Langford takes $2.4 million plunge for recreation facility

City snags private Bear Mountain club in a bankruptcy sale

A rendering of the North Langford Adventure Centre on Bear Mountain

The City of Langford’s latest recreation jewel, dubbed the North Langford Adventure Centre is opening soon on Bear Mountain.

The centre takes over from the Mountainside Athletic Club and will serve as the centrepiece for a network of planned mountain biking trails and tennis courts.

The goal, as outlined by Mayor Stew Young in his inaugural address on Monday, is to improve recreational opportunities for Langford residents living north of the Trans Canada Highway.

“There was really no opportunity for Langford to have recreation facilities up there, based on the topography and the cost of the land,” Young said later in an interview. “This opportunity came up when we heard that this came up for sale and (found out) it may not be a recreation centre (anymore).”

Given the city’s push to add recreation options for its residents, he said, “the last thing we want to do is lose a facility.”

The approximately 9,600-square-foot building, which has been managed by the Westin Bear Mountain, was purchased by the city for $2.4-million out of bankruptcy proceedings undertaken against the owner in Calgary. Among the plans is to create new water features for the outdoor pool to make it more family friendly. Planning is already underway to build eight clay tennis courts on site and mountain biking trails, with a goal of completing them by summer 2015.

“(Among other things) the goal is to have a functioning bike shop up there with access to world-class bikes and the amenities,” said Bear Mountain cycling consultant Rob Fawcett. “We are in the process of building back trails, reconnecting trails on our property so people can come out there and try them out.”

He said old trails on the property are currently being mapped out. The plan is to connect the five kilometres already there to an additional five km of single-track trails to create a 10 km cycling loop for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers. Additional areas for advanced cyclists are in the planning stages.

“For your average person, riding the trails is a spectacular experience … I am very excited,” Fawcett said. “Mountain biking trails are an amazing public amenity.”

While it is still early in the process, he said the hope is to attract high-level mountain biking events and athletes to the area, much like Rugby Canada has done with basing the national programs in Langford and the potential relationship with Tennis Canada and the new tennis facilities.

Young said it’s another step in the direction Langford voters asked for when they re-elected the entire slate.

“The timing was right and the price was right,” he said, calling it a good fit for Langford. “To build that today it’s $6 million to $7 million. Langford got lucky on the deal, right place at the right time. Council needed to jump on it before someone else bought it.”

The management of the facility will be put out to tender, Young added. Services include a gym, retail shop, a bike store, tanning beds, fitness studios, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, juice bar, a pub and an outdoor deck – with more to come, he said.

“Everyone is moving as fast they can, there is no transition, no wasted year, I have told council very clearly we are moving to get things done. You will see the new cultural centre, you will see another arena built, some new ball fields, we are focused on doing that.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com