The oldest standing structure on the West Shore will be relocated to make way for a new mix-used development.
The Old Colwood Dairy, built in 1851, is the only building that remains from Capt. Edward E. Langford’s farmstead. It’s located on private property in Colwood, behind a single-family home on Goldstream Avenue, near Whitehead place.
The five-by-nine metre, stonewall structure doesn’t have heritage status despite it being 160 years old. So, Colwood city councillors were surprised as anyone to learn it was still standing.
“We had no idea it was there,” Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders said.
The City’s heritage committee started researching the old building when a developer, Dave Vidalin of Goldstream Projects Ltd., proposed building condos on top of where it currently stands. Realizing its significance, Vidalin agreed to give Colwood ownership of the historic dairy and move the structure to the front of the property for the public to access.
“The building will be restored and set up with interpretive signs,” Saunders explained. “It’s going to be a really cool place for the public to celebrate local history.”
Built eight years after James Douglas established Fort Victoria, the surviving dairy was one of two used to produce milk, butter and cheese on Langford’s cattle and sheep farm. The captain, a former Black Watch officer, named the Colwood Farm after his home in Sussex, England.
He ran the 600-acre farm with the help of 300 workers until 1861, when he returned to England.
The property changed hands several times and over the years the farm house and all the outbuildings were torn down, except the dairy. A 1940s archival photo of that last remaining structure showed it was in poor condition, with no roof or windows, and only its stonewalls remained.
But in 1952, it was restored and turned into a workshop by Art Treloar, who was a welder in a shipyard. In 1981 the Capital Regional District wanted to add the building to its heritage registry, but according to a Gazette article at the time, owner Wynn Evans threatened to tear it down to avoid people coming on her property to look at it.
Short on funding, the CRD dropped its effort and the building slipped out of public sight.
The developer will cover the cost of restoring the dairy and pay $25,000 to a dedicated fund for the City to maintain the site.
Two condo buildings slated for site
The 0.67 hectare property at 468 Goldstream Ave. has been zoned for two condo buildings: a six-storey, wood-framed building with commercial units on the ground floor closer to the road and an eight-storey steal-and-concrete condo behind it.
The two buildings will have a total of 100 residential units with underground parking accessible from Whitehead Place. The back 37 per cent of the property, edging onto Millstream Creek, will be turned into a public park that could someday be linked to nearby Gambel Park.
“It’s going to reinvigorate that part of Goldstream Avenue,” Saunders said.
Council approved the rezoning on Oct. 24, and the developer intends to complete the project within two years.
There was no opposition to the project expressed at a public hearing on June 27. But some residents did raise concerns at an earlier planning committee meeting, where they questioned the impact on traffic and feared the buildings would shadow nearby homes.
Saunders noted the official community plan designates the area “city centre” for high density and mix-use development.
“This is exactly the type of smart growth we want to see in that area,” he said.
As with all developments, amenities are required based on the building density. In addition to its contribution toward the historic dairy, the developer will provide 10 suites as affordable rental units, and will pay into a funds for fire services and community amenities.