Transportation planning the Langford way!

Everyone is thrilled to hear the city of Langford will now permit new subdivisions in the traffic-snarled north end BEFORE building new roads or interchanges or anything. This is how our council solves traffic problems, obviously! Because uncontrolled development solves every problem, even problems caused by uncontrolled development.

The five-year moratorium on new development north of the TransCanada Highway and the unfinished Spencer Interchange is history. On Monday, December 20, city council scrapped policies that were intended to halt new residential construction until the interchange is finished. Increasing traffic congestion on Millstream Road was the reason for imposing the moratorium in 2005.
For your convenience, today's WTF? commentary is composed entirely of footnotes. From the Goldstream Gazette:
Even if rezoning applications start rolling in now,1 high-density property developments wouldn’t start adding cars to the congestion for two or three years,2 [Mayor Stew] Young surmised, buying the City time to build a pool of money,3 while securing grants from senior governments.4 Young expects to raise $4 or $5 million from amenity fees in the next two or three years.5
“We figure we have at least two and a half years before feeling the impact of lifting the moratorium,"6 Young said. “Once a plan is in place, we can move forward and apply for (federal and provincial) grants.”7
1 Whose rezoning applications? Bear Mountain Resort and South Skirt Mountain Village already have zoning in place.
2 Don't worry about the hundreds of dump trucks, bulldozers, earth-movers, cranes, and contractors coming and going during the years of construction. They won't add to the traffic problem.
3 A shallow pool in an ocean of debt (see notes 1 and 5).
4 Wrong. Spencer Interchange is privately-funded and doesn't qualify for grants from provincial and federal taxes. Way back in 2008, Langford council passed a bylaw to borrow $10 million on behalf of Bear Mountain and South Skirt Mountain, over the objections of more than 2200 citizens. It's now council's responsibility to get the loan paid off. A federal bailout sounds like great idea, but the city is not permitted to download the debt onto taxpayers who had no say in electing them. Oops.
5 The interchange is expected to cost around $32 million.
6 In two or three years, Millstream could have gridlock for hours every day.
7 See note 4.


  1. I used to support Stew... now that I know what he is doing to Langford though, I am proud to stand opposed to him. My hope is that on November 21st, we elect at least one person to council who is opposed to his shitty plans for the city, including this one.

  2. STEWpidity flows in Langford like puke at a Frat party.

    The leaps in logic are monumental; how did they skip past #2 ?

    Bruce Dean
    (professional recreationalist)

  3. C'mon people, the only other option is to actually make the developers pay up! And we can't do that! It would cause so much *hardship* for the developers! And they are suffering SO MUCH in these tough economic times! The entire city budget is based on slapping together hundreds of ugly condos! We NEED them! What else can we do? It's the only thing we can think of!

  4. What a myopic group there is around here. People are coming to this part of the Island whether you like it or not. So first of all everyone petitions,complains, sue and sits over building a bridge to handle future traffic woes and now complains that the traffic woes are coming and the City is not doing anything to alleviate the problems.

    The fact remains that despite the bleating about "urban sprawl" nobody retires to the prairies-everyone wants to come here. The current traffic problems are a result of that demand and until the "save our everything" groups grasp the fact that cpntrolled growth is the answer and positively support that position ( which includes everything from light rail transit to overpasses) then -enjoy the mess as you are helping to create it.

  5. Oh right! It wasn't the MAYOR and COUNCIL who fronted the money for the overpass.

    It wasn't the MAYOR and COUNCIL who ignored the wishes of 2200+ citizens on the counter-petition against the loan.

    It wasn't the MAYOR and COUNCIL who let the developers default on $10 MILLION for the overpass.

    It wasn't the MAYOR and COUNCIL who let developers run amok without providing for basic infrastructure needs.

    It was us. Sorry about that! We are obviously insane and out of control.

  6. Who approved the fronting of the money is not the point. Councils from here to Halifax make decisions daily based on what they feel that their areas need both now and in the future. They have have lots of perfectly legal ways in which to fund these decisions and this is no different.

    2,200 people is a very very small number and much too small a number to sway any City council. There was never a "grass roots" revolt - only some people who disagreed.

    I posed this question to City just yesterday and they tell me they have not declared anyone in default.

    I don't see any developers "running amok" without providing for basic infrastructure. Even your favorite whipping boy around here , Bear Mountain, had to provide sewers, gas, telephone, roads, resevoirs etc etc. Westhills is doing the same and so is every other developer over in my neighbourhood.

    All I am saying is that you are complaining about something that is coming no matter what -people. Get use to it and plan for it .

  7. So when *are* the Bear Mountain and South Skirt developers going to live up to the deal they made and pay the money they owe? When will council get them to pay up and stop trying to download the debt onto taxpayers?

    Don't tell US to "get use to it and plan for it." That's council's job and they've FAILED.

  8. And in case you didn't know, over 2200 people signed the counter-petition against borrowing money for the interchange. That's ten percent of the voting population, the number that is supposed to trigger a referendum.

  9. I have no idea when the developers will be able to pay their end of the deal.

    Correct me if I am wrong but did not someone associated with this blog head a group that tried to stop the South Skirt Mountain developers from proceeding on their development. One wonders if that delay did not also delay their funding and in turn delay any monies they had committed to pay their share of the overpass funding. When people lose their funding, whether it be an individual, coalition or a developer then they can't proceed with their plans. I would expect that the world economic crash in 2008 has had a lot to do with the delay in the developers stepping up to the plate.

    If nothing else the current traffic problems only highlight the need for more traffic infrastructure not less. Light rail, biking paths, bus routes etc etc must all be incorporated but monies have to be raised. Any ideas
    how to raise the money?

    Since you appear to be much more familiar with local politics than I am can you provide us all with the section of the Municipal Act that requires, as you have stated, that if 10% of the people in any City signs a petition about something then the City must hold a referendum on that subject. I find it hard to believe that the City of Langford breached the Act but if they did we should hold them accountable for it don't you think?

  10. "I have no idea when the developers will be able to pay their end of the deal."

    Neither does anyone else. Congratulations on grasping one of the basic points of this blog post.

    "I would expect that the world economic crash in 2008 has had a lot to do with the delay in the developers stepping up to the plate."

    They can blame God or this blog or anyone they want. The truth is, Bear Mountain's collapse had far-reaching impacts. And they can't say "no one saw that coming." This blog predicted Bear Mountain's bankruptcy for a year before HSBC took it over. Not because we're psychic, but you know - people talk.

    "If nothing else the current traffic problems only highlight the need for more traffic infrastructure not less."

    Did you see the part of the blog post that mentioned there was supposed to be a moratorium on new residences until the infrastructure was in place? Read that part again. It's unfortunate that they didn't follow their own policy. There is a limit to how many favours a city can do for developers before things get warped completely out of shape.

    "Any ideas how to raise the money?"

    Why not get the developers to pay up? That's the deal they made. It's in a bylaw.

    "I find it hard to believe that the City of Langford breached the Act but if they did we should hold them accountable for it don't you think?"

    If you don't know what a counter-petition is, you either don't live around here or you're very dense.

    In this case, Langford council used a technically (barely) legal but morally-deficient maneuver to avoid the referendum. They declared the interchange a Local Area Service, and adopted a bylaw that sets out the payment terms for the local landowners - Bear Mountain and South Skirt Mountain. Those developers are, by law, 100% obligated for the cost of the interchange. They have not paid one dime.

    Council's duplicity became clear when they applied for federal and provincial infrastructure grants to pay for the interchange, one week after the payment date passed for the initial developer contribution ($9.75 million, past due since March 2, 2009.) Of course, privately-funded projects are not eligible for grants, and Langford got no money for the interchange.

    The grant application itself appears to go beyond what the statutes allow. The Community Charter (Section 25(1)) expressly forbids a municipality from providing “a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business.” It is called "graft." The grants would have been a $9.75-million-plus gift to Bear Mountain and South Skirt Mountain. Council could have got in trouble for misrepresenting this project if some civic-minded residents hadn't pointed out the conflict to the ministers involved.

    All this information is public, by the way. We're glad you're finding it educational.

  11. You should also know that the Supreme Court petition to overturn the South Skirt zoning was heard more than a year AFTER the initial payment date for the interchange passed. So don't try to suggest that the lawsuit had anything to do with the developers not paying up.

  12. Correction: the "$9.75 million gift" to developers actually would've been $25 million. That's the total that council was planning to take from taxpayers. You see how this might be construed as a violation of provincial statutes?

  13. To summarize: The city can't have it both ways. Either the interchange is a publicly-funded project that voters can approve or reject in a referendum, or it is funded by the developers. Trying to do both is gaming the system.

  14. Stew has already said he needs to continue development to curb the tax hikes. It's really sad actually. This is part of the problem with the sprawl. Too much infrastructure for too few people. The more developed Langford becomes the more expensive it is to maintain. This is also a problem that will affect the other municipalities.

    And not all this growth is people retiring, in fact, I would bet a large part of the growth is for vagrants moving to the next boom town. There are a lot of people moving here for the construction industry which is building houses for more people from the construction industry. It's painfully obvious for a few reasons one of which is that many of these houses being built would only be attractive to someone who doesn't plan on staying here. Langford is making flop houses for the type of people who just move where the work is.

    If continued development is going to happen (which it is) Langford needs to create some real jobs not just ones for teens or red necks (no not all construction guys are red necks I'm just stereotyping). If Langford wants smart growth make it smart. It's obvious that we can't change their minds about development so at least attract some higher end employers. Working at American chain restaurants shouldn't be something to strive for.

  15. It is unfortunate that some people in the community paint all Developer’s with the same brush. There are many longstanding local developer’s who have built quality neighborhoods and contributed their time and money for many improvements that we all enjoy as residents of the West Shore.

  16. For anyone that believes Stupid follows rules, you need to ask the question. Stu follows his own rules, with flagrant disregard for provincial statutes, acts along with the same disregard for federal laws governing land use rules, etc.

  17. Personally, I would SUGGEST that BASIC infrastructure is a roadway that allows traffic to flow without causing major traffic jams for the majority of the day.

    If that suggestion is true, then council and mayor have really screwed the pooch, because every single day the traffic problems and parking problems are becoming worse.

    But thats hardly a surprise, I expected it years ago when they first started ramping up construction and development.

    And lets not forget, council and mayor allow almost every single rezoning and development, no matter how many complaints they receive from the community. Developers are allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Unless its a hemp store, then council has to save poor Langford citizens from the evil Hemp by passing a no selling hemp law, then intentionally ignoring it as big box stores sell hemp products. Go ahead, call bylaw enforcement and tell them stores are breaking the bylaws. They will tell you "Tough Shit". Because bylaw only cares if there are anti langford council/mayor signs. Yes, we have a sign bylaw preventing unsightly signs. But if your a developer you can buy a get out of jail free card and make any size sign you want. You just need to pay for it. Want to put up a sign against council or mayor? You don't have enough money on earth to pay the fees, because that would be breaking the law.

    Langford council and mayor have screwed long time residents making their once residential roads a cesspool of traffic, a take you life in your hands while trying to cross the road adventure, all the while not supplying the required police enforcement, making Langford nothing but a big frigging race track to every moron developer and construction worker who is impatient to get home. But council and Mayor don't want to enforce traffic laws, that would scare away customers to the big box stores and real estate agents, and all the dump truck and cement truck drivers who speed while tailgating cars that weigh one fiftieth of theirs.

    Sir, stop being a joke. Langford has neglected required infrastructure which includes police and roads, and bridges.

    Why does Atkins road get a 30kmh an hour designation, while the majority of roads in Langford are race tracks? Does a councilor live there? Maybe an important developer?

    Langford is spending every dime they get, selling every single parcel of land they get given to them to pay taxes. What happens when development hits a wall? Taxes will skyrocket. Any decent council would save money and land for a rainy day fund. They would spend money reasonably.

    Meanwhile, most residents are fooled by the "make langford pretty, but don't worry about it being functional" attitude. Continued:...

  18. Continued:...

    Sorry, I believe that form follows function. Its more important for a city to work, then for it to spend crap loads of money on gardening that gets removed three to four times a year. Roundabouts with music and a fountain that makes a very complex intersection so visually busy that its dangerous because of clutter. How many accidents has there been already? I've counted four that I knew about in the first few months after they finished the round about. And I wasn't even counting.

    But thats what you get when you elect people who are more concerned with how things look then how things actually run.

    I LIKED the old Langford. It had trees, bushes, forests, Glen Oak meadows. Believe it or not, a local government that was more responsive to the electorate. Yes, the CRD was more responsive then the arrogant self important toads in Langford city hall.

    And I don't believe for a minute that no taxpayer money is funding the trolley system.

    Just because you drill a well doesn't negate the fact that all that water used for Langfords beautification is going to waste. The water all comes from the same place. The aquifer. Using it depletes it, if it comes from the lake system, there is less to get in the aquifer. If it comes from the aquifer, its a direct drain. Langford should be using drought resistant local plants and planting permanently, not replacing the plants every three months, and having to water all summer long. What a waste of resources, water, taxes and people.

    And not planting trees and bushes in the middle of round a bouts that block traffic line of sight. Just how stupid are these people?

    At least its something for the resident sheeple to graze on.