Tangible benefit is important

Your coverage on the proposed recreational housing development in the vicinity of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park has sparked a number of comments and opinions.

I would like to add to those having been intimately involved with the Marine Trail aspect of the park since its inception. There will always be a balance to be struck between the rights of private property owners and a general public interest. In this instance, I believe a good balance has been struck and the Land Use Committee which governs the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area should give its approval.

There are questions which have been raised regarding the issue of jurisdiction. The first is the assertion by some individuals and groups that the CRD Regional Growth Strategy trumps the rights of locally elected municipal councils.  It is unacceptable, in our view,  that an unelected board (the CRD) should have the power to dictate to locally elected councils and this is reflected in the lengthy sections of the Local Government Act (Section 857.1 and following) to determine how such disputes shall be independently arbitrated.

There is also an apparent initiative by the CRD (Minutes of the Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee, February 23, Item 10) to once again look to the courts for remedy and to the Province to change legislation to give the CRD powers which are not in existing legislation.  Readers will remember how the CRD’s last adventure in litigation on this matter came out: a tongue lashing from the Supreme Court of B.C., the Court of Appeal, large legal bills and, at the end of the day, the purchase of land that it could have had for free if it had the CRD not been so obstinate.

Let’s hope that we are not going down this futile road once again.  There is a dearth of jobs for young people in our area.  The project developers are committed to hiring local people, particularly youth who badly need job experience.  I think this tangible benefit to our community outweighs the sensibilities of the handful of elite hikers who actually make use of the Marine Trail.  I put a lot of my life into establishing the Marine Trail and I fully appreciate its values but this is a time to strike a balance, not calling in the lawyers.

Al Jones

President, Association of BC

Landowners

Sooke