The holiday season is the best time to remember what we’ve accomplished and to look at what’s to come – and that’s exactly what five West Shore municipalities are doing before the year comes to a close.
Black Press Media reached out to mayors from Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands to ask what has been accomplished by council in 2019 and what is on the horizon for 2020. Here’s what your mayors had to say.
“2019 has been a remarkable year for Langford,” said Mayor Stew Young. “As always, I have to take a moment to thank our extremely hard-working council, City staff, service delivery partners and volunteers for all of their efforts this year to make Langford one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.”
Earlier this year, it was announced that the Provincial Government would be providing funding for three new schools for Langford children.
In August, Langford saw the grand opening of a newly renovated and expanded Westhills Stadium and the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground.
Recently, it was announced that 10,000 square feet of government office space would be coming to Westhills so that fewer Langford residents have to commute to Victoria or elsewhere for work.
Finally, a mass timber project broke ground on Peatt Road, the first of its kind in Langford.
“Safety continues to be one of council’s top priorities, and with that in mind, we added three new RCMP officers and three new firefighters, all while keeping taxes among the lowest in the region,” Young said.
In the sports world, Pacific FC brought professional soccer to Langford and kicked off their inaugural season at the expanded Westhills Stadium, joining Rugby Canada and the Rebels Football Club, who call the stadium home.
In addition, Pacific FC and the City of Langford have come together to construct the Island Training Centre, the largest indoor field house in B.C.
The new facility features a full-size turf field and multi-sport hard court that can be converted into three volleyball courts and a basketball court for use by both professional and community organizations.
Langford welcomed more than 300 exciting new businesses this year.
“We’d like to send a special congratulations to Castro Boateng, owner and head chef at House of Boateng, for winning YAM Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year and Best New Restaurant awards,” Young pointed out.
He recognizes many longstanding Langford businesses that have received special gold business licences to commemorate their ongoing service in the community, including Ma Millers Pub, Sandy’s Auto Parts, Western Speedway, Jacklin Trading Post, Glenwood Meats, the Cloth Castle, Devonshire Flowers, Belmont Collision, Belmont Veterinary and FTS Technologies.
Looking forward to 2020, he’s excited to see the new BoulderHouse open its doors at City Centre Park and to expand the trail network along Irwin Road and Humpback Road.
“We will also soon be announcing community programming for the City’s new oceanfront property at Finlayson Arm,” Young said.
In addition, the City will continue to work to identify and develop new commercial space to attract new businesses to the community and to improve access to post-secondary education in the West Shore for its students.
Maclean’s magazine named Langford the 38th best community in Canada this year.
“We continue to strive to be number one!” Young said.
“Colwood has a lot to celebrate as we near the end of 2019 and look forward to 2020,” said Mayor Rob Martin. “With all this new growth, Colwood is excited to welcome new residents to our community. And it’s time to kick into high gear the plans we’ve been putting place over several years to accommodate these positive increases.”
In 2019, the Province made healthy investments in Colwood that will bring more than 300 much-needed new apartments to 342 Wale Road, 330 Goldstream Avenue and 2006 Sooke Road.
Residents are now seeing highly visible town centre areas coming to life, with Colwood Corners well on the way to completing its cornerstone building on Sooke Road. Work has begun on the first four buildings that will revitalize the town centre area and the public areas surrounding it. Building permits have been issued for ten buildings.
Colwood Council earned dozens of accolades for the award-winning Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan, which protects future generations by setting aside the budget required to maintain the City’s roads, sewer and stormwater systems, natural assets and other infrastructure over the next 50 years.
“The plan will prevent large and unexpected tax increases for residents, because we have taken the time forecast future infrastructure replacement needs,” Martin said.
Colwood was also recognized for creating events and opportunities for residents to connect, as council received a Best of the West Shore Award for 2019 Eats & Beats at the Beach events.
Maclean’s Magazine named Colwood as one of the top two safest communities in B.C. and the sixth-best place in Canada to retire.
Council is also excited about the potential of the Allandale Lands on Veterans Memorial Parkway near Sooke Road, with a new owner preparing the site to bring new mixed-use employment opportunities to Colwood.
“Perhaps most exciting is the progress in Colwood’s newest waterfront neighbourhoods at Royal Bay and Royal Beach,” Martin said.
New parks and trails are steadily emerging for residents to enjoy as Gablecraft Homes prepares for the commercial Commons to take shape, starting with Sequoia Coffee which is expected to open a pop-up coffee shop in 2020.
Colwood has plans to review road layouts and intersections on priority routes, starting with the Latoria and Royal Bay area, and plan for necessary improvements to sidewalks, cycling routes, transit services and potential ferry options.
In 2020, they’ll be encouraging residents to get involved in the creation of a Parks & Recreation Master Plan, a Waterfront Master Plan and a Roadway Beautification Plan, to create engaging environments where people enjoy spending time.
“Council will strive to create a network of beautiful and connected streets, parks, trails and waterfront areas that will promote well-being, connection, inclusion and an ever-greater quality of life in Colwood,” Martin said.
Residents can visit www.letstalkcolwood.ca to join the conversation and help shape the future of Colwood.
“One of the best pieces of news View Royal council received this year came in the form of a survey commissioned to check in with resident satisfaction in our town,” Mayor David Screech said.
“It turned out residents are very satisfied, giving the town, its services, and their lifestyles here a 99% thumbs up. Even the survey company was impressed with the results.”
Health and wellness were at the forefront of View Royal’s 2019 initiatives.
A new bike park in View Royal Park has cyclists of all experience levels – from toddlers to adults – enjoying loops and curves and testing their own skill levels.
A new boat launch on Shoreline Drive makes Portage Inlet accessible to kayaks, canoes and much more.
View Royal is home to a myriad of parks and trails. A new map highlights some of the beauty spots, which has been added to their website at viewroyal.ca
Traffic continues to clog View Royal roadways during rush hours and the Six Mile Corridor is a particular choke point.
A study is underway and residents have had an opportunity to look at some of the options to alleviate congestion.
Council declared a climate emergency and climate impact is a key lens as it considers projects and developments in the Town.
“Housing affordability is a challenge across the region and View Royal has initiated a gaps analysis to see where need is greatest in our Town. In the spring, council approved the first purpose-built affordable housing project – a CRD initiative – in 30 years,” said Screech.
At budget time, council agreed to add an additional RCMP officer to serve the town. It’s worth noting that the West Shore RCMP is striving to increase their visibility on streets and neighbourhoods.
“We closed this year with a proud moment in which our fire chief, Paul Hurst, received his provincial 35-year bar for continuous service,” Screech said.
“Chief Hurst has served View Royal for his entire career and I’m happy to report he plans to continue.”
In 2020, there will be major development proposals coming for North View Royal and council will review the Official Community Plan.
Additionally, View Royal hopes to work with its partners at WestShore Parks and Recreation to see the new skateboard park built.
This year began with the addition of newly elected officials, Couns. Sharie Epp and Marie-Térèse Little.
“Over the summer, significant improvements were made to the interior and exterior of Metchosin School,” said Mayor John Ranns.
The project was organized by the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Association (MACCA) and completed by volunteers, Public Works crew, and inmates from William Head Work Release program.
The District continues to work on plans for achieving a sub-regional Emergency Training Centre at the school.
Over the past year, the District has seen increased demand from the public for bylaw enforcement and access to records under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which has brought changes to their staffing levels. Ranns noted that this may result in a significant tax increase for 2020.
“I continue to believe that tax increases beyond inflation are unsustainable for a rural community and we may have to re-examine our philosophy on revenue sources over the next year,” Ranns said.
Council will consider its budget deliberations for the Five Year Financial Plan and Tax Rate Bylaws in 2020.
The District has been working to conserve the rural character and ecological space at Mary Hill, to which Beecher Bay First Nation has committed to help carry out.
Looking ahead to 2020, the District will continue to work towards setting up fiscal revenue for the Metchosin School site through lease agreements to maximize rental return and re-fill the District’s reserves for the purchase of the school.
They’re planning to hold a goal-setting workshop that will provide the council with a chance to ‘examine foundational elements of service’ to the community so they can re-prioritize what Metchosin’s core values are.
“I’m proud to lead a community where people care deeply for one another and that no matter what the issue, we find a way to move forward,” said Mayor Ken Williams.
In 2019, Highlands council and staff have been working on asset management and emergency planning this past year.
Highlands has implemented a ‘reserves and surplus’ policy, a pavement management plan, and a long-term financial plan.
Council has also endorsed an Emergency Program Strategic Plan and the implementation of recommendations is underway, such as the evacuation route planning project.
Council endorsed a Groundwater Protection Implementation and Work Plan and authorized staff to work with Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) to secure the remaining funding under the Gas Tax Grant.
Highlands has also worked on a Regional Vegetation Management Strategy to help the region respond to climate stress in the nearby forests and streams.
This year, Highlands invited the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) to partake in the Municipal Survivor Climate Challenge, tracking their ecological footprint over a one-year period until Earth Day 2020.
Staff will report those successes back to council to report when the results are complete.
“In 2020, our new Community Hall landscaping project will be complete and looks terrific,” Williams said.
“The South Highlands Local Area Plan process has begun with the formation of a new task force that will help define South Highlands and update our Official Community Plan.”