On July 5th, the City of Langford made available their Planning Department’s report on the proposal by Adam Weir to develop this land. You can read download the full report here.
- New developments have to apply to be given a ‘zone’ before they can get permission to build. A zone determines how many houses can be built, the size of lots and other important characteristics of a building project. (Think of a zoning proposal like determining what ingredients you are allowed to use in a recipe – but not the actual recipe itself.)
- The applicant is the person who is making the application on behalf of the landowner. The applicant is kind of like a cross between a contractor and a real estate agent. They pay a fee to the City to just to make the application (about $15,000) so the developer, the applicant and the City staff want to try and make sure the application is successful.
- City staff work with the applicant (often for months) to create a proposal that is then submitted to the Planning, Zoning and Affordable Housing committee. The proposal outlines what the applicant wants to build, and how the City staff can make this work within the framework of the Zoning Bylaws and the Official Community Plan. If eventually accepted, the Council passes a bylaw that applies the proposed zone to the piece of land that the applicant wants to build on.
- The Zoning Bylaws (link) describes the zones that are allowed in Langford. There are over 110 zones already being used across the City.
- The Official Community Plan (OCP) (link) is a strategic plan for the growth and development of Langford. There are also more local plans for specific regions, like the South Langford Neighbourhood Plan (link). These plans are the result of public consultation and input.
- The OCP contains policies for the protection of our community and the environment. For example, Policy 3.11.1 requires that 40% of any land to be developed be set aside as park/greenspace. Another policy states that all streams be protected by a 43m buffer from either side of the stream.
- However, the OCP also allows council to ignore these policies and protections if they feel there is ‘significant community benefit’ to doing so.
- By law, all of bylaws adopted by Council (including zoning bylaws) must be consistent with the Plan. (Section 884(2) of the Local Government Act)
Where’s the land that is going to be developed?
- 804 Latoria Road and 950 Worrall Drive, two parcels of land that total 73 acres of land. That’s about 55 football fields of undeveloped forest.
- The land contains two streams that feed in Bilston’s Creek, with large ‘riparian zones’ (eg. wetlands) around them.
- The land contains habitat for a range of species, including ‘species at risk’ protected under provincial and federal regulations.
- The land is surrounded by zones that are rural/residential, and the majority have a minimum of 1 acre lots or larger.
What’s in the Proposal?
- The applicant is Adam Weir, on behalf of Ridley Bros Development Ltd.
- The proposal creates a unique, brand new zoning category for this proposal: R5 (Residential 5) This zone hasn’t existed in Langford before, so we don’t have any examples of what it will look like in practice. Not only that, but this is the first zone that uses the idea of ‘single family equivalents’ as a way of measuring density.
- There is no minimum lot size, but the proposal mentions ‘200m2 or less’ for affordable housing units. That’s 95% smaller than what the majority of neighbouring zones allow as a minimum lot size (1 acre). The only requirement is that the 200m2 or less lots contain three bedrooms and at least 10
m2 of storage space, exclusive of closet space.
- The proposal recommends allowing the developer to build up to 450 dwellings, and will include
- 100 townhouses. 80% of the adjoining zones don’t allow townhouses.
- 30 single family homes on lots of 200m2 or less. This zoning density does not fit with the OCP (South Langford Neighbourhood Plan.)
- The proposal recommends that, in this case, the following OCP policies be changed and benefits be given to the developer:
- The stream protection be reduced from 43m to 15m on either side of the two streams. This is the minimum allowed by Federal and Provincial regulations.
- The requirement of to keep 40% as greenspace be reduced to 25% (from 30 acres to 18 acres) This 25% won’t be a single park – instead it will consist of the small buffer running alongside each side of the stream; the playing fields on the school site; and isolated parts of private backyards that would cut down and replanted when building homes.
- The City waive the requirement for the developer to pay approximately $411,000 to the Affordable Housing Reserve fund
- The City pay for any trails built on the property, by reducing the Development Cost Charges that would normally be charged
- In return, the Developer will provide these ‘significant benefits’:
- building 10 affordable housing units, which means they will be priced at a maximum of $399,000 each
- at some point, offering 7 acres to be sold at market value to the SD62 for a school site. There is no deal in place for this sale.
- that the developer give $1.5M to the City of Langford, towards a recreational amenity (eg. playing field) next to a school.
- that at some point the developer build a community space/daycare. There are no minimum size requirements or details