The dual Colwood all-candidates meeting left a many Colwood voters angry and bewildered that they were forced to choose between two venues, and two groups of candidates.
If nothing else, the meetings brought forward two informal but distinct slates, with two broadly different interpretations of the state of affairs at city hall.
The City described at the Presbyterian Church is on the verge of financial collapse, needs an external financial audit, possibly overstaffed and distracted with green energy projects. Most candidates agreed that focusing on “core” services such as fire, police and pubic works is the key.
The City described at the Church of the Advent meeting, while not overflowing with cash, certainly isn’t bankrupt and has barely enough staff needed for a city ripe for development, and has made huge strides to get its finances in order.
One candidate pointed out if Colwood’s plan to normalized sewer taxes works, and developers don’t sue, that alone will free up staff time and hundreds of thousands in tax dollars.
On a rare point of unison, candidates on both sides agreed to crack open the amalgamation question this term. Some candidates were keen to bring the issue to referendum, or at least look at the cost implications of joining Langford or a wider swath of the West Shore.
Langford, though, isn’t going to bend over backward to stitch back together municipalities that splintered off in the 1980s and early 1990s. Langford’s mayor at that city’s all-candidates meeting pointed out property taxes for Langford would rise under most amalgamation scenarios.
But the amalgamation talk does drive the idea for greater integration of West Shore services, and without individual municipalities losing their identities.
The West Shore shares a unified and well-liked police force and Colwood and Langford share some IT services. And as Colwood and Langford politicians like to trumpet, the cities saved money under a joint official community plan process.
Expanding on that co-opertion will only be good for worried Colwood taxpayers.