Langford council’s continued rejection of our lone progressive councillor’s motions on important issues like tree protection and code of conduct is reminiscent of my experience in the 1990s, when I served six years as a municipal councillor in Parksville.
Like Langford, Parksville’s council was dominated by business and development advocates whose motto seemed to be, ‘build whatever you want, wherever you want.’ The impact on the community was predictable — runaway urban sprawl, an official community plan that was the legal equivalent of Swiss cheese, and a neglected, decaying downtown core.
As the lone progressive voice on council, I endured a similar fate to Coun. Lillian Szpak — rejected motions, ad hominem personal attacks and a hostile administration that catered to the power centre on council.
This political playbook is familiar for us ‘old soldiers,’ in any organization whose leaders have a self-serving interest in preserving the status quo.
My message for Coun. Szpak and other progressives is: Thank you for bringing these important issues forward, despite rejection and personal political attacks. Your important work increases public awareness and participation, exposing a tone-deaf city council that only listens to the development industry.
Every time I go to Westshore Mall and look up at the denuded mountainside and hear the thumping of dynamite blasting away the mountain — all for the creation of a one-way view that benefits only a tiny segment of our community — I am thankful that we have at least one public voice who puts the interests of community and environment first. From an ‘old soldier’ on the sidelines, thank you for your service, councillor.