For 16 years, West Shore Parks and Recreation Society (WSPRS) has been an example of how a strong partnership can work; five municipalities – View Royal, Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, and Highlands – with a shared interest in providing recreation facilities and infrastructure to meet the needs of their residents. Demographics dictate that those needs clearly differ. Langford, for example, has more than 10 times the population of Highlands, but still, it’s a model of co-operation that works.
Over the past decade or more, Langford has progressively built facilities that have put it on the world stage. Canada’s women rugby stars train in Langford – a pride shared by the whole region. And the city is on its way to becoming the nation’s rugby hub.
With its own projects booming, in 2014 Langford expressed interest in changing the funding formula of the WSPRS’ partnership. It was invited to submit a proposal to the owner’s group, but has yet to do so. Instead, it has exercised its veto as a partner and has refused to approve the WSPRS’ budget.
Without budget approval, West Shore Parks and Recreation has a shortfall and is forced to operate with the last budget approved. When the cost of inflation cannot be accommodated in a budget, future programs, services and equipment upgrades are at risk. It’s worth noting that Langford residents account for about half the people enjoying WSPRS’ facilities and the portion Langford pays is also roughly half.
Meanwhile, Independent of the WSPRS partnership, Langford has invested in building modern and impressive facilities for its residents. Those investments were entirely of Langford’s volition and do not negate the city’s role and responsibility in the WSPRS partnership.
In speaking with the Gazette (West Shore Parks and Recreation braces for revenue shortfalls, Sept. 28), Mayor Stew Young said Langford has been calling on the WSPR society to implement a new governance model that doesn’t increase Langford’s share each year.
Let’s be clear. The society board, made up of 15 representatives of the five owner municipalities, has no such authority. Changing the funding formula would fall to the group of owners. Perhaps that’s yet another proposal that Langford could put forward.
Without question, Langford – by its choosing – is investing more per capita than the other municipal partners. Mayor Young suggests all West Shore residents have access to Langford’s new facilities such as the new YMCA. If Langford had intended the member municipalities to aid in the cost of the new facilities, those discussions should have been held before the facilities were built, not after.
Clarity would be helpful for all residents of the West Shore. View Royal is prepared to look at any reasonable proposal and I would ask Langford to provide the data that shows conclusively which facilities our residents are using.
Simply refusing to approve the society’s budget is not in the best interests of anyone, least of all the many users of the WSPRS’ facilities.
I hope Langford will bring a proposal to the table for the consideration of all.
View Royal Mayor