The Capital Regional District is looking for public input on its 25-year plan for the region.
Board chair Nils Jensen and the executive staff are currently going around to all the newly-elected municipal councils in the region to orient them on the business of the CRD, and ask them to spread the word that they are looking for input on their Regional Sustainability Strategy.
“The Sustainability Strategy is a road map to the future,” said Jensen, who is also mayor of Oak Bay. “It will help local governments make decisions that support and enhance the quality of life we currently enjoy, while taking care of the planet and our resources.”
A re-imagining of the 2003 Regional Growth Strategy, the RSS aims to incorporate and integrate aspects of transportation and land-use planning and address climate change, food security and social equity, said a letter presented in person by Jensen recently to Highlands council.
“Throughout the province, regional growth strategies vary in scope and level of detail in response to local circumstances and community expectations,” he wrote.
The engagement process is designed to find out how far municipalities would like the plan to go in terms of its ambition and stated goals.
According to CRD senior planner Signe Bagh, it’s still too early in the consultation process to discern any prevalent themes or concerns. She said “overall, the review of the RSS is, as per board direction, being considered in the context of climate change,” since the effects of climate change in the region seem to be a pervasive concern.
“There also seems to be broad agreement that economic development, transportation, affordability and natural hazards are important issues facing this region, although there has not always been complete agreement on the role of the region versus (that of municipalities) and other players in addressing those issues.”
Bagh added that access to water infrastructure is another key concern with differing perspectives for different jurisdictions and stakeholders.
“Some feel that access to piped water – as opposed to well access or having water hauled in – should be universally available, while others are concerned that widespread access will encourage ‘urban sprawl.’”
Whatever the end result, Bagh said, the process is coming along and they’re happy with the amount of attention the draft is getting.
“There is clearly interest in discussing the RSS and that’s very encouraging,” she said. “We hope that many more (people) will take the opportunity to provide feedback.”
Those interested in providing input are encouraged to visit crd.bc.ca to view the draft document and complete an online feedback form by Feb. 15.
Regional district staff will convey a summary of that feedback to the CRD board in April, prior to seeking direction on finalizing the document.