EDITORIAL: Time to revisit West Shore parks and rec

In recent years the growth in one of the member jurisdictions, Langford, has dwarfed at least three of its fellow members.

Since 2001, the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society has operated much like the amalgamated Capital Region desired by a certain segment of Greater Victoria’s population.

Five municipalities have, for the most part, worked together for the greater good of recreation on the West Shore.

In recent years, however, the growth in one of the member jurisdictions, Langford, has dwarfed at least three of its fellow members. Colwood’s growth has been steady, but it still pales when compared to the population being added annually by the biggest kid on the block.

As such, the City of Langford’s civic leaders have felt the need to work ahead of the rest, giving their residents the recreation facilities they’ve asked for, when the city can afford it. With explosive growth comes a healthy tax base and more financial ability to build or partner on such multi-purpose facilities as City Centre Park, Westhills Arena and Eagle Ridge Community Centre on their own.

Given that fact, West Shore Parks and Recreation Society’s long-standing system of requiring unanimous votes to pass capital project motions has made things rather awkward of late.

Langford recently did an about-face and decided to pass the society’s 2014 budget, but only when promised it wouldn’t have to contribute to the building of a playing field at Royal Bay secondary in Colwood.

Councillors were no doubt frustrated that their city was the only jurisdiction putting up money to construct a similar field at the new Belmont secondary in Langford, being built concurrently with Royal Bay.

The suggestion that in future, West Shore Parks and Rec. votes be somehow weighted in favour of the richer municipalities, and that no unanimity be needed to pass a motion, makes sense. After all, the body was created back when the five West Shore players needed to pool their resources to get anything built.

While discussion involving everyone remains important, it’s time for the society to update its governance model to best utilize the strengths of each of its members.