Column: Langford shows leadership in Capital Region

There is a lot of debate currently about municipal leadership in Greater Victoria

There is a lot of debate currently about municipal leadership in Greater Victoria. Whether it is the Capital Regional District’s ongoing stumbles on sewage locations and community consultation or the continuing cries for some kind of municipal amalgamation, how our many local municipalities are led, is more under scrutiny and discussion than ever before. Even though they are truly creatures of the province, the increasing download of responsibilities and costs from the province mean our towns are under more and more financial and performance delivery pressure. Costs rise with inflation, pensions and staff salaries and revenues shrink with citizen exhaustion and resentment about rising taxes. Many of our local municipalities are in serious financial difficulty and suffer significant voter indifference or disillusionment but others are doing very well indeed – why the large discrepancies? It comes down to the strength of leadership and management. For some local mayors and councillors these jobs are the best they ever had or may have. For others they bring talent and skills their cities urgently need. Frankly, being a publically elected official is a thankless task so the fact that some choose that path when they could and do much better elsewhere is a measure of their commitment to the public interest. In other words really talented municipal leaders are not that common and when they appear it’s important that we recognize them and hold them up as models for others to emulate. Mayor Stew Young is one such leader. Langford leads the way in many different categories both statistically and otherwise. According to 2011 Stats Canada data, Langford is the fastest growing municipality in B.C. and one of the fastest in Canada. Residential taxes are the lowest in the region. Perhaps even more importantly, Young leads a unified council that shares a common vision. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for some other local councils that sometimes veer back and forth due to the competition between individual councillors’ hobby horses or ideological differences – they suffer a lack of strong coherent leadership and teamwork. Mayor Young has his critics, but you don’t have to like him to admire his results. Not every community wants what Langford wants. Metchosin and Highlands for example are happy to be rural in nature. Other areas have other priorities and interests. When you ask the mayor why he puts in place such strong recreation and trails and sports facilities and why he is so business friendly, he says it’s because that is what the citizens in his community want. This includes for example, the fact that he insists developers work closely in collaboration with the city including paying substantial amenity fees. Langford is financially healthier and developing in more sustainable ways than most of our towns around Southern Vancouver Island and it’s not accidental. This innovation and creativity is frankly not that common in the municipal realm and the mayor of Langford and his council get full marks for this kind of leadership. Our other mayors and councillors in the CRD, all of whom work very hard, would do well to imitate this kind of leadership – not to do what Langford does but rather to pursue their own unique destinies. Time to get over envy or resentment of Langford‘s results and be strong and smart enough to learn from what others do well – it’s called best practices. Failure to do so will mean ever increasingly worse financial situations and challenges and more and more disaffected and alienated voters. Rightly or wrongly, the cry for local and regional amalgamation is actually a cry for stronger, smarter leadership and our local governments may play right into those hands if they don’t get their act together. We live in an incredible region, blessed with many privileges and great advantages and we should match the beauty and grace of our environment with equivalent strong, even visionary, leadership.

– Dan Spinner is CEO of the WestShore Chamber of Commerce dspinner@westshore.bc.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

(Black Press Media file photo)
Trees Cannabis to reignite downtown Victoria location as licensed store

The dispensary will reopen its 230 Cook St. location on Saturday

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read