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Langford Land Developers Beg Ottawa for Funds

Vancouver Island Community
by Forest Action Network
Re: City of Langford Application for Building Canada Fund grant Langford North Connector Road March 18, 2009

We write to draw your attention to what we perceive to be serious deficiencies with the City of Langford’s application for public funding to complete the Langford North Connector road and to urge you to deny this application for funding.
Should the City of Langford’s application be approved, the end result will be a ‘gift’ of taxpayers’ money to the  developers of the controversial Bear Mountain Resort. We set out below the history of the Local Service Area and borrowing by the municipality.

A summary of the grant application reads as follows:

"Local Roads: completion of the Langford North Connector road that extends north from the current Spencer Interchange to established communities on Bear Mountain. This project will include completion of ramps located in the southwest quadrant of that intersection [sic]."

Langford North Connector Road is already fully funded through a Local Service Area agreement.

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 regarding heritage resources.
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, the service provided by a LAS is one that the council considers to provide a 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 LAS bylaw was later adopted as bylaw 1156 on April 7, 2008. (See attached document. Minutes and staff report are available by request.)

In 2008, under the terms of the LSA, the city borrowed $10 million on behalf of the developers to build all but two ramps of the interchange. The final two ramps – which specifically serve the Local Service Area and the local landowners – are included in the grant request currently under consideration.

Fewer than four hundred people live in the Bear Mountain Resort area that would be serviced by the Langford North Connector Road and the Spencer Road Interchange. The Langford North Connector Road is entirely within the LSA defined by Bylaw 1156. This bylaw is still in force and has not been rescinded. According to staff reports, roads in this area are to be funded by a proposed new development called South Skirt Mountain Village, which also lies entirely within the LSA. LGB9 Corporation, owner of Bear Mountain Resort, holds title to over half of the land in the LSA and is committed to 55% of the total LSA fees. We estimate LGB9 would receive an $11.8 million windfall from the grant.

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

In summary, should this grant application be approved, it will effectively transfer the developers’ responsibility for building these roads to the taxpayers of Langford, and indeed Canada. In our view, it is not in the public interest for your program to fund projects such as this which will benefit only a very small number of the City’s residents at the expense of all others. There are many much more deserving projects, such as the SportsPlex centre, which would benefit the entire City and meet the objectives of your program. We strongly urge you to deny this
application for road funding.
Thank you for your attention, and please feel free to contact us for more information.
Zoe Blunt
Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network
1127 Fort Street, Victoria BC V8V 4A1
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
cc: Kevin Falcon, Minister of Transportation
Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Denise Savoie, MP
John Horgan, MLA
Keith Martin, MLA
Capital Regional District
Irene Faulkner  
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