Breaking News – Langford, Colwood, Metchosin & View Royal

NEWS UPDATES – Langford, Colwood, Metchosin & View Royal 

       

The West Shore

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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

 


Thursday, August 31 ~ LANGFORD. A residential break-and-enter in 2700-block Jacklin Road around 3:50 am this morning August 31 was averted by the homeowner and soon after that the police. West Shore RCMP handled in the incident in the wee hours. A 15-year-old teen girl was arrested.


SD62 has three Assistant Superintendents this year (from left): Dave Strange, Stephanie Hedley-Smith, and Paul Block. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, August 31 ~ LANGFORD. A growing student population in the bustling expanding west shore region of south Vancouver Island has resulted in the expansion of senior-level management at Sooke School District 62 (SD62) for 2017-2018. 

Whereas in the past there have been two Assistant Superintendents reporting to SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge, as of August 1 a third Assistant Superintendent joined the team.

Introduced on August 29 at the first public board meeting of 2017-2018 was new Assistant Superintendent (A/S) Stephanie Hedley-Smith. She joins Paul Block and Dave Strange who were both new to the position of Assistant Superintendent for 2016-2017.

Three A/S positions makes it a lot easier to assign one ‘family of schools’ fully and directly under the purview of one administrator. The Belmont family of schools in Langford will be overseen by Hedley-Smith. The Royal Bay family of schools in Colwood will be overseen by Block. The EMCS family of schools in Sooke will be overseen by Strange.

Key aspects of their portfolios include Education Standing Committee, Information Technology and Aboriginal Education (Hedley-Smith); Distributed Learning, Curriculum, and Secondary Counselling (Block); and Alternative Education, Comprehensive School Health, and Elementary Counselling (Strange).

Also new at the board table in his first full year as Chair was Ravi Parmar. The overall meeting had an upbeat feeling not unexpected at the start of a school year. But there was an undercurrent of worries about the increasing cost of bus transportation (see Aug 30 article below). And pressure points are looming due to various ‘moving pieces’ having to do with registration tally unknowns and the space to accommodate all students in the schools.

Schools in SD62 are in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. As many as 19 portable classrooms are being set up this week ahead of the September 5 start of the 2017-2018 academic school year. A Proposed Definition Report (PDR) to justify the cost to expand Royal Bay Secondary by 600 seats (beyond the current 1,200) has been submitted to the BC government for consideration; if approved, design of the addition to Royal Bay (which opened in September 2015) could begin as early as this fall.


 

Wednesday, August 30 ~ LANGFORD. The growing area of Langford and the west shore of south Vancouver Island overall is pushing the population of students in School District 62 up to its highest level yet for 2017-2018.

At last night’s SD62 board meeting, it was stated by senior staff that at least 10,400 students are expected to be registered for classes in schools that operate in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. The SD62 capital plan is calling for five new schools (four elementary and one middle), and expansion to the existing Royal Bay Secondary in Colwood by 600 seats.

A subset problem within that is the upward push on the SD62 school bus transportation budget. Last year, the SD62 board accepted a lump sum of $358,000 from the BC Government on the condition that all ‘in catchment’ students would have access to no-fee ridership on the school buses. There are 38 buses in the fleet, serving 30 routes that each do two to four loops in a day; about 115 to 120 students are served by each route.

In the 2016-2017 academic year there was a shortfall of $114,000 to service the SD62 bussing system. As the $358,000 grant is — so far — expected to remain the same, with more riders this year the shortfall in the overall general budget will be greater. This takes money away from expenditure in classrooms, it was explained at the August 29 board meeting.

When there was a fee system, about one-third of the student population was taking the bus (3,200 students in 2016-2017). Now that there is no bus registration fee, SD62 Treasurer Harold Cull expects that a greater percentage of students will be registered by their families for the bus service as a “just in case” service (i.e. not all who register will be riding the bus daily).

At the June 9 early registration cutoff there were 2,900 students registered for the 2017-2018 bus service. When registration opened again in July another 600 students signed up, and a wait list was created at July 19. With expected increases in Kindergarten registration the bus ridership demand may increase to 3,500 but the system currently is set up to serve 3,300 riders.

SD62 Trustee Bob Phillips itemized that bussing costs include fuel, driver salaries and benefits, and vehicle maintenance.

This is the second year that online registration has been available for bus registration, which seems to really help expedite signups and deadline management.

There was a general feeling around the SD62 board table that an approach to the new BC NDP provincial government for an increase in bus cost support is a step that should be taken.


 

The West Shore Parkway mid-section was opened Aug 30 at 10am. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, August 30 ~ LANGFORD. The West Shore Parkway mid-section is open! You can now drive from Langford Parkway in Westshills over to Highway 14 (Sooke Road).

The low-key 10am opening today was attended by City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich, who took the opportunity to see traffic going both ways while standing at the peak of the new section that allows traffic to avoid city-centre traffic areas.

West Shore Parkway at Hwy 14 intersection, opened Aug 30 to thru-traffic [West Shore Voice News photo]

Several city and contractor vehicles gave the road a try. But it didn’t take long for regular traffic to start flowing.

The economic boon of this highway is sure to be seen and felt quickly both in Langford and in adjacent regions.

In a few more weeks the full 3.5 km West Shore Parkway will stretch fully to the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1). At that time there will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.


 

Wednesday, August 30.  TRAFFIC ADVISORY. Taking advantage of this continued warm dry weather, some line painting is underway on Goldstream Avenue in central Langford today.

From 8 am to 4pm, between Peatt Road and Jacklin Road.

Traffic control will be on site to direct traffic. Expect some delays.


A new section of West Shore Parkway opens August 30, 2017

Wednesday, August 30 ~ LANGFORD. This morning a new way to travel the west shore will open at 10 am!

The West Shore Parkway mid-section will allow motorists to travel from Langford Parkway (in the Westhills area) over to Sooke Road (Highway 14).

It’s a 1.6 km stretch of brand new roadway including bike lanes and landscaping. A beautiful statement of new infrastructure that will serve not only transportation needs of the Langford and west shore region but will underpin opportunities for economic growth including jobs. Getting places faster and more easily just makes things better!

City of Langford engineering staff will be on the roadway at 10am for the opening. An official ribbon-cutting with Langford Mayor Stew Young and other dignitaries will take place in October when other sections of the overall 3.5 km hjighway are complete.

map was released by the City of Langford engineering department yesterday to show the new section of road that opens today.


Fresh landscaping in the mid-section of the new West Shore Parkway this week [West Shore Voice News photo- Aug 28 2017]

Tuesday, August 29 ~ LANGFORD. The mid-section of the West Shore Parkway — a new roadway access from Langford Parkway in Westhills to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) — will open at 10 am tomorrow morning, August 30. Without fanfare. A formal ribbon cutting will occur when the last remaining sections of the West Shore Parkway are opened in October.

In addition to breathtaking views at a high elevation, this 1.6 km stretch of brand new roadway will provide quicker access between Langford and Sooke and beyond. Motorists will now be able to avoid going through the main sections of the Langford core particularly the nearby Jacklin Road. To some extent, traffic may also ease up on Veterans Memorial Parkway during rush hour.

As happens probably too frequently, Highway 14 experiences full closures when there are vehicle incidents on that stretch. The West Shore Parkway will be a way to re-route back into Langford rather than sitting in traffic during unforeseen incidents.

Engineering road crew pace out the mid-section of West Shore Parkway, Aug 28 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Even with a high demand for contractors in the south-island region this summer (due to extended good weather but also a need for crews in wildfire areas), the West Shore Parkway project is five months ahead of the original grant schedule and they’re on budget, says City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich.

The full 3.5 km West Shore Parkway project connecting the Trans Canada (Hwy 1) to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) at Awsworth Road (just east of where the 4-lane stretch of Hwy 14 heads westward to Sooke) was first announced in July 2015, spearheaded by City of Langford Mayor Stew Young. The $22.5 million project has been funded by a 3-way partnership of federal (New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund), provincial, and City funding (the city’s Road Development Cost Charge program) was the creative thrust that moved the project forward.

Mahovlich thanks all the contractors for all the segments of the project, noting in particular the work of BC Hydro crews who also were dealing with wildfires in the interior region of BC this summer.

Great views heading to Highway 14 along the West Shore Parkway [West Shore Voice News photo]

Artificial grass turf will be maintained in the boulevards on the West Shore Parkway mid-section (segments 3 & 4 in the engineering lingo), as well as hardy shrubs and trees that can withstand the exposure to heat, winds and cold at the higher elevations. Landscaping irrigation is provided through the city.

The rest of the work: Segment 1 is the new signal light and turning lanes on Sooke Road at the West Shore Parkway as completed in December 2016. Segment 2 is the portion within the Glenshire Industrial Park, also completed last December (and as of September 1, 2017). Segment 5 – in Westhills, engineering design by On Point; construction by Windley Contracting, was completed in June of last year.

Segments 6, 7 and 9 – in Westhills and Kettle Creek development area, includes the railway crossing and then coincidental closure of the railway crossing on Humpback Road. Construction has started as of October 2016 and anticipated completion early October 2017. The public is asked not to entire active work areas and to obey all active construction signage for worker-safety.

Bike lane on West Shore Parkway [West Shore Voice News photo]

Segment 8 – a dual left turn lane on the Trans Canada Highway, opened in November 2016.

Overall, the West Shore Parkway project is a significant contributor to lifestyle and economic development in the west shore region. When the business park at the Highway 14 end of the West Shore Parkway is completed, as many as 3,000 jobs are expected to be generated.

Meanwhile, people can travel more directly and more quickly to jobs and families along the new picturesque corridor. Bike lanes also included, and access to the popular playground in Westhills.


 

Green Man Bikes sells new bikes and repairs your current one!

Saturday, August 26 ~ LANGFORD. Green Man Bikes opened in July, taking over from the previous shop owner at the same location (3202A Happy Valley Road).

New owner Eric Bushell was the bike service mechanic for years under the previous owner.

New bike sales and repair and restoration services with a friendly smile, that’s what Green Man Bikes offers and is quickly being known for.

The store is located close to the Galloping Goose and enjoys the continued patronage of many long-time customers including Premier John Horgan who lives in the vicinity!

Bushell is concerned about safety issues on that stretch of Sooke Road (provincial Highway 14) near his store and hopes his input to MLA and MP will help get things changed soon.


Champion golf Nick Faldo will take part in the 2017 PGA Pacific Links tournament at Bear Mountain in September 2017.

Friday, August 25. The Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship will return to Victoria, BC for 2017 during the week of Monday September 11 through Sunday September 17. The event will once again be played at The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa.

Last year, the 2016 event was a great success, with 81 of the top PGA TOUR Champions players competing for one of the season’s highest purses of US $2.5 million. Over 27,000 spectators come out to watch the largest event held on Vancouver Island, with the support from over 600 volunteers from the community that made the event possible. All three competitive rounds of tournament play were broadcast live by the Golf Channel to more than 200 million homes in 84 countries around the world.

This week, six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo has added international star power to the event He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1997, having one of the best careers of any European player in golf history. With six major championships, more than 40 tournament victories and a total of 98 weeks as the world’s number one golfer, Faldo has cemented his legacy as the most successful golfer that Britain has ever produced. Through the creation of Faldo Enterprises, the 60-year-old has also become a prolific success off the course. Faldo has also launched a new career as a television commentator, which has resulted in lead analyst positions for CBS and the Golf Channel.

Events like this high-profile golf tournament serve to shed light on the south Vancouver Island region, particularly Langford as one of the fastest-growing cities in BC if not in Canada.


 

Langford Mayor Stew Young addressed the crowd at the memorial for the city’s engineering manager whose vision has shaped the growing city over 20 years. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, August 23 ~ LANGFORD. Over 300 people came out this evening to a memorial event to honour the City of Langford’s long-time engineering construction manager Victor Chen, who passed away suddenly of natural causes last weekend in his home.

Senior staff in engineering delivered speeches to a quiet attentive room at the Bear Mountain Westin Resort. Around 7pm Langford Mayor Stew Young addressed the crowd of Victor’s family, friends, Langford staff and associates, and community leaders. His short 5-minute speech honoured the hard work and vision of Chen whose legacy is virtually every major project and development in Langford over the past 20 years.

Here are Mayor Stew Young’s remarks, inspiring to the crowd, in a measured tone:

“On behalf of Council, staff and the residents of Langford, thank you for coming here today. We’re all here today to pay respects to Victor Chen and his family.

Victor was one of those people…., one of the originals that I relied on heavily for the vision and the transformation of Langford. And that is what is seen today. He worked on every large project that Langford has completed. His knowledge and expertise was unmatched.  He was able to work with developers, residents and business people and was considered a friend to all.

Victor has such a great legacy with his can-do attitude, and his impeccable work ethic. And that’s what we should all strive to do, to be like Victor Chen as we get up in the morning and we do things for our community. He was the number one example. And as I said, one of the originals here in Langford, 20 years ago, that’s why we’re all here today and have such a great outpouring of support for the family.

Victor Chen

Joyce, Amy and Andy. You can be very proud of Victor, and his accomplishments as we all are here. We are all here to support your family in this difficult time. You will always be welcome as part of the Langford family. We have a special presentation here. What we do in the city, we give out pins for service. It’s very appropriate, that we have a 20-year pin here for Victor — our very first 20-year pin. Thank you for everything that Victor has done for our community.

Langford’s a great place because of certain people and individuals. I can’t say enough about Victor. He was a great friend. I’m honoured to be here today to tell you we’ll carry on his legacy in Langford in the future. Always make sure that you have respect for your coworkers like Victor did. Have respect for anybody that you work with in daily life. And Victor, he did that. He was such a great guy, and a great friend. Moving forward in Langford, if everybody could do that, we’d all be living in a better community.”

Afterward folks mingled for refreshments and chatter. A book of condolences was available to sign, also available at Langford City Hall.


 

Wednesday, August 23 ~ WEST SHORE.  A suspicious death investigation is underway following the discovery of a body today August 23 in Metchosin. Around noon, West Shore RCMP were led to a scene where they discovered a deceased adult man in the area of Mallock Rd.

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, with the assistance of the West Shore RCMP’s General Investigation Section and General Duty members, are now investigating this death where foul play is suspected.

This investigation is in its early stages. No further information can be shared at this time. In the meantime investigators would like to hear from anyone who may have information regarding this suspicious death.

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


 

Monday, August 21 ~ LANGFORD. Long-time City of Langford employee Victor Chen, Manager, Engineering Construction, died suddenly of natural causes this past weekend.

The City of Langford is holding a Celebration of Life in Victor’s memory on Wednesday, August 23 at Bear Mountain Westin from 4 to 8 pm.

Victor started with the City in May 1997 and was in his 20th year of employment. This afternoon the City lowered their flag to half-mast in Victor’s honour.

“I am deeply saddened to say that the City of Langford lost a long and loyal employee on Saturday when our Construction Manager Victor Chen passed away suddenly in his home with his family,” said Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering.

“Victor worked on virtually all of the City’s construction projects and he touched the lives of all of our local contractors during his tenure at the City. Tributes have already been coming in to the City this morning,” said Mahovlich.


People’s Choice – 1st Place… 1970 Chevy Cavelle by Mark Parkinson. [West Shore Voice News photo – Aug 20, 2017]

Sunday, August 20 ~ LANGFORD. Today’s car show in Langford town centre was a big hit! As the 7th Annual Show and Shine, it was a fun day for the crowds and an economic generator for town centre businesses and the city as a whole.

The city estimates about 10,000 to 12,000 people attended the 5-hour walkabout (10 am to 3 pm) to view old classic cars and muscle vehicles.  The weather was pretty much perfect for the long stroll along Goldstream Avenue between Veterans Memorial Parkway and Peatt Rd, as well as along Peatt Road. There was sunshine and just a light breeze with a temperature around 23°C.

People enjoyed a wide range of vehicles. Mayor Stew Young said his favourite is the old fire truck that was purchased in finished mint condition by the City. It was displayed center-stage near the fountain on Goldstream, complete with dalmation dog (a stuffie) and fire hydrants.

Old fire truck, treasured by the Langford Fire Dept. [Photo: West Shore Voice News – Aug 20 2017]

Around 2pm, Mayor Young announced the results of the People’s Choice ballots. First prize went to Mark Parkinson for his white 1970 Chevy Chevelle. The second place plaque went to Jim Severtson for his 1967 Pontiac Beaumont. And third place was a tie this year (first time that’s happened)… awarded to Steve Cavelle for his 1964 Chevy and to Dan Madden for his 61F Ford Unibody.

Next year there will be room for more cars, with pre-registration online where registrants can choose a pre-determined location for their vehicles. This will help with some of the complexities of setting up over 200 vehicles in short order, and avoid having to turn away late arrivals. Next year the cars may also be organized in sections by decade: 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Most of the food and beverage establishments were open for the event, plus food trucks in for the day. Lots of people brought lawn chairs and just sat with their vehicles and people-watched. Lots of families, kids and dogs.

Each year the City staff work really hard to set up the car show, this year arriving at 5 am to make sure everything was in place.

 


Langford Mayor Stew Young cuts the ribbon at a business event August 18. ~ West Shore Voice News photo by Mary Brooke

Saturday, August 19 ~ LANGFORD.  FEATURE by WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS. Many mountains are moved in Langford on a regular basis, some more quietly than others. Business is always at the heart of it, with jobs and housing as integral components.

The ripping-fast growing city on Vancouver Island’s west shore moves by leaps and bounds, generated largely under the momentum of Mayor Stew Young in one way or another.

A facilitator of business partnerships, just this week Young made the TV news about attracting the interest of Camosun College to bring a post-secondary campus to Langford and seeing Langford end up with an arena and affordable housing or campus accommodation.

If a bid by the Victoria Commonwealth Games committee is successful in achieving funds for its $955 million budget (deadline Sept 30, partnering federal, provincial and municipal funds) that would leave behind both recreational upgrades and an athlete’s village after the 2022 event. Land options are on McCallum Road and Leigh Road. Vancouver-based Seacliff Properties is an interested developer.

The key to Stew Young’s strategies is acting upon the integration of observations, such as seeing transportation congestion problems being alleviated by providing more jobs and education opportunities locally. For years he has talked about bringing government offices to Langford, to save many workers the commute to downtown Victoria. Think big, then do the details.

And for post-secondary, 3,200 students at Camosun (in regular programs and Continuing Education) currently live in the west shore but travel by car, bus or bike to two campuses elsewhere in the region.

“We have had preliminary discussions with Mayor Young to discuss strengthening our presence in Langford and the West Shore,” says Geoff Wilmshurst, VP Partnerships, Camosun College. “We currently run courses at Belmont Secondary with approximately 200 students accessing these courses, but we would like to be able to offer more. “This is all contingent on the provincial government being supportive and at this time we have not had an opportunity to meet with the new government and to learn if they have an interest in Camosun expanding our presence there,” said Wilmshurst on Friday.

Likewise, Langford seeks a commitment from the NDP provincial government regarding funding to start some of those 114,000 affordable housing units that were promised during the 2017 provincial election campaign. About 1,700 units of accommodation could get underway in Langford, starting as an athlete’s village with about half of that then becoming campus accommodation afterward (and the rest available to market as affordable housing). Partnership funding from the BC government would be needed. Langford does know how to build, and it would ably set the stage for launching the NDP government promise with a shining star performance.

To build the 114,000 units province-wide, Young figures it will take about $15 billion. The provincial budget will come in the fall, after the BC legislature resumes. This week NDP Finance Minister Carole James was reluctant to commit BC dollars to the Commonwealth Games bid (a $400 million ask).

Stew Young says it’s important to see “what’s going to be left over in the end”, i.e. the legacy for the community after the Games are done. He sees provincial and federal support for the athelete’s village as important to building Langford where sports are a key activity including training for rugby, cycling, golf and tennis.

“Langford is a place where people and businesses are proud to be a part of,” said Stew Young as part of his remarks at Friday’s move-across-the-street relocation celebration of Expedia CruiseShipsCenters. He thanked the travel agency for choosing Langford for a branch office six years ago and explained that “as businesses grow in Langford, we support you, and that helps Langford be successful”.

Langford has been seen in recent years as offering a welcoming approach to business, such as start-up tax holidays for large incoming retail operations, perpetual (pay only once) business licences for all sizes of business, and amenity fee reductions for developers.


 

Thursday, August 17 ~ LANGFORD.   A popular event in the growing community of Langford… coming up this Sunday, August 20. The weather forecast for Sunday looks good… a high of 20°C and little chance of rain.

The 7th Annual City of Langford Show & Shine, held ‘at the Fountain’ on Goldstream Avenue, will be held from 10am to 3pm. Live band, food trucks on site. As many as 170 classic and muscle cars from 1975 and earlier, on display.

The Goldstream Food bank will be collecting non-perishable food items. The Wounded Warriors Old Timer Race Car will be on site, collecting donations and providing information about their organization.

Road closures on Sunday: Goldstream Ave from Veterans Memorial Parkway, to Peatt Rd. Parking available at City Hall, PM Bikes, & Claude Rd. More: www.langford.ca/carshow


For Wednesday, August 16 ~ TRAFFIC IN LANGFORD:

  • Wednesday, August 16 –  Irwin Rd between Humpback Rd and Creekside Trail | 9:00am & 4:00pm  | Traffic Delay – test holes
  • Wednesday, August 16 to Wednesday, September 06 – Peatt Rd between Arncote Ave & Brock Ave |  7:00am to 4:00pm | Traffic Delay – Roadside Construction
  • Friday, August 18 – Jacklin Rd between Jenkins Ave and Terlane Ave |  9:00am to 3:00pm | Traffic Delay – Roadside Construction

 

Tuesday, August 15 ~ METCHOSIN. Talk about fire experiences! The Metchosin Fire Department will host a talk tonight, August 15, by their own firefighters who were deployed to the Caribou Fires in the BC Interior in recent weeks. Free to attend, 7 to 9pm.  Everyone welcome, says Metchosin Fire Chief and Emergency Program Coordinator Stephanie Dunlop.

Metchosin Fire holds public information sessions pretty much throughout the year, about once a month on Tuesday evenings. Topics have ranged from earthquake preparedness to fire-smart for rural properties, as well as safe driving.  www.metchosinfire.ca


 

Saturday, August 12 ~ LANGFORD. The 7th Annual Langford Show and Shine is coming up Sunday August 20 in downtown Langford.  The event runs 10 am to 3 pm in the centre of town on Goldstream Avenue. There is no fee to attend or register your vehicle. More info:  www.cityoflangford.ca/carshow .

Road Closure: Goldstream Avenue, from Peatt Road to Veterans Memorial Parkway, portions of both Bryn Maur Road and Claude Road will be closed to all through traffic from 7am to 4pm. Peatt Road will be congested; use an alternate route.

Bicycles & Pets: Walking or riding your bike will not be allowed in the event area. Bike racks are available on sidewalks. Well-behaved furry friends are welcome but please have them on a leash.

Community Support: Wounded Warriors will be on site for information and promotion. Goldstream Food Bank will be on site to accept non-perishable food items and/or cash donations. The Ready Willing Band will play live 11am to 2 pm at the Fountain.  

Register your Vehicle. All Classic and Muscle Cars and Trucks from 1975 and earlier welcome. *NEW* Registration: In lieu of paying a registration fee, non-perishable food and financial contributions for Goldstream Food Bank AND/OR Wounded Warriors will be accepted. 

Register early, only 170 spots available!  Dash plaques available.Register online at http://apps.cityoflangford.ca/ShowAndShineRegistration or call 250-478-7882 .  

Public Parking: Langford City Hall, 877 Goldstream Avenue and on Claude and Danbrook Roads. Registration does not reserve a parking spot, parking is on a first-come basis.


Thursday, August 3 ~ LANGFORD. The heat wave saw record-breaking temperatures yesterday in most parts of BC.  It reached 32°C in parts of Langford yesterday.

In Langford today there is a smoky sky air warning, with a temperature of 24°C at 10 am (feels like 26°C), heading up to 27°C by mid-afternoon. A low of 16°C is in the forecast for the overnight.

Today the weather out in Sooke was a bit cooler by the ocean. Ahead of 10 am the temperature was 20°C (dropping a bit to 17°C at 10am due to smoky-sky cloud cover). By mid-day there it will be 25°C (feeling like 28°C).

For your health in such hot conditions: stay cool (indoors or in shade where possible), stay hydrated (drink water before you feel thirsty), and avoid direct sun exposure (wear hat and long sleeves).

If going outdoors, wear sunscreen, as the UV-level is posted as Very High. Also wear UV-protective eyewear.

Weather graphic from The Weather Network, August 3.


 

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]

Wednesday, August 2 ~ LANGFORD.  With hot pavement and the crunch of gravel underfoot, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi and Langford Mayor Stew Young today took a short infrastructure site tour where two roads intersect. Not just any two roads, but where the urban Langford Parkway intersects with the almost-ready West Shore Parkway — a road to many things.

[Read this fullarticle in the Aug 4, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News or continue below…]

The West Shore Parkway is set to open by early October. It will be a corridor for traffic from the TransCanada (Highway 1), across the top of Langford, over to Sooke Road (Highway 14). Industrial and residential developments along the route point to future jobs, economic opportunities, and further housing supply in the rapidly growing City of Langford and surrounding regions.

Indeed, August 2 broke temperature records as the hottest day of the year on Vancouver Island so far, if not for this day on record. Together with the haze and thick air of smoky skies from wildfire debris, and at high noon under very high UV conditions, it was a symbolic statement of the effort that a city – partnered with other levels of government and coordinated with the private sector – will make to foster economic development and security for its community.

“The West Shore Parkway extension will improve traffic in Langford’s downtown core and the West Shore,” says Mayor Young. “It will promote further residential development with a variety of housing options, and provide existing and new residents with a number of alternative transportation choices via the new bike lanes, sidewalks and transit stops,” he said.

At full build-out the industrial park under construction at West Shore Parkway and Highway 14 is expected to produce up to 3,000 jobs. Langford and nearby Sooke are considered two of the most affordable areas to live on south Vancouver Island. The Housing Price Index in July showed $592,300 for a single family home in Langford [actual sales average $670,299], while in Sooke the HPI was $479,100 [actual sales average $519,392], compared to an HPI of $700,800 in overall Greater Victoria [$868,008]. This lower price-point for housing in the west shore region helps when it comes to attracting employees to the region for those new jobs.

The West Shore Parkway extension project (first announced in July 2015) carries a price tag of $22,352,570 as funded in thirds … the Government of Canada and Province of BC are each contributing $7,450,856 with the City of Langford pitching in the other nearly $7.5 million with the support of regional developers.

Under the new BC NDP government, a promise of 114,000 new housing units in BC over the next 10 years is now open to be fulfilled. This is of interest to the Langford municipality that has proven their expertise with fast-tracking permits (48-hours) and zoning/rezoning applications (within three months), and to get cracking with increasing housing supply, including rental units. For over a decade, almost no rental units were constructed in the core areas of Greater Victoria; Langford has in the last couple of years taken the lead in fleshing out the availability of apartment units and multi-family housing (such as townhomes, condos and duplexes).

“BC’s new Premier John Horgan has seen Langford’s housing development up close,” says Mayor Young. “We can work with his government to help him fulfill his government’s housing goals in a region that needs and is ready to support the creation of more jobs and housing supply.” Young also appreciates that Premier Horgan is supportive to expanding Highway 14 – the road to Sooke – to the desired four-lanes all the way between the two communities. Effective transportation underpins the creation of jobs and a variety of housing options.

In the summer sunshine today, Minister Sohi said: “I’m happy to be visiting Langford. The federal government is interested in economic opportunity for jobs and a stronger middle class,” said Sohi. He was keen to get boots on the ground to further understand how municipalities, BC and the federal governments can work together. He was impressed to see how the federal government’s investment in road infrastructure would contribute to community growth, and new residential and commercial development.

A former Edmonton city councillor for eight years, Minister Sohi sees infrastructure as a catalyst for growth. He likes to tour projects in local communities. “We need to be at the grassroots, to meet with local leaders,” he told West Shore Voice News.

Ahead of seeing the road construction, Minister Sohi had met with Langford Mayor and Council in the morning to discuss the impact of infrastructure and what Langford might be seeking to do next. Both Minister Sohi and Mayor Young found the meeting productive. Sohi was excited about how sewer and water infrastructure could rapidly open up the region to supply more affordable housing.

Langford Mayor Stew Young says there are always shovel-ready projects that Langford can proceed with, when grant funds come through for partnership with other levels of government. A priority goal is to receive a grant funding partnership contribution for sewer and water servicing to the business park and residential areas underway for development at West Shore Parkway and Highway 14. “This is important for affordability and the economy in the west shore,” says Young.

Stew Young takes a regional view. Adjacent to Langford are several municipalities with flavours of their own. Metchosin maintains itself as rural with farming. Highlands has its trees and mountains. Sooke offers the getaway lifestyle and overall affordability. In Mayor Young’s view, the two expanding communities of Langford and Sooke are well-suited to accommodate growth where it supports jobs and more housing supply. And that comes back to infrastructure.

“Minister Sohi thinks like we do out here,” said Stew Young. “As a former municipal councillor he understands how hard it is to get things done. He knows how infrastructure contributes to jobs and economic opportunity.” Says Mayor Young about his municipality that is always ready: “We’re not afraid to take anything on,” he said, adding that municipalities are often the biggest hindrance to affordable housing and housing supply development. Young enthusiastically pitched to the federal minister that Langford is a desirable place for federal infrastructure investment, putting some dollars into western Canada where the economic spin-offs could be strong, high-profile and quick.

Also discussed by Minister Sohi and Langford’s mayor and council on Wednesday morning were possibilities for rapid transit (along the E&N) that is “green and sustainable”, said Sohi. “I respect that decisions are made at the local level and that it’s appropriate to understand the realities,” he said regarding infrastructure partnerships with local governments. He says the federal Liberal government is investing close to $20 billion in public transit across Canada, to help build sustainable communities.

Just two days ago, the nearby Irwin Road extension was opened without fanfare. But City of Langford Engineer Michelle Mahovlich says there was a lot of cheering and waving to engineering staff from ‘happy residents’ driving through for the first time. Mahovlich acknowledges and appreciates the hard work of all the local contractors to make that project happen. The extension connects Irwin Road from Humpback Road east to Meridian and then east to the West Shore Parkway.

Opening of the West Shore Parkway right through to Sooke Road may be delayed into October. That’s to await BC Hydro crews that are presently working in the BC interior wildfire zone.

Sohi continued on his infrastructure tour on Wednesday afternoon, heading with his staff to Duncan and Nanaimo. His upisland trip included meetings with new BC Ministers Claire Trevena (Transportation and Infrastructure) and Selina Robinson (Municipal Affairs and Housing). All part of the grid for smart expansion of communities for jobs and economic growth and sustainability. Mayor Stew Young says Langford is open to working on joint island transportation projects with the province, and chatted yesterday with Minister Trevena about that.


 

Wednesday, August 2 ~ LANGFORD. Early morning, already a hazy smoky sky in the area due to wind bringing over particulate from the BC Interior wildfires. Already 23°C by 7 am, the forecasted high today is as much as 30°C and The Weather Network says the UV Index is very high.

People with heart and lung health challenges are advised to stay indoors (in cool, air filtered conditions if possible), according to an Island Health release yesterday. If outdoors, stay hydrated and avoid over-exertion, and seek shade where possible. Wear sunscreen, hat and UV-protective eyewear.


Monday, July 31. TRAFFIC ALERT. Tonight the new concrete deck for the Galloping Goose Trail bridge will be poured. All travellers — including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists — are advised that McKenzie Avenue will be closed while construction crews pour the new concrete deck as part of the McKenzie Interchange Project.

McKenzie Avenue will be closed tonight, Monday, July 31, between Burnside Road West and Highway 1 from 11 p.m. tonight until 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Traffic on McKenzie Avenue bound for Highway 1 will be able to turn onto Burnside Road. Traffic heading toward McKenzie Avenue from Admirals will be directed to turn onto Highway 1.

Travellers along Highway 1 will be able to exit at Helmcken, Interurban or Tillicum instead of McKenzie Avenue.

Please plan to use alternative routes and allow for extra time. For up-to-date traffic advisories, visit: www.drivebc.ca


Thursday, July 27 ~ HIGHLANDS.  Today July 27 around 7:30 am West Shore RCMP responded to a two-vehicle collision on Millstream Road near Stewart Mountain Road, in Highlands.

BC Ambulance Service, Highlands Fire Rescue and other assisting emergency personnel responded and determined the collision involved a SUV and motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the SUV was not seriously injured.

The South Island Traffic Services Collision Analyst and West Shore RCMP Traffic Section examined the collision scene and will be interviewing witnesses to further the police investigation. The area of Millstream Road near Stewart Mountain Road was closed to traffic and reopened at 12:20 pm. The cause of the collision remains under investigation, says Cpl. Chris Dovell.

Anyone with information is urged to contact West Shore RCMP, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).


Friday, July 21 ~ WEST SHORE. Cell phone reception issues?

If you’ve been having finicky issues in recent weeks with your Rogers cell phone service, help is on the way!

Rogers says that tomorrow (Saturday July 22) there will be network upgrade work done on the equipment on about half their towers in the south-Vancouver Island area ranging from west of Sooke to View Royal, in Saanich, and out to Brentwood Bay.

In the past six months they’ve had 17 complaint-calls about degrading service in the west shore and south island area. That’s considered a high volume. And so it’s about to get fixed.


BC Premier John Horgan and BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon during the swearing-in ceremony at Government House on July 18 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, July 19 ~ VICTORIA. Vancouver Islanders now have their own home-grown Premier. John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) was sworn in as the 36th Premier of BC on Tuesday, July 18 at Government House in Victoria.

Horgan has worked hard to become widely known throughout the province, and seemed notably relaxed, humbly inspired and clearly excited in this new role during the swearing-in ceremony.

The new cabinet includes Ministers in new portfolios such as Mental Health and Addictions as well as an expanded Ministry called Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. David Eby is now the Attorney General. Carole James is the Minister of Finance and Deputy-Premier. Heading up the Education ministry is Rob Fleming.

The new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is Selena Robinson, who will need to look at housing supply for its immediate and long-term challenges.

Among those attending the special event at Government House were Langford Mayor Stew Young and west shore area developer Jim Hartshorne.

An event at which the public could meet and mingle with their new premier was held later, at the BC Parliament Building after 5pm.

See full feature article about the July 18 swearing-in ceremony on the BC news page of this website (July 19 entry).


Langford Mayor Stew Young entertained a lot of public input at the July 17 Council meeting. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Tuesday, July 18 ~ LANGFORD [Click here to see this article on its own page].

Last night at Langford Council the room was packed to the rafters, probably about 100 people. There was concern among some of the public that a particular piece of property at 3130 Jacklin Road was fairly soon going to have 13 subdivided lots and a much higher density than people who bought larger lots in the area had banked on.

Turns out it was just a request for rezoning (Bylaw Amendment No 483) without any plans for subdivision, at the preference of the property-owner applicant. However, the documentation that had been published in advance of the meeting did include the 13-lot sketch which was apparently only for discussion purposes following a discussion between the applicant and city staff.

Langford council meetings are usually perfunctory and swift, even the public hearing portions. But this July 17 meeting ran almost three hours as Mayor Stew Young encouraged as much input as the public wanted to give, and the meeting format fell into a more relaxed mode of back-and-forth with the public than is normally the case at Langford meetings. Skillful management of the meeting flow allowed for all opinions to be tossed into the mix. At the end of it, resolved and approved by Council.

Through it all other details surfaced such as the West Shore Parkway completion date targeted for the end of September which will help with traffic flow between Hwy 1 and Hwy 14 without people having through the Langford core area. That will help ease commuter traffic on Jacklin Road and the stretch of Sooke Road between Veteran Memorial Parkway and Happy Valley Road.

Full house at City of Langford Council meeting, July 17 [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

More improvements will be made to Jacklin Road, said Mayor Young. That will include sidewalks on the east side of Jacklin Road.  Engineering staff itemized some of the road improvements that are on the drawing board including on Jenkins Road near the TD Bank exit at West Shore Town Centre, and some dedicated left-turn and right-turn lanes on Jenkins.  A new interior road within the Sobey’s property (former SD62 Belmont property) is planned for completion by year-end 2017. Other road improvements in strata property areas are being done so that fire and emergency vehicles will have suitable access.

“We make sure we understand our road networks,” Mayor Young told the full room in council chambers. He said that millions of dollars have been invested in the Jacklin Road corridor over the years including bike lanes and sidewalks, and with his trademark visionary style: “Don’t envision Jacklin Road the way it is now.”

The usual swirl of public comment emerges from the public about how Langford is changing. The dust from construction and frequent traffic congestion are frequently protested, as well as the changing density of the town core area with more multi-family developments.

In defense of the growth, Stew Young told the public at Monday night’s council meeting: “Developments have paid for what we’re doing now. You’ll see a market improvement (in things overall),” he said. He also promoted the relative affordability of Langford housing. “We have lower prices here because we’re doing supply,” he said, itemizing small lots and suites. He said a 3% to 5% increase in house values in Langford is a good thing for homeowners, quoting a $463,000 average assessed value of homes in Langford. “That’s what we tax on.”

House prices in Langford are the second-lowest in the Greater Victoria area, with only housing prices in farther-out Sooke being lower. The actual raw sales average of 96 houses sold in Langford in June 2017 was $679,155 (HPI data-adjusted price promoted by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board is $579,000). In Sooke the raw sales average of 38 homes that sold in June was $469,322 (HPI was $463,500).

Other items approved by Council on Monday night included a 36-month Temporary Use Permit (up from 18 months as recommended by the Planning, Zoning and Affordable Housing Committee at their July 10 meeting) for Victoria Hyundai to have a vehicle showroom in the parking lot at the West Shore Town Centre. This follows in an interesting way along the lines of comments made by Architecture Professor Avi Friedman at an economic forum in Langford last weekend that the role of shopping malls is shifting in the wake of changes like online shopping.

Two resolutions from the June 27th Protective Services Committee (chaired by Councillor Lillian Szpak) were approved by Council — to accept the West Shore RCMP Annual Year End Report and the RCMP Municipal Contract Policing Multi-Year Plan (which will see an increase of four more police officers for a special on-bicycle unit to in particular police the Langford core area). And the Cherish seniors living complex got their liquor licence approved for happy hour.


A new live-work multi-family development in Langford. [Photo: West Shore Voice News, July 2017]

Sunday, July 16 ~ LANGFORD. HOUSING INNOVATION FEATURE ~ WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS  by Mary P Brooke

Another stride forward for Langford took place this weekend. A seminar on community innovation and sustainability through a focus on housing was held on a sunny summer Saturday morning, July 15, at which the enthusiasm for action was palpable.

The presenter for this Economic Forum 2017 was Avi Friedman, Ph.D., a world-renowned Montreal-based Canadian architect whose ideas in housing and design are applied in many cities in a range of development projects. Housing innovation is often the backbone for cities to take the next step forward for improving livability and economic sustainability.

Such is the case for Langford. Friedman had been invited back to Langford this week to once again feed some ideas into the municipal leadership process and development community. In the west shore area of south Vancouver Island, Langford is a fast-growing city with now over 40,000 residents. It is one of 13 municipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD).

Architect Dr Avi Friedman, speaking in Langford, July 15 [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Friedman speaks highly of Langford, its municipal leadership under Mayor Stew Young, and the degree of uptake that developers have done with leading-edge housing options. Housing supply is lagging behind in BC overall (particularly in urban areas), and in the west shore area (both Langford and Sooke) there is high demand for places to live. Affordably.

The 1.5 hour presentation followed by questions was an opportunity for learning and exploration for a broad-spectrum audience of elected officials, developers, school board reps, business people and the general public. The gathering of over 100 people viewed a slide show of innovative housing examples from Friedman’s travels around the world, dressed around the edges with Friedman’s missives of inspiration about the changes in today’s society and economy.

Changes in today’s society and economy – notably demographics of people living longer and the upcoming power-surge of the Millennial generation — are driving progressive communities to rethink how people live in increasingly densified communities. And more specifically, about types of housing design that work in a multi-family development framework.

Without exactly specifying this domino effect, Friedman was essentially outlining how design informs function, function informs action, and action is taken by community leaders and ultimately the people. Ultimately, it’s not just about lifestyle options, but that when clustered in larger cities there is a supportive tax base for other services that enrich the region, such as enhanced transportation networks.

In response to the affordable housing challenge, Dr Friedman has written much and designed a lot. The author of 18 books on housing and community design, he is known for concepts like the ‘Grow Home’ concept (offering about 1,000 sqft living area) and the live-work housing style.

In recent years, live-work housing has popped up in Langford. One example is workshop or office space on the full main, with loft-style condo above.  As well, there are several apartment buildings going up in the Langford core area, slightly set back to help keep a human-scale walkability in the downtown core along Goldstream Avenue and sidestreets immediately off that main avenue.

So after seeing Friedman invited back to reinspire Langford to the next level – he led a meeting with the City of Langford and west shore developers ahead of presenting to the public – it was important to ask: How much of what you spoke about or recommended five or six years ago have you seen come to pass in Langford on your revisit this week?

Said Friedman to West Shore Voice (WSV): “Many of the ideas and the direction that I suggested in the area of affordable housing have been followed. Langford is one of the most affordable communities in the region. Ideas regarding the urban renewal of the core have also been followed such as maintaining good urban scale, having a strong mixed use aspect, and attractive streetscaping.”

And some other questions for the effusive architect with the showman style (you can almost see the ideas spinning in his head!):

  • WSV: Will you be providing specific design ideas to developers in the Langford area, in-line with the concepts you spoke about today (and showed on the slides from other cities)? Friedman: In the past few day I demonstrated several points of reference.  I regard these as a “menu” of ideas from which the developers can select the ones most relevant to their sites and capacity to build.
  • WSV: When you met with developers yesterday, what sort of designs or other community concepts did they seem most interested in? Friedman: They were very interested in the “green” concepts such as net-zero buildings. We had a long discussion about adopting these ideas and bringing them to Langford.
  • WSV: Some of the new live-work homes in Langford are vertically-oriented, i.e. with lots of stairs. In your overall live-work concept, how does that jive with the long-living aging generation … with people still working toward or past the traditional retirement age?  Friedman: That’s a good point. All projects can be build with ground floor accessible units for seniors. They may have a ground level floor units without stairs.

And here’s why Avi Friedman speaks so highly of Mayor Stew Young and the progress made in Langford. It’s a mutual playing field of respect and innovation:

Langford Mayor Stew Young [Photo: West Shore Voice News, 2017]

“What Avi provides is innovative ideas for the many different housing types required for  the residents that fit their needs based on income, family size, environment /sustainability and proximity to work,” says Mayor Young. “What I like is that we can use his knowledge from his teachings and actual visits around the world to bring actual physical proof of what may work for the City of Langford.”

In this region, people know that Stew Young is about getting stuff done. “We as politicians and bureaucrats will be able to do more for our community than wasting more money on studies, regional strategy documents, cumbersome regulations that every municipality does and for the most part collect dust on a shelf,” said Young.

“We need to change the old ways if we are to tackle affordability and sustainability,” says Young. “With regular seminars on housing innovation and  planning from world renowned professionals like Avi Friedman, this will bring fresh ideas directly to the people of Langford and to the development community.”

“As politicians we can better provide change at a local level along with support from the provincial government to tackle affordability and sustainability,” Mayor Young told West Shore Voice News after seeing – not surprisingly – the level of interest in the seminar and among developers the day before.

“Langford is looking to the future and this weekend’s session is the start of the new way forward. Innovation with action is our future,” said Young with his trademark visionary energy.

The City of Langford has established a pattern of offering tax breaks to developers who innovate and create housing in a more affordable price-range, including rentals. Construction of new rental apartment buildings had come to a virtual standstill in Greater Victoria area in the past 15 to 20 years. In the last couple of years once that long post-recession period finally settled down apartments are being constructed in Langford as fast as they can go up (including some distinctly developed as affordable housing). There is also a range of other multi-family types of development including duplexes, townhomes and condos.

The application process is handled quickly. And recommendations through the Langford Planning, Zoning and Affordable Housing Committee are well-considered then promptly sent on to Langford Council for consideration and approval. By the time proposed zoning and permits have reached Council, all of Council is familiar with the details and benefits to the community based on full reports from planning and engineering staff, and most projects are approved quickly.

Construction of single-family homes and multi-family developments dropped dramatically in Langford during the recession in 2009 and really only started picking up in 2014 (with notable of multi-family in 2011 and 2014, much of that by Keycorp Developments in their various project areas on the west shore). Of the housing built in 2016, over half was single-family homes but a big chunk was multi-family. In terms of volume, construction of new commercial-industrial buildings was fairly consistent during 2009-2016 (with a bit of an uptick in 2011 and 2014).

In fact, the word ‘affordability’ may not always be associated with the housing side of development in Langford, said Mayor Young after Avi Friedman’s presentation this weekend.  He proposes that the Langford region can work toward having a range of housing that covers off all price ranges, without having to stigmatize one area of housing or type of housing as ‘affordable’ compared to others.

Architect Avi Friedman and Langford Mayor Stew Young, July 15 at Economic Forum [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Saturday’s seminar was hosted by Mayor Young. He introduced the presentation both as a followup to Friedman’s last visit to meet with Langford leaders and developers in 2009, and as an energizing force for housing progress in Langford for the next five to 10 years.  He encapsulated his mantra of keeping families in communities, and to do that by providing housing and jobs. An industrial tech park is one project underway in Langford that will attract tech companies and through that future residents to higher-paying jobs. All of it supports a strong tax base.

There was some discussion in the question period following Friedman’s presentation about economic models and how a tax base is structured to provide broader community amenities.  While always trying to lower taxes is a political philosophy subscribed to by some, the new way forward will count on people being willing to pay a bit more taxes in taxes if they can see enhanced services from that.

In his closing remarks, Mayor Young thanked Avi Friedman for the presentation and inspiration. As well, Langford’s long-time mayor really honed in on Premier-designate John Horgan’s promise of 114,000 new housing units in BC through an NDP government over the next 10 years.  On the campaign trail, Horgan said back in April of this year that the new housing initiative would include new rental, co-op, social, and owner-purchase homes. The housing development funding and opportunities would be created through partnerships with business and developers, and other levels of government.

Premier-designate Horgan has already seen the leading edge of that sort of development up close, as he lives in Langford where he’s been the MLA of what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca electoral area since 2005.

Says Stew Young: “This is a provincial government that Langford can piggy-back on.” Over 60% of jobs in the Langford area are blue-collar jobs that are directly in or associated with the construction industry, he says.

Earlier this year, the BC Rental Housing Coalition released a report saying $1.8 billion per year would be needed to be invested over 10 years to address the provincial housing crisis. In particular, the group’s report suggested that 7,000 rental units per year would be required over the next decade. At the time, the NDP indicated that new revenues to handle big new expenditures from the public purse could include a 1% hike in the corporate tax rate, reinstatement of a high-income surtax that at one time generated $250 million per year, and a 2% speculation tax.

Discussion at Economic Forum, July 15 [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

The Economic Forum on Saturday was co-hosted by the City of Langford and the West Shore Developers Association. Among those attending were economic development leaders from Langford (including Langford EDC Chair Hugh MacDonald) as well as from Sooke (including Randy Clarkson, David Evans and Doug Wittich) where Mayor Young sees further growth potential for the broader west shore region.

Attending from Langford city council were long-time Councillors Denise Blackwell, Lanny Seaton, Winnie Sifert, and Lillian Szpak. From the SD62 school board was their new chair Ravi Parmar, and Trustee Dianna Seaton.

There were several business and development community players including Patrick Marshall of Capital EDC and Cathy Noel of Bear Mountain property sales. Several senior staff from the City of Langford attended and helped host the event which was held in the ballroom at the Four Point Sheraton, 10 am to 12 noon.


 

John Horgan greeting people on Canada Day 150 in Sooke. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Sunday, July 16 ~ VICTORIA. John Horgan and a BC NDP cabinet will be sworn in by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on Tuesday, July 18. There will be a live feed of the ceremony starting at 2pm on John Horgan’s Facebook page .

As well, there will be a public open house from 5 to 7 pm at the BC Legislature to meet and mingle with the new cabinet and Premier. including tours to areas of the legislature that are usually accessible, such as the library and speakers hallway around the chamber.

As Premier, John Horgan will briefly speak just after 5pm in the legislature’s Hall of Honour.



Wednesday, July 12 ~ SOOKE to LANGFORD. Due to a brush fire, Highway 14 (Sooke Road) has been closed to through-traffic both eastbound and westbound since about 3:30 pm this afternoon, July 12.
 The wildfire was being dealt with in the forest around 4700-block Hwy 14 (near West Coast Tire), just east of Kangaroo Road. One house went up in flames. But no persons, pets or livestock have been harmed.

Five fire departments have sent crews to deal with the brush fire, accompanied by six BC government forestry workers — all with the support of two helicopters. By 6 pm this evening the fire was contained but still active.

The traffic detour along Happy Valley Road, Rocky Point Road and Gillespie Road was still in effect as of 6 pm.

The cause of the brush fire is not confirmed. However, some drivers in the area reported that a motor home was dragging something along the highway, giving off sparks. Langford firefighters reportedly have discovered several little spot fires along a 2km stretch of the highway. Highway 14 is heavily traveled by daily commuters, mobile business service providers, transport trucks, and tourist vehicles.

The fire departments of Sooke, Langford and Metchosin just this week agreed to provide mutual aid to each of the others’ municipal areas, in case of a personnel shortfall. Due to a high number of wildfires in the BC interior (on the mainland), some firefighters may be called to deal with that, leaving Sooke, Langford and Metchosin potentially short-staffed.

Some firefighting personnel left the island yesterday for the BC Interior. Firefighters from North Saanich, Sidney and View Royal will be doing shifts of 6 to 14 days in the interior region.

Today in a daily update from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations it was announced that one of the reasons 300 firefighting personnel have been brought in from other parts of Canada is to give BC firefighters occasional breaks. That’s to help pace the firefighting resources (personnel and equipment) through what is expected to be a high-incidence summer fire season.

As of today, 183 wildfires are burning in BC. That’s down from over 200 on the weekend. Of the current fires, about 20 are ‘of note’ (large enough to cause concern for possible danger to persons and property, and potentially requiring evacuation).


Dash is a police dog with the West Shore RCMP.

Wednesday, July 12 ~ COLWOOD. A report of a robbery on the trail system in the 1700-block of Island Hwy (near border of Colwood and View Royal) is being investigated by West Shore RCMP.

Police were notified by a concerned citizen just after 8:00 a.m. this morning, July 12, after encountering a woman with visible facial injuries. The victim reported that she was robbed while travelling on the trail.

Numerous police resources were deployed, including the Police Dog Service, Community Policing Section, Traffic Unit, several plain clothes officer and even the Officer in Charge of West Shore Detachment. The victim’s purse was located by the police service dog Dash [RCMP photo of Dash from last year].

RCMP say the woman was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Any information can be reported to West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers .


Carole James at Horgan launch in March 2017, flanked by Maurine Karagianis (left) and now MLA Mitzi Dean.

Thursday, July 6 ~ VICTORIA. BC Premier-designate John Horgan and his cabinet will be sworn in at Government House on July 18, 2017 at 2 p.m.

No MLA names for the new cabinet have been released yet. However it is widely expected that the cabinet will not be comprised exclusively of NDP MLAs, but will also include one or more BC Liberal and BC Green MLAs.

This is part of Horgan’s effort to demonstrate — as he told the Lieutenant Governor — that he has the confidence of the legislative assembly.

“We are excited to deliver on our commitments. That’s why we are working as quickly as possible to give British Columbians the new leadership they voted for,” said New Democrat MLA and transition spokesperson Carole James.

“We’re going to make life more affordable, deliver the services people count on, and create good paying jobs around the province in a sustainable economy that works for everyone.”

Premier-designate John Horgan is the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.


 

Thursday, July 6 ~ The City of Langford is hosting an Economic Forum next weekend. The featured speaker to lead a discussion on innovation, sustainability and action on housing is well-renowned architect Avi Friedman, Ph.D.

The presentation is free and open to the public, at the Four Points Sheraton, 10 am to 12 noon on Saturday July 15. Light refreshments will be available.

The event is being sponsored by the City of Langford and the West Shore Developers Association. Both sponsors have been active in the forefront of facilitating and developing more housing in the fast-growing Langford area of Vancouver Island’s west shore.

The actual average house sale price in Langford in June was $679,155 (compared to the data-adjusted HPI figure of $579,900). That is still considered more affordable within the overall Greater Victoria area where the average sale price last month was $885,281 (HPI was $691,100).


McKenzie Interchange construction continues along Hwy 1.

Wednesday, July 6 ~ Drivers are advised that Hwy 1 (Trans Canada) will be closed overnight between McKenzie Ave/Admirals Rd and Six Mile Rd. The closure will begin Thursday, July 6, 2017, at 11 p.m., and the highway will re-open by 5:30 a.m. on Friday, July 7.

Traffic travelling westbound on Hwy 1 (heading out of Victoria) will still be permitted to turn right off the highway onto McKenzie Ave or left onto Admirals Rd.

That’s to ensure the safety of drivers and construction crews while the old pedestrian-cyclist bridge is removed. This is part of the ongoing work for the McKenzie interchange project.

During this time, drivers are asked to use alternative routes and allow for extra time. The signed detour route for traffic, including trucks, will be via Admirals Rd, Island Highway and Six Mile Rd.

The Galloping Goose Trail will remain open for pedestrians and cyclists but must stay alert for signs and workers.

Traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca


Home with attic fire in Langford, July 1 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, July 1 ~ LANGFORD. For one family it was not a very happy Canada Day today. Their small home in Langford somehow caught on fire.

About a dozen firefighters from the Langford Fire Department, several fire engines and rescue vehicles, a few RCMP officers, and other resources were on scene and required to deal with the mid-afternoon fire today.

A neighbour had seen smoke and called the fire department. The blaze apparently started in the attic of the older home.

The elderly owners sat in lawn chairs with their dog, watching their house continue to burn. They said they were sure their back yard garden would never be the same, after being exposed to the necessary fire-retardant chemicals and impact of the firefighting action. Several neighbours were standing around in support.

Several Langford Fire Dept engines, rescue vehicles, brush truck and command vehicle were on scene. [West Shore Voice News photo]

At one point, a hole had to be cut into the roof of the house, to fully deal with putting out the fire.
The location of the house on Lequesne Ave near the intersection of Knotty Pine Rd is just one block from BC NDP Premier-Designate’s office on Jacklin Road near Goldstream Avenue in central Langford.

There were at least a dozen vehicles parked in close proximity to the burning home, around which firefighters did their work.

Firefighters were on scene for at least an hour, going through a lot of bottled water in the heat in all their heavy gear.


Saturday, July 1 ~  BC. Premier-designate John Horgan will be on both the mainland and Vancouver Island this Canada Day 150. He will be celebrating Canada Day with people at community events in Port Moody, Surrey and Sooke.

11:00 am – Port Moody Canada Day, Rocky Point Park, 2800 Murray St, Port Moody

1:30 pm – Surrey Canada Day, Bill Reid Millenium Amphitheatre, 17728 64 Ave, Surrey

8:00 pm – Sooke Canada Day, Sooke River Campground, 2259 Philips Road, Sooke

On Thursday evening, June 29, Horgan was asked by the Lieutenant Governor if he had the confidence of the legislature, and he said that he does. He and the cabinet he is assembling will be sworn in probably this coming week.

Check out the front page of the June 30, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News for a summary of how the last few days went down for Horgan in his final steps to the Premiership.

 


 

ACHIVES – 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 .