Continuing to provide piped water to Port Renfrew passed a major hurdle last week when the Capital Regional District reaffirmed a policy on water delivery to the community’s town core.
CRD directors agreed to continue the service, despite a legal opinion that interpreted any extensions in the Port Renfrew Comprehensive Community Development Plan Area as inconsistent with the 2003 Regional Growth Strategy, also known as RGS.
Ignoring the RGS could put the CRD in legal jeopardy, the lawyers wrote.
For years, the CRD recognized the existing water services in the Port Renfrew area, said Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks.
“The residents of Port Renfrew after tremendous community debate agreed on a definite area.” Hicks said. “The land was zoned and stated very clearly that piped water would be considered throughout this area.”
The RGS came in conflict with the area’s official community plan which was adopted in 2004, but a blind eye was turned on the RGS limitations until a 20-unit subdivision sought a water extension.
To solve the problem, an amendment would have to be made in the 2016 RGS or by special resolution of the CRD board.
Victoria director Ben Isitt wanted more information on the legal ramifications.
“The RGS is a foundational document for the region and look at issues around infrastructure. Those decisions need to be made with a very full understanding of the potential implication for livability, ecological impacts and the overall limits to growth,” he said.
But for development to continue to in Port Renfrew, the community needs clarity, said Jack Julseth, with Three Point Properties, a major developer and employers in the area.
“We need a consistent water plan or consistent plan we can rely on,” he said.
Mike Conlin, former chair of the Port Renfrew OCP committee, said the committee envisioned water through the defined area.
“All the things the RGS is trying to achieve depends on water,” Hicks said.
“Port Renfrew sits on slate and rock. There’s no water. No development can occur without piped water in Port Renfrew.”