Mediated solution found for CRD regional growth strategy

CRD board to vote on proposal Wednesday

The Capital Regional District appears to have averted a major battle over its controversial regional growth strategy.

The CRD announced Friday a mediated solution to the RGS.

But there’s still hoops to jump through: the next step is the presentation of the mediated solution to the CRD board on Wednesday. If approved, it then goes to the mayors and councils in the region for final approvals.

The growth strategy deals with development within the CRD, including land use, ecosystem preservation, transportation, economic potential and measures to contain urban sprawl.

It’s supposed to be updated every five years. The current five-year update has now taken 10 years.

“I am extremely pleased with the solutions coming out of mediation, thanks to a strong collaborative effort from all participants,” said CRD board chair Steve Price in a written statement.

Piping municipal water to the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area was the main stumbling block with the RGS. Many area residents, including their CRD director Mike Hicks, want piped water. But several CRD municipalities opposed it.

“The whole idea is that they were trying to curtail urban sprawl,” Hicks said.

“Extending water does not result in urban sprawl. It’s the [official community plan] and zoning that regulates density.”

Part of the new mediated growth plan settles the disagreement over water by providing a process and criteria for addressing new water-services extensions, and identifies Juan de Fuca communities – Otter Point, East Sooke and Port Renfrew – where the extension could occur.

“It legalizes and legitimizes all the OCPs in the Juan de Fuca,” Hick said. “It will take away all the conflict.”

The Juan de Fuca also gave a little in the mediated settlement.

The Juan de Fuca agreed to a cap of 3,384 units in the East Sooke and Otter Point communities for 95 years. Those areas currently have 1,018 houses.

The figures are based on 20 houses built per year.

Hicks is confident the mediated RGS will get approval by all municipal councils, since all mayors have agreed to it.

If not, the RGS will go to binding arbitration.

“If this happens, we will lawyer up and we will win,” Hicks said. “I’m very optimistic that the Juan de Fuca will come out of this in a good way.”

The Juan de Fuca electoral area includes the west coast of Vancouver Island from Otter Point to Port Renfrew, and the geographically separate communities of East Sooke, Malahat and Willis Point.

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