Tourism Langley will remain intact as the Destination Marketing Organization for both the City and Township of Langley.
The decision was made by the organization’s membership during a vote by secret ballot on Thursday night.
This comes after Tourism Langley’s board called a special general meeting to vote on the following motion: “The Tourism Langley Board of Directors recommends the dissolution of Tourism Langley as a standalone organization mandated to make decisions that benefit the entire tourism industry in the Langley region due to escalating demands by the Township of Langley, which will remove autonomy and independency of staff and the Board of Directors, thus making this organization an entirely Township-centric operation.”
In her opening address, Tourism Langley chair Teri James told those in attendance at the meeting that the board felt they had “hit a wall” due to some of the Township’s requests for greater involvement in the organization.
“After discussing the latest letter from the Township, it was of great concern to the board that due to the Township’s new requirements regarding the ex-officio staff person and their responsibilities, and the concern that all of these discussions were subject to the transition of two Township councillors from non-voting to voting, the board felt it could no longer manage the Township’s requirements on behalf of the membership, and that it was time to ask the membership to have a collective say,” she said.
Now that the decision to keep the organization together has been made, Tourism Langley will hold a board meeting next week to determine how to proceed. The next steps will likely involve reinstating their search for an executive director, while continuing negotiations with the Township, James said.
“We actually didn’t know what to expect but we just felt we could no longer make decisions on behalf of the membership. So the membership’s spoken, and now I guess it’s onward and forward,” James told the Times.
“I appreciate that the membership showed up and we really appreciate that their voice was heard because we had hit what we thought was an impasse.”
Township Mayor Jack Froese said he is pleased with the outcome.
“I’m happy that Tourism Langley will stay intact. I think that, as I said, they’ve done a lot of good work. There’s a really good base and yes, they’re going through a time of change now, but change sometimes can come out good.”
Froese believes Tourism Langley’s claims that the organization is turning into a “Township-centric operation” are incorrect. He said council is doing its due diligence in asking for enhanced financial reporting, and that there has been “some confusion” over the role of having a Township staff member attend their meetings.
“As the mayor, I don’t think that this will become Township-centric anymore than it was before,” he said.
“I believe in Tourism Langley, I think they’ve done good work. And I’d rather see it stay together, work through these issues and move forward.”
City of Langley Mayor Ted Schaffer’s response was neutral.
“As government on the City’s perspective I just want to stay impartial at this point, and we’re going to be reassessing our role in tourism,” he told the Times.
On Friday, the City of Langley issued a press release announcing that “the uncertainty of the future of Tourism Langley has led Langley City Council to reconsider the delivery of tourism services in the City.”
In the release, Schaffer is quoted saying: “the City will explore its options regarding the provision of tourism service for the City which could include the creation of a new tourism service delivery model and service provider.”
Coun. Gayle Martin, the City representative for Tourism Langley, later confirmed that the City will be talking to their stakeholders about the possibility of leaving Tourism Langley. However, it is still early in their discussions, and no decisions have been made.
Martin said that Tourism Langley has always been more Township-centric, given that there are more venues in the Township to promote, so perhaps a City-only approach would give them more bang for their buck.
“I think if we did it within the City somehow, that we would have more coverage for our stakeholders,” Martin said.