Regional director angry and feels betrayed

Director Hicks objects to change in voting structure for land use in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area

Mike Hicks is steamed. In fact he is so angry, upset and hurt that he wonders where to go from here.

At a closed meeting on March 23, the Capital Regional District’s Planning, Transportation and Protection Services Committee, made up of 13 CRD directors, asked for a report on how to change the voting structure for rezoning applications  in the rural and resource lands.

Those lands, in this case, are in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

Currently the voting structure consists of JDF area director Mike Hicks and the mayors from Sooke, Metchosin, Langford and Colwood.

“I’m really hurt — no question, “said Hicks the day after the meeting. “It’s a total slam on the governance of the JDF.”

At issue in this case is Ender Ilkay’s Marine Trail Holdings development on his private land which skirts the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

He went on to say that if the issue of the rezoning for Ender Ilkay’s proposed resort development was against the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) then the whole board would get to vote.

To change the land use voting structure, the CRD would have to go before the Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development. Back in 2008, a “$100-buy-a-vote” voting structure was taken to the courts and was deemed to be illegal, was struck down and the current system where four neighbouring communities get to vote on land use issues was re-adopted. To make any changes now would require a provincial order in council. Also to be noted was that in the decision to strike down the three-vote structure for the current five-vote was the fact of which communities pay for some of the planning costs in the JDF electoral area.

Hicks said the board is asking planner Bob Lapham to give them a staff report on the feasibility of changing the structure rather than asking if it (rezoning) is against the RGS.

Hicks said he left before the vote was taken as he didn’t want to see who voted.

“I take this as a total body slam, almost like a vote of non-confidence,” said Hicks. “I see them as political bullies and I’m not going to take it. It’s total skullduggery, there’s so much at stake.”

He went on to say that Mayor John Ranns had already cast his vote without waiting for the process.

Hicks said it was an insult to the people on the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee.  He said, they don’t care what you say, they just want to change the rules.

“I trust Minister Ida Chong and the province will ultimately support the voting structure we have.”

He said that as far as he was concerned the reason given for changing the voting structure is because the vote might go differently than what they want, just because they got a few hundred emails from UVic students.

The Pacheedaht First Nation, on whose traditional territory the development would sit, has written a letter in support of the benefit the development would have for the band and the people in Port Renfrew. They say, “As presented, this project is respectful to the lands; through green areas including parklands, internal trails and access for the general public. We feel that the west coast cabin design for the resort is suitable for these lands and we are encouraged that the developer has indicated the high standards that will be applied throughout this project.” They go on to say they anticipate employment opportunities through milling wood for construction.

“The sad part of the process is that only one team has been on the field and the JDF team hasn’t taken to the field yet.”

The bottom line, said Hicks, it that it is “tough, a real surprise, a shock and a real shame to the people of Juan de Fuca, not just me,”

He hopes it will not ruin his relationship with the other directors.

“I’m not going to compromise my job as director of the Juan de Fuca, the process and any applicant who comes before me,” said Hicks.