Questions over the governance model for the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society are bringing up some old tensions and concerns from member municipalities.
On June 13, a report requested from barrister and solicitor Christopher Nation was presented to the society’s board of directors. In the report, Nation recommends decisions related to budget and capital expenditures be changed from a unanimous vote to majority rules, weighted toward the financial input of voting members.
The concern has been that smaller municipalities contribute a minority of the funding but can veto projects from going ahead.
The recent expansion of the weight room and fitness studio, for instance, only went ahead because of an unwritten side deal with Metchosin and Highlands. If the weight room were to lose money, those two municipalities would be exempted from helping cover the loss.
Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton agrees with the report’s recommendations and thinks the agreement needs to be changed to majority rules.
She is in the process of arranging a meeting between co-owners of West Shore Park and Recreation, represented by mayors and the Capitol Regional District representative.
“I think we have a really unique situation here and for the most part it’s always worked well,” Hamilton said. “Let’s work on what’s not-working and fix it, as opposed to tossing things out.”
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns disagrees with where attention is being focused. He described the governance debate as a “smokescreen” that prevents the board and owners from tackling the real issues. As the veto has hardly been used, he doesn’t see what the concern is.
“The main issue is not governance,” Ranns said. “There’s some pretty serious concerns there: Bear Mountain arena losing half a million a year, continued requisition increases almost more than double inflation rates, stuff like that. Those are the things we need to address.”
For his part, Langford mayor Stew Young said a meeting of the mayors would be a waste of time. The governance model needs to be changed to a majority vote, Young said, adding the unanimous vote system has prevented any real development from taking place at the site.
“If the governance is dysfunctional it’s damaging to the residents,” Young said. “The governance model has to change or probably you’ll see some drastic changes down there at Juan de Fuca. … It never should have been put unanimous, that’s not democracy.”