Stalled interchange project delays development

Huge subdivision plan condemned as destructive to indigenous sites, rare ecosystems
Langford's stalled interchange project may lead to costly delays for the West Shore municipality's next urban sprawl disaster. According to Langford's own bylaws, the South Skirt Mountain development, next door to Bear Mountain Resort, cannot proceed until the interchange is complete.

"The Owners shall not carry out any work on any portion of the Lands, including construction of buildings, installation of works or services, or clearing or grading of land, until Phase 1 of the Trans-Canada Highway Spencer Road Interchange has been completed and is fully in use … " (Source: City of Langford, Bylaw 1209, South Skirt Mountain development bylaw).

Earlier this year, Mayor Stew Young claimed that interchange construction was resuming in February. But there is no sign of movement at the site. The new overpass north of Spencer Road on the TransCanada Highway remains a bridge to nowhere.

Construction on the controversial interchange came to a halt in June 2009, after Bear Mountain Resort owner Len Barrie elected to postpone a $4.79 million payment to the city. It appears Langford has not recovered a dime of the six or seven million dollars it has borrowed for the project to date. The city is drawing on a $9.75 million line of credit from TD Bank, with the understanding that developers will pay the entire cost … eventually.

The South Skirt Mountain developers plan to build more than 2500 condos and apartments covering the hillside above the new interchange and below Bear Mountain Resort, 20 km west of Victoria. Langford Council approved the controversial development in June 2009, after public hearings in which the mayor "bullied, berated and browbeat" residents opposed to the development.

The South Skirt Mountain development approval process is the subject of a petition filed last July in BC Supreme Court. The petition seeks to quash the bylaw for abuse of process and violations of the Local Government Act. The case will be heard in Victoria on March 22, 2010 or later that week. (A detailed media advisory is forthcoming.)

Like Bear Mountain, the South Skirt Mountain Village proposal is widely condemned for encouraging rampant urban sprawl, disregarding indigenous cultural sites, and destroying endangered ecosystems. In 2007 and 2008, opposition to the interchange culminated in a ten-month-long treesit protest, a mock counter-petition, and threats by the mayor to sue individual protestors for the cost of a police raid. The lawsuits did not materialize.