A major priority for Mayor Stew Young and his council for 2017, as in past years, is job creation.
With recent infrastructure improvements and a boundary extension to facilitate a business park in the works, Young is anxious to land more high-paying jobs to keep Langford residents working closer to home.
“What we’re looking for is some really good economic opportunities for the people in Langford,” he said. “That’s my number one priority.”
When compared to other industrial areas, such as Keating Cross Road in Central Saanich, Young predicted the new business park could create anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 jobs – a crucial factor when considering the population growth in Langford and the West Shore.
“The faster we get this done, the better for everyone.”
Having more jobs in Langford would take motorists off the Trans-Canada Highway, he added, and allow residents to spend more time with their families. “That’s our big push right now,” Young said.
A key piece to the success of a business park is the West Shore Parkway project, the construction on which will continue through 2017 with full completion slated for spring 2018. That road will not only allow for much needed infrastructure in the area, it’s expected to improve traffic flow through Langford.
Getting people moving on the E&N rail corridor, whether by train or bus, is something Young wants to see happen in 2017. “We need to have something done there sooner than later,” he said. The mayor is hopeful a positive business case will emerge from research being done by prominent Victoria businessman Ken Mariash.
Of course, Langford’s wish list would not be complete without recreation, and Young said they’ll be asking for public input on what big project they would like to see next. Council is already looking to add more soccer and baseball fields and is considering another arena. Some of these new amenities would be targeted for outlying areas of the City so parents won’t have to travel as far, he said.
Going hand-in-hand with recreation and job creation, Young noted that council is also exploring more tourism options for the city. While it’s still in the early stages, he’s expecting to see a proposal in the spring for a gondola service that would run from Bear Mountain to a point on Mt. Finlayson, similar to the Sea to Sky gondola in Squamish that’s proven very popular.
“We’re going to be doing what politicians should be doing, and that’s creating jobs,” Young said, adding, “2017 is going to be a good year for putting Langford on the map.”
– by Katherine Engqvist
Colwood is at an important stage in its history and 2017 will see the continuation of major issues that come with rapid development.
In the last quarter of 2016, the City has held numerous public engagement sessions as it prepares to update its Official Community Plan next year.
Residents have grumbled about traffic, expressed their hopes for town centres and discussed environmental preservation for a future in which the city’s population is set to increase exponentially.
Much of the public input is still being accepted and assembled, but Mayor Carol Hamilton noticed some recurring themes during her participation in the open houses.
“I think it’s going to be about thoughtful development … Colwood right now is faced with big area projects. That’s always a challenge,” she said. Such major projects as Colwood Corners and Royal Bay promise to transform the landscape of the City in the coming year and beyond.
One of the challenges with large-scale developments is ensuring there are enough amenities to attract new residents and at the same time serve existing residents, Hamilton added.
Public consultations have shown an appetite for more gathering places and retail outlets, and that input will continue to be implemented in the City’s updated OCP.
One of the community’s most visible development projects, the long-standing Colwood Corners “hole” along Sooke Road, is expected to finally see a measure of activity in 2017, as developer Onni Group resubmits its plans following feedback from City staff.
“It’s one of those properties that’s kind of front and centre,” Hamilton noted.
“(Residents) see the status of it on a daily basis. When they changed the name and put (the sign) up there, I got a lot of phone calls.”
The mayor expects even more interest once passing traffic observes the early signs of construction. Onni reportedly is looking at getting started in the first half of 2017.
Added development could continue to snarl traffic, which is already a problem along Sooke Road for commuters heading into town.
Looking ahead, alternative transportation avenues – rail and ferries have been discussed during public input sessions – will be paramount, but there’s also hope that Colwood can begin to attract businesses of their own to keep working residents closer to home.
“I think we’re building a stronger case to have those kinds of things happen,” said Hamilton, whose City recently recognized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses for its business-friendly environment.
“You create the environment they want to be in, and then they come, rather than trying to bring them to something that’s barren and unproductive and (hope they) hang on long enough for you to catch up.”
– by Joel Tansey
In Friday’s issue, we look at some of the major focuses for 2017 in View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands.