Battle for water equality in the Juan de Fuca EA

Electoral area should have same rights as municipalities

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks.

For Mike Hicks it was like training for the Olympics and then having his own country boycott it.

Hicks, Regional Director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, (JDFEA)has been at odds with a section of the new proposed Regional Sustainability Strategy (RSS) on the issue of water.

The RSS, said Hicks, when he addressed the Capital Regional District (CRD) Committee of the Whole on May 27, “Would deny the Juan de Fuca residents  the same opportunity afforded their neighbouring municipalities to access community water. This bylaw would ensure that  300,000 residents of the CRD would have potential access to water and 5,000 would not.”

In speaking to the directors he said, “Firstly: the Webster definition of discrimination states: “The practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.”

The Charter of Rights which trumps the RGS (Regional Growth Strategy) or RSS bylaw states under Section 15 that: “Every individual is equal before and under the law”

The Charter recognizes four dimension of equality including substantive equality. It states: “Equality under the law is equality in the substance of the law, where the content of the law is equal and fair to everyone so that everyone experiences the same result.”

Hicks talked about rights, equity and discrimination as to the right of the Juan de Fuca to have the same opportunity for expansion of water as municipalities have.

He also said that with the Official Community Plans in place for six areas in the JdF, water should not be used as a determination of growth. Hicks represents Malahat, Willis Point, East Sooke, Otter Point, Port Renfrew and Shirley/Jordan River plus the Rural Resource Lands of 132,000 hectares.

The Consortium on Regional Sustainability, made up of environmentalists, had come before the CRD supporting using water servicing and the elimination of Rural Settlement Areas as  ways to curb development.

At the May 27 meeting Hicks made the motion, “The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area should have the same opportunity for water expansion as the municipalities  in the CRD.” The motion was seconded by District of Sooke Councillor Rick Kasper.

At the end of the May 27 meeting, the issue was debated and a very small majority voted to table the issue to allow staff to prepare a report on exactly how that would be accomplished.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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