Keeping Langford in the fold has become the primary concern for the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society.
While there is no plan for Langford to leave the current agreement, mayor Stew Young said the idea is on the table if that’s what it takes to get more recreation opportunities built in Langford. Ultimately, Young said, it will be the people of Langford who decide if they’ll continue with an agreement that sees them covering the bulk of funding but sharing representation on the board with other West Shore jurisdictions.
“If there’s going to be roadblocks in place, we have to find another way to do it,” Young said.
Langford has had to go out on its own to provide residents with projects such as the recently built Westhills arena and other City Centre park projects.
“Langford has had to go build it all on our own because it’s just too dysfunctional down there,” said Young. “It was kind of pointless to build everything through Juan de Fuca when nothing was getting built.”
Colwood mayor Carol Hamilton said she doesn’t see proposed governance changes as a means to appease Langford in order to keep them involved. However, she said it needs to be recognized that Langford is an integral part of the society, especially financially, and that mass recreation investment in Langford completed apart from the West Shore Parks and Recreation is evidence of a municipality that is not entirely happy with the way things are run.
“It would have been nice to still keep it in a regional context, as opposed to municipally done, but it will be as it is,” Hamilton said.
That said, general consensus is that Langford is ill advised to walk away from what Hamilton estimates as about $40 million worth of assets.
Even the smaller municipalities sympathize.
Metchosin mayor John Rapps expressed concern that too much is being asked of Langford.
“If the place were properly managed,” Rapp said, “if we were to address the losses that are being incured from some of the commercial ventures there, than I think we could go back to where we were, which is providing public recreation at an affordable cost and still be able to relieve Langford of some of the burden.”
West Shore Parks and Recreation Society board member and Colwood counc. Cynthia Day said that, ultimately, if the governance model is changed, and that drives away some smaller municipalities, that would not have the same impact of Langford opting out.
“The partners who are likely to be driven away by the majority vote issue account for a very small percentage of the requisition,” Day said. “Far less (of an) impact to Colwood taxpayers than would be if one of the major funding partners were to choose to step away from the table.”