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Plan would see Langford borrow initial $46 million for Centre Mountain water, road connection

Local service area would include water connection, residential and business park access roads
The Centre Mountain Business Park is undeveloped land south of Highway 14 and west of Happy Valley Road. (Google Maps)

Langford city councillors got a first look at the cost of establishing local service areas around the proposed Centre Mountain residential and business parks, after the landowners petitioned the city to connect the development to water.

The upfront costs to construct the water service, a community roadway and a business park road will be paid for with loans by the city. Ownership, operations and maintenance of the water will then be handed over to the Capital Regional District, with the roads being kept by the City of Langford. In total, the city plans to borrow up to $46 million – $15.1 million for the water service, $10.7 million for the community roadway and $20.2 million for the business park road – on a 25-year term.

That will be paid back through a parcel tax by the paid by the property owners within the Centre Mountain development.

The city is assured of repayment because even if the property goes to tax auction, the city will recuperate costs as part of the auction and whoever purchases the property will then assume payment of the loan.

Beecher Bay First Nation Chief Russ Chipps said in a statement that holding the industrial land was costing the band money and without the local service area helping to facilitate development, “reconciliation will stop short.”

Langford Mayor Stew Young said the property is virtually the last piece of undeveloped industrial land in the city, noting that the deal with Beecher Bay and Metchosin sees all parties benefit.

“Industrial jobs are really important because they pay the most,” he said. “It’ll create 2,000 jobs and to have 200 acres of industrial land is a big achievement for a city of our size.”

The project initially came before council in 2017 when council voted to rezone the land. The property fell under the City of Langford’s jurisdiction after a land-swap agreement was finalized earlier that year between Langford, the District of Metchosin and Beecher Bay First Nation.

ALSO READ: Langford and Metchosin residents voice traffic concerns at Centre Mountain public hearing

During the lengthy process, residents have flagged concerns about greenspace, traffic and impact on water sources.

City council addressed concerns about green space back in 2017 when the issue was first being discussed, pointing to a District of Metchosin covenant mandating the preservation of around 50 per cent of the property as green space.

As for traffic, surveys have been completed and Young said in Monday’s meeting that the two roads would be public – the residential one would connect to Happy Valley Road, the business park entry would be from Sooke Road.

In January 2019 the city granted the owners of the future business park a variance permit to access water from the local aquifer.

That deal limits the number of businesses that can pull water from the aquifer and is contingent on a requirement to end that practice once piped municipal water is connected. Currently, no water is being pulled from the aquifer as the land is undeveloped. Seamus Brennan, project manager with Keycorp, said in a previous interview the company is working with the CRD to bring water to the site as soon as possible.

Council received the Centre Mountain local service area report and passed first, second and third readings of the proposed bylaws.

ALSO READ: Ground water supply a concern as west Langford industrial development ramps up

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Editor’s note: This article has been changed from its original version to correct an error. Langford council passed first, second and third readings during Feb. 7’s meeting. The City of Langford will keep ownership and operations of the two roadways after construction. We apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused.