Bear Mountain (resort)

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Bear Mountain is a golf resort and adjacent community straddling the boundary between the City of Langford and the District of Highlands, in the Western Communities of Greater Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It is located on and adjacent to Skirt Mountain.[1]

Resort and Community[edit]

The Westin Bear Mountain Victoria Golf Resort and Spa first opened in 2003; the resort is about 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) in size.[2] The resort sits atop a section of Skirt Mountain in among a development in north Langford that has grown into a neighborhood of its own called Bear Mountain.[3] The indigenous name for the traditional mountain area in shared Coast Salish territories is SPAET ("spa - eth"), which means bear in the Salishan language.[4] It is the largest resort development to be built in Langford and West Shore. The resort has Canada`s only two world-class Nicklaus designed 36-hole golf course: The Mountain Course and The Valley Course.[5] The village contains many amenities including fine dining, pub, coffee shop, hair salon, fitness centre and award-winning spa. After a few years of mismanagement and financial difficulties, Ecoasis Developments LLP purchased the Bear Mountain assets, 836 acres of land that straddles the District of the Highlands and the City of Langford, in October 2014.[6] As investors in many sustainable development projects in North America, Ecoasis is committing to responsible and phased growth as the resort expands into a destination community focused on outdoor lifestyle and recreation.

Development, Growth and Controversy[edit]

At the time of development in 2003, Bear Mountain was the first massive resort community to be built in Greater Victoria and it was met with much opposition and controversy from residents all across Vancouver Island. The developers under the management of Len Barrie have been harshly criticized by vocal opponents[7][8] for building over sensitive ecosystems, damaging historic Songhees native sites,[9][10] and initially not addressing public concerns over environmental impact.[11][12][13]

The construction of the Bear Mountain interchange,[14] or Spencer Road Interchange as it is variously known, sparked a great deal of controversy and debate in the community of Langford because of development in the Goldstream Watershed.[15][16] The mayor insists the interchange, which straddles the highway and currently has only one other main crossing at Millstream Road, is a necessary requirement for the long term development of the community connecting Bear Mountain resort with south Langford.[17][18][19] There are also concerns about fire safety, and a need to improve traffic congestion.[20][21] Opponents insisted the interchange was being built primarily for the Bear Mountain development, in order to allow further access of construction into rural untouched areas, and will only create more congestion.[22][23] A long-standing protest camp occupied the site of the construction crossing point in Langford for some time and protests and clashes with developers continued and at one point organized a 'counter-protest' to demonstrate the voice of the workers involved with the project [24] (allegations that they were paid to attend this instead of work has not been confirmed but is suspected).[25][26] Eventually the protestors were evicted by RCMP after not complying with court orders and being charged with trespassing.[27] As of spring 2015, the Leigh Road overpass has since been completed, primarily funded by Bear Mountain and development is in the works to phase expansion on the south side of Skirt Mountain.[28][29] Further issues involve the financing of the construction, with a $25 million loan sparking much debate after city council allowed it to be approved without a vote by the creation of a contained land-use exclusion zone.[30][31] The loan was rejected by the Municipal Finance Authority and city hall went the avenue of a loan in cooperation with a chartered bank and developers instead.[32][33] Since this time, Bear Mountain fell into bankruptcy due to mismanagement of funds and is in the process of rebuilding its image.[34]

It is present time and many years since the controversial protests[35] with the resort and Langford city council, and Bear and Skirt Mountain and other large scale developments continue to grow in Langford with the resort community being the catalyst for expansion. There are ongoing concerns from some citizens[36] the region is experiencing growing pains[37] due to rapid expansion, and city council and Mayor Stew Young are supportive of an official community vision being that of suburban sprawl with limited public consultation regarding conservation of undeveloped land.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44] There is criticism no new park reserves and limited green spaces have been preserved or expanded by the city other than playgrounds and sports fields.[45][46] High density projects and large scale subdivisions[47][48][49][50] continue to be built and there are growing concerns about increase in congestion (`Colwood Crawl`) and loss of natural old-growth habitat including Douglas fir forests, Arbutus groves, and Garry oak meadows.[51][52][53] Langford is surrounded by neighbouring West Shore municipalities, Highlands and Metchosin, and both hold strict bylaws in place to protect the environment, for example more than one-third of the Highlands is protected as municipal, regional, and provincial parkland.[54][55][56]

Bear Mountain resort has since changed ownership after the mismanagement of Len Barrie and the new team at Ecoasis is striving to reconstruct the harsh stigma attached to Bear Mountain by aiming to re-balance development, preservation and recreation.[57][58] The focus is away from mass un-managed development and more towards structured sustainable development for Skirt Mountain[59] and on marketing the eco-resort as North Langford Adventure Centre [60] that will appeal to both visitors and residents to enjoy recreational access like mountain biking (the performance training centre for the Canadian National Mountain Bike Team [61]), hiking, professional disc golfing,[62][63] outdoor swimming, tennis and eco-tours [64] on the protected natural grounds of the property.[65][66]


  1. ^ "Bear Mountain (recreational community)". BC Geographical Names. 
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  21. ^ Ben Isitt, "Langford's Bear Mountain Interchange: Urbanization on the Western Frontier and the Blurring of Public and Private Interests" (Victoria: West Coast Environmental Law, 2007)
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  59. ^ South Skirt Mountain
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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°28′01″N 123°31′35″W / 48.46694°N 123.52639°W / 48.46694; -123.52639