Recently Langford held an economic forum at Bear Mountain resort. More than 100 people attended including developers, investors and business and nonprofit leaders.
At the forum, Langford announced a 25 per cent reduction in charges to developers and promised more cost controls on Langford’s expenses and more flexibility than ever for investors and businesses.
Langford has grown quickly and it has done so smartly — with small business job creation, and an emphasis on infrastructure that includes recreation facilities, trails, bike paths, pedestrian friendly streets and parks.
Langford and Colwood municipalities played a major role in obtaining the provincial $100 million investment in the two new high schools on the West Shore, as well as the recent E&N federal funding.
Chasing and securing meaningful community infrastructure follows the advice of one of Canada’s leading municipal planning experts, Avi Friedman. Advising Langford and acting as keynote speaker at the recent forum, the McGill University professor spoke eloquently about what it takes to create successful communities.
A few years back, Langford and Colwood conducted their official community plan processes together and created similar documents that have sustainability at their core.
Colwood has been innovative with its federally-funded Solar Colwood and its green city partnership with Royal Roads University.
Both cities are working hard to grow smartly by using best practices from around the continent, and in some cases, inventing their own.
Recent reports suggest that the leadership of other municipalities in the region were surprised at the 2011 census population results. These numbers identified Langford as the fastest growing municipality in B.C. — 30 per cent in five years. The overall West Shore growth was more than 15 per cent.
These census statistics also showed only minimum growth in Victoria and Saanich with no reason to suspect that it would change for the future.
Rumour also has it there will now be a push from these municipalities for massive population growth along the Douglas Street corridor.
Perhaps these downtown core municipal leaders are beginning to realize that you can grow sustainably. Healthy communities build collaboration between stakeholders, including businesses and the public sector, just as Langford, View Royal and Colwood have.
The West Shore with Langford leading the way has now become the new “smart” economic engine of the Greater Victoria region and quite possibly an example that others can duplicate.
—Dan Spinner is the CEO of the WestShore Chamber of Commerce