Applause broke out at a packed Langford council meeting Monday, as councillors approved a three-way agreement between the city, YM-YWCA and Westhills Land Corp. for a new aquatic centre.
The centre, which will cost between $25 million and $30 million, will be built and paid for by Westhills on land it owns on Langford Parkway, near the $24-million City Centre Park sports complex. It’s set to open in the fall of 2015.
Mayor Stew Young called it one of the biggest projects the municipality has taken on. “All across Canada, we probably have the best recreational facilities for a town this size.”
The complex will provide jobs and economic activity, Young said.
The deal calls for Westhills — which is developing a new community on 209 hectares in Langford — to build the pool facility, which the YM-YWCA will lease for 25 years. The city has guaranteed to buy services from the YM-YWCA for 25 years at a minimum of $750,000 a year, with the amount linked to population increases. The city also agreed to assume the lease if the YM-YWCA ceases to operate the centre.
“This is very innovative,” said Rohan Ruf, marketing manager for KeyCorp Consulting, lead consultant for Westhills. The plan is for a livable community, with all services within walking distance, he said. “The idea is a sustainable, healthy community. It’s lifestyle and lifestyle choices.”
Colourful placards, showing waterslides, a lazy river and fitness centre surrounded the council chamber, where the deal was celebrated with cake.
The facility will also include a 25-metre pool, a warm pool with a movable floor, hot tubs and saunas, a wave pool, multi-purpose rooms, a child-minding area and outdoor play area.
“This is awesome. It’s going to be great for morale in Langford,” said resident Crystal Pink. “It’s going to be a great benefit and the tax increases aren’t that great.”
Staff estimate the complex will cost property owners about $17 a year.
The city hopes to lease 4,000 square feet to the Greater Victoria Public Library, but the library has not been confirmed as a tenant. Langford would keep the Goudy branch on Goldstream Avenue open. “I love small, community libraries, so when you live in an area, you can walk to it,” Young said.
While Langford’s initial commitment for the aquatic centre is $750,000 a year, the agreement says that may increase every two years by a percentage amount equal to the percentage increase in the population to a maximum of $950,000.
The city has agreed to exempt the centre from property taxes, including school taxes.
Under the deal, Langford residents will receive a 10 per cent discount on monthly passes to the aquatic centre. Free swims will be available for Langford residents during Langford Days and statutory holidays. The Y will offer subsidized memberships to residents unable to pay the full fee.
Expansion into Langford won’t affect the Y’s operations in downtown Victoria, said Jennie Edgecombe, CEO of the YMCA-YWCA of Greater Victoria. “We very much intend to be part of the Victoria downtown and to stay downtown, and we certainly will continue to provide the same programs and services.”
Young said Langford, which pays almost half the municipal contributions toward West Shore facilities at the Juan de Fuca Recreation complex, has no intention at this point of withdrawing from Juan de Fuca.