Langford has a lot of “newness” to it — new houses, new condos, new turf fields, a new under-construction ice rink and bowling alley, a new roundabout with a fountain.
Until recently, the newness touched almost everything except its distinctly un-new city website. After 10 years working with a hand-me-down site donated by Spokane, Wash., Langford has launched an Internet presence appropriate to this decade.
“We built the first site for next to nothing, which is great. It’s held together well with bubble gum and tape,” said Mike Palmer, IT manger for Langford. “But this is long overdue. A 10 year old site is not keeping pace with the city.”
Municipal websites have become an integral part of local government operations, allowing residents to monitor council agendas, to read regulations and bylaws, as well as pay bills and keep up with events.
Langford’s new website, with plenty of high-impact photos, is meant to highlight and promote the community.
“We are trying to show people what a great place Langford is to live, and show all the changes over the past five years,” said Mayor Stew Young. “We are trying to showcase Langford as a great place to raise a family.”
Young said the website is part of a greater strategy to “get Langford on the map” to draw new residents and new investment. Many municipal websites are staid and utilitarian, where Langford’s is meant to show of sporting, recreation and cultural events.
“Any business without a website will fail,” Young said. “And if we’re not getting new investment, taxes will go up. If people stop moving to Langford, the economy will stop and jobs will go down.”
Langford budgeted $75,000 for the site, built by Atomic Crayon, which also designed municipal websites for Victoria and View Royal.
Where Langford’s old site was visually dated and didn’t organize information coherently, Palmer expects the new site to be more intuitive and easier to navigate.
Interactive online services remain limited, although Palmer hopes council will approve a budget to develop an “virtual city hall,” where developers, for instance, could check the status of a permit online.
People will also be able to report problems through the website, such as vandalism or potholes. Langford’s city website is www.cityoflangford.ca.