The Honorable Ida Chong took the time to write to area residents through the Sooke News Mirror, May 25, 2011 to clarify her Ministry’s then position on the voting structure for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. I think there are still areas of misunderstanding.
Minister Chong implies the Capital Regional District Board can act outside provincial regulations that describe the present voting structure. If having the whole CRD Board vote on Electoral Area land use decisions didn’t work in 2000, what has changed to make it work in 2011?
Directors representing municipalities don’t vote on land use decisions with the electoral area directors unless by section 791 (11) of the Local Government Act or unless the municipality is using the regional district planning service to the same extent as the electoral areas. Usually, a municipality has its own planning service and land use decisions are made by council.
The Minister wrote that the CRD could enter into an agreement under existing legislation to allow a different configuration of municipalities than currently exists to participate in the land use and planning service for the Electoral Area. This suggests municipal councils will agree to use regional planning services and to have their land use decisions made by the CRD Board.
The current voting structure for the Rural Resource Lands is outdated because the provincial forestry planning in place in 2001 is giving way to require more land use planning for this area at the local government level. The geographic difference between the settled areas and the resource lands is not addressed in the present voting structure.
In 2003, the Capital Regional District adopted its Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). Official Community Plans or Comprehensive Community Plans for all settled areas of the Electoral Area were adopted in 2007. These new OCPs and the Regional Resource Land bylaws adopted in 2010 must comply with the RGS and must be interpreted to comply with the RGS.
At the time the Rural Resource Lands bylaws were recommended by the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee (November 2009) for adoption by CRD Voting Panel A, there was discussion of how the interest of CRD member municipalities and interpretation to comply with the RGS would be addressed. No official decisions were made.
To repeat the points:
1. The region-wide voting for all lands option did not work in 2000. I do not think it could be re-established without rescinding the 2001 Order in Council.
2. If I correctly understand the legal interpretation of “participating municipality,” it is unreasonable to suggest that any municipal council will participate by giving up its land use decision making authority and using regional planning services to the extent they are used by the Electoral Area.
3. The current customized, geographically-based voting structure is outdated. It does not allow CRD municipalities a voice in decisions that might affect their interests in the Rural Resource Lands. These include parks, water supply, viewscapes and the effectiveness of the Regional Growth Strategy. All are legitimate concerns in land use planning.