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Langford rowing plan docked

Aug 22 2012

St. Michaels University School is continuing its search for a rowing training site after a proposal to build a centre at Langford Lake was rejected.

Langford council voted against the centre on Monday night because of opposition from waterfront property owners.

"It's disappointing," said Michael Murgatroyd, the school's director of finance and administration.

The students in the program have been training on the Gorge waterway, but crowded conditions have prompted the school to look for alternatives.

The program used to use the Esquimalt Lagoon, Murgatroyd said, but Royal Roads University closed its boathouse to schools about two years ago.

"We hope something else will come up," he said. "The sooner the better."

Regattas take place at Elk Lake and Shawnigan Lake, so St. Michaels was only looking for somewhere to train, he said.

A proposal was put to council, which wanted feedback from property owners who would be affected.

"Initially, the response was not too bad," Murgatroyd said.

But the possible effect on fishing turned out to be a particular concern, said Coun. Lanny Seaton.

"There were fears [the centre] would take up too much room, interfere with the lake," Seaton said. "It was coming in two to one against. We had the democratic process."

The Amalgamated Conservation Society, which represents fishing associations, outlined its concerns in a letter to Langford's park department.

"Should this rowing facility be built, the resultant rowing activity could lead to a decline in other lake recreational use," the letter reads. "Excessive noise" from rowing commands and the disturbance of wildlife were also listed as potential problems.

Murgatroyd said finding a site near the school is essential to allow students time after school to train.

"We'd only be rowing for a couple of hours after school each day," he said, adding that the rowing season is shorter than a school year and wouldn't include summer months.

The council's decision wasn't unexpected, Murgatroyd said. "With a lake that close to the community - it's not surprising."

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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