Opinion: Planning on rural gentrification

Lessons to be learned from recent public outcry to CRD Board

The District of Otter Point in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area is in the process of reviewing  its Official Community Plan (OCP). Although Otter Point has an estimated population of almost 2,000, it does not have a locally elected government that makes decisions about its land use planning.

Under the CRD colonial system of local governance, those decisions are made by a Capital Regional District Board Committee A comprised of the mayors or a councilor from the four surrounding municipalities and a CRD director elected from the entire JdFEA. None of these committee members are full time residents of Otter Point. In short, as a decision making body, they are neither elected by nor accountable to Otter Point residents.

Granted, the CRD Board Committee A does receive recommendations from the residents of the entire JdFEA through a Land Use Committee (LUC) composed of the elected regional director and six other members who are either appointed or elected to represent the individual and diverse districts of Otter Point, East Sooke, Shirley/Jordan River, Port Renfrew, Malahat and Willis Point. However, LUC recommendations about OCP changes or other public land use planning in Otter Point do not require support from the sole Otter Point LUC member or approval by Otter Point residents.

This is not to say that CRD Board members cannot create other appointed advisory mechanisms to obtain advice. An Otter Point Review Committee composed primarily of self-employed businessmen in the construction industry and employees of large land owners was appointed by the regional director for the JdFEA to make recommendations to CRD planning staff about the Otter Point OCP. It was characterized as establishing the model for future OCP reviews in other districts of the electoral area. The review committee was given a $100,000 budget to hire a consulting firm, to carry out an inventory of local sensitive environmental areas and to engage in public consultations. The review committee held two community workshops and a public meeting.  Unfortunately these events were unable to attract significant public participation by Otter Point residents.

Perhaps predictably given the composition of the review committee, its recommendation focus exclusively on changing the Otter Point OCP to encourage future subdivision development and to make more and smaller lots available for residential development.  No recommendations were made about protecting the sensitive environmental areas identified through the review process or preserving the rural character and lifestyle that residents value. Although the committee’s recommendations support a vision of rural gentrification in Otter Point, no suggestions are made about how additional community services would be provided and funded to support that vision.

Supporters of the recommendations justify them as a way of promoting economic growth through expanded residential construction while simultaneously obtaining land for public parks and trails through amenity bonusing. Critics contend that the recommendations ignore the community desire to remain rural, will lead to increased property taxes due to increasing demands for publicly subsidized fire, policing, emergency, road and water services, and will set the stage for future developer requests and CRD approvals of even smaller lot sizes over wider areas.

The advisory review committee has completed its work. CRD planning staff have begun using its recommendations to develop a new OCP for Otter Point. It is not at all clear whether Otter Point residents support those recommendations or not.

Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t really matter much given the current CRD system of local governance for Otter Point. The CRD Board Committee A, with recommendations from the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee will make those decisions. Otter Point residents do not have the means to approve or reject the decisions being made about the potential rural gentrification of their community.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be drawn from the recent successful public outcry to prevent the CRD Board Committee A from passing a rezoning bylaw to allow a 257 unit tourist resort in the forested Rural Resource Lands.  Strong, principled and persistent public opposition, particularly before fall municipal/electoral area elections, can persuade some CRD Board members to reverse their position and respond to public pressure.

Perhaps it is also time for Otter Point residents to insist on the opportunity to approve or reject any package of proposed OCP changes through a local referendum before the CRD  makes its decisions. Clearly, reforms to the CRD colonial system of governance over the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area are long overdue.

Wayne Fritz

Otter {Point

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read