Tuesday June 21, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 2:50 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Today the City of Langford, in partnership with multiple stakeholders, announced the acquisition of an additional 1.35 acres of land to expand Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Goldstream Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway. That’s a major intersection in downtown Langford.
About 40 people gathered to hear the news outdoors. Skies were overcast but rain held off.
The assembled patch of land is located at 679 Goldstream Avenue, 2815 Aldwynd Road and 678/680 Fairway Avenue — all of that previously owned by the Masonic Lodge.
Doubling the size of the existing park:
The City purchased the land with funds from Parks development cost charges, funded by development, at no cost to the Langford taxpayer.
The expansion will double the size of the existing Park and will protect it as greenspace in perpetuity for Langford residents.
The park expansion will be completed by the end of 2024, with the goal of it being complete in time for the annual holiday light-up in that year.
City Parks leadership:
Emcee for today’s event was City of Langford Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities, Yari Nielsen. “Staff have been working with the Masons for many months, and we are grateful for their collaboration with the city,” said Nielsen at the podium today.
Nielsen told the crowd that the City purchased the land with funds from Development Cost Charges (DCCs) “which has been funded by development and no cost to the Langford taxpayers”.
Nielsen commended the landscape architect Jane Waters (formerly a Planner with the City) who designed the park.
Sequoia tree remains:
The sequoia tree that everyone enjoys in the current Veterans Memorial Park will remain untouched. It will continue to be the focus on the annual holiday light-up and community celebration.
In addition to the sequoia, all mature trees on-site will be retained and incorporated into the new park design. Interestingly, the iconic sequoia tree was planted by two Langford youth when the Lodge Hall was first constructed in the 1950s, by a volunteer group of Masons.
The sequoia tree was first planted by two Langford youth when the Lodge Hall was first constructed “and it’s doing pretty good here at a major intersection”.
Public markets and events:
“The additional one-acre of parkland in downtown Langford will provide Langford residents with more greenspace and creates another area for public markets and events. We are grateful to the developers who have been investing in Langford as it allows us to purchase this land at no cost to the taxpayer,” said Langford Mayor, Stew Young.
“The expansion of Veterans Memorial Park will give community organizations such as the Langford Legion a place to hold notable events like Remembrance Day. This project is another example of Council’s commitment to adding more greenspace in Langford for all to enjoy,” the mayor said.
Growing the community:
“What a great day, another big announcement for the City of Langford,” said Stew Young at the podium.
“This is really important to us because this is what we’re doing in our community. We’re actually growing our community and putting density in our downtown core. And this is what we need to do to move forward, to build a complete community,” Young said today.
Walking to the park from the higher-density towers being built in the core is important, said Young. It’s part of making Langford “a more livable, walkable community”.
“We have 1.35 acres that we’re adding to this park here. What a great opportunity,” said Stew Young. He thanked the Masonic Hall for their support, which he says goes back five or six years of “talking back and forth”.
“Bringing people together… that’s what this park has done. Remembrance Days here are so full right now –which is great to see — the amount of young people coming out here as well as our seniors coming out to support Remembrance Day here. We definitely needed the extra space, just for that alone,” the mayor said today.
Langford Legion is on board:
The Langford Legion has held many a Remembrance Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park. The Legion is on board for the new development. “On behalf of the executive and all the members of our Langford Legion, Branch 91, I want to thank Mayor Young and Council for their consideration and foresight with the purchase of this property to enlarge the Veterans Memorial Park,” said Langford Legion President Norm Scott.
“This will help in the future with Remembrance Day ceremonies which have outgrown the existing cenotaph space. To have expanded greenspace in our downtown core, at this incredibly special location, will mean so much for all Veterans and Langford residents, today and in the future,” the Legion president said.
Scott said the designs are beautiful, but looks forward to working along with the team as the project gets underway to “let’s see if we can do even better”.
Farmers Market continues:
Goldstream Farmers Market organizer Tony Obersteller delivered some brief remarks at the podium today, pleased of course about the expansion for the Langford-based pop-up weekend market that has been running at the Veterans Memorial Park location for nine years.
Mayor Young said people enjoy the market and music in Veterans Memorial Park.
Construction starts in 2023:
The Park expansion will include the closure of Aldwynd Road to Goldstream Avenue once the work begins in 2023, which has been in the City’s ultimate road network planning for over 10 years.
Only construction traffic will be permitted through Aldwynd Road access to Goldstream Avenue. The road closure will complete the connection and integration of the existing portion of Park seamlessly with the expanded area. The City has plans to ultimately install a sidewalk along one side of Fairway Avenue to provide safe pedestrian access to and from the park.
Chamber of Commerce on board:
The local West Shore Chamber of Commerce office is on Aldwyn Avenue, and new Chamber president Ingrid Vaughan was happy about the soon-to-be nearby park. Chamber staff will enjoy the nearby park, she said.
Vaughan is a human resources professional. She told Island Social Trends today that “people have changed” — and also their businesses and ways of doing business — as a result of the pandemic. She says the Chamber is aiming to do things differently under her leadership.
“The Goldstream Masonic Hall Association and its associated Goldstream Masonic Lodge is pleased to announce it has agreed to sell its Lodge Hall and land located at 679 Goldstream Avenue, along with three adjacent lots to the City of Langford,” said Aaron Weisgerber, President, Goldstream Masonic Lodge.
“This will allow the City to expand Veterans Memorial Park for the enjoyment of the entire community. The Association wants to thank the citizens of Langford, and the City administration for working on this collaborative project, and for their support over the past 75+ years. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the benefit of this great community,” said Weisgerber.
Addressing the crowd, Masonic Lodge rep Douglas Peterson said solutions have been sought for a new building for the last 15 years. “When Langford came up with this solution, we just couldn’t be happier for the community,” said Peterson. “It’s been a phenomenal opportunity and great to work with Langford council.”
The Masons will relocate a few blocks down Goldstream Avenue to Bryn Maur Road which will feature a Masonic Lodge room, dining, and meeting hall on the second floor of the building, available for rent by the public. In addition to the event space, there will be commercial space for lease on the ground floor. Construction on the new building will commence in the coming months.
A feature of the expanded Park is a labyrinth, partially funded by the Rotary Club of the West Shore who has committed $10,000 towards the project. A bit of chat about the relaxing and spiritual value of walking through a labyrinth was given at the podium today by Rotary Club member (and SD62 Vice Chair) Bob Beckett.
The labyrinth will provide residents a peaceful place for reflection, meditation and supports positive mental health, Beckett outlined.
The labyrinth will support members of the community navigating the negative impacts of the pandemic as well as veterans, first responders and front-line workers.
The Rotary Club of the West Shore welcomes anyone wishing to donate to the project to contact the Rotary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who was there:
Also in the supportive Langford crowd today City of Langford Councillors Lanny Seaton and Roger Wade, West Shore Developers Association President Ron Coutre, Economic Development Committee President Dale Gann and other committee members, KeyCorp President Jim Hartshorne, Realtor (and a former Victoria Real Estate Board President) Gary McInnis of the Masonic Lodge and Pemberton Holmes, Rugby Canada Director Gareth Rees, Langford for Ukraine Committee Chair Shannon Russell-Willing, and Langford Fire Rescue Chief Chris Aubrey.
Families played on the nearby existing park equipment at Veterans Memorial Park, during the event.