We want the City of Langford to:
- Work with the developer and community groups to create a conservation covenant that will protect large contiguous areas of the parcel that contain biodiversity-rich and sensitive habitats.
- Direct funds from the Langford Parkland Acquisition Reserve Fund to support the process of creating a new forested park that will protect these ecologically important areas and create a valuable community resource for Langford residents.
Why should the City do this?
1) The City has the money
The City of Langford sets asides money – usually gathered from fees charged to land developers – in a Parkland Acquisition Reserve Fund. The Fund is only to be used for “the purchase of land for park purposes.” Audited Financial Statements (below) show that there was $2.4 million in the fund last year, and documents requested under FOI show that the balance in the Fund as of July 31, 2019 was $2,047,731. Going forward, the City has budgeted for millions in dollars to be acquired by the Fund over the next 5 years.
Five Year Financial Plan for: 2019-2023 (pg. 37, 82)
2) The City has an opportunity
- Portions of the parcel under development have been identified by federal, provincial, and regional governments as containing habitat for sensitive and endangered species – including several that are listed under the Species At Risk Act. This is an opportunity to preserve and protect species and their habitat that are increasingly disappearing in South Langford.
- The developer (Langdon Weir Construction) has shown a willingness to explore the idea of land covenants and protecting portions of the parcel. In recent months Adam Weir met with members of the CSLSD, and with The Land Conservancy, to investigate how ecological donations and land covenants might make both environmental and economic sense for this development.
- The Land Conservancy (TLC) has shown an interest in protecting portions of this land, and helping to protect it with land covenants. TLC is a non-profit, charitable Land Trust working throughout British Columbia, and has worked with hundreds of landowners to create covenants that protect the land and ensure the safety of existing ecosystems.
- The public are motivated and engaged. There has been significant public concern over the potential loss of greenspace since this rezoning process began. On 8 July 2019, the City of Langford Planning, Zoning and Affordable Housing Committee (PZAHC) held a public meeting which saw over 200 citizens express significant concern about the development proposal. Since then, hundreds of letters have been submitted to City Hall, and thousands of residents have signed an online petition.
3) The City has the mandate.
The City has a strategic goal of developing “an interconnected network of parks and open spaces that support biodiversity and recreational uses that promote healthier lifestyles.” It further states that:
“As the community grows, some unprotected green spaces, including environmental sensitive areas, will be not preserved. But development in these areas will create opportunities to designate significant parks, open space connections, and natural areas in community trust in perpetuity.”
This document is an addition to the OCP and was informed by numerous public open houses, surveys, web-based feedback and informal discussion in the local community. Policies outlined in the Plan include:
5.1.1 Council will continue to seek opportunities, as lands develop in accordance with this plan, to create greenways and preserve open spaces for both active and passive recreational uses and identified environmental needs;
6.3.1 Council will seek to identify and either obtain, construct or enhance trails within in the South Langford Area as part of an overall community network of trails and walking paths. These trails and walking paths may be either as identified in the City’s Trail Plan, or in addition to those routes identified in the Trail Plan
In return for receiving provincial grant funding for taking steps to fight climate change, the City committed to:
Q37 Continue to secure greenspace and parkland in new developments, and look for other opportunities to acquire strategic greenspace and enhance pedestrian connectivity
The City published this declaration in 2015, stating that citizens had “the right to access nature” and “the right to participate in decision making that will affect the environment.” It also states:
“The City of Langford shall apply the precautionary principle: where threats of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment exist, the City of Langford shall take cost-effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment and protect the health of its citizens. Lack of full scientific certainty shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the City of Langford to postpone such measures. “