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Rowing proposal makes waves in Langford

A proposed rowing facility could cause troubled waters for users and residents of Langford Lake.

Plans by the City of Langford and St. Michaels University School (SMUS) to build a rowing facility on Langford Lake have some residents concerned over the impact to current lake users.

The proposal includes building a rowing facility and using the lake for practices. A rowing lane would also run directly up the centre of the lake.

Proponents say the move will bring more users to lake, create a rowing community and offer schools in the area the ability to restart long defunct rowing programs. Others are concerned rowers will disrupt other activities on the lake and spoil its usual serene, quiet ambiance.

Rowing season starts in early September and runs until late November, before picking up again in February until the beginning of June.

Rowers would use the lake most school days from roughly 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., along with some early morning training in the spring and some weekend training during the school year.

Lakefront property owner Peter Ash has written an open letter to Langford opposing the rowing concept. He found out about the proposal by way of a pamphlet Langford distributed to lakefront property owners. He believes the community at large should be made aware of the idea and be able to have a say.

“It kind of limits the knowledge base of what they’re attempting to do,” Ash said.

The project will be paid for entirely by SMUS and will come at no additional cost to Langford taxpayers. Langford will provide funding for community use of the facility through the Amenity Reserve Fund.

Plans also include the construction of a boathouse, including change rooms and storage, and docks in an area that is currently parkland in the northwest corner of the lake. The facility would be laid out in such a way as not to block the walking trail that goes around the lake.

The plan also calls for an outdoor, fenced area to store boats and trailers. Two docks would be built – one for rowing boats, the other for wakeless electric coach boats.

Langford parks manager Mike Leskiw said that they only recently approached residents who live on the lake and are waiting to hear their feedback, which will be brought to city council. Council will then make the final decision over whether the plan can go ahead.

“When we went around, we talked to people and received feedback,” Leskiw said. “As with any proposal, there’s people for it and there’s people against it. We don’t have a tally yet.”

Darren Wright, co-owner of Island Outfitters, a downtown sport fishing store, said the proposal has the potential to seriously impact fishing and other activities on the lake.

His customers have expressed similar concerns and the store is encouraging people to contact Langford with their concerns.

“To put a rowing club on such a small, little lake, that would be the single use for that lake,” Wright said. “Nobody else could use that lake if you did that to it. ... I think before they let it happen, they have to make sure that the public is on side and you have to put that forward to the public.”

Ash believes SMUS is the only group that will benefit from the project. He said many lake user groups will suffer as a result.

“I don’t see any benefit to the community,” Ash said. “I don’t believe it will bring any benefits to the current lake users. I think it will deteriorate the opportunities for the current lake users.”

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

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