Capital Region District will consider replacing its Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) with a Regional Sustainability Strategy (RSS) today, allowing municipalities to extend their water services if they wish to do so.
But where does it leave the troubled Juan de Fuca regional area, which has been denied piped water on several occasions due to the RGS that states water service cannot be extended outside the “urban containment boundary” without CRD approval.
In other words, for the JdF region to receive piped water, it is required to amend its context statement, which requires a green light from 13 municipalities of the CRD, including the approval from majority of the CRD board itself.
Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks called the decision “discriminatory” saying it goes against everyone’s right to clean water sources.
“This policy is discriminatory to the 4,000 people who live in Juan de Fuca area because the other 345,000 people have the potential to have water and we don’t,” Hicks said, adding that piped water should not be used as a “tool” to discourage urban sprawl in his constituency.
In response to the restriction and with the hope of changing its course, Hicks made a motion this spring that JdF be given the same opportunity for the expansion of water services as the municipalities.
“If the CRD concedes that they will not use water as a tool to control urban or rural sprawl and leave it to the OCP’s and sewer connections, the JdF will have taken a huge leap towards being recognized as an entity as well as possibly providing our residents with water,” he said.
Hicks noted that if the JdF will try and amend the RGS, it not only could take years, but it may not even happen.
At this point, the CRD will present Juan de Fuca region, and indeed Sooke, with three choices, two of which will allow the extension of water services to both municipalities (Jordan River and Port Renfrew) in the JdF, and one of which Sooke would have to get majority consent of the CRD to extend the water outside its set boundary.
After all the back and forth, Hicks hopes the CRD will favour either the first or second option, adding that water should not be restricted this way.
“No politician and no planner has the right to restrict water to any residents, it’s a God-given right,” he said.