Langford to support Colwood in seeking CRD service review

Langford council has unanimously supported a call from Colwood to launch a review of services provided to local municipalities by the CRD.

Langford councillors have unanimously supported a call from Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton to launch a review of services provided to local municipalities by the Capital Regional District.

At last week’s meeting, Langford council discussed a Dec. 15 letter from Hamilton to all CRD municipalities. In it she raised concerns about two recent announcements that indicated funds would be diverted from existing functions at the CRD to support new initiatives.

“That has my council calling into question why we are paying into the existing functions if they no longer served a purpose, raising the question of a service review,” Hamilton wrote.

Coun. Denise Blackwell, Langford’s representative on the CRD board, initially expressed concerns that the letter was too broad-based, and a review of all of the CRD’s services would be a potentially costly and time consuming process. Mayor Stew Young said he was in favour of joining with Colwood in seeking a review.

After some discussion, Young proposed a motion directing staff to prepare a report detailing which services the CRD provides for Langford, their cost and whether it was good value for taxpayers.

View Royal also received Hamilton’s letter at the regular meeting of council last week and voted not to support the call for a general review.

“It’s not that I don’t think a review is a good idea, it’s the vagueness of (the call for it) that bothers me,” said Mayor David Screech. “I think if we have problems with a specific service then we should be questioning that, rather this blanket criticism of the CRD, and (saying), ‘you’re wasting so much money and we know you could find out where you’re wasting it if you’d only look a little harder.’”

Council requested staff to prepare a list of services View Royal is paying for through the CRD.

Also last week, Oak Bay council received Hamilton’s letter for information, but not before some discussion over its merits.

Mayor Nils Jensen, Oak Bay’s representative to the CRD, said each CRD department  provides a service plan annually, which serves as an ongoing review.

Coun. Kevin Murdoch questioned the cost of an overall review, but had concerns with the recent transportation plan presentation that indicated there would be no associated cost because people are free to do the job.

“That does resonate with me. There is a need to make sure there aren’t projects or departments that are there just because they were always there,” he said.

– with files from Don Descoteau, Christine van Reeuwyk