The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) is governed through the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board and uses regional district land use planning services.
The vote that Land Use Committees A and B have on Juan de Fuca Electoral Area land use comes by default. In the year 2000, the remnants of the Langford and Sooke Electoral Areas were folded into one Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, dragging along various First Nations territories for administrative convenience. The arrangement is not all that democratic for residents on First Nations land or the rest of us swept together in this awkward arrangement.
With only one electoral area using regional district planning services, the default voting regime described in the Local Government Act (LGA) came into play. All CRD directors had the duty to vote. After less than six months, the CRD Board knew they didn’t have the time to deal with JDFEA land use issues.
The CRD may be the only regional district in the province where the default voting regime has been triggered. At the request of the CRD Board, the provincial government created an exception to the Local Government Act.
By 2001, the present regime of LUC A and LUC B was established. JDFEA voters have no relationship to four of the directors voting on their land use.
The compromise is not democratic: it gives a lot of power to a few directors who are not accountable. Democracy isn’t all about trust. Politicians must be accountable as well as trustworthy.
Advisory Planning Commissions (APC) and the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee (JDF LUC) were set up to provide more democratic representation. People keep saying members are elected. This isn’t true yet. In 2005, everyone was a self-identified volunteer. All members of the committees were acclaimed or chosen by the regional director.
In 2008, voters chose members for the East Sooke and Shirley APCs and LUC members for East Sooke, Otter Point and Shirley. Malahat had nobody running for election but the regional director found someone to accept appointment to the JDF LUC.
For 2010 a new East Sooke LUC member was also appointed. At this time, only 12 of 31 people serving on these committees were elected and Malahat has no APC. This November, I expect more nominations and elections.
Since there will also be new CRD Board members after the elections, the provincial government might change its mind and honour the CRD Board’s request for an LUC C consisting of the whole CRD Board to vote on applications for the Rural Resource Lands. The first request was burdened by association with the Marine Trail Holdings rezoning and with Director Hicks’ feeling personally insulted. But really, it is a good time to make such a change. It would avoid future controversy about compliance with the Regional Growth Strategy and reflect that all of the CRD has a stake in the Rural Resource Lands. No such simple solution comes to mind for decision making for the populated JDFEA OCP areas.
Heather Phillips is a member of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Land Use Committee and an active hiker and outdoors enthusiast.