Saturday June 25, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
A groundswell of momentum by a group of candidates for Langford council who say they want to see things done differently — and better — has called themselves Langford NOW. Their buzz line is “community in action”.
They recently started with two candidates — Mary Wagner and Colby Harder — who had already made their names known through participation at city council meetings and with Sooke School Board SD62 projects.
A few days ago they announced two more candidates — Keith Yacucha and Kimberley Guiry. That was done on Facebook.
This group claims they will give voters “the chance to create sweeping change in Langford”. The areas that they see requiring change include transportation, recreation, affordability and local economy, community building and neighborhoods, and public consultation, as well as offering transparent government.
Generally, their overall thrust is that Langford can now do better.
This is the first time that an official voting block has been organized.
Langford then and now:
The City of Langford was incorporated in 1992. It is seen as part of the ‘western communities’ of the Greater Victoria area. Langford has two seats at the Capital Region District (CRD) board, at which 13 municipalities are represented.
The City of Langford has been long been governed by Stew Young (now in his 30th year as mayor) along with a fairly consistent set of councilors over the years: Denise Blackwell, Matt Sahlstrom, Lanny Seaton have served the longest. Lillian Szpak came on board in 2002, and Roger Wade is now in his third term. Norma Stewart was new to council in 2018.
Under Mayor Stew Young’s direction, the city has grown robustly, providing jobs and housing for tens of thousands of more people over the years.
It was somewhat jarring (and a bit naive) to hear public commentary at the latest Langford council meeting that it’s ‘not up to Langford’ to provide all the housing in the region. Zoning allows for housing (and requires building permits), and in most other municipalities in the Greater Victoria area the zoning and permiting process has been cumbersome at best. Stew Young flew open the doors of construction momentum in particular after the 2008-crash impacts began to subside, and the city hasn’t looked back. Population now tops 50,000.
At the June 20, 2022 City of Langford council meeting there was a verbal row at the council table, mostly involving the mayor and Councillor Lillian Szpak.
Szpak told Island Social Trends in recent weeks that she is helping more women run for politics in Langford. Whether or not she is quietly behind the Langford NOW group is as yet undetermined.
A long-time council provides stability, consistency and the opportunity for achieving long-term plans. A long-time council can also get set in their ways and sometimes must work hard at adapting to what are now fast-changing times.
Fresh blood in any organization does offer new energy and ideas. But learning the ropes to be effective does take time.
If there is significant changeover in a council that is democratic, but it can slow down the process of day-to-day action and can set back or disrupt some projects to which resources and effort have already been given.
The next municipal (and school trustees) election is October 15, 2022.
Candidates are running for a four-year term of office.