EDITORIAL: Good neighbour policy tested

Langford working hard to protect taxpayers by keeping its neighbours on their toes?

Langford council has made its opinion known strongly in a couple of recent discussions that might leave its taxpayers cheering. But we wonder whether the fast-growing City is flexing its muscles to the detriment of its neighbours.

Having previously thrown its support behind the fledgling South Island Economic Development Association, which is working toward a truly regional approach to bringing new companies here and strengthening existing industries, Langford council agreed to withhold critical financial support until it can inspect the makeup of the board for the new body.

Council is treading cautiously, but it seems there are still fears this economic development committee is an offshoot of the hated – in parts of the West Shore at least – CRD, which it is not.

On another matter, Westshore Parks and Recreation Society, which requires agreement between all five West Shore municipalities to pass its budget, asked for an overall increase in contributions of 2.6 per cent in its 2016 budget. The Society’s longstanding funding formula, based on population and total assessed value – and by extension, increased usage of facilities – called for Langford to pay an extra 3.77 per cent over last year’s contribution, or an estimated hike of about $4.27 per household.

Langford council rejected the request, voting to approve the budget only if the City’s increase was two per cent or less, as it has done the past several years. The move potentially hamstrings a public recreation body that is already among B.C.’s most efficient at limiting municipal contributions to operations.

Langford’s past frustration with the Society’s five-or-none format led it to build and partner on some significant recreational facilities on its own, such as City Centre Park and Westhills Stadium. But its residents, and others, are still just as likely, if not more, to use facilities overseen by Westshore Parks and Recreation.

Is Langford working hard to protect its taxpayers by keeping its neighbours on their toes? Or are mayor and council still fighting an “us and them” battle, when doing so is more of a detriment than a benefit to the overall health of the West Shore and Greater Victoria?

We’ll leave it to residents to decide.

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