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West Shore saw abundant change in 2013
Changes have been made on the West Shore this year, after all it’s the fast growing area in the region.
A big one this year was the opening of the Leigh Road interchange, June 15.
The opening of the interchange closed access from the Trans Canada Highway and Spencer Road. Now access to Goldstream Avenue is only possible from with Leigh or Millstream Road overpasses.
The interchange cost $25 million paid for primarily by five private developers on Bear Mountain and South Skirt Mountain. The province is also chipped in $4 million.
A long awaited change came in the spring as ground broke for the two new high schools on the West Shore.
The new Belmont secondary school is being built at the former site of Glen Lake elementary school and the Royal Bay secondary school is being build at Royal Bay, that was an operational gravel pit for 100 years.
“This is $50 million and it is 10 times more important than any interchange,” said Mayor Stew Young at the groundbreaking, June 27.
The groundbreaking for the Colwood school was on Sept. 27 and included a visit from Tour de France cyclist Ryder Hesjedal whom the school’s road, Ryder Hesjedal Way, will be named after.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Peter Fassbender, minister of education. “It’s about the future of our young people, it’s about opening new doors of opportunity and providing facilities that will help them on their education journey.”
Both schools are set to open in September 2016.
The City of Langford spent some time in 2013 enhancing two of its lakes with a new boat launch at Langford Lake as well as expanding the beach and playground area there. Glen Lake Beach Park was also created and gave a new home to the playground formerly at the Glen Lake elementary school.
Opportunities for West Shore youths expanded this year, including positions for at-risk youth partnering with Pacific Centre Services Association. The association opened Skookum Food and Coffee in December providing jobs and training for 10 youth from the community.
All of the youth employees of Skookum Coffee will be referred through the association’s youth programs at the West Shore Child, Youth and Family Centre.
The Colwood Rotary playground at West Shore Parks and Recreation also broke ground, but fundraising is still ongoing to move onto Phase 2 of the project. As of now an area has been dug out, but the ground covering and playground equipment has yet to be added.
Capital City Centre in Colwood was earmarked for the largest development on Vancouver Island is at a standstill.
League Financial Partners, the group behind the Colwood development, filed for a Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, Oct. 18.
The application for creditor protection was extended to June 28, 2014. During that time League is selling some its assets, not including Capital City Centre.
Russ Cameron of Colwood Fire Rescue found retirement after 35.5 years of service, while the other four fire chiefs on the West Shore remain the same. Cameron was the city’s longest serving fire chief and started out as a volunteer firefighter when he was 18 years old.
“This is my life and it’s been my career. I’ve lived and breathed this for 24 hours a day for 35 years,” said Cameron a few days before he retired Sept. 30.
Kerry Smith, Colwood’s former deputy chief took over the role of Colwood fire chief and has worked at the department for 23 years.
The View Royal fire department will have some changes of its own in the year to come. The department’s new fire hall’s groundbreaking occurred on Aug. 15.
“It’s an exciting day for View Royal,” said fire Chief Paul Hurst at the ceremony. “It’s a culmination of many, many, many years of work and to have it finally come together and do a groundbreaking. We’re on our way. I’ve always waited for this day.”
The project was slated for completion after 33 weeks and the department expects to move in April 2014.
The process to approve the fire hall project was not without controversy and hurdles. An initial loan request of $7.9 million was rejected by residents through an Alternative Approval Process in July 2012, forcing the referendum. The entire process produced some heated council debates and numerous letters to the News Gazette arguing both for and against the expenditure.
Malahat improvements filled the summer months with barriers added along with some fencing to prevent rock slides from blocking the road or causing damage.
An $8 million upgrade that included barriers between north and south bound lanes was completed in the summer of 2013.
“This section of highway has seen too many accidents and we’ve heard from first responders and residents about the need for continued improvements and that’s what we’re doing,” said Christy Clark, in October during the seventh annual Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit.
Starting in 2014 another $145 million is slated to be put in the highway for more safety improvements. The work will include another 2.3 kilometres of median barriers north of Shawinigan Lake Road and a one-kilometre southbound passing lane extension and improvements to Whittaker Road and Holker Place intersections.