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Langford Wants to Bill Taxpayers $21.5-Million for its "100% Developer-Funded" Projects

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Langford Bailout? FAIL: Langford Wants to Bill Taxpayers $21.5-Million for its "100% Developer-Funded" Projects
by Zoe Blunt
On Monday, March 16, the city of Langford will apply for a federal and provincial bailout for construction on the Spencer Road Interchange and Bear Mountain Parkway. The application was approved by City Council in a special meeting March 12. On March 13, city engineer John Manson confirmed the city is applying for $21.5-million in infrastructure grant money for the interchange and road project. An additional $3-million would come from city revenue.
 
Forest defenders Ingmar Lee and Zoe Blunt at Langford treesit, 2007

According to Manson, the city asserts that the interchange on-ramps are not part of the interchange agreement, and that the Bear Mountain Parkway - which lies completely within a Local Service Area on South Skirt Mountain - is not, in fact, part of that Local Service Area. The parkway (referred to in the application as "Langford North Connector road") connects the Spencer Interchange to Bear Mountain Resort.
 
 
 
"If the developers can't afford to pay for these projects, the public has a right to know that. According to Langford Council, the roads were supposed to be 100% developer-funded. As such, I don't believe the road project is even eligible for an infrastructure grant. In any case, the money needs to go to projects that benefit thousands of people across the region, rather than a few hundred Bear Mountain residents and a handful of developers."
 
- Zoe Blunt, Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network (VIC FAN)


Manson may be correct that the fine print on the interchange deal leaves out the two ramps in the southwest quadrant near Langford Lake Cave. However, it appears that the parkway is an integral part of the Local Service Area. From Staff Report Z-08-06-South Skirt Mountain:


"The subject propertles are located within a Local Service Area for road construction. Therefore, the owners will be paying for road construction instead of paying road DCCs [development cost charges, a standard city fee]. Due to this, they are not also eligible for Road DCC amounts. The total amount contributed to the Local Service Area road construction Is: $28,322,882."


The Community Charter defines a Local Area Service (LAS) as a municipal service that is to be paid for in whole or in part by a local service tax (s.210(1)). In this case, council considers an LAS to be a service to provide particular benefit to a part of the municipality.


On December 27, 2007, Langford Council gave first, second and third reading to Bylaw 1147, which defined the Spencer Road Interchange (formerly known as the Bear Mountain Interchange), as a Local Area Service, and set out the boundaries of a Local Service Area (LSA) to fund the interchange. The Local Area Service bylaw was later adopted as Bylaw 1156 on April 7, 2008.


"Langford North Connector Road" was known, until now, as "Bear Mountain Parkway" and it is entirely within the LSA defined by Bylaw 1156. This bylaw is still in force and has not been rescinded. The road is supposed to be funded by a proposed new development called "South Skirt Mountain Village," which also lies entirely within the LSA. Langford Council gave first reading to a bylaw for zoning for the project on February 23.


The zoning process for the South Skirt development is plagued by procedural problems, including non-disclosure of documents and improper conduct at public hearings. If the South Skirt Mountain re-zoning bylaw is adopted based on the current process, VIC FAN has advised the City of Langford it is susceptible to a legal challenge under the Judicial Review Procedure Act.

Fewer than 400 people live in the area to be served by the interchange and the parkway.
 
 
 
 
 
For immediate release, March 13, 2009
Contact: Zoe Blunt 250-885-8219
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://forestaction.ca

Note: Staff reports, funding agreements, and statutes referenced here are available by email request (large PDF documents). Questions? Please call or email any time.

LGB9 Corporation, owner of Bear Mountain Resort, holds title to over half of the land in the Skirt Mountain Local Service Area and has already committed to paying for 55% of the road construction, according to City of Langford staff reports.

Section 25(1) of the Community Charter expressly forbids a municipality from providing "a grant, benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business" except under conditions authorized elsewhere in the Charter and a few limited exceptions, none of which apply here.
 

Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network (VIC FAN) is a non-profit society registered in British Columbia and dedicated to protecting Vancouver Island ecosystems. http://forestaction.ca
Hotline: 250-885-8219 (Victoria)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
 
 

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