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Region won't have wider say in Juan de Fuca land use decision

Faith has been restored in the B.C. government's fairness says Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Regional Director Mike Hicks.

On Thursday, April 21, Hicks received word that Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong – Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development – denied the Capital Regional District Board's request to change the voting structure for land use decisions in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

"I'm delighted," said Hicks. "My faith in Ida Chong and the B.C. government's fairness is confirmed."

The board had requested an Order-in-Council from the province to create an additional voting Block C that would allow all 22 CRD directors to vote on Part 26 land use matters related to rural resource lands. The change would have only affected the specific lands while other properties in that area would remain under the current voting structure.

In her letter to CRD chair Geoff Young, Chong said, "I do not believe that provincial action to amend Regulation 287/2001 is required, despite the board's request. The special voting rule was designed as a change to the system of governance for the Juan de Fuca electoral area. The CRD is equipped with tools that provide the board with alternative approaches to address concerns that the board may have about its interest in regional land use matters."

Gordon O'Connor, campaigner with The Dogwood Initiative, organized last Saturday's Sprawlapalooza, a concert and rally against urban sprawl in Centennial Square, aimed at celebrating the CRD's efforts to change the structure and encouraging the board to "keep the pressure up" until lands are protected.

"The important part of it that gets missed is that this is also about farmlands,” O'Connor said. "The Juan de Fuca trail gets the headlines, but this is happening all over our farms on the Saanich Peninsula."

While O'Connor lauded the decision made by the CRD to change the structure, he added that the board has been placed in a very awkward position.

- with files from Pirjo Raits - Sooke News Mirror

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