The City of Langford has revealed itself as one of the buyers of former Provincial Capital Commission lands alongside the Trans-Canada Highway.
In meetings behind closed doors – all land decisions are conducted in-camera – council voted to spend $3 million buying multiple parcels of land from the now dismantled government agency. The agreement for the properties was reached in January and with four other PCC lands in Langford now sold publicly, details of the Langford sale have been made public.
Generally speaking, the lots are located west of Leigh Road; on the east and west sides of West Shore Parkway; alongside the Trans-Canada Highway near Langford Lake, and on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway off McCallum Road near Cavalcade Terrace.
“We bought what we could, probably 36 acres,” Mayor Stew Young said.
Now the city will start looking at options for what to sell and what to keep, he said. Young estimates 25 to 30 per cent will be sold to help pay for the overall purchase, while the rest will be kept and devoted to parkland, recreation facilities and other city uses.
“Honestly, I don’t want to put this on the taxpayers. I want to sell some of it off, piece off what we can and preserve most of it,” he said. “We’re going to take our time and this isn’t going to be a knee-jerk decision. We’re going to do the best we can to make sure we get a value out of it.”
Langford was offered first dibs on the properties before they went up for sale – for below market value. Young would have liked to see Langford buy all of it, or better yet have the province donate it to the city, but given the cost the city bought as much as council felt it could afford.
“Some of it is valuable and developable and some of it’s not. What Langford’s going to do is take the areas we want to keep and add to our system. We didn’t want to have somebody else buy some of these main pieces.”
Residents in the areas around the other properties which have now sold have previously expressed concern over development and losing the green corridor surrounding the highway near the Millstream Road intersection. They say Langford’s purchase could be beneficial.
“It’s good and bad. It still is going to be the loss of public green space from what we had before,” said Tricia Markle, who has been speaking to media on behalf of concerned residents.
“Langford’s doing their best … It’s still really the provincial government that’s to blame here.”
She hopes the majority of the land Langford retains will be left as green space, rather than be developed for recreation facilities.
As for the property not purchased by the city, Young said council will keep an eye on it and as rezoning applications come to council they will consider the desire to protect the green corridor.
The other four properties along the highway were sold to Goldstream Rock Products, Innovative Venture Ltd., Life Style Venture Inc. and a numbered company, for a total of around $2.9 million.