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[edit]

The 156-room 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.

Controversy and complaints[edit]

A recent Goldstream News-Gazette article has revealed the developer's intention to construct highrise condominium towers in the east-central part of the community. One such tower could top off at 45 storeys, making it the tallest building in Greater Victoria. Residents expressing opposition say their east-facing views of Victoria, nearby Esquimalt Harbour, and of the Gulf Islands and Olympic Mountains, the primary reason for their buying property at Bear Mountain, will be blocked, and that their property values will collectively decrease. However, Langford's mayor, Stew Young, stated in that article that the condominium development had already been approved and implied that the public consultation period had passed. He went on to say that he supported the developer's view that "nothing could be done about [it]".[2]

Residents have also expressed their frustration with the intermittent, yet seemingly constant, road construction along Bear Mountain Parkway. The road is only one lane in each direction, and roadwork can sometimes close sections of one direction of the route, resulting in alternating traffic patterns that can as much as double the journey down the mountain at certain times of the day. Much of this roadwork can be attributed to the installation of curbs, sidewalks, and of stops for the new Langford trolley bus service. However, residents both in Bear Mountain and along Millstream Road are concerned about the hundreds of large trucks entering and exiting the community each day, fearing for the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and especially, children.

The construction of the Bear Mountain Interchange, or Spencer Road Interchange as it is variously known, has sparked a great deal of controversy and debate in the community of Langford that Bear Mountain resides in. The mayor insists the interchange is a necessary requirement for the long term development of his community, which straddles the highway and currently has only one other main crossing at Millstream road. There are also concerns about fire safety, and a need to improve traffic congestion.[3]

Opponents insist the interchange is being built primarily for the Bear Mountain development, in order to allow further expansion of the development, and that it is 'buying into car-culture' and will only create more congestion. A long-standing protest camp occupied the site of the construction crossing point in Langford for some time before being recently 'evicted' by an 80-man-strong tactical RCMP team, who moved in with assault rifles and dogs to remove the protesters. Further issues involve the financing of the construction, with a $25 million loan sparking much debate after town council allowed it to be approved without a vote by the creation of a contained land-use exclusion zone. The loan has since been rejected by the Municipal Finance Authority and the town is seeking a bank loan in cooperation with developers instead.

Ongoing protests and clashes with police continue, with developers at one point organizing a 'counter-protest' to demonstrate the voice of the workers involved with the project. Allegations that they were paid to attend this instead of work has not been confirmed but is suspected.[citation needed]

In December 2007 it was made known by the local media that the resort will also be a future location to a new 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) casino to be opened in the summer of 2009. A local newspaper commented in an editorial that the casino will complete Bear Mountain's "perfect storm of millionaire hillbilly opulence."[citation needed]

In March 2008, further controversy erupted when one of the protestors opposed to further development at Bear Mountain purchased the sub-surface mining rights beneath the development. The legal ramifications are still being analyzed and debated.[4] In early 2008, controversy mounted in local media[citation needed] over the presence of orange sludge seeping from below the 19th hole at the Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club which had started collecting at the mouth of a stream that empties into Florence Lake. A Langford resident took samples of the substance to a local laboratory for an elemental metals test. Analysis revealed iron levels in the sludge to be 240 mg/L. This level is 808 times higher than the levels in the lake water and 240 times above the level recommended to sustain freshwater aquatic life. phosphorus levels in the muck were 5.1 mg/L. Barium levels were measured at .427 mg/L. Aluminium levels were charted at 23.9 mg/L, 120 times that measured in the lake water. Copper levels were found to be 22 times that of the lake water, at .25 mg/L. Manganese levels in the sludge were 4.07 mg/L. Finally, arsenic levels proved to be 47.2 ug/L, more than eight times the maximum level that can support freshwater aquatic life. As of this writing, the source of the sludge remains unknown.

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