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Goal of university in Langford takes a step forward with land purchase

Goal of university in Langford takes a step forward with land purchase

VIATEC Member News Educational/Training

Plans for a post-secondary school in Langford took a step forward this week after Royal Roads University confirmed it has acquired land in the city’s core.

Royal Roads confirmed it has purchased the site of the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church at 798 Goldstream Ave. at Peatt Road, as the parish moves forward with a new development in Westhills.

Royal Roads said in a statement it is in ongoing talks with the University of Victoria, Camosun College and the provincial government about future uses of the land, but at this point, no plans for a potential West Shore campus have been finalized.

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, which funds and approves post-secondary schools, issued a similar statement Tuesday, confirming the three partners and saying talks with the ministry are underway.

The land acquisition was music to Langford Mayor Stew Young’s ears. Young said hosting a post-secondary institution has been a goal of the city for decades, since West Shore communities are below the provincial average when it comes to high school graduates transitioning to further education.

The average for immediate entry into post secondary is about 56% of each Grade 12 graduating class, according to provincial data from 2001 to 2007.

Young estimates about 4,000 Langford students commute to attend post-secondary schools, and a campus in Langford would keep them in their hometown.

“This is in the early stages, but a university has been talked about for 15 or 20 years … it’s what the community wants in Langford, it’s what is needed here and we will do everything we can as a council to see that it happens,” Young said in an interview Tuesday.

“We have the youngest demographic in the region and we’ve got to give those kids the option of post-secondary, instead of them just going out and looking for a job.”

He said the best way to get Langford youth interested in furthering their education — whether it be academic or skills training — is to bring the university to them. “Let’s have it here … they don’t need to have a car to commute — that will eat into their tuition and university costs … they can walk to school,” said Young.

Young said post-secondary education is a high priority in Langford, and a campus would be a focal point in the city’s overall plan to densify its downtown.

Young said if the province approves a post-secondary campus, Langford will build a 1,200-seat theatre on site or nearby that the university can share with Langford residents.

That would be comparable to Victoria’s Royal Theatre, which seats 1,400, and larger than the McPherson, which has a 722-person capacity.

Meanwhile, Our Lady of the Rosary parish has plans to build a new church on Irwin Road in the Westhills subdivision. It’s the site of a former turkey farm, near Jordie Lunn Bike Park, and covers seven acres.

Father Dean Henderson said the new church will have capacity for up to 750 people and plans call for a hall, a daycare and, potentially, an elementary school.

The Lady of the Rosary Church has been on Goldstream for 80 years and serves Catholics throughout the West Shore.

“There are a lot memories there,” said Henderson.

Building designs have been underway and the site is currently being prepared as the church removes a decommissioned turkey barn.

The new church is expected to be complete in late 2023 or in 2024.

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Media Contact : Author: Darron Kloster, Times Colonist

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