Residents see threat to Langford parkland

A group of Langford residents is sounding the alarm about a rezoning application they fear could see a large forested area in south Langford clearcut for a small-lot development.

“We’re not anti-development. Our goal is to [see] development of that property in a more sustainable way,” said Nicole Polet, spokeswoman for a group calling itself Citizens of South Langford for Sustainable Development.

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Polet said many new subdivisions in Langford have included green space, but it’s been clearcut and replanted or made into fields or recreation sites.

“What we’d like to see and what south Langford is really lacking is natural greenspace parkland — space that we can go that has trails and trees and wildlife and things like that. We just don’t have that anywhere of any substantial size,” she said.

While details of the proposal for the 73-acre parcel at 950 Worrall Dr. and 804 Latoria Rd., owned by the Ridley Brothers Development Corp., are not yet public, the citizen group is going door-to-door urging residents to attend Monday’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee meeting to voice their concerns about the pending rezoning application.

If approved, it would change the rural residential designation to a high-density, small-lot residential zone that could permit up to 300 small-lot homes and 100 townhouses.

The residents group considers the parcel to be “a neighbourhood treasure,” with its forests, two creeks and cliffs, as well as Garry oak meadows home to endangered species such as the northern pygmy owl and sharp-tailed snake.

They want Langford to consider creating a forested park and are urging public consultation prior to any rezoning decision.

Mayor Stew Young said he hasn’t seen the application, but the city likely would require that at least 25 per cent of the property be preserved in its natural state in any circumstance.

Young said if the property were to be rezoned, he would also want to see a school site in the neighbourhood, recreational amenities including artificial playing fields with lighting, and affordable housing.

“It’s for the use and enjoyment of the people out there. You buy an affordable house in Langford and you need to have access to trails and the same stuff we do everywhere,” Young said.

Young didn’t envision lot sizes in any new subdivision as being much different from lot sizes already in the area.

He noted that the application is only in its early stages. First, a rezoning proposal has to be considered by the planning committee, which has citizen members as well as councillors.

If the committee recommends that it go to council for consideration, council would have to decide whether to send it to public hearing. That hearing might not happen for a month or two, Young said. “The [planning] committee could say it’s not moving forward and it won’t even hit council,” Young said.

The group’s website says higher-density zoning could have the effect of turning quiet cul-de-sacs into main thoroughfares for the development, with major bottlenecks likely at Latoria Drive and Happy Valley Road.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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