Frustrated by veto voting system, Langford mulls recreation change
Jun 13 2012
Langford council could withdraw from a shared operating agreement for West Shore public recreation facilities, unless a majority voting system is introduced.
The fastest-growing city in B.C. pays $2.19 million per year - almost half the municipal contributions made by members - toward West Shore facilities, including Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre and Bear Mountain Arena.
But since the agreement requires unanimous approval, any of the six municipal members - Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands and the Juan de Fuca electoral area - can block new capital investment, even if it is supported by all other members.
Given Langford's investment in its own facilities, Coun. Lanny Seaton said there is little reason to stay in the partnership, unless changes are made to the voting system.
"I would say there would be no point in Langford being there anymore," he said. "Having said that, I would want to go to the public because, ultimately, it's up to the taxpayers. But as a taxpayer, what would be the point of being there?"
A consultant's report - to be discussed today at the group's annual general meeting - urges members to allow for majority voting when making financial decisions, Seaton said.
Leaving the group would mean giving up its share in the property and facilities, but Langford has built its own sites - including the $24-million City Centre Park sports complex.
Councillors say they are close to a deal with the YMCA to operate a pool.
With that in place, the city would be replicating most of the services offered through West Shore Parks and Recreation.
Langford Mayor Stew Young has said he would not support leaving the group, but his council has grown frustrated with the voting system.
Most recently, Metchosin would not support the construction of a new weight room at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre. The council eventually allowed it, but a deal was made so Metchosin would not have to pay.
"It's been frustrating because some people just want to keep it all the same," Seaton said. "Our objective is to keep Juan de Fuca current."
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said the real issue is the inequity of Langford paying twice for recreation.
He has suggested ways of letting Langford out of the partnership, he said, but no action has been taken.
"I called their bluff, and nothing came of it."
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