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‘A crime’: Residents furious as Langford disbands some committees

Some previous volunteers were worried they’d miss out as the number of committees was cut from 5 to 2
Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson pictured in October after his election win. (Black Press Media file)

Langford’s two new interim committees will be called the “sustainable development advisory committee” and “community advisory committee,” amid a flurry of concerns from residents - with one calling the disbanding of the old committees “a crime.”

During Tuesday’s (Feb. 21) council meeting, council also set out the composition of the committee, which would include three council members and six members of the public. Couns. Kimberly Guiry, Lillian Szpak, and Mary Wagner were appointed to the first committee, while Couns. Colby Harder, Mark Morley and Keith Yacucha were appointed to the second.

The interim committees are being established as the new council works on its strategic priorities and budget. Council voted to cut the number of committees from five to two at its Feb. 6 council meeting.

A number of residents, including several who had served on committees previously, opposed the decision.

“I think changing the committee structure is a crime, as it’s been working for years,” said Langford resident Sandy Sifert during public participation.

Langford previously had five committees: planning, zoning and affordable housing; administration and finance; protective services; transportation and public works; and parks, recreation, environment, culture and beautification. There’s also the board of variance, which is required under the Local Government Act.

During last council’s term, the majority of committee meetings were cancelled, apart from the planning and zoning committee, which met more often than all the other committees combined. In 2019, only 11 out of the 48 scheduled meetings for the finance, protective services, parks and transportation committees went ahead, according to a city staff report from Feb. 6’s council meeting.

After 2021, the schedule for council meetings was changed, meaning there were only five meetings a year for those four committees (rather than the previous monthly meeting schedule). Although meetings were still being cancelled – only the transportation committee meeting in 2021 had one meeting cancelled, otherwise, the finance, protective services, parks and transportation committees had at least two of the five meetings cancelled.

As these are interim committees, no specific qualifications for committee members have been included.

Langford resident Mike Wignall, who has previously served on two different committees, was concerned about this point. A list of qualifications was omitted from the application as the committees are only temporary and doing so will allow them be as “open and inclusive” as possible, according to Marie Watmough, deputy director of corporate services for the City of Langford.

Committees will be revisited once the city has reviewed its strategic priorities and budget.

READ MORE: Langford cuts five committees down to two on a temporary basis

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