Home News by Region Langford Langford council wades into RCMP school liaison

Langford council wades into RCMP school liaison

Could be seen as stepping on SD62's toes.

city of langford, council, july 2023
City of Langford council meeting, July 17, 2023. [livestream]

Wednesday July 19, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 3:20 pm on July 20, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

READER COMMENTS WELCOME: Email to letters@islandsocialtrends.com

City of Langford council ventured into a cross-sectional area of local governance at their regular council meeting on Monday night, in passing a motion to offer support to a neighbouring school district (SD61 Greater Victoria) in terms of that school district’s decision to decline participation in the RCMP school liaison program.

city of langford, council, july 2023
City of Langford council meeting, July 17, 2023. [livestream]

The motion came up in response to a letter from the Town of View Royal (another municipality in the west shore); View Royal shares a west shore footprint with Langford, in that they are both served by the West Shore RCMP.

Lately there has also been a considerable public campaign to promote ‘west shore collaboration’ by and among the mayors of five west shore municipalities: Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, View Royal and Highlands. Those five municipalities also collaborate through the West Shore Chamber of Commerce as well as West Shore Parks and Recreation.

langford, colwood, view royal, metchosin, mayors, vision westshore
Vision Westshore on June 8, 2023 at Olympic View Golf Course (from left): View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias; West Shore Chamber Executive Director Julie Lawlor; MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) as emcee; Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi; Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson; and Metchosin Mayor Marie-Térèse Little. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Crossing into SD62 jurisdiction:

The general view by those who opposed the motion was that it crosses over into the jurisdiction of the local school district in which Langford has schools (SD62 Sooke).

The fact that it was a close vote (four in favour, three against) is what made news of this otherwise standard acceptance of correspondence at a council meeting.

In the room for the July 17, 2023 council meeting were Mayor Scott Goodmanson, and Councillors Kimberely Guiry, Colby Harder, Lillians Szpak and Mary Wager. Participating remotely were Councillors Mark Morley and Keith Yacucha.

langford, council, guiry, twitter, IST
City of Langford Councillor acknowledging Island Social Trends for coverage of a complex issue. [Twitter]

Who voted for and against:

The motion was put forward by long-time city Councillor Lillian Szpak (the only councillor re-elected from the previous council led by Mayor Stew Young); she used to be chair of the city’s former Protective Services Committee.

Szpak comes from a military family background. She was an avid supporter of Langford first responders (firefighters and police) during her tenure as Protective Services Committee chair, but was never able to break the impasse to seeing more police and firefighters being hired in Langford, until this year when the 2023 budget under a new council broke that juggernaut.

Voting in favour were Mayor Scott Goodmanson, and Councillors Mark Morley, Lillian Szpak and Mary Wagner.

langford council, july 17, 2023
Voting in favour of a motion to support the RCMP Liaison program in schools, July 17, 2023. [Zoom]

Speaking against the motion were Councillors Kimberley Guiry, Colby Harder and Keith Yacucha, each of which gave their reasons. Councillors Guiry, Harder and Yacucha felt that it was jurisdictional overreach upon SD62 for a municipality to side with one school district over another.

As well, Guiry was evidently acutely aware of the trauma-related response of some students to police at close range, despite the success of the program in SD62 schools to date: “The program is not in question,” she said.

voting against, langford council, july 2023
Voting against a motion to support the RCMP Liaison program in schools, July 17, 2023. [Zoom]

“I appreciated the contributions of my fellow councillors and how we all on the same page about the safety and well being of our youngest residents,” Guiry said a few days later.

SD61 & SD62:

The motion came up at the July 17, 2023 City of Langford Council meeting in response to correspondence received from the Town of View Royal requesting support for the RCMP school liaison program as delivered in SD61 schools.

  • SD61 schools are in Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt and View Royal (falling within jurisdiction of various police forces, i.e. Victoria Police, Oak Bay Police, and West Shore RCMP)
  • SD62 schools are in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin and Highlands (falling within the West Shore RCMP area)

Langford Mayor concerned about gang influence in schools:

This week, the Mayor of Langford had no comment on this for Island Social Trends, rather implying that watching the livestream of the council meeting was enough. During the meeting Goodmanson pointed out that policing concerns about youth being approached by gangs is “CRD-wide” (i.e. throughout the Greater Victoria area).

Goodmanson says there was “shock in schools and families across the CRD” when SD61 pulled out of the RCMP school liaison program.

letter, view royal, langford
Letter from the Town of View Royal to West Shore RCMP Superintendent Todd Preston, cc’d to local municipalities, June 22, 2023.

View Royal Mayor:

Town of View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias was asked by Island Social Trends for comment as to why west shore municipalities were c.c.’d on the letter, but has declined to respond, saying there is no high school within the View Royal boundaries. Mayor Tobias did say that a canoe outing with RCMP was cancelled as the SD61 announcement came on the same day.

The coverage of all the municipalities by West Shore RCMP is obvious, but the school district overlap seems to have led to a sense of entanglement.

pride flag, metchosin, mayor, rcmp
Collaboration with West Shore RCMP in Metchosin: the Pride flag was raised over Metchosin Municipal Hall on June 29, 2023. [RCMP photo]

RCMP school liaison program:

The range of activities within the RCMP school liaison program varies from delivery of the DARE drug-resistance education program, to paddling an Indigenous canoe together, to playing basketball with students in the school gym.

rcmp, canoe, kids
TL’Ches Spirit and Craigflower Elementary grades 4 and 5 students:. [West Shore RCMP]

It was pointed out during Monday might’s council meeting that police having access into the schools on this social basis apparently gives students an opportunity to come forward to support if they feel they need it (particularly as related to gang pressures, it was said). “It gives youth an opportunity to pull aside, ask questions, and get counselling,” said Mayor Goodmanson. In that context: “We need to ensure continued presence” of police in SD62 schools, said Goodmanson.

Guiry said the program itself “is not in question”, but recognized the traumatizing presence of police officers for some youth.

Guiry sits on the Victoria Family, Youth and Criminal Justice Committee; she has been clearly impacted by what she hears at that committee, saying she needs to do “a lot of decompression after” those meetings, as she has young children at home.

The SD61 board for Victoria-area schools declined the liaison program out of recognizing the trauma-related response of some students from racialized or disadvantaged backgrounds. “I don’t take their decision lightly,” said Guiry.

mitzi dean, mla, constituency, ad

Collaboration between Langford and SD62:

It was pointed out by Guiry during the July 17 council meeting that the city is rebuilding its relationship with SD62. Close ties between the two entities seemed to fall apart following the election of a nearly completely new city council (only Szpak survived transition from the previous council). “We have met on two occasions so far,” said Guiry. Progress seems gingerly sought.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, CAO Darren Kiedyk pointed out that council and school district meet “twice every year”, something that will likely happen again in “late fall” 2023. In addition to that, the mayor, SD62 board chair and support staff meet on a regular basis, said Kiedyk.

Currently SD62 leadership is in transition, awaiting the full resignation of trustee Ravi Parmar who will be sworn in as MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on July 28. Interim SD62 Chair is Amanda Dowhy.

A by-election in SD62 is expected to happen this fall. That would be for voters in the Belmont Zone of SD62, i.e. Langford, Colwood, Highlands and Metchosin.

SD62 comment:

Island Social Trends asked SD62 for a comment on this matter, but they declined.

===== Reader comments welcome:

READER COMMENTS WELCOME: Email to letters@islandsocialtrends.com

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Island Social Trends (following in the footsteps of its genesis publications MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, and West Shore Voice News 2014-2020) delivers socioeconomic news insights about life on the west shore of south Vancouver Island. Published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc.

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Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, July 2021.

All news is posted at IslandSocialTrends.ca . 

Editor Mary P Brooke has steered the publication series for 15 years. In that time period she has covered SD62 news up close at the board level since 2014, and Langford politics since 2017. She now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery, having covered the COVID pandemic daily in 2020 and 2021 and broader BC news since 2022.

Ms Brooke has been nominated in 2023 for the Jack Webster Foundation’s Shelley Fralic Award for contributing to the community through journalism.

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