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Langford council rejects environment protection committee idea

Upset mayor says misinformation out there about city’s environmental record
Langford Mayor Stew Young bristled Monday at the suggestion the city needs an environmental protection advisory committee, saying such a body would duplicate work already being done by the parks and beautification committee. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

Langford rejected a pitch for an environmental protection advisory committee at its Monday meeting, with staff set to review the terms of the parks and beautification committee instead.

In a debate that ultimately became quite heated, Mayor Stew Young said the city already works to protect the environment and that a new committee would replicate work already being done by the parks committee.

“If every committee started to morph off, it’s bureaucracy and red tape. It’s efficient right now the way it is.”

Coun. Lillian Szpak made the motion for council to consider a committee tasked with consulting residents on environmental protection, which she suggested could also give annual awards to residents and community groups that worked towards combating climate change, preserving green space and battling invasive species.

While the city already has a parks committee, it is not specifically tasked with environmental protection, she said. “It’s the missing piece for residents.”

Young countered by saying there’s a lot of misinformation that circulates about Langford’s environmental protection record, noting the development permit process and the parks committee already ensure the environment is protected. He also emphasized the work city staff does to protect the environment and said council should be defending them.

“Quit saying things (that) aren’t true, Langford works very hard to make sure there’s balance and so does our staff.”

Coun. Denise Blackwell said she respects the work that city staff does, but said a separate committee could go a long way to addressing the misinformation about Langford’s record on environmental protection.

Coun. Lanny Seaton reiterated the mayor’s points about the parks committee already covering off environmental protection, and pointed to efforts to combat invasive species in Langford Lake and Glen Lake as examples of the city’s success in managing these problems.

Ultimately the motion was rejected. Council instead approved a motion to direct city staff to review the terms of reference for the parks committee and present a report to council if it was determined those terms could be changed to better emphasize the committee’s role in environmental protection.

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