career day on March 14 is open to all students Grades 9 to 12. Grade 9 students also have a one-day work day with a parent at some point during the year.
“We could not be more grateful to our presenters,” says Royal Bay careers and social studies teacher Danielle Huculak who is spearheading the event. “We are honoured to welcome presenters in the fields of business, law, education, technology, trades, fine arts, athletics, health care, human services, media, and sciences.”
The entire student population will be participating. Students and parents found out about Career Exploration Day through the school’s weekly newsletter and was discussed in career education classes. The students had an electronic form to self-select their choices for the event. “We believe this event will help to guide our junior students as they begin to explore career pathways, and help our senior students solidify areas of interest,” says Huculak.
“We hope that the greatest take-away from this event for students will be an understanding that one’s career journey is not always straightforward and that change is a normal part of our employment path,” Huculak said. “Even some of the Sooke School District (SD62) senior staff will be participating, talking about their education careers and other things they have done,” explained Principal Beadall.
The Royal Bay culinary arts students will be helping support the food services aspect for presenters at the career day.
There are presently 1,085 students at Royal Bay this 2017-2018 academic year. The official school capacity is 800, so there are also 10 portable classrooms on site to help with the overload. SD62 trustees heard from SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge at the February 27 board meeting that design and planning is underway for the Royal Bay expanion, pending approvals from the Ministry of Education.
Sunday, March 11 ~ WEST SHORE. SD62 Board Meeting March 13. [Article first published in the March 9, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]
Coming up at the March 13 Sooke School District (SD62) public board meeting will be a presentation from Canadian Parents for French, a presentation about SOGI (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity) by Karen DeCicco, and an approval pitch for a trip by Belmont music students heading to Calgary in May.
SD62 is considered among the more innovative school districts. This month some more new courses are up for board approval, including Robotics 11/12, English Inquiry 12, and Electronic Music 10. Revisions to the 2018-2019 school calendar are up for approval. On April 26, 2016 the Board of Education had approved calendars for the next three years.
The annual approval of school fees is up for discussion (that includes the student activity fee of $20 for student council, student ID, locks and first aid), an optional $55 yearbook fee, sport/dance/arts academies (e.g. Hockey $1,585; Baseball/Softball each $685, dance costume fee $150). Rugby travel tournament fees and insurance costs are not yet listed. Activities outside the building for Active Living and PE 11/12 classes come at a cost.
Environmental/outdoor education activities outside the building require a fee, as do woodwork and metalwork consumable products for projects taken home. Uniforms for cheerleaders, football team registrations, and a general ‘athletic participation’ fee are on the list. Food Safe courses are offered through SD62 at a fee. Workbooks primarily for math and science can be used in the classroom if not written in, but otherwise carry a fee of $5 to $25 if written in, or are lost/damaged. Principals may use discretion for low-income family situations when it comes to fees.
Upcoming events being attended by Trustees and/or senior staff include High Ground: Communities for All conference (March 23 & 24, Vancouver) and the BC School Trustees Association AGM with a theme of Working Together for Successful Student Transition (April 26-29, Richmond).
Last month a significant motion was passed by the board to waive School Site Acquisition Charges for the Knox Vision Society’s affordable housing project in Sooke (see March 2, 2018 West Shore Voice News, pg 2). Some followup discussion about the impact of that decision might come up.
Sunday, March 11 ~ WEST SHORE. [Article first published in the March 9, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]
The West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) facility at 1767 Island Highway in Colwood serves a cluster of communities in the region and is modestly but proudly home to a wide range of sport and recreation interests.
The West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) facility at 1767 Island Highway in Colwood serves a cluster of communities in the region and is modestly but proudly home to a wide range of sport and recreation interests. It’s the long-time integration of programs and services provided by WSPR that contributes to its powerful but relatively understated presence.
Most people know it’s there — the main building and arena seen from the Island Highway front a huge 108-acre chunk of land that includes a golf course, the Q Centre, the Juan de Fuca library, and a seniors centre. In spring, Easter egg hunts are enjoyed by families on one of the lawns and in summer there’s a joyful noise with the Rock the Shores concert weekend drawing thousands of youth.
n recent years WSPR has hosted an oversize LED highway advertising display board, so bright at night. The revenue-generation of the highway sign is good. At the March 8 WSPR board meeting it was reported that after sign management was assigned to the Jim Pattison enterprise that revenues have increased to an even higher level, even though the revenue split is now 50/50 instead of 70% to WSPR and 30% to the former signage provider.
Financial issues of WSPR have been the subject of municipal and public debate in recent weeks, especially following a strong public statement by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 in response to a slow-brewing effort (over years) by Langford to see a reassessment of how much each of the municipality owners are paying into the operations and capital reserves of WSPR.
Unlike many other recreation facilities in the Greater Victoria area being owned and operated by the Capital Regional District (CRD) or individual municipalities, WSPR is owned and funded by five west shore municipalities: Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. Until last year, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) was also a joint owner, but they stepped out of the arena, so to speak, since only 0.5% of their Malahat-area residents were using the facility (at a cost of $26,000 for JDFEA to belong to the WSPR agreement) due to highway travel time impediments.
The lion’s share of the requisitions from the five member municipalities is paid by Langford, as the present WSPR funding formula is based on population. The sticking point for Langford is that they are a rapidly-growing municipality that has been proactively building their own recreation facilities in recent years including an ice rink and arena, bowling alley, and sport fields. Langford also welcomed the YM/YWCA that opened in the Westhills neighbourhood in spring 2016.
Technically speaking, Langford taxpayers are contributing to both WSPR (at the same percentage level as always) and to the operational costs of the facilities in Langford. Recreation facilities in Langford are used by residents from a wide region, not just Langford. In fact, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns was excited to point out at the Vision 2018 Westshore event on February 1 that the rural no-growth Metchosin doesn’t have to build its own expensive facilities because Langford is doing it there, right next door.
Langford does alright with their facilities, some years generating a relatively small profit after covering the operational costs. Langford swings the cost of building new rec facilities in large part due to donations from property developers (e.g. Sobey’s is paying in about $2.5 million as they get rolling with their newest Thrifty Foods, at Belmont Market).
Recreation is a costly municipal service, but considered to be an essential one for most municipalities for serving the activity needs of all ages (a tangible thing) and inherent in that the well-being of the community (a qualitative achievement evidenced in overall resident satisfaction). Very much so in Langford, where mayor and council are gung-ho for providing active opportunities to youth and the sporting community. And the costs for that have been not just financial but now there are the costs of political adjustments within WSPR.
Langford has for a few years now has raised a red flag over WSPR operational expenditure increases as pointing to inefficienices and a need for reviewing internal operations. And increasingly, Langford’s mayor has pointed out that Langford’s financial contribution to WSPR has increased (due to population increases under the current formula) even though Langford continues to expand its own recreation infrastructure footprint.
Frustrations are mounting. Councils in both Langford and Colwood declined to approve the 2018 WSPR budget. “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2. Colwood essentially claims, in part, that they do their fair share (in addition to the requisition payment), noting in their March 1 release that Colwood waives WSPR property taxes (this year $736,267). Here are some WSPR 2018 budget numbers. Revenues (e.g. facility rentals, activity fees and rec passes) are projected as $5,953,298 while expenses are nearly double that at $11,643,688. The requisitions paid in by the five member municipalities amount to $4,968,945 which (with ‘transfers in’ at $721,445) brings the spreadsheet to balance at zero.
As much as $225,000 may need to be transfered in from capital reserves said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns this week, to maintain WSPR in 2018. That concerns some mayors; the use of reserve capital funds was also the subject of brief discussion at the March 8 WSPR board meeting which is attended by municipal Councillors as reps (not the mayors) as well as volunteer community appointees. The reserve fund of over $2.1 million has been built up to pay for infrastructure repairs and upgrades; WSPR chair Ed Watson itemizes arena floor repairs, repairing the skin of the pool, upgrading the arena including the washrooms, and upgrading the pool washrooms.
A wild card for the 2018 budget is whatever the result will be from CUPE negotiations, with pay increases expected to push up the level of expenses for WSPR. As for anyone who pays into anything, there needs to be a sense of value for payment. From a business model standpoint, WSPR could be seen as operating at a significant loss (i.e. expenses far outstrip revenues). But as a community service with perceived value to all residents, the municipalities contribute taxpayer dollars that make up the difference. “It’s a subsidy paid by municipal governments to provide recreational services to their communities,” says Watson. He notes that the partner municipalities could also apply for grants (such as the Federal Gas Tax funds) to help boost WSPR funding.
As the 30-year agreement of the now five municipalities comes up to its end date in a few years, it’s no surprise to see political shuffling toward rejigging the balance of contribution. Indeed, there could be an overall review of operations and possibly even the mission of WSPR to the region. Independent consultant Jonathan Huggett has been engaged to review the full scope of factors and implications. And so far, Langford in particular has agreed to stand by the conclusions and recommendations.
In her March 1 statement, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said: “Colwood is fighting for West Shore Parks and Recreation’s survival by advocating for a sustainable financial plan. We risk losing West Shore Parks and Recreation if owner municipalities act in their own interests rather than honouring their contractual obligations.”
Langford sees a need for assessment after having built seven recreation amenities in the last seven years (after what Langford Mayor Young experienced as political frustration for far too long at WSPR). Young sees taking timely action to serve the needs of the bustling growing Langford as fully justifiable. He says he looks forward to the consultant’s report which could provide a new formula that recognizes the mix of recreation use ‘across municipal borders’ so to speak, in balance with recreation amenities used by residents in their own municipality. Gathering statistics to support this will likely be key.
Monday, March 5 ~ Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor will be welcoming Jagmeet Singh on Vancouver Island this week, sharing the floor with the national NDP Leader at a community meet-and-greet in Duncan on Wednesday, March 7.
Members of the community are welcome to come and have a conversation with the two politicians about federal government policy and priorities for Parliament.
The get-together will be held at the Ramada Duncan at 140 Trans Canada Highway, from 4:30 to 6 pm.
MacGregor is presently promoting the “Create Your Canada” contest that gives Grade 11 & 12 students in the riding the opportunity to engage in making Canada a better place by creating an idea for a Private Member’s Bill. The winning student(s) will have the opportunity to travel to Ottawa to watch MP MacGregor present their idea to the House of Commons for First Reading.
“I am very excited to give students in my riding the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and participate in law-making firsthand,” stated MacGregor. “The young people of this country are our future, and I am thrilled to have this chance to encourage our youth to get involved in politics and think about how we can create a better Canada.”
The deadline for submissions to the “Create Your Canada” contest is April 30, 2018. Students may enter individually or in groups of two. More info: http://alistairmacgregor.ndp.ca/create-your-canada-contest
The much-under-construction Brookes Westshore independent school aiming to open their doors for September 2018 at their 1945 Sooke Road campus in Colwood is enjoying a strong response from parents and families.
“We are still waiting for responses from the re-enrollment packages that were sent out, but even with that we are at 87% of our targeted enrollment for local day students,” says Linda Tesser, Community Relations & Admissions Manager.
The enrolment plan is for 150 day students who live locally in the west shore area or Greater Victoria, and 150 international students most of whom who will board at the school. At the last Brookes info session on January 29 over 50 people attended — their largest audience to date. That resulted in five new applications over two weeks, and a significant amount of further interest.
The next information session will be on Tuesday March 13, again at the Kinsmen Fieldhouse behind the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre, 1767 Island Highway, 6:30 pm. More info directly at https://westshore.brookes.org/january-information-night/
Earlier this month, Brookes Westshore opened their school information office at 2227 Sooke Road, open Tuesday to Thursday, 1 to 4pm. westshore.brookes.org
Sunday, March 4 ~ WEST SHORE. Colwood slams Langford over rec centre funding. A zinger of a statement was issued by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 and widely distributed in the community and to media by her municipal communications department.
The letter from Colwood’s mayor said that Langford was not meeting its financial obligation to West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) which is jointly owned and operated by Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands.
The WSPR agreement sets out a formula for different levels of financial obligation from each of the municipalities based on resident use of the facilities and services. [The agreement used to include the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, but they backed out a year ago or so.]
A good west shore corporate citizen, Langford still pays the largest share of revenues into WSPR ($2.5 million per year) but “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2.
Two years ago when the WSPR budget hit $5 million, Langford identified operational inefficiencies at WSPR causing what that municipality considered an unfair financial burden their Langford taxpayers who already support their own facilities built in the last several years (including arena, bowling alley, City Centre, Goudy Field, Westhills Stadium).
Hence Langford not approving the WSPR budget for the last two years.
“We’ve told (WSPR) that their budget doesn’t make sense. They do nothing with their reserves,” says Mayor Young. In Langford the recreation budget breaks even or better “because we chase revenue… we’re open for business,” says Mayor Young.
As one example, Langford’s Mayor points out that revenues from the large bright LED roadside sign in front of the West Shore Parks and Recreation Centre at 1767 Island Highway are directed by the WSPR board into capital reserves, not into operating costs. He feels that’s one example of where revenues are being misdirected, at least in the short term.
This year Colwood Council has also not approved the 2018 WSPR budget (now at about $6 million) because it shows the facility running at a deficit. This forces a bit of public debate, which is now rearing its head.
One person, Curtis Price, posted this on Facebook in recent days: “Hey Colwood, why don’t you start building like Langford. Get developers that can finish job make it easier for developers for want to build in Colwood. Langford got tired of waiting years ago for Colwood to jump on board. So yes of course they have no real interest in West Shore Parks and Rec. They built everything they needed in their own backyard.”
Mayor Hamilton says continuing to run WSPR at a deficit will certainly mean service cuts and likely force the shutdown of the WSPR within five years. Meanwhile, Colwood supports WSPR by foregoing property taxes on the property at a value of $736,267.
[This is an expanded version of the article first published in the March 2, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News, page 2] | Read this article on its own separate page: Colwood slams Langford over rec centre funding
This past week was the official opening of the Al Charron Rugby Canada Training Centre and also the groundbreaking for the Belmont Residences property… both of those a kilometer’s distance of one another. Quite the bustling town! Both of those stories on page 1.
Colwood took a bit of a swipe against Langford over the West Shore Parks and Recreation budget… see page 4.
Plus lots else going on. Check it out in the March 2nd issue.
Thursday, March 1 ~ LANGFORD. On Monday, March 5 at the Millstream Road Interchange, one of the northbound right turn lanes heading onto Hwy 1 (Trans Canada) to Victoria will be closed for roadworks.
The curb lane will remain open for traffic, while the adjacent lane will taper into the curb lane past the intersection with Peatt Rd/Strandlund Ave.
The lane configuration will remain a permanent feature or this interchange, as a way to accommodate the dual left turns for southbound Millstream Rd. That’s where there is a heavier traffic load from the McCallum Road big-box stores commercial (and future additional residential development) side of the intersection (which is also handling more traffic from the Bear Mountain area).
The City of Langford Engineering says traffic studies support having one lane taking traffic from northbound Veterans Memorial Parkway (from the Goldstream side of town) onto Hwy 1, instead of two.
“Please obey all traffic control personnel and drive with caution in the work zone,” say Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.
The Millstream Overpass Improvement Project includes the southbound additional left turn lane as well as pedestrian and cycling improvements. Construction during winter/spring 2018, aiming for completion around April 30.
Wednesday, February 28 ~ WEST SHORE. Exclusive – by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News.
There have been difficult decisions made by Sooke School District 62 (SD62) over the years, not the least of which was cutbacks affecting classrooms and teachers a few years ago due to insufficient government funding for a fast-growing school district. Movement to a board decision on larger issues occurs over weeks and months, sometimes years.
But last night’s SD62 board meeting decision about whether to waive school tax fees to support an affordable housing project in Sooke brought out more discomfort for trustees and senior staff than seen for any deliberations in the past six years. Even the most complex of budget issues in the past did not have so much said, and so much left unspoken.
The issue was whether SD62 — which is responsible to deliver public education to families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca — would waive school taxes for the Knox Vision Society 42-unit apartment-unit housing complex in Sooke. In terms of dollars, the request would mean a savings of $23,436 for the Knox Vision Society, or about 2% of their construction budget. That might seem like a drop in the bucket for a large project, but for SD62 that is money not going to education, which is the mandate of a school district board.
SD62 Treasurer Harold Cull explained to the board that if they were to approve the waiver, that the $23,436 would be that much less in School Site Acquisition Charges. That’s money for buying land upon which to build new schools (not directly out of classroom budgets).
Fast-forward, the motion to waive the fees did pass — Knox will get the $23,436. But it was a tight vote, with trustees Wendy Hobbs, Dianna Seaton and Margot Swinburnson voting against the motion (voting for the motion were SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Vice-Chair Bob Phillips, Neil Poirier and Denise Riley). Overall, the opposing views were that education dollars should remain within serving the direct needs of providing schools and education. “Stick to your knitting” was how Trustee Seaton put it at one point. Additionally, Cendra Beaton (rep for Canadian Parents for French) said the decision would not go over well with parents in the west shore.
What wasn’t said around the board table — but spoke loud and clear through uncomfortable body language and winding pre-vote commentary — is that there was something ‘off’ about this request from a church society-turned-developer. Something didn’t sit right with the request itself, let alone the requirement to respond. One trustee noted that the District of Sooke has openly and strongly supported the affordable housing project as part of helping their community (Sooke waived about $171,000 in development cost charges toward the Knox project), that other municipalities (noting Langford) and other affordable housing developers (noting Pacifica Housing) have not requested assistance from SD62. The BC Government recently announced its commitment of $5.5 million toward the project.
Trustee Margot Swinburnson explained her dilemma: “Last night was uncomfortable for me personally. The main reason why is that I wholeheartedly support the build by Knox. But I could not ethically support it as a school trustee, guarding our funds for education. So I was very torn about it,” she told West Shore Voice News afterward.
It is only recently that SD62 and other growing school districts have enjoyed the relief from new BC NDP government funding to hire more teachers and relieve other ‘cost pressures’ in the education delivery system. The scars of working through tough-times budgets left a mark on senior staff and most trustees that reminded them of how every dollar counts.
If it can be said that the dollars toward the Knox project (which started as a seniors building then shifted to a broader affordable housing mission statement) will truly help more families with school-age children better afford to live in Sooke, there is some justification for the trustees who voted in favour of the motion. But there was no discussion about requiring accountability for the receipt of funds, such as requiring a report on how many families with children will be ending up in the larger suites (the building will have 15 1-bdrm units, 24 2-bedroom units, and three 3-bedroom units).
Yes, people and communities need affordable housing, but this board truly struggled with whether funding support for that should come from education funds. On top of that, Cull noted that the NDP Government’s new Medical Services Tax now being levied on corporations and entities with payrolls over $500,000 (like the school board) will likely produce a 1% increase in staffing costs for 2018-2019.
Money is a reality in education. It takes money to buy land for schools, and of course it takes money to pay teachers and supply the classrooms with all the many things it takes to deliver the modern curriculum. The February 27 decision at SD62’s evening board meeting is showing the tip of the iceberg over how educators, government and probably now also parents are starting to explore the many aspects of how affordability — in this case housing and education — are playing out in the financial decisions that underpin everything. ~ MPB
Tuesday, February 27 ~ LANGFORD. Rugby Canada, in partnership with the City of Langford, is celebrating today the official opening of the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre in Langford, BC. Langford Mayor Stew Young and Allen Vansen, CEO, Rugby Canada will mark the occasion later today during a special ribbon-cutting event onsite at the Glen Lake Road facility.
The new 2-storey, 1,900 sq m performance training centre will serve as the home to all of Rugby Canada’s national teams, as well support the training needs of other high performance amateur athletes in the region. It is seen as an economic generator for the west shore region.
The Centre represents the single largest investment ever made by Rugby Canada in its pursuit to grow the sport in Canada. Team operations are now centralized in Langford, in support of building international competitiveness.
Funding for the capital construction project included a federal government contribution of $2,935,250 through the Building Canada Fund – Major Infrastructure Component, as well as $2.5 million in repayable contributions from the City of Langford, along with over $2.6 million in private donations raised by Rugby Canada to date.
The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre has been designed to create the best daily training environment possible, centralizing all the necessary aspects of high performance training. The centre features a state of the art gymnasium featuring elite strength and conditioning equipment, onsite therapy and treatment rooms, hydrotherapy pools, locker rooms, meeting rooms set up for video analysis, kitchen and dining lounge, and three double occupancy bedroom studio units.
The Centre is located adjacent to Westhills Stadium, further complementing the enhanced resources available to Rugby Canada’s national teams. To build on the legacy of rugby in Canada, the facility will also feature the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Centre is now in active use by all of Rugby Canada’s national teams as they continue preparations for upcoming international competition.
Federal attention has been paid to this facility. “Infrastructure investments are all about communities and people, and we are proud to be supporting Canada’s amateur athletes through this new and improved high-calibre training facility,” says The Honourable Amarajeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre will be a major recreation hub for Vancouver Island, attracting even more visitors and tourists and providing new economic opportunities for residents. Projects like this help ensure Canadian communities remain among the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family,” he says.
Langford has been behind the training centre project right from the start. Says Langford Mayor Stew Young: “Langford is proud to be the home of Rugby Canada. From the installation of a World Rugby certified turf, to the construction of this high performance training facility, to the pending expansion of Westhills Stadium, Langford is committed to working with all levels of government and the development community to ensure that all high performance athletes have the resources they need to train right here in Langford.”
Mayor Young says the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre has been made possible by the hard work of so many people. He is pleased to see that the centre will not only serve as the home base for Rugby Canada athletes, coaches, trainers and management for many years to come, but will also support the training needs of other high performance athletes in the region.
Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen says: “It’s been incredible to see this world-class facility coming to life thanks to the dedicated support of the Government of Canada, the City of Langford, the Canadian rugby community, and the many contractors and service providers who have worked tirelessly to see this project through to its completion. It’s these strong partnerships that are creating an exciting future for the sport of rugby in Canada where our high-performance athletes of today and tomorrow, will have the resources and the facilities they need to achieve unprecedented success on the world stage.”
“A facility of this caliber is a game changer for those of us in the program right now, and for the generations of young players coming after us,” says Harry Jones, Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team Captain. This kind of support is hugely motivating, and we can all benefit from being together to learn from each other, and push each other to build an even stronger rugby culture that’s founded in honour and excellence.”
At their board meeting coming up on Tuesday evening February 27, Sooke School District 62 (SD62) school trustees will again visit their 2019-2019 budget, as well as firming up their approach to bus routes and transportation registration for Fall 2018.
The board is likely to finalize their decision as to how SD62 will respond to a housing grant funding request from the Knox Centre Affordable Housing Project in Sooke.
New courses are added to school curricula on a fairly regular basis. Up for approval are some new course areas including Genocide Studies 12, Comics as Communication 10/11/12, and Outdoor Education 10.
A motion on the agenda sees the board not increasing their Trustee Remuneration and Professional Development amounts, Chair and Vice-Chair Stipends, and per diem and mileage rates next year.
The meeting is at 7 pm at the SD62 administration office, 3143 Jacklin Road, Langford.
>> Article first published in the February 23, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News | www.westshorevoicenew.com
Monday, February 26 ~ LANGFORD. Now having supported the Wounded Warriors PTSD trauma support program for four years, the City of Langford and Bear Mountain Resort co-hosted a recognition event at the resort on Sunday morning, February 25. About 80 people attended.
During speeches and presentations, Langford Mayor Stew Young was pleased to announce a combined (Langford city and developers, and Bear Mountain) donation of $5,000 to Wounded Warriors, bringing this year’s donation total to $70,000.
A seven-day run by a group of veterans who are dealing with PTSD covered over 600km starting at Port Hardy and ending in Victoria yesterday. On Sunday their last day of the run, the team left Mill Bay at 8 am, made their stop at Bear Mountain as the first users of the new Bear Mountain Parkway, then stopped at Save On Foods, Langford Legion and the View Royal Fire Department. That was followed by a small ceremony at the Afghan War Memorial in downtown Victoria, then a run to the finish line at the BC Legislature, for some closing ceremonies. The weather was cold with some occasional snow and rain, but bright.
One of the Wounded Warriors programs called COPE (Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday) was developed by LCol (retired) Chris Linford, his wife Kathryn and Dr Tim Black PhD, R Psych. Linford and his wife retired to the Sooke area several years ago, where Linford found time to pen a book on his PTSD experiences and which helped launch the COPE program.
The COPE program is offered in both English and French. In its first year, the program was offered four times. This year that’s up to nine times, says Linford. Wounded Warriors hears from as many as four applicants per day for support programs. That includes from emergency nurses, corrections officers and sheriffs. Linford told the crowd that people have “embraced the process of being well”.
The event yesterday highlighted how first responders such as police, fire and ambulance workers have been asking for more supportive programs like Wounded Warriors that military veterans are gaining access to. Mayor Young said that Wounded Warriors executive director Scott Maxwell has worked to see about more funding to include first responders in the scope of funding from the federal government. Young also announced that some provincial and federal funding can likely be expected for Wounded Warriors programs in the coming year.
Saturday, February 24 ~ West Shore. Get that blood pumping! Donors needed.
Three locations in the west shore now host regular blood donor clinics. Canadian Blood Services regularly sets up their mobile clinics at Church of the Advent in Colwood, at Royal Bay Secondary in the newest area of Colwood, and at the Sooke Legion.
On BC Family Day, Monday February 12, the Sooke clinic saw a strong turnout. Of the 99 pre-booked donors, 85 attended, plus two walk-ins — and 56 re-booked for a future clinic. The target was to collect 67 units of blood… 69 were collected, a 103% success.
- The need for blood and donors continues to be urgent. Inventory is at concerning levels after a difficult winter for collections. Winter interruptions include weather, flu, and the holiday season.
- “As a result, we’re asking 35,000 donors to step up across Canada to ensure we continue to meet patient needs leading up to spring break,” says Ann Chabert, Canadian Blood Services Territory Manager for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
- “As partners in our work for Canadian hospital patients, we are encouraging people to come in to donate blood at any of our clinics,” Chabert says. Visit www.blood.ca to find out about clinic times and to book appointments, or call 1-888-2-DONATE.
- As of February 16, there was only a 2.8 day supply of the most common blood type, O+ (considered to be an emergency low level). Rarer blood types, including AB+ and AB-, had a 10+ day supply of red blood cell inventory (considered excess).
- The next local clinic is on Monday March 19 at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave in Colwood (12 noon to 7 pm). As of February 20, the donor target for that day was 101 units (1 unit/donor); about 72 available spots for that Westshore clinic are still available.
- Clinics after that date come up after Easter — on Mon April 9 at Sooke Legion, 6726 Eustace Rd 12:30-7:30pm (time changed from the previous 11:30am-6:30 pm), and on Mon April 23 at Royal Bay Secondary, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way (9am to 4pm).
The Royal Bay component
- In spring 2016, a large delegation of Royal Bay students attended the clinic at Church of the Advent. “It was so successful that the school decided to host a blood drive on site at their school,” says Chabert.
- In May 2017, Royal Bay hosted their first blood drive as part of their Graduation legacy. Grad student Jaimey Hamilton (a three-time cancer survivor and recipient of blood and stem cells) “inspired her peers and ultimately the entire school,” says Chabert.
- The public is welcome to attend the Royal Bay clinic. To book a spot, call 1-888-2-DONATE or go to www.blood.ca . Belmont Secondary students might participate in that blood drive and shuttle students from their school in Langford over to Royal Bay.
> Article first published in the February 23, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
>> Tables: Red Blood Cell Inventory in Canada as of Feb 16, 2018 – volumes and level of need [stats by Canadian Blood Services]
Friday, February 23 ~ A ‘weather event’ has been predicted for the South Vancouver Island area for Friday evening, February 23. Wet heavy snowfall began mid-afternoon.
“Flurries will come and go tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night,” says Rick Gill, manager, Mainroad South Island. Expect up to 5 cm of snowfall is expected across the area, with as much as 10 cm of snow on roads in certain areas especially higher elevations.
The forecast indicates the weather front clearing by Sunday morning.
“This event may have negative impacts on driving conditions in some areas,” says Mainroad. Given that many drivers in this region are unfamiliar with winter driving conditions, all drivers are asked to slow down, drive carefully and use additional caution when driving near road maintenance crews.
Mainroad 24 Hour Emergency Hotline: 1-877-391-7310
Wednesday evening, February 21 ~ West Shore & area. Yes, it’s snowing out there.
About 5 to 10 cm of snowfall in total is what’s in the forecast. Looks like the wet heavy snowflake type — started mid-afternoon and will continue through the evening.
While road crews do get out there to do sanding and application of salt to the roads, driving with extra care (and slower) is a reasonable thing to do. Not everyone in this region is experienced with winter driving, and likely the roads will be slippery and/or visibility can be restricted when snow is falling.
The weather forecast is for temperatures to reach about 4 degrees Celcius on Thursday, so a lot of that snow will melt. Forecasts indicate more snow on Friday.
As the rental crunch in Greater Victoria continues at a fever pitch, there is even more of a demand for well-maintained and well-managed rental properties that are priced right for both renter and landlord.
Taking this long-term approach to generating quality on the supply side, property management specialist George Holmes focuses on building a stock of rental opportunities within single family homes and apartment buildings.
Holmes deals directly with property owners to determine the best fit for their property as part of the booming rental market, particularly in the west shore and Sooke.
For strata complexes, Holmes under Sutton manages the financial operation and maintenance for the owners under the Strata Property Act.
Working out of the Sutton Advantage Property Management office in Saanich for the last seven years, in total Holmes has over 30 years property management experience including in the non-profit housing market. He has seen the west shore market mature in ways that can benefit by his experience in meeting the needs of his clients in balance with market conditions. Insightful and resourceful, Holmes takes pride in his work.
This article first published in the February 16, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News
Saturday, February 17 ~ LANGFORD. Belmont Residences, a new 24-acre, 440-unit multi-phase development at Jenkins Avenue and Division Avenue in Langford, will officially break ground on Thursday, March 1.
Members of the Ledcor Property Development team will be joined by representatives from the City of Langford for the ground-breaking ceremony.
Belmont is a new 24-acre community being created on southern Vancouver Island’s west shore. Belmont Residences will comprise seven residential market and rental buildings targeting first-time home buyers, working professionals, and downsizers. The development is enhanced by 220,000 sq ft of commercial amenities (being developed by Crombie REIT), including a landmark Thrifty Foods grocery store spanning 52,700 sq ft.
Adjacent to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and numerous parks, lakes, and outdoor spaces, Belmont Residences is set to become a vibrant centre for the City of Langford.
Promoting themselves as the new heart of the west shore, Belmont Residences will be marketed as the ‘it’ place for those seeking a healthy, urban-meets-suburban living.
The entire site is across the street from the longstanding Westshore Town Centre, and on the land where the former Belmont Secondary School used to be before the land was sold by SD62. The new ‘Belmont 2.0’ high school opened at its new location on Langford Lake Road in Westhills in 2015.
Jacklin Road traffic is now being detoured until mid-summer through the Belmont housing and commercial construction site, along the new Division Avenue that has access points on both Jacklin Road and Jenkins Avenue.
Thursday, February 15 ~ VICTORIA. Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean will serve as BC’s first Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, Premier John Horgan announced today February 15.
“Mitzi Dean has devoted her career to justice, fairness and support for the most vulnerable,” said Premier Horgan in a news release today.
“Dean is uniquely qualified to promote gender equity and the advancement of women in her new role as Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity,” Premier Horgan said.
Dean is a first-time MLA. She will serve in this new role of Parliamentary Secretary under the direction of Minister of Finance Carole James. Responsibilities will include:
* ensuring gender equity is reflected in government budgets, policies and programs;
* co-ordinating cross-government action on gender issues, including gender violence, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment;
* tracking progress on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women;
* liaising with feminist and women’s organizations; and
* promoting gender equity and leadership at senior levels in the public and private sector.
Mitzi Dean has a social work background from Britain, her home country. She worked for about 10 years at the Pacific Centre Family Services Association (PCFSA) in Colwood, most recently as their executive director before running for an NDP seat in 2017. Ahead of the 2017 election she relocated her home with her family, to rural Metchosin. PCFSA serves the west shore including Langford which helps fund various counselling and outreach programs at PCFSA, as well as providing satellite services in Sooke.
Thursday, February 15 ~ LANGFORD. Today the SD62 Board of Education has announced their selection Scott Stinson as their new Superintendent of Schools and Chief Executive Officer of School District 62, effective August 1, 2018. Stinson will replace Jim Cambridge who has been Superintendent since 2009. Cambridge will wrap up his 36-year education career in August 2018.
“We’re really excited to welcome Scott back to our school district,” says SD62 Board Chair Ravi Parmar. “The Board of Education collaborated extensively with different groups to find the best fit for our rapidly growing and successful school district. We’re confident Scott will be a great leader as we continue to build on the successes of both the students and the district.”
SD62 says it conducted a nation-wide search, mostly through an internal education system advertising network.
For more than 30 years, Stinson has worked in education throughout the Victoria area, including SD62. Previously, he was Principal at David Cameron Elementary and also SD62’s District Principal of Student Support Services before moving to his current role as Assistant Superintendent with Saanich School District 63.
“I’m thrilled and honoured to accept this position and I’m really happy to return to SD62,” says Stinson. “I can’t wait to work with the Board of Education, staff, Aboriginal and partner groups as well as stakeholders to continue offering students rich learning opportunities in such an innovative school district.”
Back in October 2017, current SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge told West Shore Voice News that modernization of the school system as well as acquiring land and buildings will need to be the focus of SD62 for the next decade or so.
SD62 delivers public education in the fast-growing urbanized area of south Vancouver Island encompassing Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Sooke, as well as the rural areas of Metchosin and Juan de Fuca.
Cambridge says that teaching now recognizes that students learn in a variety of ways, and that teaching is now about facilitating, not the old lecture-style.
Monday, February 12 ~ LANGFORD. International rugby is coming to Langford this week. There will be some on-field training in Langford this week ahead of the Canada vs Brazil men’s rugby game on Saturday February 17 at Westhills Stadium in Langford. Kick off at 6:30 pm. The game will be televised on TSN.
Stadium tickets for the February 17 game can be purchased online at events.rugbycanada.ca
Meanwhile, toward the end of February there will be an official opening celebration of the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre. Construction of the facility on Glen Lake Road in Langford was completed in recent months and weeks.
Attending the opening will be members of Rugby Canada’s National Men’s Fifteens, Men’s Sevens, and Women’s Sevens Teams.
Friday, February 9 ~ WEST SHORE. The construction of two affordable housing projects that are already well underway was the packaged-up subject of a BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing news release this week.
The commonality is that both projects are in the fast-growing west shore (more specifically in Premier John Horgan’s Langford-Juan de Fuca home riding) where affordable rentals are sorely needed, and that the BC government has provided funding support to both.
This is along with the now oft-repeated message that the Province is developing “a comprehensive provincial housing strategy to make housing more affordable for British Columbians”. And, since taking office in July 2017 saying that the BC government “has set a target to build, in partnership, 114,000 new units of affordable housing throughout BC”.
Both projects are located on busy main roads near bus transit routes and within walking distance to retail and other services.
The Oak Park redevelopment project in Langford at 616 Goldstream Avenue received a provincial injection of $7.5 million toward the two-phase construction of 73 rental units (61 apartments and 12 townhomes) to be operated by Pacifica Housing. The expected monthly rent levels are: Studio $800; 1 bdrm $1,020; 2 bdrm $1,200; 3 bdrm $1,550; 4 bdrm $1,700.
The project in Sooke at 2110 and 2120 Church Road (corner of Wadams Way) has received $5.35 million in BC funding. This long-planned project was first designed by M’akola Housing in 2014 for seniors but the Knox Vision Society in 2016 opened up their parameters, intending to appeal to all low-income age groups and broaden their access to funding. They are approaching CRD and SD62 among others, for additional funding. The District of Sooke has been supportive throughout the Knox Church’s process with this project. The expected monthly rent levels are: 1 bdrm $875; 2 bdrm $1,100; 3 bdrm $1,300.
Sunday, February 4 ~ WEST SHORE. Real estate stats show burgeoning sales on west shore
by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News
Langford and Sooke together saw 62.3% of the Greater Victoria area’s house sale transactions volume in January 2018. In Langford the raw average sale price was about the same as Colwood, but Sooke prices were a full $200,000 lower.
The average sale price of a single family home in Langford last month was $712,247 compared to Sooke at $511,437. The overall sale price of homes across Greater Victoria was $925,715.
Note, these numbers are determined using the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB)’s own sales figures. They do vary from VREB’s HPI numbers, which are data-adjusted based on a set of criteria considered impactful on the value of a home (e.g. proximity to transportation, schools and services).
WEST SHORE: Single Family Homes Jan 2018
(averages of actual sale prices)
> Colwood $721,774 (8 sales / 8.6% of GV sales)
> Langford $712,247 (32 sales / 34.4% of GV sales)
> Sooke $511,437 (26 sales / 27.9% of GV sales)
> Greater Victoria (GV) $925,715 (93 sales)
The inventory of properties for sale in Greater Victoria has been low in 2016-2017 — 1,491 active listings at Jan 31, 2018 virtually the same as a year earlier (1,493 at Dec 31, 2016).
The number and range of properties for sale in 2013-2015 was higher, but dwindled as recessionary recovery saw homeowners selling properties (and downsizing) as a way to liberate cash and take advantage of increasing house prices. In Dec 2013 there were 4,772 properties for sale, down to 3,489 in Dec 2014, and sagging further to 2,517 in Dec 2015.
Saturday, February 3 ~ COLWOOD. The Park and Ride that is so popular and well used at the corner of Island Highway and Ocean Boulevard is being targeted for real estate development. The City of Colwood says the property on Ocean Boulevard that is currently used as a BC Transit Park & Ride site is designated as road right of way.
“Council directed staff to bring forward a closure document that will make it a land asset, giving the City further options for the land,” it was announced by the city. None of the documentation — including an ad published in a newspaper (not this one) — mentions the intended use for the land as a Wellness Centre.
But that’s the plan. A meeting was held January 31 at Colwood municipal hall to show the Wellness Centre plans to the public. The City of Colwood says the property is centrally located on major roadways in Colwood, and has immense potential “to revitalize the City’s town centre with new services, retail, employment opportunities, community amenities and an increased tax base”.
No RFP has yet been issued to glean ideas from various developers; the pre-determined goal seems to be a medical centre.
Says Colwood Councillor Rob Martin: “Say the land is worth $2 million and a $10 million medical building is built there. That land and building will create about $130,000 of property tax per year (approx 1% tax rise).” For Martin, it seems to be a win-win to get some “desperately needed medical services within our community” while bringing in more tax revenue. Working with BC Transit to find locations to replace the current park and ride appears to be key.
BC Transit’s rep James Wadsworth said at Colwood council January 22 that they are exploring park and ride land options with Langford, and asking the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for more land options along Highway 14. About 9,500 bus commuters (with 2,700 to 3,400 in peak hours) travel from the west shore to downtown Victoria daily, he said.
n a matter of process, Colwood businessman Dave Saunders says the other municipalities that pay millions of dollars into the operations of Westshore Parks & Rec (i.e. Langford, Highlands and Metchosin) should have been consulted about Colwood’s action to take the road right of way and call it a land asset. He says back in 1999, Westshore Parks & Rec owners (originally also including Juan de Fuca) were consulted about the original creation of the park and ride.
Thursday, February 1 ~ WEST SHORE. Tonight five west shore mayors covered a wide range of issues in response to questions from businesses and community leaders. Among those attending the Vision 2018 event hosted by the Westshore Chamber of Commerce were municipal leaders, MLA Mitzi Dean, SD62 school district senior staff and chair, developers, Royal Roads University senior leadership, and non-profit organizers.
Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams fielded such topics as regional transportation, housing affordability, educational opportunities, expanding economic and business opportunities including new tech, and the arts.
They even once again addressed that old bugaboo issue – amalgamation, saying that overall the distinct needs of the various municipalities would not be well served by amalgamating all existing 13 municipalities. However, Stew Young reiterated his idea of creating three regional boards (to replace the CRD), which would allow municipalities with similar concerns to work together more than they already do. That would roll out as a west shore region, core region, and peninsula.
It was evident throughout the couple of hours of discussion that these five mayors enjoy and appreciate their communities. They have clearly evolved in both depth and scope over the years in understanding the nuances of issues in their municipalities to the point where rather creative, co-supportive solutions and services have been found.
Like an ecosystem, these west shore communities are in some ways productively co-dependent. For example, Colwood relies on Langford for robust retail, and fire rescue services in several west shore municipalities have reciprocal agreements to help each other out throughout as required. Metchosin contributes their preserved natural landscapes (underscored with a no-growth policy) as a ‘carbon sink’ for the west side of the island, said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns.
On the broadest scope, Langford’s mayor spoke about bringing more offices and technology companies to Langford, which will help provide jobs and reduce the need for long commutes. Metchosin’s mayor added that “technology is the only thing that will get us out of global warming” and appreciates the job and recreational opportunities for his residents in nearby Langford. Last year Langford, Metchosin and Beecher Bay signed a 3-way agreement that brought more development land to Langford, more greenspace to Metchosin, and more economic opportunity to Beecher Bay.
About 175 people attended the event that was held at the Olympic View Golf Course, emceed by retired broadcast journalist Bruce Williams. Williams took the opportunity to remind the room (in this day and age of ‘fake news’) that the role of media is “to hold people’s feet to the fire”.
The relaxed nature of the evening allowed this experienced group of mayors to wax eloquently and use some ‘insider’ humour to address the news-attentive audience. As a major fundraiser for the Westshore Chamber, the dinner event was $85 per plate for members, $100 for non-members.
Thursday, February 1 ~ COLWOOD. Municipal election season is warming up in the west shore. Two-term Colwood Councillor Rob Martin has announced today February 1 that he will enter the Colwood Mayoral Race in 2018.
Also with experience as the Board Chair of the Greater Victoria Public Library (2016 to present) and Board Chair of Westshore Parks & Recreation (2012-2016) as well as being an active member of the Colwood Emergency Preparation Committee since 2011, Martin brings a broad community approach to his interest in being Colwood’s next mayor.
A resident of Colwood with his wife Sheila for the past 21 years, their children have attended SD62 schools.
As well as Council duties, Martin runs his own small business, Precise Surgical & Medical Supplies.
“Colwood is at a pivotal time in its history,” says Martin. He has four main areas of concern: housing affordability, honouring truth and reconciliation with indigenous neighbours, the complexities of transportation issues for the west shore, and fostering the West Shore rec centre for use by residents.
With still a chunk of this year to continuing serving as a Councillor on Colwood Council, Martin says he loves being a Councillor. “The work is engaging. I really want to spend the next six months working on some projects that I am excited about. I really believe the best way to campaign is to show it through my works, not just my words,” he told media today.
At Colwood council meetings, Martin often ably summarizes what is going on while handily moving the conversation forward with observations and options.
Rob expects to informally talk with residents about his vision and listen even more over the next four to six months. “Announcing today was about being able to start the conversation,” he says.
Wednesday, January 31 ~ WEST SHORE. UPDATE on DECISION-MAKING about REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION ~ by West Shore Voice News
It’s painfully obvious that the Greater Victoria area has transportation congestion issues – particularly for weekday vehicle commuters travelling between the west shore and core areas for employment and post-secondary. This problem has intensified in the last few years as more people flock to live in the west shore areas of Langford, Colwood and Sooke where housing is considered more affordable.
Langford Mayor Stew Young has for years articulated the regional commuter transportation dynamic. Last year he welcomed more BC Transit bus service into Langford and put out there the idea of bus lanes on Highway 1 as a way to speed along transit users. He has continually proposed that the long-neglected E&N rail corridor be activated for additional bus service to and from downtown Victoria and points in between; the province should do that, not a non-profit organization, Mayor Young has continually suggested.
On January 19, Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) while announcing Highway 14 improvements in Sooke reiterated his long-time support for doing something productive with the dormant E&N. “I’m going to work with what we have in front of us,” Horgan said. “I think we can come up with a structure that works for everybody. We need to have a common purpose for the region.” The Premier said: “I don’t think we need a new bureaucracy. How do we break down the barriers between municipalities?”
Horgan said Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean is now helping coordinate a consultation to get input from key stakeholders, so that BC Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) Minister Claire Trevena will have more to work with.
This follows the vanguard City of Langford council which, on January 8, passed a motion to support a “no-cost advisory committee made of local government representatives to provide recommendations and priorities to BC Transit and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure”. That would be instead of the CRD’s Bylaw 4093 to create a Regional Transportation Service that would come along with a $2.5 million price tag, ultimately passed along to taxpayers.
As well, on January 8, Langford Council in its unanimously-approved motion said that any Regional Transportation Service at the CRD level should be provided only with the consent of every municipal council (and not using a mechanism called the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) which requires 10% of an electorate to speak against something, otherwise it goes through). Langford’s motion further said that any municipality should be able to opt out of a CRD Regional Transportation Service.
On January 10, the CRD board passed 3rd reading of Bylaw 4093, bringing the region that much closer to having a regional transportation governance instrument. Larger core municipalities like Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay have more votes at the board table, making it often impossible for west shore municipalities to sway any vote at the table. If the next stage in the approval process is the AAP, then effectively the Bylaw is a done deal (it’s usually quite a task to get out 10% of a voting population to be actively against something).
Well, that stirred up a ruckus, with Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton at her January 22 Council meeting reading out the January 8 Langford resolution to her council and those in the room. The next day she sent out a letter to CRD Chair Steve Price (Mayor of Sidney), with a c.c. to Premier Horgan, BC municipalities and housing minister Selina Robinson, MOTI minister Trevena, MLA Dean, all municipal mayors and councils, and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director. In that 3-page missive, Hamilton emphatically disagreed that CRD’s proposed new service is the solution to regional transportation congestion problems.
“The CRD’s eagerness to create a vague ill-defined service for the purpose of political gain is very short-sighted,” Mayor Hamilton wrote. She said that meaningful discussion about solutions rather than creating another service with further taxing authority (as in Bylaw 4093) is the way to go.
That the original Regional Transportation Service idea was going to carry a $10 million price tag (now down to $2.5 million) indicates a massive gap between what goes on at a desktop analytical level compared to what is needed, seen and experienced on the ground. No hope of amalgamation in the region with this sort of disconnect emerging!
Chair Price in a letter January 12 to all municipalities said a CRD transportation service would not replace other strategies but would “complement other initiatives and enhance the profile of the region’s needs” including those of municipalities.
Notably, Hamilton says that “Colwood disagrees that the region has no voice without the establishment of a CRD service”. She itemized the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and the BC Transit Commission, as well as meetings with mayors with the Minister of Transportation, having generated appropriate and effective movement forward. She hit hard against the idea of using the Alternative Approval Process, which essentially requires a counter-petition to overrule an approved motion, that being “the ultimate disrespect of democratically, locally elected Councils tasked with governing their communities”
Without belaboring all this, here’s the main point. Municipalities in affected areas of the wider region need to have their own say and see effective solutions for their affected areas. That means the west shore municipalities not being subject to override by municipalities with more weighted votes at the CRD board table, when the final cross to bear will be the western communities themselves.
Political mumbo jumbo! What does this matter to the average reader? West shore mayors are trying to find cost-effective solutions through dialogue and leveraging resources that are already out there, including dialogue with the provincial government. Relatively straightforward things like bus lanes on major routes and opening up transit use on the E&N rail corridor could be activated plans sooner than later. Achieved through dialogue and use of existing systems and resources. Another level of regional study, when – as the Premier said on January 19, MOTI already “has a room full of studies on the E&N corridor” — would delay some sensible solutions that could relieve traffic congestion sooner than later. “We want to make progress, we want to make something done there,” Horgan said.
CRD says there would be no additional costs on establishment of the service, but identifies a maximum requisition of $2.5 million for the service.
Bylaw 4093 itemizes an exhaustive list of services that could easily take years to wade through before producing recommendations, including: transportation policy, plans, surveys and studies; data collection, monitoring, analysis and reporting; transportation modelling; web-based and multi-media platforms; programming, planning and promotion; partnerships for data, analysis, planning, programming and policy; and transportation grant submissions. It is doubtful the residents and commuters of the west shore want to wait for all that.
The next CRD board meeting after the February 23 deadline for municipal response is on March 14.
The next municipal election is October 20. Whichever mayors are elected also arrive at the CRD board table as directors there. The electorate does not get to vote separately for representation at the CRD regional level.
Registration for the 2018-2019 academic year opened online at 8 am on Monday January 29 at www.sd62.bc.ca/schools/kindergarten
This is for children who will be age 5 by December 31, 2018.
Registration may also be done in person at the SD62 administration office in Langford at 3143 Jacklin Road.
SD62 serves families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Metchosin, Highlands, and in Juan de Fuca as far as Port Renfrew. The SD62 school district serves what is now the fastest growing region in BC (other than Surrey on the mainland).
In particular, housing demand is considered to be relatively affordable in Langford and Sooke, which is drawing more people to the west side of Vancouver Island.
Tuesday, January 30 ~ LANGFORD. Jacklin Road detour during Belmont Market construction, starts February 13.
For those who commute regularly through Langford, from Sooke Road over to the Langford core, this one is for you!
A new municipal road called Division Avenue will soon be open for use through what is now the construction site for the new Belmont Market (on the old Belmont school site). The City of Langford will issue a Traffic Advisory with the exact date, but as a commuter, you’ll know!
Closing off a section of Jacklin Road between Terlane and Jenkins (the section you’d take from Sooke Road to reach Westshore Town Centre), is still on track for Tuesday February 13.
The closure will be in both directions, for about four months (or maybe to July 13 as posted on marquee signs this week). After that, some improvements will be done on Jenkins Avenue, but that work can be completed with single-lane alternating traffic.
The City and the contractor are on track to contact residents who are directly affected. That would also include the Sooke School District 62 administration office, just a stone’s throw beyond the section of Jacklin that will be closed.
“Residents living in the closure area will be given full continued access however the general public will not be allowed into the construction zone. Businesses will also be notified in the general region of the construction works (e.g. North of Jenkins Avenue and south of Division Avenue),” says Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.
Division Avenue will be opened to the public before Jacklin Road is closed so that traffic can use this as a detour.
The road closure is to best enable efficient and safe completion of a large amount of construction works slated for this section of road including: • Watermain replacement by CRD Water • Installation of a new sewer main • Completion of sidewalks on the east side of Jacklin Rd (the west side of Jacklin Rd sidewalks would be installed as development proceeds on that side of the road) • Bikelane completion on both sides of Jacklin Rd • A new signal light at Terlane Ave leading to a controlled entry point to the Belmont Market property • Landscaping • Transit stops .
The road improvements were a requirement of rezoning for the Belmont Market site and are being paid for by the Developer.
“If the road were not closed for this work it would likely take twice as long or more to complete the work and would prove very challenging,” says Mahovlich.
The closure does not go south as far as the Galloping Goose. It stops short (just north of) the SD62 school board office. There is a project map on the www.langford.ca website.
“I believe we will be impacted when Jacklin is worked on,” says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. People will need to take the detour. “Langford is leading that awareness piece as they are responsible for managing traffic flow.”
Other ways to get into or through Langford during the Jacklin Road interruption are of course the new West Shore Parkway and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
The City has been doing pothole repairs on Jacklin and Jenkins. With cold weather and snow the potholes were opening back up and proving to be an ongoing maintenance challenge.
Thursday, January 25 ~ OTTAWA – Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) has been named as the Agriculture Critic in the NDP Shadow Cabinet. The appointment was announced today in Ottawa by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
In this role MacGregor will also be appointed as the Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
“As someone who owns a small-scale farm property in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, I am excited to accept this appointment to serve as the NDP’s Agriculture Critic,” said MacGregor.
“The issues surrounding how we produce and consume our food are always on the forefront of the national conversation, and I am looking forward to leading the development of NDP policy on these matters and holding the government to account,” added MacGregor.
“Agricultural producers are among the most important actors in the Canadian economy, and I will make sure their voices are heard in Parliament.”
The appointment was announced today at the NDP Caucus Retreat in Ottawa. MacGregor previously served as the NDP’s Critic for Justice and Attorney General and for Seniors.
MacGregor maintains two constituency offices within the broad geographical region of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford — one in Duncan, and one in Langford.
Wednesday, January 24 ~ METCHOSIN. In the aftermath of a Tsunami Warning that highlighted gaps in advisories to the public and people not knowing what to do in many parts of Vancouver Island, Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop has announced a Tsunami Response Information Session to be held Monday, January 29 from 7 to 9pm in Metchosin Council Chambers (4450 Happy Valley Road).
“This will be an opportunity to understand how things work within the District Emergency Program during a real threat, and ask questions about our procedures,” says Chief Dunlop.
The evening will include review of the tsunami threat in Metchosin as a hazard zone as well as the recent event o January 24 with a real-time review of the notification process including door-to-door activities. Also: Emergency Notification – resource opportunities and improvements that can be made.
“There are hiccups and roadblocks in every process, but we hope this Information Session will provide us all a venue to educate each other,” said Chief Dunlop in a message to Metchosin residents.
“The Emergency Program wants to hear from you how to better communicate, educate and enhance the safety of all Metchosinites. As well, we hope to provide you a better understanding of municipal response limitations, expectations and requirements,” she said.
Tuesday, January 23 ~ WEST COAST / VANCOUVER ISLAND. An 8.1 Earthquake has occurred south of Alaska at 01:32am. As of 4:12 am the TSUNAMI WARNING WAS CANCELLED: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/tsunami-warning-coastal-areas-of-bc-jan-23-2018-at-0135am/
==== Previous post:A Tsunami Warning has been issued for all coastal areas of British Columbia. It is believed the waves generated may impact low lying areas under 20 metres.
Follow the instructions of authorities in your area. Do not call police or 911 for updates. Visit Emergency Preparedness and municipal websites as well as Twitter for updates.Minimize phone use in affected areas. For further information go to the emergency management British Columbia website at https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/
No evacuations for Sooke are ordered at this time, says Sooke Fire Rescue. Fire crews are patrolling Whiffin Spit (CLOSED) and Billings Spit.District of Tofino has advised residents to evacuate to higher ground.
The tsunami is expected to arrive at Tofino at 4:40 am Pacific Time. See Twitter: @TofinoCA
Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop emailed out “this is not a drill”.
The National Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning that includes the following zones of coastal British Columbia:• Zone A – the North Coast and Haida Gwaii.• Zone B – the Central Coast and Northwest Vancouver Island Coast, including Kitimat, Bella Coola and Port Hardy.• Zone C – the Outer West Coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.• Zone D – the Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.“
At this time it is believed that a tsunami has been generated. The tsunami may impact low lying coastal areas in these zones. Local governments in these zones are urged to activate their emergency plans and immediately begin evacuation of identified areas at risk for tsunami impacts,” said Chief Dunlop.
No other zones of coastal British Columbia are at risk.The Township of Esquimalt is monitoring the tsunami warning situation and are setting up a reception centre in case evacuation is necessary – details to follow.
Monday, January 22 ~ LANGFORD. Tonight at City of Langford Council, an official collaboration of the fastest growing city in BC together with leading-edge Royal Roads University was forged.
In a brief presentation to Mayor and Council, RRU Business Development Director Dale Gann said that the “attraction, creation and retention” of young talent by the local university is becoming more formal with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Council approved.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said that “retaining young people to stay in our community” is important as the city grows. “Post secondary is paramount for this council as we have grown,” said Mayor Young, in line with his long-time philosophy of building Langford as a community where people can stay to learn, have jobs and build businesses instead of leaving for towns and cities afar. “We improve what we’ve got in our community,” Young said at Council this evening.
The MOU provides the foundation for “meaningful and successful cooperation between Royal Roads University and the the City of Langford”. In the past, the city and the university have interacted in the past, each with regard to its own mission, vision and goals. Now with the formal MOU, the benefits include exploring opportunities, conducting activities and providing strategic advice on areas of mutual benefit, including:
- Applied research and community-focused education
- Work-integrated learning opportunities for students
- Educational services and support relevant to the growth of Langford and the Westshore
- Meeting the educational needs of local Indigenous communities and international students
- Business missions, promoting economic prosperity and attracting investment
- Community development initiatives
- Relevant seminars and academic meetings
- Collaboration in sectors such as sustainability and technology
No financial or resource obligations are assumed under this agreement, which is set to last for five years.
The agreement was co-signed by RRU President Allan Cahoon and Langford Mayor Stewart Young.
Sunday, January 21 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Extreme winds have caused extensive damage and multiple outages for BC Hydro customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, says the utility on their website this morning.
At present, about 65,000 customers throughout the south coast and island areas are without power. at 9 am, BC Hydro said that it expects outages to increase until the winds decrease.
“Restoration efforts are being coordinated in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.”
On Vancouver Island, as of 9 am this morning:
> Vancouver Island South – 22 outages: 14,951 customers without power
> Vancouver Island North – 32 outages: 11,990 customers without power
Hard hit with the most customers out of power are the Gulf Islands including Galiano, Mayne, Ganges, Pender and Saturna.
In Langford/View Royal 764 customers are without power in the Atkins/Millwoods/Strandlund area.
Other areas on the current list of outages: Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Victoria (Fairfield/James Bay 702 customers without power) and Oak Bay/Saanich (2,072 customers without power).
To report an outage, call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile or report it online at www.bchydro.com
Friday, January 19 ~ SOOKE. Premier John Horgan today announced ‘a start’ for the process of improving the travel conditions on Highway 14 (Sooke Road). With a $10 million expenditure in the mix, Horgan’s announcement kicked off the first of multiple phases of safety, transit and congestion improvements for highway that serves as an essential commuter corridor for residents of Sooke, as well as tourists who contribute to economic development of the Sooke area. Specifically that will be:
- Three bus pullouts on both sides of Highway 14 at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road, and Harbourview Road
- A bus queue jump lane at Jacklin Road
- New safety signs at three locations (Kangaroo Road, Gillespie Road, and Parkland Road)
- A slow-moving vehicle pullout eats of Muir Creek, between Sooke and French Beach
- A new rest area at the Sombrio lookout
- A new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road (at Roche Cove), which is an important alternative route to Highway 14 (when vehicle accidents and other incidents on the main highway block normal through-traffic)
- Intersections currently without lighting that will receive new LED lights are: Awsworth Rd, Humpback/Woodruff (including one at the bus stop), Manzer, Laidlaw, Parkland and Impala.
- Intersections that will have new LED lights installed to augment current lighting are: Kangaroo, Connie, Gillespie, Glintz/Polymede, Ludlow, Goodridge (with upgrade to the fire signal), Harbourview, Saseenos, Woodland, Winnipeg, Saseenos Elementary School (4 additional lights including two directly over each side of the crosswalk), Sooke River/Lazzar/Park-and-Ride.
Horgan has a longstanding association with ‘all things Sooke’ — not only as the MLA since 2005 for what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding (including Sooke to Port Renfrew), but having spent a lot of recreational time in the area.
Langford Mayor Stew Young has long sought improvements to Highway 14, as a way to help connect the rugged seaside forested area of Sooke to the services and growth of Langford which is now the fastest-growing city in BC (other than Surrey in the Lower Mainland). For Young this announcement was a good start, in that his vision for the west shore has included better road accessibliity to Sooke for about 25 years now.
“It’s better to put money into infrastructure than into more studies,” Mayor Stew Young told West Shore Voice News during the roadside media announcement today. Noting the housing affordability of Sooke and similarly Langford, Mayor Young said that better, safer travel on Highway 14 will help link the two communities together to build a great community and a greater economy. The scale is good here. It help businesses. As Sooke grows, you have to make sure your construction keeps up with that. I know there’s going to be more coming, there might be widening. Today we’re hearing that safety and lighting improvements are first.
Langford’s Mayor was glad to hear today’s announcement. “Give them a year or two and see how much funding they have for more. Economic development is important here in the west shore region,” said Stew Young.
At the podium with Premier Horgan was Sooke Mayor Maja Tait who said Sooke and the surrounding region is connected by this single highway. “Residents and politicians and alike have been asking for safety improvements for commuters, transit users, pedestrians and everyone else who relies on this.”
Tait said that young people and retirees are being attracted to Sooke as a growing community “with proximity to large urban centres that afford us access to diverse employment opportunities, health care, educational programs and the like”. She acknowledged that Sooke relies on Highway 14 “to connect us to the west shore and Victoria.”
Horgan says his government’s budget in February will include more announcements for improvements on Highway 14, more to do with actual work on the road itself (in addition to the lighting and public transit-related announcements made today).
Over 100 people showed up for the rainy-day announcement held at 1 pm at the Park-and-Ride across from Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) on Highway 14 at Lazzar Road. In addition to politicians (including members of Sooke council, Langford Council, and BC Transit) and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, there were many active members of the Sooke community including business and education leaders.
Two youth from EMCS said the impact of road closures on Highway 14 when there are accidents has meant that teachers cannot sometimes get to the school, and that when fellow students are injured on the road it affects the entire school community.
Thursday, January 18 ~ LANGFORD. Only one Canadian city is among the top 20 finalists in the highly sought-after prize of being the location for Amazon’s Thunderdome (its second headquarters or HQ2), and that’s Toronto.
Bids were received by Amazon from 238 cities across North America. Here in BC, a bid had been submitted by Vancouver and the growing City of Langford on Vancouver Island. In Alberta, Calgary had also shown interest by submitting a bid.
Of the other 19 cities on the shortlist, many are clustered on the eastern seaboard of the US or in America’s midland heartland, with only one on the west coast:• Atlanta, GA• Austin, TX• Boston, MA• Chicago, IL• Columbus, OH• Dallas, TX• Denver, CO• Indianapolis, IN• Los Angeles, CA• Miami, FL• Montgomery County, MD• Nashville, TN• Newark, NJ• New York City, NY• Northern Virginia, VA• Philadelphia, PA• Pittsburgh, PA• Raleigh, NC• Toronto, ON• Washington DC
It was one of Amazon’s goals to build its second headquarters some distance away from its original Seattle headquarters, which as a different shipping location would reduce distance and time for many deliveries. As well, the ‘elephant in the room’ is that Seattle is smack dab within the west coast earthquake zone.
Amazon has said it will work with each city to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”
The selected candidates will move to the next round of Amazon’s selection process, the company said today, January 18. Amazon says it will make a final decision on the site of its new headquarters this year.
“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of economic development. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Amazon provided little detail about how it picked the finalists for its second headquarters, which it is calling HQ2, other than to say it based it choices on the criteria it laid out for the search earlier.
As reported by the New York Times, the H2Q bidding process has also attracted critics. They quote Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit organization that serves as an advocate for local businesses, who said that local politicians were enhancing Amazon’s image just as the company’s market power was under growing scrutiny from groups like her own. “As these cities woo and grovel, they are basically communicating this idea that we should want Amazon to be bigger and more powerful in our economy,” Ms. Mitchell said.
Other critics have said the magnitude of Amazon in any given city would displace smaller businesses in part by drawing away talent to the mega-Amazon. Whatever city gets the prized HQ2 contract will probably see an additional burden on municipal taxpayers for things like more roads and other infrastructure and require a larger system of services including housing, retail and medical. Likely appreciating this, Amazon did specify in the bid criteria that potential locations should have a population of at least 1 million, so that knock-on impacts could be absorbed.
Wednesday, January 17 ~ Five west shore mayors will discuss regional issues on a panel on Thursday, February 1.
The Vision Westshore 2018 dinner event is being hosted by the Westshore Chamber of Commerce from 5 to 9:30 pm at Olympic View Golf Club, 643 Latoria Rd featuring the Mayors of Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands and View Royal.
Likely topics of discussion would include transportation, housing affordability, development, and integrated services.
Tickets are $85+GST for members, $100+GST for non-members. www.westshore.bc.ca
The Vision panel event was last held in 2016.
West Shore RCMP spokesperson Cst Matt Baker says the owners of the bicycles are avid cyclists and are devastated at the theft.
“We want the public to look at the photos and keep an eye open for these bikes and to call your local Police or Crime Stoppers if you see these bikes around town,” said Cst Baker in a news release today.
Anyone with information is asked to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 www.victoriacrimestoppers.ca .
Monday, January 15 ~ WEST SHORE. The International Student Program is a significant revenue-generator for Sooke School District 62 (SD62). Students come to study for one or more years of public education in the west shore, paying for tuition and accommodation.
In a presentation January 9 by SD62 Principal of International Students Programs, Laura Schwertfeger (at an Education Committee of the Whole meeting) addressed trustees, staff, and stakeholder reps about international students, ELL/English Language Learner students (formerly ESL) who stay as part of the community, and overall supports for welcoming.
Schwertfeger — who most recently has travelled to Switzerland to promote the west shore as a progressive place to get an English-speaking education — said students are presently in SD62 schools from about 20 countries. Most of the students attending in SD62 are from China (about 30-40%), Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. There are also students visiting from Vietnam, Russia, Austria, and Australia. The greatest number of International Students are in Langford-area schools “which speaks to housing availability”, said Schwertfeger.
There are 40 visiting students at Belmont Secondary, 20 at Ruth King Elementary, and several at Spencer Middle School. SD62 aims to balance the numbers from a range of originating countries. Most International Students come for language development but also from English-speaking countries like Australia for a short-term cultural experience. Vietnamese students are often here long-term, for 2 to 4 years. The number of Russian students has increased recently and more are coming from Iran.
The program team has visited about 30 different countries. Agents and partners to do most of the presentations, while SD62 staff personally attend areas of “significant potential”. In Switzerland “the appetite to come to Canada is significant compared to going to the US,” said Schwertfeger.
Last fall about 1,600 participants attended her presentations in Switzerland over two days. Another aspect of the International Program is “moving to an intercultural mindset” with cultural diversity supports offered to teachers, staff, students and community.
SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull says there are 280 full-time-equivalent International Students in SD62 this year. Tuition per student is $12,500 per academic year for all school levels.
While discussion of the Strategic Plan was kept tight and short at SD62’s Education Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday evening, January 9, the document itself is fairly extensive, as will be the impact of its implementation throughout schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke over the next several years.
Parents of students attending SD62 schools will have received an email in recent weeks, asking for their input. Busy families — if they haven’t already — might want to at least read the Strategic Plan document to be up to speed with the ideas, whether or not they have the time or inclination to send an email with comments.
You can see and download the SD62 Strategic Plan at http://www.sd62.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2017/12/Strategic-Plan-Version-1-as-at-December-2017.pdf
Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and the deadline is now end of the day Thursday, January 18 (extended from January 12). The board could approve the Strategic Plan as soon as January 23.
The current SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge will be retiring at the end of July 2018, with a new (yet to be hired) Superintendent filling his much-accomplished shoes. The current board is comprised mostly of long-term trustees, some of whom may not run again in October 2018.
The Strategic Plan is in part a legacy document to try and ensure that the many accomplishments of the 2014-2018 board in particular will be preserved into the future.
SD62 is the fastest-growing school district in BC, with about 500 more students expected to register into schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke each year during the next five years.
Summary SD62 STRATEGIC PLAN
> Vision: honour student voice and choice through engaging, purposeful and experiential learning in a safe and respectful community
> Values: Relationships, Choice,
> Respect, Integrity, Trust, Safety
> Mission: to develop informed, literate and resilient citizens and sustain a safe, respectful and responsive learning community.
> Goals: Learning | Engagement | Growth
Friday, January 12 ~ COLWOOD. Looking forward in 2018 to developments like the Brooks Westshore independent school on Sooke Road, the residential-commercial development by Omni Group at Colwood Corners, and further residential growth in the Royal Bay area, City of Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton is excited about 2018.
At their January 8 council meeting, Mayor and council dealt with some public backlash over what turned out to be a mis-communicated upcoming closure of a section of Seafield Road (Heatherbell to Selleck) — something that won’t happen until the new road in the upcoming new development there is fully operational to City standards, Hamilton said.
Photo: Back to council business after the holidays, Colwood Council at their January 8 meeting (from left): Jason Nault, Lilja Chong, Rob Martin, Carol Hamilton (Mayor), Gordie Logan, Terry Trace, Cynthia Day.
Tuesday, January 2 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Overall in Greater Victoria the continuing demand for housing in this region retained strong interest in 2017 with those who can afford to own a home. In figures released by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board today, 2017 saw fewer property sales (8,944 this year compared to 10,622 last year), but prices were higher at this year-end than in December 2016.
In Greater Victoria the overall actual average sale price of a single-family home went up about $50,000 in one year (Dec 2016 to Dec 2017). The HPI (data-adjusted figure based on selected criteria like transportation and proximity to schools and services) went up more than that — an increase of $67,200 between December 2016 and December 2017 which implies an upward trend perhaps for 2018 as well.
WEST SHORE FOCUS: Comparing the 2017 year-end to one year ago, actual house sale average prices were virtually unchanged in Langford ($684,132 this year compared to $685,942 in December last year) although the HPI (data-adjusted prices) jumped $84,000 during 2017.
Colwood prices skyrocketed, with an actual sales average increase of $142,565 in that same one-year period (house sales in December 2017 averaged $728,373 in Colwood compared to $585,808 in December last year).
In Sooke, the overall sale price of homes in one year dropped about $42,000 (from $527,854 in December last year to $485,718 in December this year) though both are still around half a million dollars to live in a fairly remote semi-rural area.
The availability of different types of housing probably contributes to the differences. Langford is consistently building a range of housing types including single-family, townhomes and some condos (as well as rental apartments and affordable housing buildings) while Colwood is seeing a lot of new construction in the higher end of single family homes. In Sooke it’s possible much of the best stock already sold in the very active year that was 2016.
BROADER ISSUES: The new Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) mortgage rules (as of January 1, 2018) that include a ‘stress test’ to determine if a homeowner’s income can withstand interest rate increases, caused a bit of a pre-2018 rush in housing sales in November 2017 in particular. While the government says it hopes to see the housing market cool a bit (and they say they want to protect buyers from over-reaching their ability), the dream of homeownership is increasingly unavailable to many people in Canada — especially in the inflated Victoria/Vancouver markets.
The underlying problem is a precarious job market in which fewer stable long-term jobs are available compared to in decades past. And underlying that scenario is a financial system that has for about 30 years favoured the winners to keep on winning, pushing affordability in all respects further out of the reach of average workers and much of the middle class.
In Canada overall, the crash of 2008 was followed by about nine years of stagnant economic growth. That was compounded in BC by a government whose policies to privatize, use crown corporations as cash-cows, and save at all costs for a rainy day left little fresh energy or opportunity in the economic system for small business and workers alike.
After WWII, Canada started CMHC and created the housing market as a vehicle for personal and family investment as well as government tax revenue. Now very much an investment tool for those who can afford it, the housing financial system in Canada has completely lost sight of the main purpose of real estate which is to put a roof over people’s heads.
Pushing previous low-end homeowners back into the rental market (and keeping more people renting because they can’t afford to enter the market) is an additional ‘unintended consequence’ of rising house prices. This makes rental availability virtually nil for that new group of renters as well as those who have always rented (which includes most of the Millennials).
All of this is a crisis waiting to burst. It has yet to be seen whether actions by the federal and BC government (with options like affordable housing, as well as the ‘cooling’ of the homebuyer market) will be able to moderate the looming crisis of ‘where are people going to live’? And if people can’t afford to buy high-end or even ‘regular’ homes, the construction industry will have to shift fairly rapidly to building other types of housing to maintain their profitability.
ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood, View Royal & Metchosin – March & April 2018 [link to come]
ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood, View Royal & Metchosin – Jan & Feb 2018 [link to come]
ARCHIVES – West Shore regional news – June to Oct 2016
ARCHIVES – West Shore regional news – Feb to May 2016