Langford Mayor Stew Young is also a principle in a large business empire in the city and beyond, and that business involvement has from time to time, given rise to allegations of conflict of interest.
During the 2014 municipal campaign, for example, a slate of candidates calling themselves Neighbours of Langford ran under the slogan of “Time for Change” and accused Young of being in a conflict of interest situation. At the time, their specific target was their contention that Young’s Alpine Group, was the only garden-waste facility in the city. They said that a public works yard should be established instead.
At the time, Young pointed out there was nothing stopping a competitor from offering the service at a better rate and added that establishing a civic service at taxpayer’s expense would be inefficient and unfair to taxpayers who were not going to use the service.
The Neighbours of Langford’s entire slate of candidates was defeated during that election.
“From time to time I get that kind of comment, and I suppose it’s one of the reasons that it’s hard for a business person to get into politics,” Young said. “I’ve been involved in business for 35 years and started my business long before I ran for office with the belief that what I had learned from business would help me to do a better job for the people of Langford.” Young added he’s proud of his business success but now he doesn’t even maintain an office with the Alpine Group, having turned over operations to a group of “really great people who live and work in Langford.”
“Look, small businesses pay three times the taxes that residential properties pay and when they’re successful, they give even more to the community by providing employment, investing in the community and giving to charities. This Christmas [Alpine] gave $20,000 to charity and it’s something we do every year.”
Young noted it would help governments if more business people were willing to give up their time to help their communities by entering politics. “There will always be critics, but I know that I’ve worked my butt off for Langford because I view the community as my family. Yes, I’ve run a business here as well, but the community has always come first. I think most small business people would do the same.”