Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott and a colleague visited Langford council this week to talk about the potential for the integration of services within the Capital Region.
The stop was part of a promise made by the province after the 2014 civic election. That’s when eight Greater Victoria municipalities put a question relating to amalgamation on the ballots, asking residents if they’d like to see some form of amalgamation looked into. While the questions were different in virtually all of the municipalities, the majority of voters were in favour of pursuing some kind of combined governance or services.
In Langford, the vote went very narrowly in favour of pursuing such an option. And let’s not forget the voter turnout was less than 20 per cent, meaning a very small portion of the population voted for amalgamation of any sort.
So it wasn’t a surprise this week when Mayor Stew Young, as outspoken an opponent of the way the Capital Regional District operates as any local politician, lit into the visitors about the problems with that regional body. He was able to trot out various examples of how the City has solved many of its own problems more through partnerships with business, and not its neighbouring municipalities.
The provision of recreational opportunities and facilities has been a major sticking point between Langford and its partners in the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society. In recent years it has fought to institute an agreement that better reflects the fact that it has built a number of facilities used by residents from around the region, but not contributed to by other municipalities.
Abbott made it clear that the province’s fact-finding mission had little, if anything to do with amalgamation of jurisdictions, but Young’s spirited speech reinforced to another representative of government that the City is quite happy with the way things are now, thank you very much.