SECTIONAL NEWS: WEST SHORE POLITICS
Colwood slams Langford over rec centre funding
Sunday, March 4 ~ WEST SHORE. Colwood slams Langford over rec centre funding.
A zinger of a statement was issued by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 and widely distributed in the community and to media by her municipal communications department.
The letter from Colwood’s mayor said that Langford was not meeting its financial obligation to West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) which is jointly owned and operated by Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. The WSPR agreement sets out a formula for different levels of financial obligation from each of the municipalities based on resident use of the facilities and services. [The agreement used to include the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, but they backed out a year ago or so.]
A good west shore corporate citizen, Langford still pays the largest share of revenues into WSPR ($2.5 million per year) but “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2.
Two years ago when the WSPR budget hit $5 million, Langford identified operational inefficiencies at WSPR causing what that municipality considered an unfair financial burden their Langford taxpayers who already support their own facilities built in the last several years (including arena, bowling alley, City Centre, Goudy Field, Westhills Stadium).
Hence Langford not approving the WSPR budget for the last two years.
“We’ve told (WSPR) that their budget doesn’t make sense. They do nothing with their reserves,” says Mayor Young. In Langford the recreation budget breaks even or better “because we chase revenue… we’re open for business,” says Mayor Young.
As one example, Langford’s Mayor points out that revenues from the large bright LED roadside sign in front of the West Shore Parks and Recreation Centre at 1767 Island Highway are directed by the WSPR board into capital reserves, not into operating costs. He feels that’s one example of where revenues are being misdirected, at least in the short term.
This year Colwood Council has also not approved the 2018 WSPR budget (now at about $6 million) because it shows the facility running at a deficit. This forces a bit of public debate, which is now rearing its head.
One Colwood resident has posted this on Facebook in recent days: “Hey Colwood, why don’t you start building like Langford. Get developers that can finish job make it easier for developers for want to build in Colwood. Langford got tired of waiting years ago for Colwood to jump on board. So yes of course they have no real interest in West Shore Parks and Rec. They built everything they needed in their own backyard.”
Mayor Hamilton says continuing to run WSPR at a deficit will certainly mean service cuts and likely force the shutdown of the WSPR within five years. Meanwhile, Colwood supports WSPR by foregoing property taxes on the property at a value of $736,267.
[This is an expanded version of the article first published in the March 2, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News, page 2]
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