Voters in Metchosin head to the poll Saturday (Jan. 28) to decide the fate of a proposed historic transfer of lands involving the rural municipality, the City of Langford and Beecher Bay First Nation. The fact it has reached the referendum stage speaks to the depth of discussion, and the give and take demonstrated so far by all parties involved in this complex land exchange proposal.
If approved, the deal would preserve green space on treaty lands in Metchosin said to be slated for development by Beecher Bay, enable Langford to continue with its mandate of job creation and economic growth through the creation of a business park, and would create economic benefits for Beecher Bay First Nation that don’t currently exist.
It is worth considering the objections of some people in Metchosin, however, who fear that with Langford already pushing development up to their rural border, this proposal will move the goalposts further in the City’s favour. The potential for environmental damage, future land-use issues and a negative impact on the rural nature of Metchosin have been raised. Despite that, the majority of people in the smaller municipality seem comfortable with the benefits they will receive, and there have been enough open houses and opportunities to discuss issues of concern to illustrate that due process has indeed taken place.
No is arguing that some of the concerns expressed pose valid questions. But many of these frankly can’t be answered until the results of the land swap bear fruit.
The question of whether the tradeoffs pitched by the three parties to the agreement levels the playing field, to the point where each is satisfied, has already been answered. If that’s not the case, we doubt this proposal would have earned the unanimous support at the Capital Regional District board level that is required to get to this stage, let alone reach the point of a referendum.
Regardless of the referendum result, not everyone will be happy. If it goes through, it’ll be important to continue conversations around how to make the subsequent projects work for each of the communities involved.