Editorial: West Shore land-swap deal can benefit all

Metchosin's decision to give its people the last word on the deal is to be commended.

When the situation calls for it, it’s best to give the people the last word.

Elected officials are mandated to make decisions in a manner that reflects the will of their constituents. In a perfect system, councillors and mayors will always take public input into account, especially when moves are made that will have a significant impact on the population. Rarely does a council decision go all the way to a referendum, but when it does, you can be sure that it’s for a good reason.

Metchosin council hasn’t minced words when it comes to the proposed boundary change between the District, the City of Langford and the Beecher Bay First Nation.

They’ve called it the biggest thing Metchosin has ever done and the well-attended open house hosted by the District late last month was a good measuring stick for how engaged the public is on this issue.

With that in mind, we believe council’s decision to forego a survey process and skip right to a January referendum is worth a tip of the cap. Referendums are expensive, but there is often no better way to truly check the pulse of a community.

As for the proposal, it’s clearly not something everyone is excited about. Many residents who live close to Metchosin’s boundary with Langford worry that their rural lifestyle will be impacted by the City’s wish to build out a business park on the land currently sitting as a buffer zone between the exploding development in Langford and the quiet rural existence preferred by Metchosinites.

Nonetheless, this still feels like a win for all three communities. Langford gets its business park and Metchosin adds green space to the District – two of its parcels of land were due to be offered to Beecher Bay anyway under a Treaty agreement with the province.

The biggest winner might be the Beecher Bay First Nation, who will get a third of what could be a lucrative pie in Langford’s business park, which should represent an opportunity for some serious economic prosperity.

As Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon put it, the prosperity of the District’s neighbours is important to ensure the prosperity of the District itself.

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