Regional Growth Strategy
Defending the RGS
As described in the “Overview”, the RGS is an agreement between our 13 regional municipalities describing how they will address key issues to allow for growth, development and change while meeting sustainability goals. Of course, to be of any use, the agreements made under the RGS must be enforceable. If they are not, then the RGS is “not worth the paper it’s written on”. I believe the RGS is critical to the future of our region. Without it, we stand to lose much of what we value and much of the charm this remarkably blessed area presents. Not surprisingly, therefore, I also believe it is essential to defend the RGS and the agreements made within it.
This term, for the first time really, defense of the RGS became an important issue. In one case, Central Saanich Council began a process of approving projects that at least raised the possibility of being in conflict with the municipality’s RGS agreement. In a second case, the CRD administered Juan de Fuca Electoral Area began to consider an application next to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail which also raised the possibilty of being contrary to the RGS.
The CRD administers the RGS on behalf of the municipalities who are signatory to it. As a CRD Director, therefore, I began efforts to insure that potential violations of the agreement would be investigated and, if necessary, acted on. It was not an easy process. To begin with, no real process for monitoring the RGS and initiating action had been established at the CRD.. It took several months and considerable work for an appropriate procedure or protocol to be produced and adopted by regional board.
Under this protocol, Individual directors could put a motion before the board asking that staff be directed to investigate the “consistency” of specific projects with the RGS. When staff reported back, the board could then rule on consistency of the projects involved. A ruling of inconsistency would allow the board to undertake whatever action was required.
I took advantage of this provision to bring issues in Central Saanich and the Juan de Fuca Marine Electoral Area before the board. In the case, of Central Saanich, a number of projects were deemed to be consistent, but one was found to be inconsistent and the municipality was advised to seek an RGS amendment if it wished to proceed. The Juan de Fuca issue turned out to be more complex since it involved a question of jurisdiction between the full regional board and a subset of the board called Committee A. In any case, the issue of ruling on consistency and defending the RGS was, once again, placed before the full board. In the end, the application near the marine trail was turned down by Committee A at third reading and the application did not proceed. Questions of jurisdiction between the full board and Committee A as well as the full board’s power to rule on consistency with the RGS remain to be dealt with.
This whole, rather controversial, process had considerable value. On one hand, the regional board was awakened to its responsibilities in defending the RGS. As well, many members of the general public became aware of the RGS and its importance to the future of our region. Both of these outcomes will help us move to a sustainable future. A video describing these issues in much greater detail is available on the Media Page. Below, you will find a letter that I wrote to Minister Ida Chong seeking provincial assistance in resolving the Juan de Fuca issue.
Letter to Minister Chong
May 20, 2011
The Honourable Ida Chong
Minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Province of British Columbia
Dear Minister Chong:
I am writing to you concerning the matter of governance for the Rural Resource Lands in the Capital Regional District(CRD) which were formerly part of the Forest Land Reserve and a Tree Farm License. I am well aware of the fact that the CRD has unsuccessfully approached your ministry with a request to change the status of these lands and create a “Committee C structure” establishing voting authority for the CRD Board at large. I am in agreement with your ministry’s stance that such a change in status for these lands may not be necessary. However, my rationale for taking this position may differ somewhat from that put forward by your ministry.
When Committee A and B were established in 2001, most of the area in question was part of the Forest Land Reserve(FLR) and a Tree Farm License(TFL) and was, therefore, under provincial rather than regional control. It would seem clear that the 2001 CRD Board’s request for an Order in Council was to deal with local matters in areas such as Shirley and Otter Point and was not intended to deal with the area of either the Forest Land Reserve or a Tree Farm License. In a similar vein, it would seem clear that the intent of the provincial government of the day was to provide for governance of such local matters rather than for governance of areas under provincial control. Given this, it would seem reasonable to take the position that the Order in Council, established in 2001, did not apply to lands part of either the Forest Land Reserve or a Tree Farm License. If this is the case, governance of such lands should have defaulted to the full CRD Board when subsequent changes in status removed them from provincial authority.
Your ministry could bring swift, and uncomplicated, resolution to the issue of governance of the CRD Rural Resource Lands by indicating that the 2001 Order in Council did not apply to those lands that were under provincial control at the time. This would return authority to the CRD Board at large and would allow for an appropriate decision making process on a matter that has clear regional, if not provincial and national, import.
I thank you and the ministry for your consideration of this request. For information, I have attached the more detailed argument that I presented to the CRD Board. Finally, I must point out that while I have indicated my status as a Saanich Councillor and CRD Director, I am writing this letter as an individual board member.
Saanich Councillor, CRD Director
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