Home Business & Economy Municipal & Civic Horgan & Dean deliver over $33 million to west shore municipalities*

Horgan & Dean deliver over $33 million to west shore municipalities*

One-time boost for amenities & infrastructure | * $33,144,000 to municipalities of Colwood, Langford, Highlands, Metchosin & Sooke plus $11,559,000 to the CRD

horgan, mitzi dean, 2019
Two west shore MLAs deliver funds to local municipalities. [2019 Island Social Trends photo - Premier John Horgan & MLA Mitzi Dean fielded questions from Gr 5 students at Wishart Elementary in Colwood, March 14, 2019]. [Photo by Mary P Brooke]

Friday March 3, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [UPDATED March 3, 2023 with corrected amount for Colwood & separating out CRD | Comments from Mayors updated Mar 5 & 6, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

A historic investment of over $33 million is being distributed to municipalities in the west shore region of South Vancouver Island (or $44 million if you include CRD but that spreads over a number of areas).

New Democrat MLAs Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) and John Horgan (Langford-Juan de Fuca) today announced the funds, saying how the investment will enable the community to fund key projects, ensuring that people have services they can rely on as the population grows.

west shore, map
The west shore of the Greater Victoria area has been growing rapidly for over 10 years.

“People in our communities will soon be benefitting from new and improved amenities and infrastructure through the Growing Communities Fund,” said Dean. “I’m thrilled that our government is supporting municipalities so that we’re able to meet the demands of our growing population.”

Earlier this month, on February 10 the provincial government announced the Growing Communities Fund, which provides a one-time total of $1 billion in grants to all 188 BC municipalities and regional districts.

mitzi dean
Local MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) was the emcee for the August 3, 2022 Royal Roads West Shore Campus announcement. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Support for growing communities:

As communities continue to grow, local governments are having to meet increased strain on infrastructure and amenities including, roads, transit, water and electrical systems, as well as community centers, parks and social services.

The Growing Communities Fund is a landmark investment that will see the BC NDP government distribute $1 billion across the province’s 188 municipalities and regional districts to support their unique needs. 

The one-time support is intended to complement, rather than displace, existing infrastructure funding (like for sewers, water treatment/distribution, and roads).

On the West Shore, the following local municipalities are receiving a total of $33,144,000 in funding as well as the Capital Regional District (part of which is in the west shore, i.e. East Sooke, and west of Sooke to Port Renfrew) receiving $11,559,000:

  • Colwood: $6,642,000
  • Highlands: $1,661,000
  • Langford: $16,464,000
  • Metchosin: $2,438,000
  • Sooke: $5,939,000
  • Capital Regional District: $11,559,000

“As our region continues to grow, we need to ensure that our infrastructure and amenities are keeping up with increasing demand,” said Horgan who is wrapping up 18 years as an MLA by the end of this month.

Mitzi Dean

“This funding will be a huge asset to our area as people continue to move to our thriving community.” Horgan’s riding includes both Sooke and Langford, though a proposed boundary change may see those two municipalities of Sooke and Langford decoupling into two separate provincial ridings.

Warm feelings, no details:

Mayors of the five impacted west shore municipalities are of course thrilled at the windfall funding.

This will be a real test for the local communities will see as a result of the 2022 political shift in local governance that they ushered in at the ballot box.

langford, city hall
Langford City Hall

In particular, it will be interesting to see what the new Langford and Colwood councils might do differently with this sudden boost in capital. Langford has a new mayor; both he and five of his six councillors are new to elected politics. Colwood has a new mayor with only two previous Colwood councillors back on board.

Metchosin also has a new mayor as of October 2022 (though she served on Metchosin council prior to that), providing some turnover in direction for the small rural municipality.

  • Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson told Island Social Trends: “Yes, this is great. But we haven’t even begun to discuss where and how this money can be spent.” A long-time politician would reveal more about his own wish list, at the very least to influence his own council if not to share some sense of celebration with an urban population that has rapidly grown to over 50,000 in recent years. Since the seachange in leadership last fall, many Langford citizens still await some clarity of forward-looking vision from their new leadership.
  • Metchosin Mayor Marie-Térèse Little told Island Social Trends today: “Yes, this is exceptionally good news for a small community like Metchosin. Very exciting indeed.” Also no details ahead of any formal discussion with her council, but for a rural/agricultural area it’s likely the roadmap for applying the new funds is relatively cohesive to what residents expect.
  • Colwood – Mayor Doug Kobayashi gives as fullsome an answer as is possible at this point: “We will be developing our strategic priorities over the next months. We also need to analyze the citizen input from our Ideas Fair. These activities will be key elements in establishing our plan to allocate the funds.” Notably, Colwood is a fast growing community with significant infrastructure needs to support the housing increase, with spinoff concerns like traffic, youth, seniors and recreation as well as expansion of retail and commercial. The Colwood Big Ideas Fair on February 11 drew a big crowd who were offered detailed displays on a range of community concerns.
  • Sooke – Awaiting a comment from Mayor Maja Tait. She and her council are virtually unchanged from the 2018-2022 time frame, so they may have some shovel-ready projects in mind.
  • Highlands – info to come
doug kobayashi, marie terese little
Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi and Metchosin Mayor Marie-Térèse Little at the Colwood Big Ideas drop-in event, Feb 11, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

One-time support:

As explained in Budget 2023, the surplus resulted from higher income and sales taxes in 2022-2023 as people got back to work and went out shopping after the two restricted years of the pandemic.

Grants will be distributed using a formula that incorporates an initial $500,000 per municipality or district, and further adjustments for population size and per capita population growth between 2016 and 2021, based on BC Stats data.

“This method considers the impacts of service and amenity demands on smaller and rural communities and the additional pressures experienced by faster-growing communities,” said the government in a release today.

Grants will be distributed to local governments by the end of March 2023.

This one-time fund supports the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) 2022 Resolution EB58, Improving Provincial Grant Process, and recommendation five of their 2021 report, Ensuring Local Government Financial Resiliency. The grants are intended to complement, rather than displace, existing infrastructure funding (like sewer, water, roads).

langford, council
City of Langford Council Jan 16, 2023. [livestream]

West shore details:

In the fast-growing west shore region, it might seem easy to apply the funds to any range of needs. But maintenance costs of amenities and infrastructure come after any major capital project is completed.

Cities and towns in today’s west shore announcement (City of Colwood, District of Highlands, City of Langford, District of Metchosin, District of Sooke) will need to carefully examine their budgets for longer-term management and maintenance of any new roads, buildings or facilities that they put in place with these new funds.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) regional district areas of East Sooke, Otter Point and west to Port Renfrew will have decision-making done by local committees but ultimately by approval of the CRD board.

More to come:

Island Social Trends will do more coverage on how each of these west shore municipalities will be applying the windfall funding which has come from a surplus in the 2022-2023 budget (a surplus that is unlikely to be seen again anytime soon).

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===== Other articles on Budget 2023:

BC food security resilience directions in 2023 (March 1, 2023)

Shift to Next-Gen 911 driven by use of mobile phones (March 1, 2023)

BC Budget 2023: affordability and investments, but three deficit years upcoming (February 28, 2023)

$500 million boost to keep ferry fares affordable (February 26, 2023)

Seniors home care needs more workers & shift to no-fee (February 23, 2023)

Growing Communities Fund shovels $1 billion out the door (February 10, 2023)

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mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends

Island Social Trends emerged in mid-2020 from a preceding series of publications by founder/editor Mary P Brooke and published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc, covering news of the Vancouver Island region, BC and national issues through a socioeconomic lens.

The publication series began with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then morphed to a weekly print newspaper Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and then into the weekly PDF/print West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). The news at IslandSocialTrends.ca (2020 to present) is entirely online.

Among many other qualifications, long time journalist Mary Brooke, B.Sc. holds a Certificate in Public Relations and an industry certificate in digital marketing. She reports with the BC Press Gallery.