Monday, November 03, 2008

Langford

Last night I went out to Langford and met five candidates for dinner at the Smoken Bones Cookshack - my comments on the meal are here.

It was Steve Hurdle that got me to come out and meet the five of them. I have known Steve for a few years through different political campaigns and I find him to be organized, thoughtful, passionate and principled. He had told me that he was cooperating with a number of candidates in the Langford election - not a slate, but a set of people running that have common interests in the governing process. Dinner at good restaurant and a chance to talk with five of them was something to take me out there other than Costco and the Real Canadian Superstore.

The five of them are:

The big thing the five of them have in common is a dislike for the way the current council in Langford is governing the community. They see a council that seems to be disconnected from the community, that governs in private and presents all the decisions in public as unanimous decisions of council.

According to them, over the last six years there has been only one vote of council that did not have everyone agree. There is a youtube video out there of part of a council meeting where the councilors passed seven bylaws in a minute. I saw it and assumed this was just them dealing with some pro forma issues, but I have been told this is par for the course.

I keep hearing more and more issues of discontent with how Langford is governed. There is an issue of openness and transparency lacking in how council works. Initially I dismissed most of the complaints about the council because it was coming from less than credible sources on the activist left in relation to the Spencer Road Interchange. But as time has gone by it is clear that Langford does not do things like other councils in the region.

The five candidates running are all interested in bringing a better level of civic engagement to Langford. This one joint platform plank is why I believe they should be elected.

Some interesting things I found about Langford last night:
  • there are no rooms the public can book for meetings in the community
  • there are no neighbourhood associations

Langford has come along way in the last fifteen years, but it is missing a sense of community. Clearly there needs to be council that focuses on building stronger connection between the people living in Langford. Right now it feels like a local government with a board of directors and not a community. The council needs to be one where things are debated in public. Langford needs to have a council that goes out and meets the residents. If some or all of the group gets elected, Langford will be better governed for the next three years.
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