The final link in Langford’s overall transportation network is underway and local stakeholders couldn’t be happier to see the machines working their way up Skirt Mountain.
“This is going to create a lot of jobs,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young. “This will help us do what we need to on the north side of the highway.”
The Bear Mountain Parkway completion project will see the roadway connected from the Leigh Road and McCallum Road intersection (near the Leigh Road Interchange) up roughly 3.3 km to the existing Bear Mountain Parkway at the Country Club Way roundabout. While work on the project has been underway for nearly two months, ground was officially broken with gold coloured shovels on Thursday, with Young, members of council, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone, and Skirt Mountain landowners in attendance.
This new access will serve as the “front door” to Bear Mountain said Dan Matthews, Ecoasis owner and president.
Getting the road completed has been a big priority for the company, Matthews said, adding it was a promise he made homeowners within the first weeks after acquiring Bear Mountain. “It was not done when it was supposed to be.”
The cost of the roughly $10 million project will be shared by five developers, including Ecoasis, with the City of Langford lending some of funds on the promise that the loan will be repaid. The project is expected to take about a year to complete.
Matthews said the roadway, at least from where it enters the Bear Mountain property, will look similar to the other access, with the Bear Mountain signature character, and will include some buffer areas of green space.
He noted the roadway may be a scaled down version of the final plan when it first opens. But he said that was just to get the roadway open as soon as possible for residents. “Some of them have waited 15 years for this,” he added.
Young said the roadway will also include space for businesses to set up shop. “What we want to see is business on the lower side,” he said, noting that most likely will not include big box stores such as the nearby Costco. He compared the project to the Millstream Road area near McCallum Road, which includes a mix of business and residential.
“We were planning this 10 years ago,” Young said. While the original project hit several speed bumps along the way, including a recession and the sale of Bear Mountain, Young said “now, they have good strong players … and we can finally move forward.”
With, what he said, is the final piece in Langford’s overall transportation plan underway, Young said he can now focus on more job creation in Langford. “I’m pretty aggressive in trying to get jobs out here,” he said. “Now you’re going to start to see the benefits of that … the economy is going to start to take off (in Langford) and we’re already starting to see that.”
Young noted the new connection will also aid first responders, including Langford Fire Rescue and B.C. Ambulance service, in accessing the Skirt Mountain area in the most effective way possible. “We’ll be able to serve that community well and make sure they’re safe.”
Stone, who lives in Kamloops, was having breakfast with his children before traveling to the Island. While talking with his daughter about what he would be doing in Langford, Stone said, “she looked at me like only a seven year old can and said ‘Daddy, what do you know about highways?’ Kids have a way of grounding you,” he joked.
While the province is not providing any funding for the project, he noted it is still a critical piece of the overall road network and will relieve pressure on the provincial infrastructure at Millstream Road. “This is the last piece in that puzzle … and will enable growth to continue.”