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Langford all-candidates forum discusses transportation and sewers

Candidates said collaboration within the community gets things done
All-candidates forum for the City of Langford met at the Langford Legion Branch No. 91. (Lindsey Horsting/News staff)

The all-candidates forum for the City of Langford focused on how far the city has come and the team effort it has taken to accomplish what they have thus far.

The event was hosted by the WestShore Chamber of Commerce, with a panel of nine — two candidates running for mayor and seven candidates running for six councillor positions.

Transportation, rapid transit, sewers and affordable housing comprised the majority of questions fielded by candidates.

Robert Fraser, the candidate running against Mayor Stew Young, gave some ideas for regional transit planning. Fraser said that using current infrastructure and creating counterflow lanes on the Trans-Canada Highway would be something that could work. As a frequent transit user himself, he believes there needs to be more feeder buses in Langford to make using transit more convenient.

Coun. Denise Blackwell pointed to the fact that Langford has spent $50 million on internal transportation within Langford so people can commute from one side of Langford to the other without having to use the TCH.

Coun. Roger Wade noted it is not the city’s responsibility to build bus lanes to go downtown and Langford can only advocate on behalf of the residents.

He also shared his vision for the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society as a facility that he thinks is important. But he would work towards ensuring it’s not an expense for Langford taxpayers as Langford has built its own facilities.

Coun. Lillian Szpak added the E&N railbed should be a dedicated transit corridor and buses should run in both directions to alleviate commuting times between downtown Victoria and the West Shore.

Coun. Lanny Seaton addressed amalgamation, to which he admitted that years ago he thought Colwood and Langford should have amalgamated, but now he’s glad they didn’t. Seaton said the decision is up to the people of Langford if they want to amalgamate. He noted he would only recommend it if it makes sense from a tax perspective, noting “if it means something like the Capital Regional District, I’m not in favour of that.”

In regards to sewers, Coun. Matt Sahlstrom said that if homes are in the Agricultural Land Reserve, it’s acceptable to leave them on septic, but in areas that will be developed, sewers should be put in.

Wendy Hobbs, running for both Langford council and school trustee, said she wants to help create more daycare options and more affordable housing for families and seniors on the West Shore.

Norma Stewart noted she cares about how the City spends people’s tax dollars and she would like to work with developers on projects so as little money as possible is coming out of taxpayer pockets.

In his closing remarks, Young said he is proud of his involvement in keeping Langford out of the Capital Regional District years ago. He pointed to more than 100 volunteers that serve on various committees that help in the decision-making process and because of that strong community support, Langford is able to accomplish great things.

Langford residents can vote on election day (Oct. 20) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Millstream Elementary School and Ruth King Elementary School. Advance voting takes place Wednesday, Oct. 10 and Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall.

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