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Community uproar after Langford drops funding for memorial run

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Dismay, anger and shock has rippled through the community of Langford, B.C., after the city decided to not financially support a community event.

“I felt deeply insulted,” said Dianna Seaton, a long-time resident of Langford.

Seaton was instrumental in the fundraising efforts to build the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground in Langford. It is dedicated to the officer who lost her life in the line of duty in 2016.

Since then, a memorial run in the constable's memory has taken place every year since her passing.

“Keeping her memory alive,” said Seaton.

This year, the City of Langford has decided to not fund the run through its grant and aid funding program, something that the past council had done every year for the sum of $2,500.

The reason is this year’s grant application came in late.

“That deadline is on Jan. 15 and this was an application that was being purposed after the deadline had already passed,” said Colby Harder, a Langford councillor.

“I thought it was going to be easy to get it to go through, just to discuss it but it wasn’t,” said Chris Foxall, a community advisory committee member with the City of Langford.

Foxall brought the item forward during a recent meeting, hoping to push it forward for council to discuss for approval.

“It went to a vote, it went to a four-four (tie) which I didn’t know, so we went to staff and four-four is denied,” said Foxall. “It’s defeated.”

Instead, the city says it will provide $2,500 of in-kind funding for the run.

“To wave the rental and permitting fees for the stadium and plaza,” said Harder. That being Starlight Stadium, sitting directly in front of the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground.

“For Sarah Beckett we always let them have the field for free,” said Lanny Seaton, a former Langford councillor.

Lanny says the charity event was never charged for the facility, while also receiving a contribution of $2,500 from the city to support the run.

“Even if you rented this field, it’s $70 an hour,” said Lanny. “If you had it for four hours, that’s $280.”

CTV News asked Coun. Harder if the facility is really worth $2,500 of in-kind funding. Her answer was yes.

“That is my understanding, that is the rental fee that we do charge out for the stadium and plaza,” said Harder.

Lanny disputes that cost saying there is no way the price of the facility rental is valued at $2,500.

“I reached out to Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety and solicitor general,” said Ravi Parmar, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

Parmar says the province will now step in, covering the funding shortfall left void by the city "in the hopes that we will be able to work with Langford to ensure that in future years they will be able to provide the grant,” said Parmar.

Registration for the Sarah Beckett Memorial Run is open now, with the event taking place on May 12.

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