- The Westshore
- Centre Mountain development displaying the growing pains of multi-jurisdictional projects
Centre Mountain development displaying the growing pains of multi-jurisdictional projects
Convoluted road still ahead for major mixed industrial and residential use development project
A map showing the changed borders from the 2017 land swap between Sc’ianew, Langford, and Metchosin. Photo: Te'mekw Treaty Association.
Last week, District of Metchosin Council heard from engineer Al Herle who provided important updates on the Centre Mountain development project. As is frequently true of projects that involve agreements between multiple jurisdictions, there are convolutions unique to this one that aren’t easily teased apart or resolved.
The property in question was initially part of a 2017 land-swap agreement between the City of Langford, Metchosin and Sc’ianew Nation when it was also agreed that tax revenues from that land would be split between the three entities. At the time, former Metchosin mayor John Ranns said, “This is probably the most important development in the history of Metchosin since incorporation. I’ve been agonizing about those parcels for decades.”
In the swap, Metchosin received Crown land meant to be protected as green space, which later, the City of Langford asked whether it could use it as a buffer to meet zoning requirements for the proposed Centre Mountain industrial build.
One of the hinges of the project’s progress—and ultimate success—is that portion of the covenant (agreement) which stipulates that “no building, structure, or infrastructure of any kind can be built in the residential development until the developer has designed and constructed the stormwater management facilities on the buffer lands.”
Consequently, residential construction of the Centre Mountain development can only begin once these legal requisites have been met. However, to add complexity to that restriction, Sc’ianew Nation was given approval to build an industrial development right next door to the proposed residential development and the same water protection restrictions do not apply to that industrial site.
Through Coun. Steve Gray, who said that he’d spoken with the Sc’ianew chief the previous night, Russ Chipps passed along his concerns that considerations around the best stormwater management system possible for Centre Mountain’s residential element should not delay the industrial park development plan unnecessarily.
At the heart of the stormwater management plans for the project is the proposed construction of a stormwater detention pond. What happens in the pond will ultimately impact water in Bilston Creek and out to Witty’s Lagoon. It’s a concern for Metchosin councillors. According to a BC ministry guidebook, storm management solutions “should mimic the most effective stormwater management system of all—a naturally vegetated watershed.”
Some of the outstanding questions for council are around the detention pond construction itself, such as what kinds of environmental mitigation technologies will be used, what kind of environmental enhancements those will provide, what technologies and best water management practices should be included in the pond’s construction access plan, and finally, what trees are going to come down and what trees are going to be replanted around it.
Some of the environmental mitigation technologies being considered include bioswales, oil and grit removal and best management practices of water swells, all of which need to be in compliance with the BC’s ministry of the environment. Bioswales are like ditches, designed to manage and filter stormwater in a natural way.
While he could not provide precise answers around timing and resolutions on the pond’s construction plan, Herle assured the Metchosin Council that “Langford had committed to using green infrastructure to address water quality alongside the more traditional tools, the older liquid separators, their plan is to use bioswales,” which he’d “been advocating for,” he said.
On a project with so much jurisdictional and legislative crossover, any agitation council may have had around its limited capacity to either anticipate or control immediate outcomes or project details was assuaged by Herle who promised to have more details and answers in his next submission to council.