Breaking News – Langford, Colwood, Metchosin & View Royal

  

    

The West Shore – news updates 


Regional News:  BC & NATIONAL | VANCOUVER ISLAND (island-wide impact) | LANGFORD, COLWOOD, VIEW ROYAL & METCHOSIN | SOOKE | JUAN de FUCAREGIONAL EVENTS


 

Thursday, April 19 ~ LANGFORD & WEST SHORE. The West Shore Arts Council is celebrating their 30th year with an event on Saturday night, April 21.

‘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.

Tickets are $25 – available online at www.westshorearts.org or phone 250-478-2286 or e-Mail: info@westshorearts.org


 

Intersection of Sooke Road at Happy Valley Road (with Glen Lake Road access beyond). Photo April 2018 [West Shore Voice News]

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.


Construction along Division Ave [West Shore Voice News photo – March 27 2018]

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


 

A hockey stick adorned with the green-and-yellow colours of the Humboldt Broncos rests near the entry to the sports-friendly Bear Mountain Resort in Langford, BC. [West Shore Voice News photo – April 10, 2018]

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).


 

Thursday, April 5 ~ LANGFORD. The West Shore RCMP Detachment will be unveiling a Wall of Honour today April 5 in memory of fallen West Shore RCMP officers.

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.

West Shore RCMP Cst Sarah Beckett

“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.


 

March 16 capital funding announcement at Royal Bay Secondary (to expand that school by 600 seats). (From left:) BC Education Minister Rob Fleming, SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar (at podium), Royal Bay Secondary Principal Windy Beadall, Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean; accompanied by soccer academy students. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

Hwy 1 westbound to McKenzie intersection [West Shore Voice News photo]

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!


 

Traffic on the McCallum side of the Millstream Overrpass, during roadway upgrades [West Shore Voice News photo – March 21, 2018]

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
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).


 

Mobile blood donor clinic in the west shore, March 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

Hwy 1 westbound to McKenzie intersection [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.

Construction at Hwy1 & McKenzie [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.

Traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca |  Project website: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/mckenzieinterchange/

>> Photos of construction zone on Hwy 1 near McKenzie Interchange [West Shore Voice News – March 23, 2018]


 

Emergency Management BC will conduct a test of Alert Ready on March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm PDT.

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.


 

Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce (left) received a $7,500 donation from Esquimalt Anglers Association president Bob Culm on March 14, 2018 [photo by Judith Cullington]

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 alistair.macgregor@parl.gc.ca

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]


 

Langford Mayor Stew Young — with rugby legend Al Charron — receives Rugby Canada award for contribution to the organization. [March 8, 2018]

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 HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens Vancouver Tournament attracted over 77,000 fans to BC Place, March 10-11. [Derek Stevens photo]

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.


 

Construction of the McKenzie Interchange.

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.


 

Announcement of $23.2 million in funding to build a 600-seat expansion at Royal Bay Secondary, on March 16, 2018 at the school. Accompanying the students, front row (from left): student leader Maddy Morrison, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin), Education Minister Rob Fleming, Royal Bay Principal Windy Beadall; back row: First Nations leader Vic Peter, and SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.”

Royal Bay Secondary school, March 16, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.

Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) and BC Education Minister Rob Fleming lace up to play a bit of soccer March 16 at Royal Bay Secondary. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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 bussing@sd62.bc.ca


 

Millstream Overpass in Langford (March 2018) – West Shore Voice News photo

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.

Read this article as a separate HTML page


 

Rotating-style compost bin is demonstrated at the Compost Education Centre.

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 alistair.macgregor@parl.gc.ca 


 

Tuesday, March 13 ~ COLWOOD.  Royal Bay Secondary School’s first ever Career Exploration Day boasts almost 75 presenters in careers as diverse as acrobat to anesthesiologist!

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.


Revenues from large backlit promotional signage on Island Highway go into capital reserves at West Shore Parks and Recreation [West Shore Voice News photo – March 2018]

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.


 

Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

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


 

Sunday, March 5 ~ WEST SHORE. === Strong registration pace for opening year of Strong registration pace for opening year of Brookes Westshore independent school in Colwood === 

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


 

Revenues from large backlit promotional signage on Island Highway go into capital reserves at West Shore Parks and Recreation [West Shore Voice News photo – March 2018]

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


 

Saturday, March 3 ~ LANGFORD. This week’s West Shore Voice News print/PDF issue is our “Langford Action” issue.

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.


Millstream Overpass Improvement Project aiming for completion by April 30, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

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).

Mon March 5: right turn exit from Veterans Memorial Parkway onto Hwy 1 will be reduced to one lane (from two).

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.


Construction of affordable housing by Knox Vision Society, at Church Rd & Wadams Way in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News photo – Jan 2018]

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


 

The new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre officially opens February 27, 2018 in Langford, BC [West Shore Voice News file photo Jan 2018]

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.

Weight lifting area in the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre, Langford, Bc [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.”


 

Tuesday, February 27 ~ WEST SHORE.  SD62: a full agenda for their February 27 board meeting.

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

 


Langford Mayor Stew Young presents Wounded Warriors rep Channing Knull with donation from Langford city, developers, & Bear Mountain Resort. [West Shore Voice News photo – Feb 25 2018]

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.

Wounded Warriors runners make a pit stop at Bear Mountain Resort, Feb 25 [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

Red blood cell inventory across Canada is critically low for some blood types [Stats at Feb 16, 2018]

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.

Supply Levels

  • 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).

Upcoming Clinics

  • 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]


Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to slow down and drive carefully. [West Shore Voice News photo – 2017]

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.


 

Sunday, February 18 ~ WEST SHORE.
Tight housing market increases demand for property management specialty services
by Mary P Brooke ==========================================

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


 

Belmont Residences & Belmont Market will be developed on 24 acres at Jacklin Road and Jenkins Ave. [West Shore Voice News photo – Feb 2018]

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.


 

Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity [West Shore Voice News photo, 2017]

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.


Scott Stinson, incoming SD62 Superintendent (starting Aug 2018)

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.

Jim Cambridge, SD62 Superintendent [West Shore Voice News photo 2017]

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.


Construction of affordable housing by Knox Vision Society, at Church Rd & Wadams Way in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News photo – Jan 2018]

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).

The numbers:
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.


West shore mayors at Vision Westshore 2018. From left: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

Traffic congestion in the west shore during commuter rush hour. [West Shore Voice News photo, Aug 2017]

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.


 

Wednesday, January 31 ~ West Shore. Kindergarten Registration for families served by the Sooke School District 62 (SD62) continues this week through Friday February 2.

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.


 

The new municipal road called Division Avenue will be open as a detour through the Belmont Market construction site. [Photo: West Shore Voice News, January 2018]

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.


 

Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

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.


Tsunami Warning on Tuesday, January 23 after 8.0 quake in Alaska at 1:32 am.

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.


 

Langford Mayor Stew Young signed MOU with Royal Roads University, joined by Council, and Dale Gann of RRU. [Photo by City of Langford]

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


 

Hwy 14 road improvements announcement January 19 by Premier John Horgan in Sooke, introduced by Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.

At the Hwy 14 improvements announcement in Sooke, January 19 (from left): Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Langford Councillor Lanny Seaton (back row), Langford Mayor Stew Young, and Langford CAO Darren Kiedyk. [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.

BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) chatted with youth during the Hwy 14 road improvements announcement [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

Amazon has shortlisted 20 cities for its Thunderdome (second headquarters).

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.


 

Tuesday, January 16 ~ LANGFORD. Three bicycles were stolen from a condo building on Jacklin Road on Thursday, January 4. West Shore RCMP are looking for the public’s help to recover the bicycles.

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.

The bicycles are described as:
• Red and Black, dual suspension, Scott Gambler 30
• Green and Black, Scott Genius 720
• Blue, dual suspension, Norco Range 2

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 .


 

Presentation January 9 by SD62 Principal of International Students Programs, Laura Schwertfeger [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

Monday, January 15 ~ WEST SHORE. Opportunity for Parent & Community Input (SD62 – Langford, Colwood Sooke).

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 info@sd62.bc.ca 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


 

City of Colwood Council at their January 8, 2018 meeting [West Shore Voice News photo]

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.


 

BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 31 ~ VICTORIA.  Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in recognition of New Year’s Day 2018:

“The new year brings new beginnings and new opportunities. It is a chance to look back at the challenges we have faced, and to resolve ourselves to overcome obstacles in the year to come.

“From addressing housing affordability to tackling the opioid crisis, and the ongoing recovery from last year’s devastating wildfires, we have no shortage of important work to do in the coming year.

“On New Year’s Day we are given the opportunity to think about where we are and where we have to go. It is a day to consider the path ahead and to set our minds to meet our goals.

“In 2018, we will be working hard to create a strong, sustainable economy that benefits everyone, to make life more affordable for families and to improve the services people rely on.

“On behalf of the government of British Columbia, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy new year with many more to come.”


Sunday, December 30 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. As you ring in the new year tomorrow night, those who are politically inclined and civic minded are already well aware that 2018 is a big municipal election year in BC.

Elections BC says that the municipal and school board election period starts January 1, 2018, even though election day isn’t until October 20. That’s a lot of months of preparation for exposure to the community!

Candidates for Mayor, Council, and school trustee seats across BC may submit nomination papers starting September 4. The official campaign period begins September 22.

West Shore Voice News will in particular follow the campaign action all year in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke, Juan de Fuca and View Royal (and school district 62 on the west shore) as candidates shuffle into place.

In our nearly 10 years of covering political and community news of this region, West Shore Voice News (formerly Sooke Voice News) election coverage has proven to get broad readership and good advertising traction.

This is the first municipal/trustee election after a 4-year term. Previously in BC, municipal and school board terms were for three years.


 

Drinking alcohol in any private or commercial vehicle is illegal in BC, whether the vehicle is moving or not.

Thursday, December 28 ~ VICTORIA.  The BC government is reminding party-goers who intend to use for-hire vehicles such as limousines and “party buses” to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations that govern these vehicles, to plan ahead for a safe ride home.

Passengers should be reminded that drinking alcohol in any private or commercial vehicle is illegal in BC, whether the vehicle is moving or not.

As New Year’s Eve approaches, consumers are encouraged to look for companies that advertise strict policies related to consuming alcohol in vehicles. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has distributed over 800 decals to operators for display in their vehicles, reminding passengers that consuming alcohol in any vehicle is illegal in BC.

Operators using any size vehicles with limo-style or party bus perimeter seating must have a special authorization licence. These licences state where vehicles can operate and limit fleet size. Passengers should look for a passenger-transportation licence plate and decal on the front of the vehicle, or if there is no plate, ask to see a temporary operating permit, before boarding a bus.

Police will be monitoring limousines and party buses during the holiday season. Operators that allow the consumption of alcohol in their vehicles will be penalized, and passengers in these vehicles also have a responsibility to adhere to the Province’s liquor laws. Operators who do not comply with liquor laws run the risk of losing their licence, and minors in possession of alcohol are subject to a $230 fine.

Make sure the company you are considering is properly licensed in BC by looking it up on the Licensee Report on the Passenger Transportation Branch’s Registry at: www.th.gov.bc.ca/rpt/registry.htm


BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 24 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan has released the following statement in celebration of Christmas:

“Dec. 25 is a special day for Christians around the world. It is a day set aside to recognize the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to give thanks to God for the gift of salvation.

“For people of many backgrounds, Christmas is an opportunity for families to gather together and celebrate warmth, good food and good company.

“It offers us a break from the worries of the everyday world and a chance to focus on things that really matter – the people we love and the communities we care about.

“It is also a time to reach out to people in need, and work in a spirit of generosity to help and support each other.

“We hope that British Columbians throughout the province have a safe and joyful Christmas season.

“On behalf of the Government of British Columbia, Merry Christmas.”

To see Premier John Horgan’s interview in West Shore Voice News, click here: December 15, 2017 issue


 

Matthew Baldwin, City of Langford Director of Planning & Subdivision

Friday, December 22 ~ LANGFORD.  Long-service awards were given to two City of Langford planning department employees at the municipality’s December 4 Council meeting. 

Director of Planning and Subdivision Matthew Baldwin and Planning Assistant Trina Cruikshank were recognized by Langford Mayor Stew Young as he presented them framed certificates and photos.

Matthew Baldwin says: “It is difficult to encapsulate 20 years into a few brief thoughts. I do recall, and I often tell people that when I visited Langford for my job interview that I had to admit that I really didn’t know that Langford was a municipality separate from Victoria, or that there were actually 13 separate municipalities in the Capital Region. I had a coffee with a friend of mine on the morning of my job interview, and asked him what he thought I might need to know about Langford. He told me not to worry too much, because Council had just approved a rezoning application for Costco and that everything would change.”  “Since then, I have been involved with the Development Permit for Costco, and development applications for Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Superstore, Canadian Tire, the Brick, Lowe’s to name just some of the bigger stores. I have also been pleased to have been involved in the Westhills Development, Bear Mountain, South Skirt Mountain and Belmont Market since their inception. As a golfer, helping Bear Mountain to develop has been particularly satisfying.”

Baldwin continues: “Behind the scenes, we kept ourselves busy by implementing a new zoning bylaw and Downtown Revitalization Plan for Langford as well as developing a new Official Community Plan for Langford that was developed in conjunction with the City of Colwood. We’ve drawn up design guidelines and zoning for small lot development (something that was an entirely new concept 20 years ago) and we have brought in Development Permit areas for Interface Fire Hazard and environmental protection which have helped shape how  the community has grown. Along the way we have also been recognized for our Trail Master Plan and our Affordable Housing program.” “Of course, none of this would have been possible without amazing co-workers being led by an outstanding Mayor and City Council.  I feel truly honoured and blessed to have been able to be a part of this.”

Trina Cruikshank, Planning Assistant, City of Langford

Trina Cruikshank says she left a 10-year Planning position at the District of Kitimat specifically and purposefully to go on an adventure with a new Municipality, the then “District” of Langford. That was February 1, 1994. Trina says she has spent the majority of her 24 years with the City’s Planning Department. She fondly remembers that when she arrived, Langford was a bedroom community with small ‘mom and pop’ operations scattered throughout town with little infrastructure and few amenities. She quickly realized the goal to create a community where the citizens could live, play, and work. She marvels at the changes she has witnessed first hand, from a thriving commercial sector to a growing host of recreation complexes and trails, not to mention the countless subdivisions and multi-family residential buildings.

Trina Cruikshank feels a strong connection to the City of Langford and to the co-workers whom she considers her good friends. “In fact, that list includes many of the residents and developers who frequently visit City Hall,” she told West Shore Voice News. Trina says it’s true to her nature that she has also fondly observed the “prettification” of Langford with the addition of landscaping and amenities along the major roadways, particularly the cherry trees, plantings, and burgundy benches along Veterans Memorial Parkway and Goldstream Avenue.  Trina adds that she has a full timeline of development firmly implanted in her memory and is proud that her initials “TLC” can be found throughout the City’s records system.


 

Santa visiting in pediatrics at Victoria General Hospital [Island Health file photo]

Wednesday, December 20 ~ VICTORIA AREA. Santa will be visiting at Victoria General Hospital (VGH) on Thursday, December 21. “He will step in to make the holidays a little brighter for kids who can’t be home for Christmas,” says Island Health.

Helijet was to bring Santa to VGH on Tuesday but snow grounded him in Vancouver. This time Santa will arrive by ground travel. Island Health thanks Helijet for still making sure that little patients receive a teddy bear from Santa.

Santa will visit all of the children in pediatrics at VGH – at their bedside. “We have 25 beds for children and often siblings come to see Santa on this special day too,” says Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton.


Busy Millstream commercial intersection in Langford.

Tuesday, December 19 ~ TRAFFIC UPDATE WEST SHORE. There are numerous power outages in the City of Langford today due to wet snowy conditions.

As of 1:30 pm, power outages are affecting traffic signals at Millstream and McCallum Road (Costco exit), Millstream at the Home Depot entry, and the Goldstream Avenue corridor.

Most of the traffic signal lights in these areas have backup power. However the power outage is exceeding the battery lifetime in some locations.

If traffic signals are not operational, driers are reminded to obey the 4-way stop procedures.


Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. Snow and freezing rain have impacted customers across Vancouver Island, says BC Hydro. “All available resources are out working to restore power as quickly as possible but difficult conditions and extensive damage mean that some customers may experience longer outage durations,” it was stated on the BC Hydro website.

As usual, :individual restoration times may vary and will be provided once full damage assessments are completed. The safety of the public and our crews remains our top priority. Thank you for your patience,” said BC Hydro.

Outages in Colwood, Langford and Highlands since early-to-mid morning are affecting about 3,000 BC Hydro customers still as of 1:15 pm today.

In the Sooke area, as of 1:15 pm there are about 350 people without power west of Sooke, with about 20 BC Hydro customer addresses affected in areas outside of town centre (including Idlemore, 5100-5200 block, and Cedar Park Place


The Westhills view of snowy roads and hills today, Dec 19. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. It’s a snow day! Schools are closed for instruction in the west shore area (SD62) including in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. However, the buildings are open and staff are in the schools. Updates for tomorrow (Dec 20) will be posted on Twitter @SD62_Sooke

For general driving conditions, MAINROAD SOUTH ISLAND says: Drive with care today. Winter driving conditions. Expect snow, slush and slippery conditions. Use winter tires and be prepared to chain up, if needed. Please be aware of snow plows and snow clearing operations. Updates on Twitter: #DriveSafe

In Langford, the CITY of LANGFORD ENGINEERING said this morning: The City of Langford is asking all traffic to please avoid steep slope areas as we work to clear our roads. In particular please avoid Bear Mountain Parkway. Road clearing priorities mimic most other municipalities – we are clearing major collector roads, bus routes and steep slopes first. Please be patient as we make our way to the smaller local roads.  If you do not have to go out, please remain at home. Visibility coming in from the Highlands is very challenging for any drivers coming in from the District of Highlands, several abandoned vehicles Millstream Road at Millstream Lake Road and in the downhill lanes southbound Millstream Road approaching Millstream Lake Road. Snowfall is much more significant in the Highlands and in Langford at the higher elevations.

Busy Millstream commercial intersection in Langford.

As of 1 pm today, December 19, the City of Langford reports: “There are several power outages in the City right now including in the Millstream Corridor (Costco and Millstream Village). This is affecting our signal lights because the back up batteries typically last 2 to 4 hours and with Hydro crews swamped our signal lights are going down. We are likely going to send traffic control to the north side of the Highway to help out in the Millstream corridor.”

There are seven City of Langford snow plows out on the roads. One is dedicated for clearing on Bear Mountain Parkway.

The weather is warming slightly so there is now some pooling and minor flooding. “In these instances we typically go out and proactively clear catch basins so we are sending our staff out as we speak to do that all over the City in the major corridors,” says Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.

“Residents are also asked to clear their catch basins and sidewalks. The temperature will drop over night so we need to minimize slip/fall hazards as well as contain any flooding,” says Mahovlich.


 

Sharing the limelight at the new schools announcement in Langford Dec 18 (from left): SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge; City of Langford Mayor Stew Young; SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar; and BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming. [Photo: Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News]

Monday, December 18 ~ LANGFORD. The fastest-growing community in BC will be getting two new schools, it was announced by BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming today in Langford. 

The Sooke School District (SD62) which serves the communities of Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca will receive $23.3 million toward the purchase of 6.5 hectares (16 acres) of land from within the Westhills development.

The site for a middle school and elementary school at the corner of West Shore Parkway and Constellation Avenue will tie together a string of educational and recreational facilities in the area, said Langford Mayor Stew Young, including Belmont Secondary School (where the announcement was made) and nearby public library, arena, bowling alley and sports stadium. Ball fields will be developed as part of the overall project, says Young. He points out the cooperative use of the recreational facilities by students during the day and by the community in non-school hours.

In this his last year of his education career, SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge was pleased to host the announcement today, in the commons area at Belmont — the largest school in SD62. He noted that Education Minister Rob Fleming is the former education critic “who knows every rock in the education system”, as a benefit in particular to the fastest-growing area.

A main impetus for gearing up for new schools is to reduce the number of portables currently in use in the overloaded west shore area of SD62. There are presently 13 portables at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood and seven at Spencer Middle School in Langford. “We hope to eliminate those in a few short years,” said Cambridge in his remarks at the podium.

Since the availability of new education funding this year, about 3,700 teachers have been hired to help support about 5,000 more students in the community. “We’ve been poaching teachers to come teach in BC,” said Cambridge at the podium. He spoke highly of the SD62 board as being “unique in BC for putting children and learning spaces first”.

Langford Mayor Stew Young called the schools announcement “an early Christmas present”. The mayor who is proactive for community growth and development says “everybody is now taking notice of Langford”. He says that people are excited to be in Langford “because we’re actually providing what is needed by our community”.

SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar addressed the room of about 80 people, thanking the BC Government for “supporting our vision and capital plan” with funding for purchase of the 16 acres in Westhills. Parmar — himself a graduate of Belmont Secondary — said “when this government gets money they spend it”.

Building a new middle school will be SD62’s first priority on the site,followed by an elementary school to address the shortage of K to 5 spaces brought about by an influx of young families to the west shore. About 1,800 more students are expected to arrive in the SD62 catchment area in the next five years.

Present for the announcement by Minister Fleming in the bright spacious Belmont commons room were SD62 trustees and staff; City of Langford Mayor, Council and senior staff; Westhills owners, executive and staff; Education Ministry staff; Belmont principal Ray Miller; STA president Ian Johnson; CUPE reps; parent association reps; members of the business community; and students in study mode upon whom this little event came as a surprise!

 

SD62 Trustees at their December 12 board meeting (from left): Margot Swinburnson, Bob Phillips (Vice-Chair), Neil Poirier, Denise Riley, Dianna Seaton,
Ravi Parmar (Chair). Absent: Wendy Hobbs. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Friday, December 15 ~ WEST SHORE. At their December 12 board meeting ahead of Christmas break, the Sooke School District (SD62) trustees held their annual election, returning Ravi Parmar as Chair and shifting to Bob Phillips (a former SD62 Chair) as Vice-Chair. Dianna Seaton was thanked for her last couple of years of service as Vice-Chair.
Superintendent Jim Cambridge reported on his most recent school visits (Royal Bay, Saseenos and John Muir) and his involvement in the south island partnership with Camosun College as well as his participation in a committee about technical funding for all schools in BC for 2018-2019. He said some “land acquisition meetings with municipalities” had been held.Treasurer Harold Cull introduced the process of developing the 2018-2019 strategic plan, to which public input will be invited in January. SD62 promotes a goal of providing education that produces “creative, cultural and social thinkers with the capacity to be global citizens”.

SD62 executive staff after the December 12 board meeting (from left): Dave Strange (Asst Supt – Sooke schools), Harold Cull (Secretary-Treasurer), Jim Cambridge (Superintendent), Stephanie Hedley-Smith (Asst Supt – Langford schools), Paul Block (Asst Supt – Colwood schools), Dan Haley (Exec Director Human Resources). [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

A full day of orientation for new teachers in SD62 will be held soon — two sessions ahead of Christmas break, and two more in January. With so many new teachers in the growing school system, this is an expansion over the usual one meeting of previous years. New educators will be provided with various supports, says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. That includes information from the human resources, information technology and finance departments as well as various classroom supports, and “stories about successes in the past”. SD62 Vice-Chair Bob Phillips pondered aloud at the Dec 12 board meeting whether there is any research on retaining new teachers. “Thirty percent say bye-bye after the first year,” said Phillips.

BC Education Minister Rob Fleming is scheduled to make an announcement “that supports west shore students”, coming up at Belmont Secondary School in Langford on Monday, December 18.The SD62 school board has in recent months pitched for provincial funds to build new schools in this, the province’s fastest-growing school district. There are presently three SD62 high schools: Belmont in Langford, Royal Bay in Colwood, and EMCS in Sooke.


 

Donation of $10,000 to the Goldstream Food Bank, December 2017 (from left): Ron Coutre, president, Westshore Developers Assoc; Gayle Ireland, president, Goldstream Food Bank; City of Langford Mayor Stew Young. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, December 13 ~ LANGFORD. A big cheque was delivered to the Goldstream Food Bank in Langford today.  The generous $10,000 donation from the Westshore Developers Association and the Langford Economic Development Commission (EDC) was announced last week, and today under bright sunny skies the official presentation was made.

Receiving the ceremonial cheque on behalf of the Goldstream Food Bank was the organization’s long-time President and Christmas Hamper Fund chair Gayle Ireland. Making the presentation was Ron Coutre, president, Westshore Developers Association and City of Langford Mayor Stew Young on behalf of the Langford EDC.

The busy food bank on Station Road in Langford will process 650 to 700 hampers to individuals and families in need over five days ahead of Christmas. In addition to lots of non-perishable food items and fresh produce, each hamper includes a gift card that can be used for a turkey, ham or other entree for Christmas, says Ireland. Handing out the hampers will be members of the Langford Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and other volunteers. “Everything will be loaded into vehicles for the people receiving the hampers,” says Ireland, clearly proud of the work of the volunteers.

“This $10,000 donation is so generous,” said the food bank president. Ireland explained that it essentially turns into $20,000 worth of food because of discounts given to the Goldstream Food Bank. “And we’re a financially healthy organization because we save for a rainy day.” She reminded everyone that no one gets paid to operate the food bank.

“Doing this was an easy decision,” said Coutre, who said at a meeting of the developers and economic development committee that they all wanted to give back.  Stew Young was enthusiastic about reporting success and goodwill: “Everybody’s doing well and it’s a great time to this to happen. Especially in Langford’s 25th year since incorporation, everybody’s on board to do this.” With Coutre piping in: “Especially at this time of year.”

This $10,000 donation was the largest of a collection of donations made by the developers and the City this holiday season. $3,000 was donated to the Langford Legion, with $1,000 to Another Brick in Nepal’s earthquake relief, $1,000 to Santa’s Anonymous, $1,000 to the Children’s Health Foundation, and $1,000 to the Victoria Conservatory of Music.


 

Tuesday, December 12 ~ LANGFORD. If you’re a late night traveler along Jacklin Road, this info is for you.

From 10 pm tonight (Tues Dec 12) through to 6 am tomorrow morning (Wed Dec 13) there will be some delays for motorists during single-lane traffic on Jacklin in the stretch in front of Westshore Town Centre over to the stretch along the old Belmont school site.

That’s so Shaw can do some fiber optic cable work, says City of Langford Engineering.


Monday, December 11 ~ LANGFORD. On Tuesday, December 12 from 9 am to 12 noon there will be some blasting near the roadside around the Millstream Intersection at Treanor Avenue. Northbound and southbound traffic will be intermittently stopped. For public safety, delays will be for up to 3-minute periods during the blasts. The City of Langford Engineering Dept says the stops will be timed with the traffic lights to minimize delays.


Wednesday, December 6 ~ LANGFORD.  A woman driving her car while alcohol-impaired, slammed into parked cars on Sooke Road in Langford on Sunday night, December 3.  West Shore RCMP received a report of a possible impaired driver swerving and slamming into parked cars at around 10 pm.

Two women and a small baby were in the vehicle. Witnesses on scene assisted investigators by pointing out the driver.

Subsequent investigation including a breath sample revealed that the woman was above the legal limit. She was issued a 90 day IRP (Immediate Roadside Prohibition) and her vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

Fortunately, no one was injured and the Ministry of Children and Families has been notified.

“If you are planning on drinking, please do not drive,” says the RCMP. “By finding an alternate way home such as transit, cabs, or a designated driver you can help ensure that you, your passengers, and people sharing the road, all get home safely,” says Cst. Matt Baker of the West Shore RCMP.

As part of the Drinking and Driving campaign this holiday season, police across the Greater Victoria area will be increasing roadblocks and sobriety checks to help keep communities safe for the Christmas season.


Tuesday, December 5 ~ LANGFORD. The well-known Evedars Bistro at 2829 Peatt Road in central Langford is under new management.

New owner Laurie Anne Tomin is a Matire Fromager. She has lived and worked in India, Germany, France and England. Her rich culinary ‘tapestry’ influences are woven into the Evedars menu.

A committed gastronome and former cheese maker, Laurie is excited about the cheese and wine pairing event coming up this Thursday night, December 7. For $75 you can taste 8 or 9 cheeses and wines. Contact the restaurant to book your seat for the cheese-wine pairing, at 250-391-8636 or email info@evedarsbistro.com

If you can’t make that event, there is a drop-in open house on Friday December 8 from 3 to 6 pm.

The 78-seat bistro is open Wednesday through Saturday 9-4 and Sundays 10-2. Open Xmas eve Dec 24 for brunch, 10-2.


 

Premier John Horgan congratulates Langford Mayor Stew Young on 25 years of service. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, December 4 ~ LANGFORD. After hosting his own open house at his constituency office this evening, BC Premier John Horgan dropped into the holiday season open house at Langford council chambers.

Saying he moved to Langford 25 years ago, Horgan says Langford has been “transformative” for him: “I raised my family here, became a member of legislature here, and became the premier here.”

As part of recognizing 25 years of municipal service by Mayor Stew Young and Councillors Denise Blackwell and Winnie Sifert, the premier called Langford’s success “an extraordinary accomplishment”.

“it’s absolutely unparalleled to have that much dedication and commitment to your community,” said Horgan about Langford’s mayor and council. He said that Langford has demonstrated “the things that you can do when you work together and have a vision, and have a community this inclusive.”

Horgan noted Langford’s amenities for young families such as good schools, good sports, great arenas, the YMCA, and libraries. “It just keeps getting better, month after month, year after year. It’s been an extraordinary 25 years in Langford, I have a great deal of gratitude for you,” said Horgan to Mayor Young, Langford council, and city staff.

“People are coming and bringing families here, starting businesses here, and creating opportunities for themselves. It is all because of the work that you do in this room,” Horgan said.

Premier John Horgan attends 25-year recognition ceremony at Langford Council, Dec 4, 2017 (From left): Councillor Denise Blackwell, Premier Horgan, Councillor Winnie Sifert, Mayor Stew Young. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Mayor Young thanked the Premier, and also acknowledged Langford’s team effort. “We’ve got a lot of great workers in the City of Langford. Everybody’s excited to apply and get a job in Langford.” People see leadership here: “Everybody sees how well we work together with our council and our staff. We’re always able to do great things in Langford when we all work together like that,” said Stew Young, noting how his city is known for an open door policy to business.

“It’s one of the things our council prides itself on. Helping everybody who’s in business,” said Young, noting how using the services of local businesses is key. “The business community comes to our community.”

Noting his 25 years as Mayor, Stew Young said he is happy and proud to have a team behind him that works so hard to improve the community where he was born and grew up.

Guests this evening included local developers, to whom Horgan gave a nod: in a recent speech to the Urban Development Institute in Vancouver Horgan had highlighted how well things get done to speed along with building permits and the growth of the community.


Saturday, December 2 ~ LANGFORD.  The City of Langford’s Economic Development The City of Langford’s Economic Development Commission is contributing to a run of eight performances of Chicago, the musical, taking place at the Royal Theatre in downtown Victoria, December 18 to 23.

Langford’s EDC contribution is in partnership with Bayview Place and Broadway in Victoria. Langford Mayor Stew Young, on behalf of Langford EDC, has thanked presenting sponsor Ken Mariash and Bayview Place, and arts organizer Henry Kolenko for organizing this great event, bringing cast and crew to Vancouver Island to put on a world class show.

Through this event, the Langford EDC has donated $10,000 to the Goldstream Food Bank, $3,000 to the Langford Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for a holiday dinner for those in need, $1,000 to Another Brick in Nepal’s earthquake relief, $1,000 to Santa’s Anonymous, $1,000 to the Children’s Health Foundation and $1,000 to the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

Performances run Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday  at  8pm, Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2 pm.

www.chicagothemusical.com  |  www.broadwayinvictoria.com


Friday, December 1 ~ VICTORIA.  November 2017 saw the highest number of property sales of any November in the Greater Victoria area since 1996 — 671 in total (12% more than sold last November). The number of active listings for sale dropped 7.4% in one month from October to November.

The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) predicted last month that buyers might accelerate their purchase timeline to buy a home ahead of ‘stress test’ rules set for January 2018.  Overall in Greater Victoria there were 307 single family home sales in November selling at a raw average price of $902,985.

It should be understood that VREB’s data-adjusted HPI figures show $693,200, which means people are paying far above what most people hear as the selling price.

In the west shore, the real price of a house in Langford last month was $696,933 (61 sales) while the HPI was given as $593,800. In Colwood there were 15 sales averaging out at $725,290 while the HPI was $658,100. In Sooke there were 18 house sales in November at a real average sale price of $509,418 while the HPI was $483,300.

So that’s almost a million dollars in overall Greater Victoria for a house and over half a million in Sooke where housing is considered to be affordable.

Condo sales rolled in like this: 219 in Greater Victoria averaging $437,822; Langford 26  sales averaging  $330,298; Colwood 5 sales averaging $396,900; and one sale in Sooke at $229,000. All stats: www.vreb.org


Thursday, November 30 ~ LANGFORD. For some reason this has come up today about an incident that occurred on October 20. 

West Shore RCMP are looking to identify any persons with knowledge of an altercation between youths which occurred on October 20 2017 between 9pm and 11pm in the 2600-block Sooke Rd in Langford (between Mac’s convenience store and Bucky’s Tap House).

Anyone with any information about this investigation is asked to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or www.victoriacrimestoppers.ca


Osborn Pond at Hole #15 at the Bear Mountain Golf Course [West Shore Voice News photo – Nov 29/17]

Wednesday, November 29 ~ LANGFORD. As of 11 am this morning November 29, there are more 5,000 fish in the pond at Hole #15 at Bear Mountain Valley Golf Course.

On this cool Wednesday up at Bear Mountain about 5,000 coho parr were released into Osborn Pond at Hole #15. Skies were grey but the rain held off.

The morning activity was the 6th annual coho release into the ecofriendly habitat. The juvenile salmon will stay and feed in the pond for several months before heading out through Millstream Creek to Esquimalt Harbour and out to the open ocean in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Coho live half their lives in fresh water, and half in the saltwater of the ocean.

Juvenile coho released into Osborn Pond [West Shore Voice News – Nov 29/17]

About 1,400 of the original batch will make it to the ocean for a long swim to Haida Gwaii and then return, arriving back in Millstream Creek about 18 months from now. They will be about 2.5 feet long at that point, coming back to spawn, said Peter McCully, technical advisor, Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association.

The fish each have one of their fins clipped, as a way for identifying them upon their return. It’s an unused adipose fin that is clipped a bit, not a fin that is required for the action of swimming. About 700 to 800 released fish are identified upon return. They don’t make it as far back as Osborn Pond, but for the time being get only as far as some small ponds near Atkins Road. Presently a culvert perched high above the stream presents too much of a jump even for powerful salmon.

Gr 3 & 4 students from Lakewood Elementary learned about fish and watched the release [West Shore Voice News – Nov 29/17]

There is now a plan to build some fish ladders (concrete ‘steps’) for the returning fish as a way of enabling their jump into the culvert. The hatchery needs about $205,000 more toward a total goal of $245,000 (an amount that will be matched by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans). So far, large donations have been contributed by the City of Langford and Ecoasis Developments, and the Peninsula Streams Society is doing more fundraising.

The fish were transported out to the pond today in a large container, then directed into the pond through a large plastic hose. It took barely a minute for all the fish to arrive in the pond. Well, except for a handful of stragglers that at the end were dumped into their new habitat from a bucket.

A class of Grade 3 & 4 students from Lakewood Elementary with their teacher Sherri Fawcett were keen observers, gathered on the soggy grass. Between arriving pondside in a fleet of golf carts, watching the small fish being hosed into the pond, and enjoying hot chocolate and cookies, the kids had an exciting and probably quite memorable experience.

The event is sponsored each year by Ecoasis Developments which owns Bear Mountain Resort. Ecoasis Chief Financial Officer David Clark was in attendance, as well as Bear Mountain staff, several volunteers from Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association, and media.

Young coho assisted from net to pail [West Shore Voice News – Nov 29/17]

Turning Osborn Pond into a nursery for these parr is an integral part of a larger conservation initiative to strengthen the numbers of coho, chum and chinook salmon in the waters off the south-easterly tip of Vancouver Island. McCully says it’s quite significant that this environmental initiative is occuring through mostly an urbanized area.

The parr weight about 8 to 10 grams. The eggs were harvested last November and volunteers have been overseeing their rearing.

The hatchery has over 90 active volunteers. “It’s a model of how public involvement in wildlife conservation and preservation can provide environmental rewards without costing the taxpayers large sums of money,” explains McCully. He says that recent survival rates for South Vancouver Island streams are as low as one-half of 1%. “Giving these young fish a fighting start is extremely important”.

Improved salmon stocks will support food fishery for First Nations communities, the sport fishing industry, and local and charter fishing operations. Prior to the introduction of parr to Osborn Pond, there were no salmon in Millstream Creek.


 

Small earthquake felt just after 7 pm on Monday November 27, 2017 in Langford, BC.

Monday, November 27 ~ LANGFORD. There was a quake this evening in the west shore, that’s a fact. How strong it was or location are variably reported.

Natural Resource Canada (NRC) reported a 2.0 Magnitude quake as occuring at 7:02:50 PST at a depth of 10 km.

The location of 48.51 N and 123.6 West of the November 27 quake was reported by some media as NE of Sooke, which puts the actual location in Langford.

The US Geological Service called it a 2.4 Magnitude quake “between Langford and Sooke” at a depth of 24.2 km.

By all measure it was a small quake, with damage neither reported nor expected, says NRC.

It was enough of a shakeup that social media was active with people’s reports of feeling a quake.

And it was felt in Colwood. During the City of Colwood council meeting Mayor Carol Hamilton paused to inform the room that a 1.9 quake had occurred in Langford “so that was an earthquake we all felt (as the meeting started)”.


Warming up to great results at the annual Xmas Tree Sale at SD62’s Colwood Campus [file photo 2016 – West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, November 25 ~ COLWOOD. The annual Xmas Tree Sale Fundraiser by the Colwood Campus of SD2’s Westshore Centre for Learning & Training is popular! Last year was bigger and better than ever, and the same success is expected this year.

The annual Xmas Tree Sale Fundraiser by the Colwood Campus of SD2’s Westshore Centre for Learning & Training is popular! Last year was bigger and better than ever, and the same success is expected this year.

The freshly cut trees can be purchased daily from Friday, Dec 1 through Sunday Dec 17 outdoors at the campus at 2139 Sooke Road (Mon-Thurs 3-7 pm, Fri-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-6pm). Students and staff have made crafts, jewelry, baking and more for sale as well. Proceeds from the annual tree sale support the grad ceremony costs in June, for space rental, gowns and catering.

The funds ensure that no grad goes without participation in their special day. Colwood Campus includes high school students as well as adults returning to graduate.

A new angle in 2017 is that the Environmental Studies students have been learning about sustainable tree farmingfrom Mike Fleming of Saanichton Tree Farm who has supplied the sale for a few years now. “Back in May we went up to the Shawnigan Lake farm and helped clear brush, care for the trees and fertilize,” says WCLT teacher Debbie Lodewijk who coordinates the annual tree sale event. “We will be going back the last week of November to help cut and load the trees for our fundraiser.” That includes spruce, pine, and fir.

Hand-crafted items made include centerpieces, herbal bath salts, healing salve, ornaments, dog biscuits, baked goods, cards, and knitted items.

It all happens outdoors, so dress for the weather!


 

Friday November 24 ~ LANGFORD.  A Shift into Winter information booth about winter driving safety will be at the Victoria Royals game in Victoria this evening, 6 to 10 pm. It’s an opportunity presented by Mainroad South Island to share road safety information with the public.

The main depot for Mainroad South Island is in Langford, conveniently located as a large facility on the new West Shore Parkway near Hwy 1.

Today Mainroad South Island manager Rick Gill and Operations Manager Leon Bohmer spoke to media about their preparations for the winter season. Weather is expected to be about the same as last winter, including snowfall and icy road conditions.

“Safety of the travelling public is of utmost importance,” said Rick Gill, manager, Mainroad South Island. “It’s a challenge when winter comes. But it does snow in this region. So we try to educate the public about safe winter driving,” said Gill.

By de-icing roads with brine ahead of expected snowfall, Mainroad South Island hopes to get ahead of any major road condition problems this winter.

Look for a full article coming up in the November 24th print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (being posted this weekend on this website ). | More about winter driving: www.shiftintowinter.ca

Photos (from top):
>> Snow plough in winter storm [Mainroad South Island]
>> Mainroad South Island Operations Manager Leon Bohmer (left) and Manager Rick Gill, with the newest of four 4-ton sander trucks, at their main facility in Langford [West Shore Voice News photo, Nov 24/17]
>> Salt can be loaded up into trucks on short notice, from a ready supply on hand at the West Shore Parkway location [West Shore Voice News photo, Nov 24/17]

 


 

The staff at Lowe’s are getting ready for the busy holiday shopping season.

Monday, November 20 ~ LANGFORD.  Lowe’s settling in at the Langford store, just in time for the Christmas season.

After an upbeat opening at the Lowe’s store in Langford on October 5, the staff at Lowe’s got right down to work serving customers. The former RONA premises had been packed down, inventory and shelving pushed aside, and a whole new setup put in place in the 100,000 sqft premises. That was from April to October. The number of inventory SKU’s has doubled to about 50,000 items.

The types of building construction and home improvement products for sale are much the same as before, but with more variety and more of a one-stop offering, explains Assistant Manager David Palmer. And a full-time delivery person on staff means that shipments can go out quickly to construction sites with the store’s 25-ft flat deck truck that has a fork lift. Of the former RONA staff, about 70 stayed on and some new staff were hired.

Bringing new employment opportunities to Langford is helpful to the local economy. There are now about 120 staff at Lowe’s in Langford, compared to about 80 with the former RONA, allowing for more personnel in most departments. The employee tally will probably reach 150 including seasonal workers for the holiday season, such as cashiers as well as staff for the garden centre, says Palmer.

There is a strong emphasis on service to builders and contractors who can enjoy a flat 5% off all products in the store. The outdoor lumber yard has up to about 50,000 sq ft of space to offer a wider range of building materials than before.

Available to Lowe’s customers are options for various purchase and financing opportunities from discount card to full financing. Business accounts and credit cards are other options.

Store manager Peter Devries, assistant manager Michelle Hannay, and assistant manager Kim Rieger have stayed on from the RONA store.

Photo [November 2017 – West Shore Voice News]: Many of the former RONA staff have stayed on at Lowes, including (from left): Jackie Genereaux, customer service rep; Gena Forno, admin department manager; and Janice Dalzell, customer service rep. David Palmer, assistant manager, has been with Lowe’s for about 1.5 years and has overseen the construction of two Lowe’s stores (Tillicum Mall last year, and Langford this year).


BC Premier John Horgan

Friday, November 17 ~ LANGFORD/SOOKE.  BC Premier John Horgan — MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area through which Highway 14 (Hwy14/Sooke Road) runs, has told Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) staff to go back to the drawing board.

Horgan has recently reviewed a long-awaited report intended to improve driving and safety conditions on the winding, through-the-hills provincial highway that connects Sooke and westerly beyond to the rest of Greater Victoria. The Premier has asked for more details and options, to work harder on finding a solution, it was learned from government officials on November 17.

The first draft apparently has some “good projects” within it, but “not sufficient scale that the MLA wants”. While this delays the timeline for seeing improvements on Hwy 14, it will likely come as good news to Sooke residents, commuters, and the regional tourism industry because it means the Premier (who is directly familiar with details of the road) is watching out for his constituents and the region, toward a better result. It also makes sense to use taxpayers’ dollars wisely, and if the improvements will leave some things undone, then it’s prudent to further develop some meaningful improvements.

Highway 14 heading west to Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo, Summer 2017]

Apart from a short 4-lane stretch from the West Shore Parkway intersection west toward Sooke, Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) is single-lane. Until a person has driven it many times, for various reasons including road line (some tight angles), sight lines (especially with headlights from oncoming night traffic), lack of lighting and no opportunity for passing, the road presents a challenging drive. Even for seasoned drivers of the Sooke Road, at night and/or in inclement weather, it’s still a drive that could be considered difficult and risky.

Premier Horgan has asked senior officials to engage in a very focussed consultative process with an informal regional group of business people (that sometimes refers to itself as the Sooke Economic Development Commission) who focus on Hwy 14 issues and also Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait addressed UBCM delegates in Vancouver (Sept 2017) ~ Photo credit: UBCM

Mayor Tait was been awaiting the transportation report along with everyone else. Today she said: “Premier Horgan as our MLA is well aware of needed improvements to Hwy 14, and while MOTI staff have worked to have the draft completed, I’m grateful that our MLA  and Premier is taking the time to ensure the study fully captures the necessary improvements for the safety of our residents and visitors.”

City of Langford Mayor Stew Young [West Shore Voice News photo]

Langford Mayor Stew Young sees opening up the Sooke region as a benefit to regional economic development. Regarding the now further delay of the MOTI plan for improving Hwy 14, Mayor Young said today: “I am hopeful the provincial government will keep the solution to Hwy 14 and the E&N corridor into Victoria as high priorities”. “I will be reaching out to Transportation Minister Trevena to see what opportunities we have to find a solution for Westshore and Sooke residents,” he said.

In recent years some improvements have included wider shoulders including bike lanes in some stretches, as well as the roundabout in Sooke town centre. Otherwise, there remain several sections that obviously require left-turn lanes for improved safety (such as at 17 Mile House, and at Manzer Rd) and improved lighting all along the highway — Sooke to Langford — that would produce immense improvements in safe use of the road for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

And here’s what MOTI had to say about their rejected report today: “BC is working hard to build roads and highways that support growing communities and help encourage economic development across the province. For Hwy 14, we want to make the corridor between Langford and Sooke as safe and as accessible as possible – not just for people in cars, but for people who take transit and people who bike and walk.”

The ministry also says that it focused the corridor study on safety upgrades “because people who frequently travel the route told us they were concerned about reliability and wanted to see it closed less frequently.”  Apparently the study also looked at ways to promote greater transit use, and how to encourage more cycling over the short and medium timeframe. “The initial findings identify several safety and transit improvements that could be implemented over the next year or two in addition to the work that is already underway,” said a statement by MOTI.

New lines were painted on Hwy 14 in summer 2015 [West Shore Voice News photo]

And now they have heard from Premier Horgan that the review “doesn’t go far enough to improve mobility along this corridor and to meet the demands of the increasing population, as more and more people make their homes and establish their businesses in the Sooke area.” It’s clear that authors of the report either don’t drive Hwy 14 themselves or did not consult with Sooke-area businesses, community leaders or daily commuters who could have identified very specific needs.

“The ministry is going to take the report a step further, looking at ways to make travel along this route more reliable and to increase mobility, such as adding future passing lanes and potential short road re-alignments to straighten out some of the curves,” said MOTI officials on November 17.

“We’re going to expand the study to go all the way to Port Renfrew and we’re going to hear from stakeholders in the region to get their ideas for long term improvements on this corridor.”  MOTI concluded: “This government cares about building strong, connected communities and is committed to solving the broader transportation challenges and needs in the South Island region.”

On Monday, November 20 a presentation about Hwy 14 and broader transportation issues will be hosted by Transition Sooke at Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Rd, at 7 pm. The event is open to the community and is expected to be well-attended.

This article first published in the November 17, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre under construction in Langford [Photo: West Shore Voice News ~ Nov 2017]

Tuesday, November 14 ~ LANGFORD. Rugby Canada is making another shift to Langford which includes not only the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre (construction near completion) but an internal restructuring of the organization.

As announced yesterday by Rugby Canada, a restructuring within the burgeoning National Sport Federation will be implemented “to drive operational excellence”.

The restructuring announced today allows the organization to align and focus its resources with its evolving high performance objectives and expanded National Team operations in Langford, along with the opening of the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre at 3019 Glen Lake Road in early 2018. The cost of the joint project of the Government of Canada, City of Langford, and Rugby Canada is $7.84 million.

As part of the restructuring, several departments will relocate to Langford over the next three to six months from the organization’s corporate office in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Rugby Canada’s Finance, Marketing and Communications, General Operations and Governance departments will relocate to the Federation’s existing Centre of Excellence facility at 3024 Glen Lake Road.

The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre price tag is $7.84 million.

“This is a good organizational change from the top down,” says Langford Mayor Stew Young. “It is good for rugby’s advancement on the world stage and good for the athletes. Most of the teams Canada competes against have made changes and are showing results,” he said this week. “Centrally focusing on the front office is good for rugby in Langford. We are are strong partner and supporter of Rugby Canada and look forward to a long committed relationship with rugby players and staff.”

Mayor Young is looking forward to the grand opening of the Al Charon Centre for excellence which he says “will be a huge benefit for the Canadian men’s and women’s teams and give them the extra advantage while playing for Canada on the world stage.”

The Rugby Department within Rugby Canada has been led by Jim Dixon for the past two and a half years. “On behalf of the Canadian Rugby community and everyone at Rugby Canada, I would like to thank Jim for his commitment to the organization, our National Teams and Development programs. We wish Jim every success in the future,” said Allen Vansen, CEO, Rugby Canada.

Rugby Canada office on Glen Lake Road in Langford [West Shore Voice News photo – Nov 2017]

Positions being established in Langford by the organization that has grown rapidly over the last five years are: Chief Operating Officer, Director of Communications and Marketing, Director of Finance, and finance coordinators. Myles Spencer, current Chief Operating Officer, Linh Nguyen current Chief Financial Officer, and Carlos Ferreira, current Director of Marketing and Communications, along with the existing finance staff, will remain with Rugby Canada for the coming months as these new positions are recruited for and filled by new staff based in Langford.

An external party with relevant expertise in the Canadian sport system was called in to help assess and guide the restructuring toward “increased synergies in the daily operations of the staff and permit a downsizing of Rugby Canada’s office requirements in Richmond Hill for efficiencies”. Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors says it fully supports and endorses this new organizational change. It is absolutely necessary,” said Tim Powers, Chair of the Rugby Canada Board of Directors. “We would also like to thank Jim, Myles, Linh, Carlos, Nina, Audrey and Cindy for their unwavering commitment to our sport.”

“This marks the beginning of a new era for Rugby Canada, as one of Canada’s fastest growing sports,” added Vansen. “While always difficult to reach these tough decisions, this is the best path forward to reach our organization’s performance and growth objectives. These changes will help Rugby Canada build a world class organizational culture and enhance the performance of our Sport development and National Team programs, today and into the future.”


 

Sunday, November 12 ~ WEST SIDE. The official opening of the Constituency Office for Esquimalt-Metchosin will be held on Wednesday, November 15, from 4 to 6 pm.

That’s Mitzi Dean’s new constituency office. Dean was elected MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin in the May 2017 BC provincial election. But it took a while to find and then renovate the office. The address is 104-1497 Admirals Road.

There will be light refreshments at the 2-hour drop-in event, and a chance to chat with Dean about any issues or concerns you may have in the broad area that her riding serves: Esquimalt, Colwood, View Royal and Metchosin.


 

BC Premier John Horgan placed a wreath at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Langford, November 11, 2017 [Photo by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, November 11 ~ LANGFORD.  BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) laid a wreath and made some brief remarks at the podium during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Langford today. In total, 62 wreaths were laid.

Langford is Horgan’s home town. For many previous years however, as MLA before becoming Premier, Horgan attended Remembrance Day at the Sooke Legion in the other area of his riding.

VIPs arrived in a parade. At Veteran Memorial Park, about 1,000 people were gathered under threat of rain, standing or seated in some bleachers in the cold for the one-hour event.

Service personnel in uniform stood in formation for the entire hour. Music by the Westshore Community Concert Band, Gordon United Church Choir and Westshore Girl Guides.

Roads were closed in central Langford, including by large trucks positioned horizontally across roads. Helicopters and airplanes flew overhead at various points. On-the-ground security was present but not overtly obvious.

Four mayors from the west shore area laid wreaths immediately after Premier Horgan: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams.


 

Streets around Veterans Memorial Park will be closed 10:30 am to 12 noon on November 11.

Friday, November 10 ~ LANGFORD.  West Shore RCMP have issued a traffic advisory for some traffic disruptions during the course of Remembrance Day ceremonies on Saturday, November 11 in Langford. There will be road closures to vehicle traffic for the duration, from 10:30 to 12 noon.

Peatt Rd / Station Ave

Veterans Memorial Pkwy / Station Ave

Goldstream Ave / Veterans Memorial Pkwy

Goldstream Ave / Aldwyn Rd

Aldwyn Rd / Fairway Ave

Veterans Memorial Pkwy / Hagel Rd / Meaford Ave

This year, BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) will be attending as well as four west shore mayors will be in attendance: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams.

West Shore RCMP encourages everyone to come down and take part in the Remembrance Day ceremonies “as we say thank you and give a thought to the sacrifice made by the Men and Women of the Canadian Armed Forces, in conflicts both past and present”.


Mayor of Sidney Steve Price is the new CRD chair, with View Royal Mayor David Screech as Vice-Chair.

Wednesday, November 8 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. New chairs have been announced today for the Capital Regional District (CRD) and Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD) Board of Directors. The two Boards elect a Chair and Vice Chair each November.

Heading into 2018, CRD says in a news release that their organization’s focus will be on enabling sustainable growth, enhancing community well-being, and developing cost-effective infrastructure while continuing to provide core services throughout the region.

CRD Director and Mayor of Sidney Steve Price is the new 2018 CRD Board Chair, and began by chairing today’s board meeting. Price has been a member of the CRD Board since 2015, serving on various CRD standing committees. He was first elected to Sidney Council in 2008 before election as Mayor in 2014.

CRD Director David Screech is the new 2018 CRD Board Vice-Chair. Screech has served on the CRD Board since 2015 and on various CRD standing committees. He was first elected to View Royal Council in 2002 and then as Mayor in 2014.

Director Marianne Alto has been re-elected for a second year as the 2018 CRHD Chair. Director Alto has been a member of the CRD and CRHD Boards since 2011. She has provided leadership for the CRD’s First Nations Task Force and serves as a member of various CRD committees.

Director Susan Brice has been elected as the 2018 CRHD Vice-Chair. Director Brice has served on the CRD and CRHD Boards for several years, including as CRD Board Chair in the late 1980s.

The CRD and CRHD Boards share the same directors and officers. A corporation of the CRD, the Capital Regional Hospital District partners with Island Health and community stakeholder agencies to develop and improve healthcare facilities in the region, including replacing buildings that have reached the end of their economic and functional life.

Representation on the CRD and CRHD Boards balances varying population bases with community interests. In accordance with Provincial legislation, each municipality appoints one director for every 25,000 people and directors are elected to represent electoral areas. Voting units are assigned based on one unit for every 5,000 people.

Name, Title  Municipality or Electoral Area Role Assigned votes
Steve Price, Mayor Sidney CRD Chair 3
David Screech, Mayor View Royal CRD Vice-Chair 3
Marianne Alto, Councillor Victoria CRHD Chair 4
Susan Brice, Councillor Saanich CRHD Vice-Chair 5
Richard Atwell, Mayor Saanich Director 5
Denise Blackwell, Councillor Langford Director 4
Judy Brownoff, Councillor Saanich Director 4
Barbara Desjardins, Mayor Esquimalt Director 4
Alice Finall, Mayor North Saanich Director 3
Carol Hamilton, Mayor Colwood Director 4
Lisa Helps, Mayor Victoria Director 5
Mike Hicks, Director Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director 2
David Howe, Director Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area Director 2
Ben Isitt, Councillor Victoria Director 5
Nils Jensen, Mayor Oak Bay Director 4
Wayne McIntyre, Director Salt Spring Island Electoral Area Director 3
Dean Murdock, Councillor Saanich Director 4
Colin Plant, Councillor Saanich Director 5
John Ranns, Mayor Metchosin Director 1
Lanny Seaton, Councillor Langford Director 4
Maja Tait, Mayor Sooke Director 3
Ken Williams, Mayor Highlands Director 1
Ryan Windsor, Mayor Central Saanich Director 4
Geoff Young, Councillor Victoria Director 4

A standing committee structure, including appointing committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, will be announced on or before the next CRD Board meeting on December 13.

In 2017, under Chair Barb Desjardins, the CRD Board continued to make progress on the 2015-2018 CRD strategic priorities which outline the direction and priorities of the CRD Board. The corporate plan, multi-year service plans and progress reports can be found at https://www.crd.bc.ca/about/how-we-are-governed/strategic-priorities-plans


Town of View Royal by-election candidates (from left): Nathan Daisley, Angela Hanes, Jodi Zwicker, Mark Brennan, Damien Kowalewich, and Adam Flint. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, November 7 ~ WEST SHORE.  Last night about 140 people showed up to hear six candidates vying for one by-election seat on the Town of View Royal council. The 6 pm meeting on November 6 at Strawberry Vale Community Hall was full from the start.

All six candidates are new to politics. By professional background the group included a police officer, a retired View Royal city staffer, a realtor, a web designer, a university student, and a municipal planner. On the ballot for the November 18 by-election are Mark Brennan, Nathan Daisley, Adam Flint, Angela Hanes, Damian Kowalewich, and Jodi Zwicker.

View Royal Mayor David Screech said afterward that a new councillor can make a difference. There is a only a year until the November 2018 elections for all municipalities in BC. Screech says he expects he will run again for Mayor in 2018; he’s been on council for 12 years, the last three as Mayor.

View Royal Mayor David Screech at Nov 6 by-election all candidates meeting [West Shore Voice News photo]

Hosted by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, questions as written by members of the audience were read to each candidate for their reply. Issues included transportation and the cost and style of housing, as well as amalgamation and maintaining the distinct flavour of View Royal that locals enjoy.

None of the discussion got deep into any decisions made by Council in recent years or anything related to tax rates or budgets.

A small municipality with a population of about 11,000, View Royal is centrally located with four transportation routes intersecting, Victoria General Hospital as a key public destination and employer, and serves as home to a major casino that generates gaming revenue for View Royal, Langford and other west shore municipalities. The municipality is by default a key player in major decisions in the Greater Victoria area.

Councillors presently on View Royal Council are Ron Mattson, John Rogers, and Aaron Weisgerber. The new councillor will fill the seat left vacant by Heidi Rast who has relocated out of the area.

More info on the by-election candidates at www.viewroyal.ca

 


 

BC Premier John Horgan

Tuesday, November 7 ~ LANGFORD. The upcoming Remembrance Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Langford is expected to fill the park. The public should get there early to get a good standing spot or a spot on the bleachers, says Norm Scott, president, Langford Legion.

This year, four west shore mayors will be in attendance: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams. BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) will be attending.

The public will start arriving around 9:30 am. The event starts promptly at 11 am and lasts about 50 minutes.

An oak tree from Vimy Ridge — planted in the park a few weeks ago — will be noted during the ceremony.  On October 27 a Vimy Ridge memorial was commemorated by Langford Legion members with Langford Mayor and Council in attendance.

The Remembrance Day event in Sooke will be held at the Sooke Legion cenotaph. Representing Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca which includes Sooke) will be Patrick Swinburnson, principal of Edward Milne Community School.

The Remembrance Day event in Esquimalt will be attended by Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) and Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin).


 

Posted speed limit is 60 kph on Hwy 14 heading eastbound at the West Shore Parkway [West Shore Voice News photo – Nov 2017]

Monday, November 6 ~ WEST SHORE.  Provincial Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is getting some speed reader boards in the ‘Luxton strectch’ east of the upward winding section toward West Shore Parkway.

Speed reader boards are those electronic signs that use radar to detect the speed of an approaching vehicle and display the speed on an LED variable message display. The speed display is typically combined with a static (non-electronic) display that includes the text “Your Speed” or similar.

The posted speed on Highway 14 in that section heading westbound toward West Shore Parkway is 60 kph (or 50 kph when children are on the highway) and when heading eastbound just at West Shore Parkway and heading to the Langford town area.

Hwy 14 beyond West Shore Parkway on the way to Sooke has a 80 kph posted speed limit on the 4-lane section, reducing to 60 kph again when the road is single-lane heading to Sooke.

The intent of the Speed Reader Board is to encourage compliance with the posted speed limit by making motorists aware of their actual speed. They are intended to be used as supplements to the maximum posted speed signs to encourage compliance when transitioning to a lower posted speed, such as school zones, road construction zones, and communities located along highways.

Posted speed limit 60 kph on Sooke Road (HWy 14) heading eastbound on the curve ahead of Glenshire Rd. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Five years ago an injury collision on Hwy 14 near Glenshire Road resulted in the death of 13-year-old Langford resident AJ (Adam Jessie) Wakeling. The highway in that winding stretch between Glenshire Road and the driveway entrance to Slegg Lumber was poorly lit, it was later determined by West Shore RCMP.  The driver of a small pickup truck heading eastbound at the crest of a hill and around a sweeping curve was never charged, as the teen was wearing dark clothing and the driver was determined to have been travelling at the average speed for a dry road.

“The fatal crash five years ago on Highway 14 was a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the victim’s family and friends,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation last week. “Following the incident, Ministry staff reviewed this section of the highway as part of assisting local police with their investigation into the crash.”

MOTI continued: “Since the crash, the Ministry installed a new crosswalk and an eastbound bus stop near Slegg Lumber, and earlier this year completed a new westbound bus stop. In addition, we have ordered speed reader boards that will be installed in the Luxton area of the corridor in the coming weeks.” But still no additional lighting.

Curve in the highway, eastbound on Hwy 14 at Leledo Rd. [West Shore Voice News photo]

A corridor-wide safety study of Highway 14 between Langford and Sooke is underway and is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, says MOTI.

The Sooke Economic Development Commission (EDC) which has taken on Highway 14 issues as its key mandate toward expanded economic growth for the Sooke region, eagerly awaits the report. The group may soon have specific observations and improvement requests for various sections of the road to Sooke.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait told West Shore Voice News last week: “We continue to wait for the preliminary report, and look forward to working with the Province on continued improvements to Highway 14.”


 

 

Saturday, November 4 ~ VICTORIA.  The real estate market in the Greater Victoria area is shifting rather rapidly. But the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) says the market is still stable. A total of 664 properties sold in Greater Victoria in October 2017. That’s 9.7% fewer than the 735 properties sold in October last year.

VREB says the longer term picture shows October sales as 17.1% above the 10-year average of 567 properties for the month of October. They conclude: “The market is still very active here in Victoria… in spite of the ongoing low inventory levels.”

For Greater Victoria overall, the actual sales average of 294 sales was $854,833 (data-adjusted HPI $690,000, down from $700,800 in July which is considered the peak month before the market began its sudden adjustment).

October in the west shore: Langford: actual sales average $761,550 for 45 sales (HPI $589,800 down from $592,300 in July). Colwood: 17 sales averaged a real average of $664,582 (HPI $646,600 down from $660,400 in July). Sooke: 27 sales produced a real sales average of $514,048 (HPI $479,900 on par with $479,100 in July). View Royal: 12 sales averaged $623,750 (HPI $707,300 up from $687,400 in July).


 

Friday, October 27 ~ LANGFORD. Last night the Best of the West Shore awards gala was held at Bear Mountain Resort. About 300 business people and guests sat through a few hours of the proverbial drum roll as winners and runners-up in each category were announced at the event hosted by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce with the Goldstream Gazette as their media partner.

West Shore Voice News (Vancouver Island media partner with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business during Small Business Week last week) was one of the several in-kind sponsors of the event.

Various business owners were called up to present awards, with lots of promo to go around while people continued with the buffet dinner, dessert, coffee and cash bar.

Momentum was maintained through the evening by the West Shore Chamber’s Josh Schmidt who was witty and upbeat as the emcee.

Over 22,000 votes had been cast online over a five-week period in the late summer up to early September to produce the winners.

Best New Business, Best Business and Best Customer Service all went to Cascadia Liquor for three of their six island locations – Colwood, Langford and Eagle Ridge. Financial Services top award was claimed by Coast Capital Savings. Best New Development was won by Westhills, followed by Royal Bay and Spirit Bay.

Always a big presence in the awards each year is food and entertainment. Best for Breakfast went to Floyd’s Diner, Best Restaurant was claimed by My Chosin Cafe, and Best Ethnic Cuisine was won by Sabhai Thai. Best Independent Coffee Shop this year went to Poncho’s Coffee House, with Pilgrim Coffee House and Serious Coffee as runners-up.  Best for Entertainment went to Elements Casino, followed by Cineplex Odeon and Western Speedway.  Best Pub was won by Darcy’s Pub. Best Golf Club was won by Olympic View Golf Club, with Westin Bear Mountain and Royal Colwood as the runners-up.

In the fitness zone, Best Bicycle Shop was claimed by Goldstream Bicycles, and Best Martial Arts was won by Clark’s Taekwondo. Best Yoga was won by Moksha Yoga Westshore. Best Place for Fitness went to YMCA-YWCA Langford-Westhills. For health support services, Best Wellness/Health Practice went to Mandala Center for Health & Wellness and Best Dental/Denture Clinic went to Colwood Dental Group.

In the pampering department, winners were Santa Spa Victoria (for Best Spa/Aesthetics), Cabello Salon (for Best Hair Salon), and Brown’s The Florist (for Best Flower/Garden Shop).

Best Pet Clinic was won by Juan de Fuca Veterinary Clinic, with runners up Glenview Animal Hospital and Belmont Langford Veterinary Hospital.

And the basics:  Best Grocery Store went to Thrifty Foods, Best Retailer went to Winners/HomeSense, and Best Storage went to WestShore U-Lock Mini Storage. Best Auto Service was won by Alpine Auto Repair & Tirecraft, with runners up Great Canadian Oil Change and Glen Lake Automotive Centre.

Best First Nations Business was won by the Indigenous Perspectives Society with M’akola Group of Societies as the runner-up.  Favourite non-profit was Coast Collective Arts Centre.

Including Mother Nature in the mix, the best beach was won by Esquimalt Lagoon, followed up by Witty’s Lagoon and Thetis Lake. Best Hiking Trail went to Thetis Lake, while Best Fishing Spot went to Langford Lake.

Other sponsors of the event were Peninsula Co-op, Royal Roads University, Elements Casino, University of Victoria, Bear Mountain Resort Community, Coastal Community, Camosun College, Brown’s the Florist, Pacific Coastal Airlines, Wilson Marshall Law Corporation, Coast Capital, Seriously Creative, TELUS, SOHO, Bubbles Balloons, Brookes Westshore, Heritage House Trophies, and My Chosin Cafe.

Speeches that got the most attention amid the din in the room were ones that commented on the importance of women starting and building businesses, and the growth of indigenous-involved businesses.


 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 ~ BC. Local governments throughout BC have until November 1, 2017 to provide feedback on the provincial discussion paper, Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in British Columbia.

The Province will draw upon feedback obtained through the engagement process as it considers key policy decisions that will form the foundation of its legalized cannabis framework, it was stated today by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

UBCM encourages all local governments to provide submissions to ensure that feedback provided to Province represents the diversity of our membership. Local government responses to the discussion paper will be considered as a separate cohort among the feedback provided.

Many people across Canada already use cannabis products for medicinal reasons. Recreational users often incur criminal records for simple possession, something that will likely fade away after the federal government brings in their new laws and regulations in July 2018.

Considered by pretty much all stakeholders to be a positive aspect of the upcoming legislation is to keep marijuana products out of the hands of youth (for health and safety reasons), and to control or eliminate the current black-market and criminal element of marijuana sales. The federal government will gain tax revenues under the new legislation. Provincial and municipal governments also stand to gain financially under the new laws and regulations.

For many, a major concern remains about road safety related to cannabis use. While for alcohol consumption the roadside blood-alcohol level testing has become mainstream, the ways and means for testing one’s state of clarity while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana remains to be fully determined.

Presently on the west shore of Vancouver Island:

>> In Sooke, a few marijuana-product outlets have already been operating in the town centre area for almost two years. About that… Sooke Council has had discussions but is essentially waiting for federal legislation to come into effect. Today Sooke Mayor Maja Tait (who sits on the UBCM executive) told West Shore Voice: “We received a staff report on Monday and will send a response summarizing the highlighted concerns within. These regulations and the Provincial request pertain to the Federal Government’s legalization of non-medical cannabis, that was the focus of our Agenda.”

>> In Colwood, the City of Colwood Council has had discussions about cannabis legalization and regulation, as well as participating in discussions at the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities and Union of BC Municipalities conferences. “The City will adhere to the current Colwood Land Use Bylaw and Business Bylaw until such time as the Federal and Provincial governments provide direction regarding legalization,” said Colwood’s communications manager Sandra Russell today. The Colwood Land Use and Business Bylaws currently prohibits marijuana dispensaries other than a licensed pharmacy or premises licensed under the “Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations”.

>> In Langford, a few marijuana product outlets that have opened have been quickly shut down through bylaw-related mechanisms. No statement on this topic was provided from the City of Langford today.

Link to the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in BC discussion paper: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/217/2017/09/Cannabis-Legalization-and-Regulation-in-BC_Discussion-Paper.pdf


Tuesday, October 24 ~ LANGFORD. Five years ago tomorrow, a 13-year-old Langford boy was hit by a pickup truck on Sooke Road and died later in hospital from his injuries.

AJ (Adam Jessie) Wakeling was crossing the provincial highway (Sooke Road / Hwy 14) between Glenshire Road and the Slegg Lumber parking lot entrance at about 7 pm that evening, October 25, 2012. He was struck by a small pickup in the eastbound lane.

Wakeling had been a student at Cedar Hill Middle School in Saanich, and had recently relocated to Langford with his mother and brothers.

A roadside memorial has since been maintained by the teen’s mother Yannick Aubin and others.

AJ’s twin, who was with his brother but did not cross, witnessed the accident.

The collision occurred at the crest of a hill and around a sweeping curve just east of Glenshire Drive, according to West Shore RCMP. The driver was never charged, with RCMP noting at the time that it was dark, the teen’s clothing was dark, and the driver was travelling at the average speed on a dry road. Poor lighting was considered to be a contributing factor.

Safety improvements including better lighting have since been done.


 

Sunday, October 22 ~ HALLOWEEN is coming up on the West Side of Vancouver Island!  It’s a big party for families on the west side of Vancouver Island each year!

Bonfires will be bright against the night sky on Tuesday October 31 at Colwood fire hall (6:30 to 8:30 pm) and at Camp Barnard in the Sooke area (starting 6:30 pm, with fireworks at 7:30 pm by Otter Point Fire).

In Langford check out Halloween festivities happening October 31 at all three fire stations: 2625 Peatt Rd, 3205 Happy Valley Rd, 2872 Sooke Lake Rd from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Earlier in the day in the Sooke retail areas swarms of kids and teens will visit stores for candy handouts.

The Sooke Fire Dept reminds anyone who plans to set off fireworks to purchase a fireworks permit for $10 at Fire Hall #1 at 2225 Otter Point Rd. “We encourage everyone to have a safe and happy Halloween!”, says Mount.

For many years, families in Sooke have enjoyed the ‘Safe Halloween’ event and haunted house presented by the Sooke Fire Department and volunteers. But this year, Sooke FD priorities have shifted to a municipal-issues open house coming up this Wednesday, as well as the Santa Run and Santa Claus parade, says Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount.

Fire departments remind trick-or-treaters to choose flame-resistant, high-visibility costumes. When decorating, be FireSmart and that means avoid open flames. Trick-or-treating with family or a buddy in well-lit areas with flashlights or glow sticks is a smart Halloween choice. Parents should approve treats before kids get into them.


Friday, October 20 ~ LANGFORD. The City of Langford has now submitted its bid to become home to the new Amazon HQ2, a second headquarters for the online retailer that would be similar in size to their existing headquarters in Seattle.  The bid intention was first announced last month by Langford Mayor Stew Young (see page 1 in the September 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News).

As one of the fastest growing and innovative cities in Canada (population now over 40,000), the City of Langford has the resources, political will and business climate to ensure Amazon’s HQ2 is a resounding success.

The actual bid document that met the October 19 submission deadline has not been made public, but apparently identifies a number of serviced, development-ready areas within and around the City of Langford that would meet the needs of Amazon. Amazon would require 8.1 million sq ft of operational space. The bid also highlighted the capacity for Langford’s neighbourhoods — including Westhills and Bear Mountain — to continue to grow and accommodate the influx of anticipated workers arriving over multiple years.

Prepared in partnership with the BC Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology, the City of Langford’s Economic Development Committee, the Sooke Economic Development Commission, the Malahat Nation, and multiple businesses and regional partners, the bid showcased the capacity of the region to be home to any global enterprise.

The bid also underscored the ability of the south island region to lure the best and brightest. “With competitive wages, affordable and high quality housing, and world-class recreational opportunities, our post-secondary institutions and tech sector are leaders in developing, attracting and retaining first-class talent,” said Dale Gann, Chair of the Amazon HQ2 Bid Committee.

The bid spoke to Langford’s proven track record for successfully partnering with business. “We always have been, and always will be, open for business,” said Mayor Stew Young. “Langford will continue to expedite the permitting process and minimize red tape to ensure that all businesses, including Amazon, can grow and thrive.”

Building HQ2 will generate $5 billion for the successful host community just in construction alone, with jobs and economic spinoffs after that. Langford is up against major cities through Canada and the US for a chance at this big project.

The video component of Langford’s bid to Amazon can be viewed online comprising a 1 minute, 40-second overview of housing, post-secondary and affordability aspects of the west shore area in which Langford is central.


 

Langford Heritage Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library

Friday, October 20 ~ LANGFORD.  An expansive collection of classical music can now be streamed by Greater Victoria Public Library cardholders. The Naxos Music Library holds over 132,000 albums and two millions tracks including a selection of world, jazz, pop and rock.

As an educational resource, Naxos also provides composer biographies, a musical terms glossary, opera libretti, and a junior section.

The service officially launches on Saturday October 21 at the Langford Heritage Branch from 11 am to 3 pm in their shared complex at 1314 Lakepoint Way in Westhills. Musicians from the Victoria Conservatory of Music will be playing at the library through the four-hour event. The public is welcome.

“This new collection will give music lovers access to recordings by major performers from around the world produced by prominent record labels like Sony Classical, RCA and Deutsche Grammophon,” said Maureen Sawa, CEO, Greater Victoria Public Library. “October is BC Library Month, and we are celebrating with the universal language of music.” Funds for the collection were provided by a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

A new classical music streaming library is now available to Victoria Public Library cardholders.

“The Victoria Conservatory of Music is thrilled to be a part of the Naxos launch, and this is just one great example of the creative synergy that comes with sharing such an amazing space in Westhills,” said Christine Gross, manager of marketing, communications and social media at the Conservatory.

GVPL’s launch of Naxos coincides with an announcement that the Pacific Opera Victoria will be joining the library’s Culture and Recreation Pass program, which lets library cardholders borrow passes to local attractions and facilities. The first passes will be available for POV’s February production of Puccini’s La Bohème. More details will be announced in early 2018.

“Pacific Opera Victoria looks forward to sharing the opera experience with the community through our partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library,” said Ian Rye, CEO, Pacific Opera Victoria.

“Patrons can borrow a culture pass to see a live performance, and continue listening with Naxos recordings,” said Rob Martin, chair of the Library Board and municipal councillor for Colwood. “The library has it all. We support learning experiences that enrich our lives and expand our minds.”


Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford)

Friday, October 13 ~ COASTAL.  An open house on a proposed national marine conversation area reserve in the Southern Straight of Georgia will be hosted by Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) on Sunday, October 15. There are currently only four other national marine conservation areas in Canada.

“This is the first time that the general public will be able to have a conversation with Parks Canada officials about this every exciting project,” says MacGregor.

Alistair MacGregor will introduce presentations by James Gordon, MBA (Parks Canada, Project Manager) and Lisa Joe (Parks Canada, First Nations Coordinator). Members of the audience will be welcome to ask questions.

The event runs 1 to 3 pm in Duncan at 140 Trans-Canada Highway.


 

 

BCLC public affairs director Greg Walker addressed the West Shore Chamber of Commerce mixer, Oct 11. Also with West Shore Chamber staff Josh Schmidt (director of development) and Julie Lawlor (executive director).

Wednesday, October 11 ~ WEST SHORE.  The upgraded View Royal Casino — to be known as Elements Casino — is getting some on-the-ground promotion in the west shore area.  Two recent events hosted by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce … a business showcase with 31 exhibitors at Eagle Ridge Arena on October 1 and tonight October 11 a business mixer at Darcy’s Pub, offered different angles on the promotion.

At the business showcase over 100 job applications were filled out by eager potential employees for the expanded facility. And at the mixer, BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) director of public affairs Greg Walker spoke to those gathered about the new facility and how gaming grants support non-profits throughout the province. BCLC co-hosted the October 11 mixer.

Walker said that the community gaming grants “are one way we give back”. Municipalities rely on BCLC gaming grants to help with general operational budget support.

View Royal Casino will become Elements Casino (rendering), launching in 2018.

The View Royal casino will be more than doubled in size with a major upgrade (adding 42,000 sq ft), becoming Elements Casino aiming to open by in spring 2018.

There will also be 12 new table games with live dealers, to add to the current 15, and new dining venues such as a buffet, casual lounge and bar.

Some of the jobs for which people applied this month include servers and bartenders, chefs, cage cashier and count team attendants, card dealers, security officers, surveillance operators, and operational roles in finance, human resources and marketing.

Last year View Royal Mayor David Screech called the View Royal expansion project good news. “I’m thrilled with the announcement and the confirmation that View Royal clearly will remain the premier gaming facility in the region,” he had said. The gambling operation generated $71.8 million in revenue in the 2015-16 fiscal year, with $4.1 million going to West Shore municipalities.  View Royal and Langford get about 45% each, with the remaining 10% shared among five other jurisdictions, said Screech.

The Government of BC  founded BCLC over 30 years ago with the stated purpose of giving back to the citizens of BC and helping communities grow. Since 1985, their customers have helped invest $19 billion in health care, education and community programs. BCLC says that 88 cents of every dollar goes back into provincial tax revenues.


SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge at the first board meeting of 2017-2018, his last full year on the job. [Photo by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News]

Tuesday, October 10 ~ WEST SHORE. SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge retiring after 36 years in education

Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Superintendent Jim Cambridge is retiring from his 36-year career. While that eventuality been known in education circles for a while, the formal announcement from the school board came October 4. Cambridge will begin his next adventures in August 2018.

With SD62 since 1981, Cambridge has been a classroom teacher and school administrator, as well as holding various administrative positions at the board office (in the top position as Superintendent and CEO since May 2009). As Superintendent, Cambridge has in recent years led schools, teachers, students and parents during an unprecedented growth period.

In August this year, his senior executive support expanded from two Assistant Superintendents to three, to keep up with student population growth which has now reached 10,400 as more families move to the west shore.

Back in January, Cambridge co-hosted the Canada 150 BC schools launch by BC Lt Governor Judith Guichon at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke.

Behind the scenes over the past few years, Cambridge was instrumental in various areas of discussion with the BC Government to help morph the understanding of school budgets and funding requirements.

Jim Cambridge is well liked and highly regarded both within SD62 and in the broader community. He’s in his element at the board table and always enjoys getting back into schools for visits. Cambridge has always seemed to enjoy the job despite its many challenges.

In his role at chief administrator, Cambridge has weathered various storms including teacher strikes, the construction of two new high schools in two years, and several years of budget cuts. Even the decision required to call a ‘snow day’ is also significant, as many sectors are impacted.

Keven Elder Consulting Services will recruit and select the next SD62 Superintendent and CEO. That process will begin with stakeholders this fall; the new posting for the position is expected in December.

=== Article first published on page 3 in the print/PDF edition of the October 6, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News


Saturday, October 7 ~ WEST SHORE. Duality in Greater Victoria real estate this fall season.  Real Estate Analysis by Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News

There’s been a stone-cold drop in activity and a significant cooling in prices in many average-price areas of the Greater Victoria real estate market in recent weeks.

But in three areas actual sales price averages jumped dramatically between August and September: Langford was up by $55,150, East Saanich was up by $42,565 and North Saanich prices skyrocketed by $152,407. Prices in high-end Oak Bay notably dropped by almost $94,000 (only post-peak stock may have been available).

In September there were 18.1% fewer properties sold than a year ago. East Saanich is normally the bell-weather of pricing trends, and Langford seems to be following suit.

The Victoria Real Estate Board says the market is “trending slowly towards more balanced conditions and overall price increases are levelling”. But their own stats tell a different story. The trend is not slow. prices are ‘acting out’, and the most stable areas (East Saanich and Langford) show distinct upward pressure.

Two Bank of Canada interest rate hikes this summer cut the legs out from under the lower end of the market, hurting entry-level buyers and sellers of modest homes.

Housing inventory rose in September 2017 (up 3.1% from August) as properties have become more difficult to sell. In the fast-growing City of Langford the actual sale price of single family homes surpassed $700,000 last month while Colwood and Sooke prices plummeted.

This article was first published in the October 6, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Thursday, October 5 ~ VICTORIA & WEST SHORE AREA. One lane of travel in each direction resumes on the Malahat.

Meridians have been added to more sections of the Malahat (on Hwy 1) in recent years.

 

Now that the summer peak travel period is over and traffic volumes are lower, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says it will be reducing the Malahat section of Highway 1 (Trans Canada) to one lane in each direction. That’s in the Malahat Village area between Aspen Road and Shawnigan Lake Road.

That traffic pattern change will take effect after the Thanksgiving long weekend and remain in place 24/7 until the May long weekend in 2018.

MOTI says this will help ensure that blasting activities can be completed safely and to provide clear and consistent lanes for drivers through the project during the winter months when visibility is often reduced by weather conditions. Intermittent traffic stoppages are also required for blasting but will occur outside peak periods (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. southbound and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. northbound).

Drivers can still expect delays of up to 20 minutes during construction. The ministry asks motorists to please be attentive for workers and obey the construction speed zone of 60 kph at all times. Drivers are asked to use both lanes up to the merge point and then alternate when merging (like a zipper) for best efficiency. For current conditions and up-to-date traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca

Improvements to the Malahat have been taking place in phases for the past couple of years. Adding meridians to separate northbound and southbound traffic has been a significant part of the work. In July 2016, $34 million was committed for the Malahat Safety Improvements project ($20,000 from BC and $14,000 in federal funds). An $18.5-million construction contract was awarded to Emil Anderson Construction Ltd for construction that began in spring 2017 and now runs through summer 2018.


 

Ribbon-cutting October 4 to open the West Shore Parkway. From left: Joyce Chen (for her late husband, Victor Chen), Langford Councillor Denise Blackwell, Langford Councillor Matt Sahlstrom, Langford Mayor Stew Young, MLA Mitzi Dean (for John Horgan, Premier and MLA, Langford-Juan de Fuca). [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, October 4 ~ LANGFORD. The full West Shore Parkway officially opened today. Feature by Mary P Brooke.

A significant achievement for the City of Langford, a milestone for Langford Mayor Stew Young, and a boon for the economy of the entire west shore region… today the opening of the full West Shore Parkway celebrated all that. Under bright skies on this crisp fall day, about 300 people gathered along the brand new roadway and up close for the formal announcement. That was at 10 am. And around 11 am the full West Shore Parkway from the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) over to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) saw its first through-traffic.

But not before a motorcade of classic cars took a symbolic first-drive on the newly-opened 3.5 km road. Leading the pack was Mayor Young, cruising in his pale blue 1956 Buick Special, nicely appointed and car-show ready. That was the end of the long-awaited, much-anticipated October 4 official opening event. Ahead of that there were speeches, acknowledgements and the ribbon-cutting.

Foremost was the reminder to all that the key success of this new roadway was an infrastructure partnership by three levels of government. The Government of Canada (by the work of then-MLA for Courtenay—Alberni, John Duncan), the Government of BC (under then-Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Todd Stone), and the City of Langford (by way of developers in Langford) each contributed $7.5 million to the $22.5 million project.

The West Shore Parkway connects Highway 14 (Sooke Road) to Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway), serving to connect a broad economic region. [West Shore Voice News photo]

First announced as a go-ahead infrastructure project in July 2015, Stew Young was proud to proclaim today that the major engineering feat was achieved on budget and on time. He acknowledged the massive undertaking this project was for the late Victor Chen, former engineering manager with the City of Victoria, who passed away suddenly in August. Victor’s widow Joyce was part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony today, leading the 3-2-1 countdown of the ribbon cutting in Chinese.

“Thank you to the business community for stepping up and funding the Langford portion,” said Mayor Stew Young as part of his remarks at the microphone. “Opening this road creates a great economic opportunity for Langford. It gets people in car from workplace to home earlier, spending more time in your community with your families. And that’s what infrastructure is all about,” he said, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions with cars not idling as much in traffic congestion.

Mayor Young says the “next big project” is to “start to push to get that highway fixed into town” Young is promoting the need for high-occupancy lanes on Highway 1, to improve commuter travel times. “Let’s get some pressure and some support, and fix that highway for people living in the west shore.”

“This is a complete community job,” said Stew Young about the completion of the West Shore Parkway. “We’re so excited about having this open and the cooperation with everybody—that’s how you get things done — working with business, working with government. And that’s how we’re going to continue doing things in Langford.”

Stew Young’s drove his blue 56 Buick Special first in line to drive the last-completed section of the West Shore Parkway, October 4 [West Shore Voice News photo]

“Enjoy the road. It’s a fantastic road. You’re going to like all the improvements,” said Young in wrapping up. “It’s one of the best connectors you’re going to drive in BC right now, with all the aesthetically beautiful things we’ve done with our roadways including artificial turf that we don’t have to water, saving the environment.” And with his trademark showmanship: “ Let’s get this thing open!”
City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich set the vehicle procession in motion.

Also taking part in the event was Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) representing Premier John Horgan (MLA, Langford-Juan de Fuca), saying “our government is committed to solving broader transportation challenges in our region”.

Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi was in Langford earlier this summer to see the West Shore Parkway construction in progress. On August 2 (one of the hottest days of the year) he took a tour of the construction site with Mayor Stew Young, saying it was an opportunity for him to see up close how federal infrastructure dollars are being spent.

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi and City of Langford Mayor Stew Young at the West Shore Parkway extension site August 2, 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo by Mary P Brooke]

Today Stew Young told media that “infrastructure dollars are coming west”. He noted how traffic growth in the region is increasing by about 2% to 3% per year, adding that the provincial government taking action to improve Highway 1 with HOV lanes and other improvements is action required now, not to be delayed with further studies.

Today’s official opening of the parkway was held by the non-used E&N Railway line where it crosses the parkway. To media, Young reiterated a view he’s held for some time, that shifting transportation issues from the non-profit area (presently E&N Railway issues are handled by the Island Corridor Foundation) to the provincial level is the right way to go now. And the federal government has funding for this, he added. “Getting the business community on side to show the importance of improved transportation” is important now.


 

Langford Mayor Stew Young at Council, October 2, 2017 [Photo: Mary Brooke, West Shore Voice News]

Tuesday, October 3 ~ LANGFORD. It was another slam dunk for City of Langford Mayor Stew Young and his council last night, as they let the public have their way but in the end made a massive sweep of change for downtown Langford.

Frequently brief, Langford council meetings often wrap up in 15 to 20 minutes, with rapid-fire approval of sometimes a long list of Planning committee recommendations and zoning and variance approvals

The October 2 meeting had that quick-approval pattern at the end. But the public hearing ahead of that lasted over an hour and a half. Mayor Young took heat for the discomfort that residents are feeling about the increasing cost of housing (the average sale price in September for a single family home in Langford was $710,110) and rental accommodation (now about $1,400 for a 1-bedroom rental apartment, or about $1,200 for just a studio), in-town traffic congestion, and protracted travel times for job commuters to areas of Greater Victoria beyond Langford.

It could be argued that Langford is now central to the Greater Victoria area, considering that population growth is ‘west-heavy’ into Langford, Colwood, and Sooke. About 500 to 600 housing units per year are built in Langford, and as many of those attract young families now even the schools are overflowing their students into portables and teacher shortages in SD62 are looming. And even that is apparently not enough to keep up with demand.

Long the pitch and hope of Stew Young that provincial government offices will eventually be built in Langford (as a key way to boost the tax base and reduce or eliminate commute times for workers), he’s been assembling the pieces for a long time. More housing, larger population, more immediate jobs in the region, attracting young families to the area, constructing another traffic route (West Shore Parkway, which fully opens this week), and pushing along BC Transit for more and better bus routes to and through Langford. Around the edges have been the other essential ingredients built such as town beautification and recreation.

Langford Council – October 2, 2017 [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Higher density is needed and actually appreciated by new residents who come to Langford for the relative affordability, the mayor explained. A new city core lifestyle has been evolving in Langford for a long time. The tipping point is now, as residents who knew Langford as a backwash to the Victoria core – but with the benefits of quiet, space and a slow pace – are feeling the transition-to-urban in real ways.All of this the mayor provisioned to the crowd of about 120 people at Langford Council October 2, taking dozens of questions and getting a bit of raw feedback from residents angry about traffic congestion, loss of sunlight from higher buildings, noise, and the overall change to what Langford was to them.

Several public comments noted how 300 more units being added in a development on Claude Road will cause further traffic congestion to Peatt Road which serves as a thoroughfare within and through Langford. As people move to the suburbs they are not abandoning their cars for use of the bus to the degree that transit planners would hope.

Bylaw 1738 to change designation of chunks of ‘neighbourhood’ to be ‘city centre’ [City of Langford map]

All the ‘noise’ of the October 2 meeting – including a distraction about some buildings possibly being 12 storeys high — was a good cover allowing the public let off some steam — for the massive shift in the Official Community Plan (OCP) that Council approved thereafter … three areas of Langford that were beyond the town core (previously zoned ‘neighbourhood’) got 2nd and 3rd reading to be zoned City Centre (see pink areas on map). Some smaller adjacent areas in the OCP will be rezoned as Mixed Use Employment Centre, and Business or Light Industrial. Staff are to come up with a somewhat diminished building height maximum (not yet entirely specified) for the City Centre areas. This will allow for development of greater residential density and possibly office towers.

Full house at the City of Langford council meeting on October 2 [photo: West Shore Voice News]

Apparently the government office buildings won’t come until the population density has increased and is proximal to the office areas. Build it and they will come.As one resident summarized it… development is necessary for a growing city but it has to be done right. One suggestion was building townhomes instead of high rise apartments. But developers need a good return on their investment, especially as the City of Langford shifts the burden of road, sewer and other amenity development to the developers. The costs are shifted along by developers into the cost of housing for consumers.

At the tail end of the meeting, Mayor Young, Councillor Lanny Seaton, and Councillor Denise Blackwell left the room a few times (to avoid conflict of interest) over motions to pass developments on Meaford and Dunford and regarding a tax exemption for the Cherish Seniors Facility at Jacklin and Jenkins.

One member of the public had earlier noted that Langford Council listens but pushed things through anyway. It’s in this manner that Langford has been built to now a burgeoning town of over 40,000 people, poised as the shining urban jewel that puts Langford at the centre of it all.

Developer Jim Hartshorne of Keycorp Developments Ltd and developer Ron Coutre who is president of the West Shore Developers Association – both of whom stand much to gain by last night’s changes to Langford’s Official Community Plan — were present for what ended up being a 2-hour meeting on October 2 . Neither contributed any public comment.


 

At UBCM September 25: Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak, Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns [photo by Mary Brooke – West Shore Voice News]

Friday, September 29 ~  LANGFORD.  He wasn’t there for it, but City of Langford Mayor Stew Young was the highlight of the ‘Advancing Local Government – First Nations Relations’ session on September 25 at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention. Young was frequently mentioned for his leadership in guiding the success of a three-way win-win agreement between Langford, Metchosin and Beecher Bay (details first reported in West Shore Voice News March 17, 2017).

The land swap “put us in an area where the clash of values disappeared,” said Robert Janes of JFK Law, who handled the complex paperwork involved.

Presenters Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Janes, and developer Seamus Brennan collectively repainted the picture of how Mayor Young’s bird’s-eye view of the eventual land swap led the way for relatively rapid negotiations between the two municipalities and the first nation to all benefit financially.

When asked by the audience about the key ingredient for success of the deal compared to the slow progress of other treaty-related efforts, Chipps was particularly vocal about it: “Largely this worked because it wasn’t about the treaty process. To exert my rights and entitlements I don’t have to ask anyone,” said Chipps, in supporting Ranns in the declaration that it worked because it was a business deal in which everyone’s interests were met.

The private sector was an essential ingredient, fulfilling the profit motive for developers but getting all the desired results for each party.

Awards from UBCM for long service! From left: Langford Councillor Denise Blackwell, Langford Mayor Stew Young, Langford Councillor Winnie Sifert. [Photo by UBCM]

At the end of the day, Langford gained 354 acres of land within their municipal boundary, destined for development. And while Beecher Bay First Nation relinquished 250 acres of treaty lands, it became (along with 155 more acres of private land), a protected greenspace in Metchosin which Ranns (in his seventh term as mayor) said is treasured by that rural municipality.

Beecher Bay will be an enriched community by way of ongoing revenues from the industrial park that is under development along the new West Shore Parkway.

Then-Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Peter Fassbender was also recognized in the presentation for his efforts to open doors and keep things flowing at the provincial level. Indeed, the final paperwork was signed in his office on March 14 at the legislature.

At the start of Monday’s session, BC Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser said that the treaty process”needs to be dynamic and needs to evolve”.

Later in the week at UBCM, Mayor Stew Young, and Langford Councillors Denise Blackwell and Winnie Sifert received recognition for 25 years of service as elected representatives of their vibrant municipality.


 

BC Premier John Horgan addressed delegates at the 2017 Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver, September 29 [photo by UBCM]

Friday, September 29 ~ VANCOUVER. He said he’d heard it was unusual to hang out for the entire week at a Union of BC Municipalities convention, but Premier John Horgan made it clear he was there to integrate as deeply as possible with the mayors and councillors of municipalities from across British Columbia. These are the people who are ‘on the ground’ meeting with constituents face to face. He needs those connections.

In his speech on Friday, September 29 — joking it would be rivaled as ‘the biggest speech ever’ at a UBCM convention (playing on the spoof popularity of crowd-size assertations on Saturday Night Live) — he went light on specifics about the wide range of deliverables that his NDP government still plans to roll out. Already, in the first few weeks since taking office in July 2017, Horgan and his ministers have been going down the checklist of campaign promises, including increased disability and income assistance, promising to build more housing considered ‘affordable’, and a focus on mental health and addiction.

Today he reiterated what is already in Selina Robinson’s mandate letter as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that the promised 114,000 housing units will be in market rental, non-profit, co-op, supported social housing, and owner-purchase housing. However, some specifics included an announcement about 600 modular homes in being available for the Vancouver area, with 150 in Surrey, and more in Smithers “and any other community that modular will fit with your package of solutions”. The Premier described the homes as inexpensive, quick to place, and movable. He told municipal leaders officials: “If you’ve got land and zoning, we’ve got the cans. Let’s get this going.”

And while on the surface it sounded positive, Premier Horgan did level a bit of a blow to his own home riding, where the City of Langford is bidding on bringing the new Amazon Headquarters 2 (HQ2) to south Vancouver Island. As reported in West Shore Voice last week, the Amazon project is an opportunity for some 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investment. In the same breath as saying “let’s bring more high tech jobs to BC,” and encouraging all communities to step up to the Amazon bid process, Horgan said the BC government will financially back only Vancouver’s bid for Amazon HQ2, to the tune of $50,000.

Horgan pitched to “work with everybody in this room” to come up with innovative ways — all levels of government working together – for “a better BC for all of us”. He itemized the need for resource jobs, as well as in high tech, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. “Every corner of BC has something to offer the world. It starts by working together,” Horgan said.

He talked about the opioid crisis, with solutions seen as being in opening up more treatment centres, increasing anti-trafficking in law enforcement, and having already set up a new ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.
Regarding the threat to the BC softwood lumber industry, Horgan gave the crowd in Vancouver some verbal muscle, without specifics: “If the US wants to go to court… we’ve won every dispute we’ve had, and we’ll win this one as well.”

Premier Horgan said he had a bit of fun while in Vancouver by suiting up with professional firefighters of BC at the Vancouver fire operations centre, in the wake of having visited wildfire areas of the BC Interior this past summer. The worst fire season in BC’s history, this past summer saw communities devastated, people dislocated, and small businesses seriously set back. Dealing with the wildfire scenario was Horgan’s first major requirement for action after he became Premier on July 18. ~ WSV


 

Amazon headquarters in Seattle.

Saturday, September 23 ~ LANGFORD.  If you don’t try, you’ll never know. The City of Langford with its go-after-it can-do attitude and team approach has assembled a bid to attract Amazon to the west shore of Vancouver Island.

They’re responding to a tender put out by Amazon on September 7 for a location at which the online retailer can set up their second North American headquarters (HQ2 for short). HQ2 would be a full equal to the company’s main headquarters in Seattle, WA said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a statement earlier this month.

After their October 19 deadline, Amazon will be seeing Langford’s pitch in front of them along with at least 50 bids from major cities across North America (likely including, in Canada, these — Ottawa, Calgary, London, Edmonton, Toronto).

If nothing else, it’s good international exposure for Langford, but Langford Mayor Stew Young and senior staff are optimistic.

“We have great transportation routes, an international airport and seaplanes,” said Mayor Young this week. Of course, the $5 billion that the online retailer would spend to build HQ2 would be the first great part of Amazon putting down roots in Langford.

Amazon HQ2 would eventually employ up to 50,000 people full time over a 10-year period. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 would create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.

City of Langford Mayor Stew Young [West Shore Voice News photo]

Langford offers an already established commercial hub within the west side of the island lifestyle, similar to the laidback lifestyle that Amazon offers their employees. Here the perks would be lots of indoor and outdoor recreation, modern digital services, universities and colleges, and relative housing affordability. And more… including locally three lakes that Langford has in within its boundaries plus nearby hiking, fishing and trails along the west coast.

As well, being in Canada would offer the US company a cheaper dollar as well as trade agreements into Europe and Asia that are separate from NAFTA, which is probably why the Request for Proposal (RFP) was not limited to American cities.

Stew Young was approached by the business community to give this bid a shot, even though the Amazon RFP states the need for a base population of 1 million people. Greater Victoria is about 370,000 people, but the extended region could be seen to include adjacent regions of Vancouver Island, and by ferry-extension, the lower mainland.

In the last few years Langford’s population has surpassed 40,000 and the development community keeps on building houses, townhomes, condos and rental apartments to help Langford try and keep up to housing demand.

Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle is comprised of 33 buildings, in total about 8.1 million sqft. That includes 24 restaurants/cafes and eight other services. Their capital investment in buildings and infrastructure was $3.7 billion. Operational expenditures are $1.4 billion (utilities/maintenance). Employee payroll is about $25.7 billion/yr. About $43 million is paid into Seattle’s transportation system. In 2016 about 233,000 hotel nights were booked by visiting Amazonians and guests.

Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy (2010-2016) – every dollar invested by Amazon generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy overall.

Naturally there is buzz in cities across North America to throw their hats into this enormous ring. Some financial critics say the magnitude of the project could overwhelm a city or region that is not prepared to handle it. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity that likely comes once in a city’s lifetime.

The closing date for the RFP is right around the corner. The entire tech industry and community of municipalities in Canada and the US are keen to see how this one plays out.

This article was first published in the Print/PDF September 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Construction development will affect traffic flow in the Jacklin/Jenkins area of Langford Mon-Sat through to summer 2018.

Thursday, September 21 ~ LANGFORD. Some underground utility construction, lane improvements and signal light installations are a composite project by G&E Contracting, CRD Integrated Water Services and the City of Langford in preparation for major construction on the former Jacklin Road Belmont high school site.

The work will periodically impact vehicle traffic flow Mondays to Saturdays (7am to 6pm) at and around the intersection of Jacklin Road (Jenkins to Terlane) and also at Jenkins Avenue (Jacklin to Brittany Drive).

All of that is near the Westshore Town Centre retail area and affecting the major thoroughfare that is Jacklin Road to shops, restaurants and as a connector to the Goldstream Ave business centre of Langford.

The new West Shore Parkway (from Hwy 14 to Langford Parkway, and soon to the Trans Canada Highway) is one route that will help motorists avoid the Jacklin Road slowdowns.

The engineering work will be completed in summer 2018, says the City of Langford’s engineering department. No night work is anticipated for the remainder of 2017. Any changes or significant lane closures will be announced.

Redevelopment of the former school site will include a new 56,000 sq ft Thrifty Foods store as the anchor tenant within the Belmont Market Shopping Centre (a 200,000 sq ft retail complex by Sobeys Developments). All of that bordered by Jacklin Road, Jenkins Road, Brittany Drive and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.  An additional 144,000 sq ft of retail and office space will be situated throughout the multi-acre site with as many as 860 surface parking spaces.

It’s a three-phase commercial project. Phase One of the development (Thriftys as anchor, plus five more retailers with storefronts 5,800 to 13,000 sqft) is the portion aiming to be completed in summer 2018.  A 330-unit residential component (including rental apartments and some townhomes) will span the southern perimeter of the property, backing onto the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.


 

Wednesday, September 20 ~ LANGFORD.  Just a heads up for early morning commuters in the Millstream area of Langford.  There will be some traffic delays due to a little bit of paving going on, on Monday September 25 in the early morning 5:30 am to 6:30 am. The paving will be done in the downhill lane on McCallum Road towards Millstream (at the driveway entrance to Best Buy).


 

Sir Nick Faldo, championship golfer, at Bear Mountain this week. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, September 14 ~ LANGFORD. Up on Bear Mountain they’re teeing up for a 3-day PGA Championship Tournament that will run Friday September 15 through Sunday September 17.  Today September 14 a Pro-Am round was followed by media interviews above the 18th green.

Long-time pro golfer Sir Nick Faldo, now 60, has had a 13-year career in TV sports media on the CBS golf channel, but said that he still likes competing. “It’s nice to throw some golf into it for a change,” he told reporters outdoors under bright blue skies at the Bear Mountain Resort. He revealed some tips for great golf success, including learning to “pull the right club” and “picking the right shot at the right time”.  He explained that in golf you’re making decisions all the time. “You can play well but not land in the right spot” but you can “still make a good shot in the wrong place”.

Last year’s Pacific Links Bear Mountain Champion Colin Montgomerie, 54, said the standards at the Bear Mountain Golf Course are “exceptionally high”.  He said that Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve Nicklaus have done “a super job putting together a challenging course” requiring accuracy of the tee and position of the ball. “It’s not a sloggers golf course,” he said. The mountain-side terrain is the defining factor.

This year the 3-day championship tournament of 54 holes will not be televised, due to some funding complexities. “Whether it’s televised or not we’re going to give it 100 per cent,” Montgomerie told media. “The field (of players) is stellar,” he said. There are 78 competitors including five exemptions, three restricted, two unrestricted and four event qualifiers.

Colin Montomerie – last year’s Pacific Links winner, at Bear Mountain this week. [West Shore Voice News photo]

The Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship is an official event on PGA Tour Champions featuring the world’s premiere golfers ages 50 and older. This year they are competing for a $1.8 million USD purse (down from $2.5 million last year). The first place winner takes home $270,000 (about 26% of the total purse). The second-place winner takes 23.2% of the purse. Percentages drop from there, but all players get a cut. If a position is tied, all winners in that position get an equal split of the percentage for that level, explained Pacific Links Tournament Director Brad Parkins.

Parkins says it took 2 months for Pacific Links International to get ready to host this week’s PGA tournament. “It’s a spectacular place at Bear Mountain. The surroundings are picturesque and beautiful, and it’s a great resort with everything on site. Players don’t require a car or shuttle to get to the course or restaurants, it’s all here with their accommodation on site,” he said. Similarly, Montgomerie had high praise for the Bear Mountain Resort facility, with everything in one spot.

The local economic impact of the event is expected to be one of the largest ever in the Victoria region and certainly the largest ever in Langford. Reports indicate that the spend on hotels, food, beverage and entertainment, local supplier and services purchases, and spin-off benefits can be estimated in the $15 to $17 million range.

About 35,000 spectators throughout the week are expected to attend the event. Over 700 volunteers have been required to help pull off all the various support activities during this week and coming weekend.

A tournament daily pass for Friday-Sunday is $40+tax, including serviced charge — valid any one day of tournament rounds (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Tickets are available online at www.PacificLinksChampionship.com

As for the region and enjoying apart from golf, Faldo remarked about vacationing on Vancouver Island with two of his daughters. Montgomerie called the overall Bear Mountain and Langford-Highlands area “one of the most beautiful places on Earth”.


Joining a BC Transit driver on the bus at the new Westshills terminal (from left): BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha, City of Langford Mayor Stew Young, and BC Transit Director Susan Brice. [West Shore Voice News photo ~ Sept 11, 2017]

Monday, September 11 ~ LANGFORD.  Bus transportion has expanded in the west shore with a new terminal in the Westhills area of Langford. It’s part of supporting commuters who live in Langford who head to Saanich, Victoria and beyond for employment and attending post-secondary.

The announcement was made with a formal ribbon cutting event today September 11 at the location on Westhills Way where buses on three routes will drop off and pick up riders near the YWCA and Langford Heritage branch library.

VIPs who made the official announcement at the Westhills Terminal under mid-morning bright skies were City of Langford Mayor Stew Young, BC Transit Director Susan Brice, and BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha.

Mayor Stew Young was appreciative of the working partnership with BC Transit, noting the role of political support toward success of infrastructure enhancements. Stew Young and was pleased about the enhanced transit services for Langford residents who commute to work or school, says that buses are filling up both ways. “Making it easier to get to and from Langford makes the most sense and supports the growth of our community,” Mayor Young said.

Long-time Saanich politician Susan Brice of course see the benefits to UVic and Camosun students and employees of those large institutions, both located in Saanich. “We’re glad to always be working with Langford,” she told the crowd about 40 people gathered for the occasion. In the bigger picture, Brice said that there are eight new buses in the BC Transit system this fall and 20,000 more service hours. She was pleased about increased service to the west shore, with BC Transit aiming to “keep exploring ways to improve and enhance services”.

Bus lanes and priority lanes for moving commuter traffic in and out of the town core was given support in remarks by Brice, which is good news for Langford. Stew Young pitched that an announcement about HOV lanes could be coming soon.

Big gathering to celebrate the opening of the new Westhills Terminal on Westhills Way in Langford [West Shore Voice News photo ~ Sept 11, 2017]

BC Transit CEO Manuel Achadinha also spoke about the success of partnerships at the provincial and local levels. “Langford is a city that is growing,” he said, happy to be working directly with the City itself and with the Westhills Development as their latest partner. “Langford is fast-growing community in the region here, and we welcome our new partners,” said Achadinha.

The official opening of the new Westhills BC Transit Terminal on Westhills Way is a jointly-funded project through the City of Langford, the Westhills Development and BC Transit.  The new Westhills BC Transit Terminal is providing increased transit service from the Westshore to the University of Victoria, the Department of National Defence (DND) and Dockyard. People who work or study at UVic and Camosun College, and in all parts of Greater Victoria beyond Langford will benefit immediately by this expanded service.

The new routes are #39 Westhills-Camosun, #46 Dockyard-Westhills, and #57 Thetis Heights/Westhills. The terminal started operating last Tuesday, where there is also a park-and-ride area for vehicles. The advantage is about having multiple stops in one location in the rapidly expanding Westhills area which includes the Belmont Secondary School and nearby rugby playing fields.

Mayor Stew Young was joined by City of Langford Councillors Denise Blackwell, Lanny Seaton, and Lillian Szpak for the announcement today as well as engineering and senior staff. Also attending was District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait who participates on the BC Transit commission as part of a west shore contingent.  Westhills staff were also there for the big day.


 

Friday, September 8 ~ LANGFORD.  A new bus terminal is opening up in the west shore!

On Monday September 11 the City of Langford, Westhills and BC Transit will officially open the new Westhills BC Transit Terminal on Westhills Way in Langford. The ribbon-cutting will be at 10 am.

The project was jointly funded by the three partners to provide increased transit service from the west shore to the University of Victoria, the Department of National Defence (DND) and Dockyard.

The new terminal is across from the YMCA building and Langford Heritage Branch library in Westhills.


Wednesday, September 6 ~ LANGFORD.  Today the road crew action continues in Langford.

Langford Engineering reports that from 8:30am-2pm there will be some line-painting to remove the turnlane on Sooke Rd eastbound at Glenshire, as part of the West Shore Pkwy project.

As well, today September 6, on Happy Valley Rd at Braeburn there will be some storm drain construction from 9am-to 3 pm.

Minor traffic delays can be expected.


Road improvements taking place on Orono Ave in Langford, through to Oct 13. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, September 2 ~ LANGFORD.  Infrastructure improvements continue in the bustling growing city of Langford.

Municipal engineers advised of traffic delays around a small but busy street in the core Goldstream-area of Langford.

Between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday, Orono Ave will be closed (Jacklin Rd to Peatt Rd) during Monday August 28 to Friday October 13. That’s for the installation of sewers and storm drainage as well as road repaving.

Drivers are advised to use Van Isle Way for access for local traffic and business. Traffic control personnel will be on site. See traffic advisories at www.langford.ca

 

 

 

 


 

ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood, View Royal & Metchosin – Sept & Oct 2017

ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood, View Royal & Metchosin – July & August 2017

ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood, View Royal & Metchosin – May & June 2017

ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood & Metchosin news – March & April 2017

ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood & Metchosin news – Jan & February 2017

ARCHIVES – Langford, Colwood & Metchosin news – Nov & Dec 2016

ARCHIVES – West Shore regional news – June to Oct 2016

ARCHIVES – West Shore regional news – Feb to May 2016

 


Contributions of articles, insights and photos welcome. Write to: editor@westshorevoicenews.com or tel/text 250-217-5821. Twitter: @WestShoreVOICE .