The City of Langford has taken one further step to improve transparency by releasing the financial disclosure documents of council for 2021.
The statements of disclosure of council are required under the provincial Financial Disclosure Act and must be filed by elected local government officials by between Jan. 1 and 15 every year.
The filings include those for Mayor Stewart Young, and councillors Matthew Sahlstrom, Denise Blackwell, Lillian Szpak, Lanny Seaton, Norma Stewart, and Roger Wade.
“We are pleased that Langford is continuing on its path to improve transparency for the benefit of residents and taxpayers,” says Stan Bartlett, past-chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria.
“Council and staff do an exceptional job in dealing with and fostering new business,” says Bartlett. “So, there’s no reason that service mentality can’t be carried over to improving transparency for residents.”
Unfortunately, Langford refused our initial request to provide electronic copies of the public documents or to post the disclosures online like municipalities such as Victoria and Saanich.
Instead, after Grumpy Taxpayer$ viewied the documents a further request was made at city hall for paper copies of the documents as required under law, namely Section 95 (3) of the Community Charter which governs municipalities. Paper copies were then provided for the public.
The intent of the Financial Disclosure Act is to identify what areas of influence and possible financial benefit an elected official, nominee or designated employee might have by virtue of their office, and to ensure the public has reasonable access to the information.
Of note, Langford has recently agreed to move from the current audio recordings of council meetings to a more robust live-streaming format. It has earmarked funds in the 2021 budget.
Grumpy Taxpayer$ is urging the municipality take additional measures to further improve transparency aside from posting annual council financial disclosures on its website.
The outdated council procedures bylaw – which sets out how council should operate – is detailed in Bylaw No. 819 and not available for public review on the Langford website. The bylaw has not been updated since 2004 and no firm date has been set for any revisions, according to city staff.
In our view, policies aroundcouncil remuneration and expenses should also be posted on the city website for the viewing of the taxpaying public. Saanich, Victoria and the CRD, all exercise full transparency by dedicating a website page to this important information.
Residents are now raising concerns about rapid development and the future of council, Capital Daily, Apr. 6, 2021. (Editors Note: In fact, Langford has had two mayors).
Strains over growth and transparency in Langford: More Langford citizens are expressing resentment over City Hall’s modus operandi.FOCUS Magazine, Jan. 17, 2021.
BYLAW NO. 819 , BYLAW TO REGULATE THE MEETINGS OF COUNCIL AND THE CONDUCT THEREOF, City of Langford, Mar., 2004.
Available for Media Interviews:
John Treleaven, Chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$
250.656.7899, cell 250.588.7899
George Barnhart, Board Member, Grumpy Taxpayer$