Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | December 26, 2010

Wagon’s Hoe

For those of you who live in and around the Greater Victoria area, this article may be of some interest. For those of you living elsewhere the area of Greater Victoria references as Langford represents 60% of the current growth for the area. What was referred to as a “Dog Patch Community” a little less than 15 years ago, is now one of the most desirable areas on the southern end of Vancouver Island.

Langford has lifted its four-year freeze on development north of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Council hopes fees from any new project in the area can forestall future municipal tax increases and help pay for improvements to the Millstream Road-highway interchange.

One consideration for road improvements is to twin the southbound turn lane for traffic going to Victoria, Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell said Friday.

“What we have to do is negotiate with [the Ministry of] Highways because it is, of course, a Highways road and it should have never been done the way it was in the first place. But that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The municipality imposed the moratorium in 2006 to ease traffic congestion around the Millstream intersection while it built the new Spencer Road interchange as a second access to the Bear Mountain development.

In September 2006, Langford council resolved not to consider any rezoning applications that would result in more residential development north of the highway until agreement was reached resulting in the completion of the Bear Mountain Parkway and the Spencer interchange.

But that interchange — dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere” — sits unfinished as a stark reminder of the impact of the recession. Designed to open up the south side of Skirt Mountain for development by five property owners — including Bear Mountain — the interchange has been put on hold until the economy recovers enough for construction to proceed.

Langford is planning to make development pay. The municipality plans to charge a per-unit amenity contribution of $10,900 and introduce a new amenity contribution requirement of $4,500 per 5,000 square feet of lot area for any rezoning that results in increased commercial, business park or industrial density north of the Trans-Canada.

“That way we’ll get the money up front so we can start to make some improvements to the highway on the north side,” Blackwell said.

Council has also decided that the amenity contributions are to be paid at the time of rezoning and not deferred to the subdivision or building permit stage.

Blackwell said part of the reason roadways tying into the overpass have not been completed is because of a recent court challenge.

Last year, Langford council voted in favour of a zoning proposal to allow a $1.7-billion development called South Skirt Mountain, which would allow 2,800 housing units in a 15- to 20-year project next to Goldstream Provincial Park.

But the bylaw passed by Langford to allow the rezoning sparked a petition for a judicial review.

In September, a judge dismissed the petition by the Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network.

“If it hadn’t been for that court case that stalled the development we might have a second road over there by now,” Blackwell said. “Now what we’re trying to do is get people who have some of those prime pieces of commercial [to come forward].”

Blackwell said interest in developing on the north side of the highway is strong.

“They’re sitting there and they’re waiting because everything got stalled,” she said.

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