Langford is actively acquiring properties in its core to increase its downtown parking supply, says Mayor Stew Young.
“Langford’s buying land right now to put in parking lots in our downtown core right now before it grows up,” Young said.
“We want our residents to never have to pay to come downtown and enjoy a night out in Langford.”
Young said downtown parking is a council priority as developers eye the city for highrise development. An 11-storey residential building over ground-floor commercial near the intersection of Peatt Road and Goldstream Avenue is already under construction.
The city is using money from taxes to buy the land, Young said, noting that businesses are taxed at three times the residential tax rate. “So we’re already getting that tax money. We’re just going to reinvest it to make the economy strong in the downtown core,” he said.
“That’s our philosophy. I believe that if you make it easy, they’re going to come and spend money. You make it difficult and harass people, they’re not coming back.”
The municipality has already turned three residential lots bought years ago on the east side of Claude Road for use as a parking lot.
Young said the municipality is looking for similar properties, but would not say where.
“We’re buying houses in Langford. We’ve got three houses we’re trying to buy right now. We’ve got one already. We’re offering on another. We’re just putting [parking lots] right where development is going to go,” Young said.
What are now surface lots could eventually be turned into parkades, he said.
The municipality is also considering a bylaw change that would require high-rise developers to provide more parking stalls per unit.
“So you have to provide a few more [parking stalls],” Young said. “But you could buy that down and we’d take your money and build a parkade.”
Young has long maintained that there won’t be pay parking in Langford as long as he is mayor.
“Parking is essential to the economy of your town,” he said, adding: “Business people want the government to be the catalyst for economic development, not the hinderers.”
Meanwhile, Young said he’s excited about Langford’s prospects for 2018.
“There’s not a lot of ‘For Lease’ signs out there [in Langford]. I’ve got people hammering at my door saying: ‘I need a place for my business.’ I’m actually struggling to find a place for them.”