Faith has been restored in the B.C. government’s fairness says Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Regional Director Mike Hicks.
On Thursday, April 21, Hicks received word that Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development Ida Chong denied the Capital Regional District Board’s request to change the voting structure for land use decisions in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.
“I’m delighted,” said Hicks. “My faith in Ida Chong and the B.C. government’s fairness is confirmed.”
The Board had requested an Order-in-Council from the province to create an additional voting Block C that would allow all 22 CRD directors to vote on Part 26 land use matters related to the Rural Resource Lands in the JDF. The change would have only affected the Rural Resource Lands while other areas in the JDF would remain under the current Committee A and B voting structure.
In her letter to CRD chair Geoff Young, Chong said, “I do not believe that provincial action to amend Regulation 287/2001 is required, despite the Board’s request. The special voting rule was designed as a change to the system of governance for the Juan de Fuca electoral area. The CRD is equipped with tools that provide the Board with alternative approaches to address concerns that the Board may have about its interest in regional land use matters.”
On April 19 the current JDFEA Land Use Committee voted to send the development proposal forward to the CRD Board for first and second reading and a public hearing. This did not sit well with environmental activists called the decision “undemocratic.”
“It is completely undemocratic for Ida Chong to veto a decision made by our representatives,” said Gordon O’Connor, Vancouver Island campaigner with the Dogwood initiative.
The Pacheedaht First Nation, on whose traditional territory the property is located, are strongly in favour of the development proposal citing economic opportunties for the band. They also said they do not feel the environmentalist organizations represent First Nations.