Langford: A city for sports and recreation

Starlight Stadium has been the home of Pacific FC since 2018, and has been the site of some pretty important moments for the team, like this Aug. 26, 2021 match where they took down the Vancouver Whitecaps. (Courtesy of Pacific FC)Starlight Stadium has been the home of Pacific FC since 2018, and has been the site of some pretty important moments for the team, like this Aug. 26, 2021 match where they took down the Vancouver Whitecaps. (Courtesy of Pacific FC)
Pacific FC played their first official match at Starlight Stadium on April 28, 2019, which lead to this moment where goalkeeper Mark Village celebrated with members of the Lake Side Buoys fan club. (Courtesy of Pacific FC)Pacific FC played their first official match at Starlight Stadium on April 28, 2019, which lead to this moment where goalkeeper Mark Village celebrated with members of the Lake Side Buoys fan club. (Courtesy of Pacific FC)
Cycling Canada’s mountain bike athletes have used Langford, and Bear Mountain especially, as their main winter training hub since 2013. Pictured, riders make their way down some single track in 2017. (Courtesy of Rob Jones/Cycling Canada)Cycling Canada’s mountain bike athletes have used Langford, and Bear Mountain especially, as their main winter training hub since 2013. Pictured, riders make their way down some single track in 2017. (Courtesy of Rob Jones/Cycling Canada)
In addition to serving as one of Cycling Canada’s main mountain bike training hubs, Langford and Bear Mountain has hosted plenty of races and other events, like this one in 2019. (Courtesy of Rob Jones/Cycling Canada)In addition to serving as one of Cycling Canada’s main mountain bike training hubs, Langford and Bear Mountain has hosted plenty of races and other events, like this one in 2019. (Courtesy of Rob Jones/Cycling Canada)
Cycling Canada’s mountain bike athletes have used Langford, and Bear Mountain especially, as their main winter training hub since 2013, with the team’s main training camp being held each March. Pictured, members of the team take a break during a ride in February 2017. (Courtesy of Kevin Light/Cycling Canada)Cycling Canada’s mountain bike athletes have used Langford, and Bear Mountain especially, as their main winter training hub since 2013, with the team’s main training camp being held each March. Pictured, members of the team take a break during a ride in February 2017. (Courtesy of Kevin Light/Cycling Canada)
Pacific FC players celebrating a goal during their game against Forge FC on April 10, 2022. The game was the first time they wore the alternate jersey, designed by Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw artist Maynard Johnny Jr. and depicting a salmon and a child’s face, in a white-and-black pattern. (Black Press Media file photo)Pacific FC players celebrating a goal during their game against Forge FC on April 10, 2022. The game was the first time they wore the alternate jersey, designed by Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw artist Maynard Johnny Jr. and depicting a salmon and a child’s face, in a white-and-black pattern. (Black Press Media file photo)

Over the 30 years since incorporation, the City of Langford has worked hard to turn the community into a sporting hub not just for the region or for the province, but for the entire country.

Take a stroll down Langford Parkway and it quickly becomes clear the city has in many ways achieved that goal. On a 500-metre stretch of that road alone you can see some pretty exceptional sports facilities, most of which are part of City Centre Park.

You have the Westhills Arena, home to Pacific Coast Hockey Academy, Langford Lanes, Goudy Field, and of course Starlight Stadium, home to Pacific FC and the Westshore Rebels. Just behind the stadium you find the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre.

Almost within sight of these facilities are the Island Training Centre and the Bear Mountain development, which features everything from a golf course used by Golf Canada, tennis courts used by Tennis Canada, and a mountain bike trail network which forms part of Cycling Canada’s main mountain bike training hub.

But it’s important to have more than just facilities. It’s also important to have the right people with a passion for bringing sports to their community, and Langford has that in spades.

READ MORE: Work to move Langford’s Starlight Stadium hydro pole begins

“The guys went to talk to the City of Victoria about having the team there, and the city said they were interested, but not interested enough to upgrade the stadium or just make it a friendly environment to run a professional sports team in, so we went and talked to (former Langford mayor Stew Young) later that afternoon and the decision was made,” said Brad Norris-Jones, Pacific FC’s vice-president of operations, of how the team came to call Langford home in 2018. “You really need a community to embrace you, and Langford embraced PFC with open arms.”

Norris-Jones said having a professional stadium ready to go was also an important factor as such teams must also factor in revenue potential as at the end of the day they are a business like any other, and having a stadium that can accommodate enough fans and that will give fans a good experience is critical.

Of course, the right stadium is worth nothing if the fans are not there, and fortunately, Langford and all of Greater Victoria came through on that front as well.

“We have had great growth from the beginning. We are looking at the fastest-growing community in Canada filled with young fans,” said Norris-Jones. “And to be clear, our fan base is not just Langford. It is Greater Victoria and the Island, but being in a neighbourhood where families can walk to a game or bike to a game is very important for us.”

That passionate sporting community also played a major role in Cycling Canada’s decision to make Langford their main winter training hub, especially when it came to mountain biking.

READ MORE: Tennis bubble grand opening at Bear Mountain

“At the beginning, it was all because of the local mountain biking community,” said Cycling Canada head coach Dan Proulx, noting most of the trails his athletes train on were built by local clubs and riders. In 2013, the team started making their presence in Langford more official, entering into a partnership with Bear Mountain developers Ecoasis Developments and the city.

“They came to us asking what we needed for support, and we started talking about trail access and meeting spaces and places to hold training camps, and they were a pretty incredible supporter right from the get-go, and then they brought along the City of Langford.”

That hospitality combined with the region’s mild year-round cycling weather proved to be a combination so perfect, Proulx said many of the athletes decided to move to Greater Victoria so they would be able to take advantage of it all year-round and on their own time.

Cycling Canada is now working to grow its presence in the city even further, investing in a new clubhouse at the Jordie Lunn Bike Park which among other things will house offices for the team. But Proulx said the main investment the team has made has been in supporting the riders themselves, whether they are amateurs, novice athletes, or established pros.

“It’s such a hotbed for cycling. There are so many clubs and athletes, and even events. It really is a powerhouse in Canadian cycling. The entire community is a leader in that respect.”

READ MORE: New trails open, clubhouse in the works at Jordie Lunn Bike Park

READ MORE: Feel the flow of Bear Mountain in Langford


@JSamanski
justin.samanski-langille@goldstreamgazette.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Bear MountainCity of LangfordLocal SportsMountain bikingPacific FCWest Shore