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Langford accepts parks/rec. budget with conditions

Council takes stand on 2017 budget on behalf of Langford taxpayers
A woman works out with dumbbells at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre weight room. The facility

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society is appealing to the City of Langford to reconsider their recent rejection of the Society's budget proposal.

Les Bjola, the City's citizen representative on the society's board as well as its elected treasurer, wrote to council asking them to reconsider their recent decision. The letter outlined alternative solutions, one of which recommended that Langford approve the 2016 budget but indicate the City would not support the 2017 budget unless meaningful change was made to the governance of the owners committee.

Which is what council ultimately approved after discussions at Monday's council meeting.

"It's getting to the point (where everyone is) fed up and I just want to bring (the discussion) back and come up with a nice solution," said Mayor Stew Young. "We know how frustrated everybody is."

Langford rejected the proposed budget last month, stating it would not support a budget with a more than two per cent increase to the City's contribution.

The society, jointly owned by Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands, and the CRD, operates the Juan de Fuca recreation complex in Colwood as well as satellite programs. Its governance model states that if any owner rejects the proposed budget, the society must amend the proposal to achieve unanimous support. Failing that, the previous year's budget continues forward.

The society has proposed an overall increase in owner contributions of 2.6 per cent. But its funding formula, based on total assessed value, would see Langford asked to pay 3.77 per cent more than last year's contribution, or roughly $4.27 per household.

"I need that validated first," Young said. "We're not saying stop it now, cut it now. We're saying come up with a solution that makes it more fair."

Young wants a report done on West Shore recreation facilities usage, but insisted that everyone agree to the imbalance and then come back to the table to work on a solution.

"We also pay 100 per cent of the services we provide in Langford and everybody uses it but nobody pays for it except Langford residents," he said.

He added, "I just want a common sense solution that is over like a five year term that says how do we make it more palatable for Langford residents."

While Bjola's letter suggested this is a governance issue for the owners group, not a board of directors decision, Young wanted that decision to take it to the owners group to come from the board.

"I don't want to go down there with a hammer," Young said. "I'd rather see the solution come from there." Young asked Bjola to put it on the agenda and get the dialogue started at the board level. He said the board could then decide to take it to the owner's group.

Bjola said he would make his finance report at the board's Thursday's meeting (after the Gazette's print deadline) and would introduce this motion to get the ball rolling.

"It's a learning process but the owners need to learn too as much as the board," Bjola said.