A controversial build has some Langford residents voicing their concerns.
Nearby residents polled by the News Gazette were mixed in their reactions to the construction of a parking lot at 2765 Claude Rd.
But whether for or against, most voiced frustration with what they called a lack of transparency and their being left out of the public process.
Matthew Baldwin, the City’s director of planning, said the lot was already zoned for residential use and did not need to be rezoned to build the parking lot, a situation that negated the need for a public hearing. He referred any questions regarding plans for the parking lot to the parks and recreation department.
“Danbrook Park renovations have been on the books for a number of years,” said Mike Leskiw, manager of parks and recreation. He said that since plans and budgets for the project went through council “that information was available to the public.”
Construction began on the parking lot after a City-owned house was demolished last month to make way for, what the City then said was, an expansion of the park.
Since construction began a small portion of the park has been removed as well as several trees.
Langford Mayor Stewart Young, said “one parking stall length” was removed from the park and some unexpected trees were cut down because they posed a safety risk.
Leskiw confirmed that the parking lot was expanded a little more than originally planned. He also noted that one removed oak tree in particular was rotten to the core. “It could have killed someone if it had come down.”
Young said the row of about 20 stalls closest to the park will have a two-hour parking limit and were intended to be used for park parking. The other roughly 70 to 75 stalls will be designated for long-term parking for use by people working or shopping in the downtown core. There is no plan for overnight parking.
“The more free parking you have, the more vibrant your downtown is,” Young said, adding the lot would solidify the city’s no-pay parking plan for the next 10 to 20 years. “I never want to see pay parking in Langford.”
The next phase of this project will be to pave the parking lot, which will be left as gravel in the meantime. Young hopes to include funding for this and more beautification work to be done along Claude Road in next year’s budget.
The City also hopes the parking lot will open up and help improve sight lines into Danbrook Park, which as previously reported, has undergone some revitalization work after having some problems with illicit activities in the past. Young hopes the parking lot will encourage more people to use the park, which will in turn help decrease crime in the area.
He said money was a factor in the timing of this project, even though there had been previous safety concerns regarding the park. “We would have loved to do it 10 years ago.”
He said the City also had to finish projects on Goldstream Avenue before expanding down side streets.
When asked about rumours involving the parking lot being the future home of a multi-level parkade, Young said “Langford council is not building a parkade on that lot.” He said the city could potentially build parkades on all city owned lots, but the density of the core would have to drastically increase first. “We would have to see a real need.”
Young didn’t expect to see any Langford parkades in his lifetime and added that to fund such a structure, the City would have to charge for parking. The goal is to have the lot finished in time for the Langford Car Show on Aug. 15. Young said additional parking could be needed for the event, which drew between 7,000 and 10,000 people last year.