Nestled in Langford’s Belmont Market development is a brand new park planted to fill with red and yellow tulips each spring, memorializing one of the City’s well-known engineers.
Although closed at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Victor Chen Memorial Park is ready for residents and visitors to enjoy whether they stop by off the Galloping Goose Regional Trail or visit from Belmont Market.
Victor Chen died suddenly of natural causes in August 2017 at the age of 64 but has never been forgotten as he left his mark amongst many developments he had a hand in on the West Shore.
“This isn’t just Langford, it’s the whole development community that contributed to the park,” said George Henshall, deputy director of engineering and public works for Langford. “He touched many people’s lives.”
Henshall knew Chen for more than 20 years and calls him a mentor. Henshall was working at Langford as a junior just when the City started to boom.
“[Chen] brought us along and we learned so much from him,” Henshall said. “We’d work long hours and all go golfing at the end of the day … it was a lot of fun.”
According to an obituary, Chen graduated with a certificate from BCIT in Civil and Structural Engineering Technology in 1979. He instructed municipal engineering at Camosun College and then worked at the District of Saanich as a draftsman, at the District of North Saanich as an engineering aide and then at the City of Colwood as a senior engineering technologist.
Finally, he settled in Langford as manager of engineering construction and worked at the City for 20 years. He was instrumental on projects on projects across the region such as Dean Park Estates, Colwood Corners, Bear Mountain Estates and Golf Course, Westhills Development, Valley View Estates, the Millstream connector, Jacklin Road and Costco.
Family was also very important to Chen, who welcomed his first grandson into the world shortly before he died. Henshall said the City keeps in touch with Chen’s wife and daughter, who visited the new memorial park and even signed the plans for it.
“He was a very private man so they were just blown away by the park and the support,” Henshall said.
The park itself features a play structure surrounded by gardens that bloom with red and yellow tulips in the spring. Henshall said tulips were Chen’s favourite flower and red his favourite colour. Red and yellow are also the colours on the City of Langford flag.
There are two entrances to the park, one from the street and one that connects to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
A fountain, with a night time light feature rivalling that of the Goldstream fountain, is placed at one of the entrances with Victor Chen Memorial Park written across it. His name is also at the trail entrance on an archway that opens to the park.
A time capsule filled with memories from Belmont Secondary students and staff is buried in the park as well since it sits on the site of the old high school.
Site developer Crombie REIT always had plans to build a park there and Henshall said when the idea came forward to name it in memory of Chen, they were all for it. Henshall said many people came together to make it happen and noted that the land title was actually signed on May 11, Chen’s birthday.
“Victor Chen was an integral part of building the Langford community and a major contributor to the success of Belmont Market,” said Kevin Pritchard, director of development in Western Canada with Crombie REIT. “Naming the plaza in his name is our small way of honouring the man who was such a well-regarded member of the community, and driving force behind what we all get to enjoy in the City of Langford.”