Langford adds Bear Mountain to recreation facilities

The City of Langford has acquired a new recreation centre at Bear Mountain, the latest in a growing list of satellite facilities owned by the municipality.

Mountainside Athletic Club, currently operated by Westin Bear Mountain resort, will become the North Langford Adventure Centre in the coming months. Mayor Stew Young said plans are underway to develop the space as a hub for tennis and mountain-biking by this summer, in addition to hosting a weight room and one of the region’s few outdoor pools.

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“It will be a family adventure centre for people on the north side,” Young said, adding that plans are still tentative, pending approval from the city’s parks committee.

Langford bought the site for $2.4 million after the Bear Mountain Master Partnership lost its properties through financial collapse. “It was a good deal for us and, if passed up, I wouldn’t be able to duplicate it. We would have to spend $7 million to $8 million to replace something like that in the neighbourhood,” he said.

It’s part of a strategy to bring recreation facilities to neighbourhoods across the municipality, especially those projecting growth, Young said.

Residents living north of the Trans Canada Highway represent a third of Langford’s population and the area is expected to keep growing.

Management of the site will go to tender, with Westin continuing to run it through the transition. Existing employees should keep their jobs, Young said, while new positions are expected to open, for a total of 30 to 40 staff members.

Renovations are planned for the fitness and pool area to make it more family-friendly, including a splash-zone, Young said.

Development of mountain biking and tennis infrastructure is already underway at Bear Mountain, under resort owner Ecoasis Development.

Eight clay tennis courts, four of which will be covered, will be built over the next year, said adviser Rob Bettauer, a five-time national tennis champion and CEO of the Pacific Institute of Sport Excellence. It is expected to be the only major clay court-dedicated facility in B.C., he said, although individual clay courts are scattered the province. While a training academy is part of the plan, the idea is to create a facility for tennis players of all levels. “It will have everything. It will clearly serve the community,” Bettauer said.

Bear Mountain is on its way to becoming a mountain-biking hub. It played host to the 20 riders who participated in the Jumpship 2014 competition and Ecoasis is planning new trails and amenities.

The focus is on building a 10-kilometre single-track loop, according to cycling development consultant Rob Fawcett, in addition to cleaning up existing trails and improving connectivity.

“[The trail] will be multi-use, as well, so people can hike it. It will be a shared-use concept.”

The site will be open to the public, but Langford residents will see discounted rates, Young said.

“Our plan is to put Langford on the map and make sure we have facilities for the region, not just for Langford.”

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