Minister Ida Chong said ‘no’… again.
Geoff Young, chair of the Capital Regional District Board came before the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development asking for clarity on the voting structure as it pertains to land use planning in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.
The issue has been a hot one in the Capital Regional District because of a proposal by Ender Ilkay of Marine Trail Holdings to build a phased development resort with 257 cabins and various other ancillary buildings including a lodge, caretakers cabins and recreation buildings on 236 hectares in the vicinity of Jordan River and in the Rural Resource Lands. The Rural Resource Lands take up an area of approx. 131,750 hectares.
Geoff Young said, “there’s not a lot of change from the position we’ve heard so far.”
Although he did say there is little a bit of clarity on what the board could and could not do. What they can’t do is change the voting structure of Land Use Committee A (which consists of members from Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area) to the entire CRD Board of 22 members.
“The Board cannot simply set aside the Order in Council,” stated Young. He said neither can the Board or a member of Committee A set aside the OIC by withdrawing.
“”The Order in Council is in place,” said Young.
There are some options though. One of them is the municipalities in the CRD could buy-in and therefore take part in regional planning; a negotiated agreement could be fashioned; or court action could take place.
Young said a “buy-in” is unlikely because of the expense of $600,000+ and most board members would not be interested in local issues in the various communities.
A negotiated agreement, said Young, is something of interest to a certain number of municipalities. This, he said, could be a sub set of planning focused on Rural Resource Lands planning, which would be cheaper than a buy-in for all of the regional planning. The problem lies in the previous court challenge and appeal and the existing legal position which is difficult to interpret.
“The major concern is there is likely to be some legal issues with a negotiated agreement,” said Young.
A new committee C could be formed which would have to be taken to the Cabinet by the Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development. This third option would deal with the Rural Resource Lands which are represented by a small proportion of the population but are a large proportion of the physical area.
Young said this area has essentially no population but it does have an impact on the future growth of the area.
Young did say there is concern with lack of consultation with the Pacheedaht First Nation and the province is reluctant to intervene in a proposal which is working its way through the process.
A report will be forthcoming to the CRD Board, they will meet in-camera and decide if there are prospects of legal challenges.
“I personally don’t think the court route is a good way to go,” said Young. He said perhaps voting should be more than a simple majority but rather more of a political/public consultation process.
He said it was unfortunate that with the Juan de Fuca proposal it is mostly talking of the process and who should vote and not the development itself.
It would have been better to have a legal voting arrangement and they could perhaps have foreseen this sort of thing and not been caught by surprise and a lot of the issues could have been ironed out in advance.