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West Shore mayors move to address recreation frustration

Jun 14 2012

Several West Shore mayors are moving to put an end to the longstanding dispute over how to operate their shared public recreation complex in Colwood.

The problem lies with the unanimous voting system the municipalities use to make financial decisions for the 44-hectare site that includes Bear Mountain Arena and Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre.

Any of the municipalities - Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands and the Juan de Fuca electoral area - can kill any decision even if every other member agrees to it.

The voting system and governance model was once again a hot topic when representatives from the six communities met Wednesday at an annual general meeting of the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society, which is contracted to operate the partnership's facilities.

"There are serious issues we need to address at an owners meeting and I suggest we undertake one very soon," said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns.

The discussion focused on a consultant's report that recommends the owners change to a majority vote system to avoid further frustrations.

Mike Hicks, director of Juan de Fuca electoral area, agreed that the governance model is unfair.

"I don't like the unanimous vote," he said at Wednesday's meeting. "It seems absolutely ridiculous. If I was a different politician, I could veto everything - . I don't do that, but someone could."

The discussion was quickly shut down until a meeting with just the owners could be arranged.

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, who was in the audience on Wednesday, talked to Ranns after the meeting and said she plans to get everyone together as soon as possible. Selecting a date will largely be determined by the availability of Langford Mayor Stew Young.

"We need him there. We need all the mayors there, so we're getting the information from the horse's mouth," she said after the meeting.

Langford representative Coun. Lanny Seaton said Tuesday that his municipality had little reason to be in the partnership because it has invested so heavily in its own recreation facilities.

Langford's contribution to the West Shore parks and recreation budget is nearly half of the $4.69 million paid to the society by all six members.

Highlands Mayor Jane Mendum urged the owners to get together to solve the issues as soon as possible.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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