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Mayor Stew Young categorically committed to tall density in Langford’s downtown core

‘Some people say we should slow it down. That’s not what’s going to happen,’ says mayor
The taller the better in Langford Mayor Stew Young’s mind. Moving into the airspace is his strategy to build affordable housing in Langford’s city centre. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Langford’s longtime Mayor Stew Young – the only one the municipality has elected since it was incorporated in 1992 – is determined to densify Langford’s city centre for the benefit, he says, of the majority.

This, despite dozens of letters and callers who regularly disagree with the pace of development in the city.

The latest council meeting on Aug. 16 had no less than eight rezoning applications in front of council at various stages. Six were for apartments in Langford’s downtown core.

Dozens of residents wrote to council and called into the meeting with concerns about the increased traffic and other impacts of construction. Others called voicing support for affordable housing, and developers argued that the fact that single-detached homeowners sold in a block is evidence that they support the change to the neighbourhood.

Young brushed off the naysayers, saying the majority of Langforders support the work he and council are doing to drive economic development and increased housing stock in the city.

“Some people say we should slow it down. That’s not what’s going to happen,” he said.

“We’re in an affordable housing crisis, so we’re doing our part. We’re building more homes than anyone in the region. We’re doing our part of the regional development strategy that was worked out 20 years ago where it was determined that Langford would take the bulk of the new growth.

“We put in the sewers, we put in the infrastructure,” he went on. “Twenty years ago there was nothing to do and no jobs in Langford. Now there’s good jobs, government offices are moving here, we have new schools, playing fields and all the things that go along with development.”

READ MORE: More apartments proposed for Langford’s downtown core

He’s categorically unwilling to slow development because someone doesn’t like it, and almost always has a guess as to why that person’s really complaining.

Perhaps they’re jealous they didn’t get a big offer from a developer like their neighbours, or maybe they recently moved and hadn’t realized they moved into a rapidly growing city centre. Or maybe they’ve always been against Young’s plans for growth and now have an online platform to share their views.

“You chose it but now you want to close it for other people? That’s not how it works,” he said. “I can’t listen to small groups of naysayers who live in $2 million houses tell me I don’t know how to build affordability. They don’t know about affordability.

“We’re adding 2,000 to 3,000 people a year here. They’re moving here because they like it. No one forces people to move here. If it was such a bad area, why are people moving here? My suggestion is, don’t come buy a home here and then bitch about it a few years later.”

As for buying here, that’s an equal part of his goal along with affordable rent. The dream, he says, is for people to get a good job in Langford and be able to buy a home. Home ownership is markedly higher in Langford than Victoria. Right now it’s at 63 per cent, lower than it used to be, but far higher than Victoria’s 39 per cent per a 2016 survey.

“Langford is a desirable place to live irregardless of what some people say.”

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