GUEST COMMENT: Regional growth strategy process unfair to Juan de Fuca, says CRD director

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks has written the following letter to premier John Horgan in what he calls an “incredibly important” issue for his constituents.

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Mike Hicks

Guest Comment

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area residents are being unfairly treated in the Capital Regional Districts’s regional growth strategy process and we would ask for your government’s intervention.

It has been confirmed by senior CRD staff that there is the distinct possibility that the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area will be excluded from representing their views to the mediator or arbitrator.

Although the driving issue of the amended RGS is whether or not to provide the extension of drinking water to JDF residents, CRD senior staff have confirmed that the Juan de Fuca will be represented by the CRD and quite possibly by directors opposed to the JDF receiving water. The JDF will not be allowed to make a direct submission to the mediator or arbitrator.

On March 28, Minister Fassbinder wrote to the CRD and stated: The non-binding mediation process should be started no later than June 14, 2017 – “… it is expected that the interests and concerns of the electoral area would be brought forward by the CRD board as part of the non-binding process.”

At this time, there is still no confirmed date for the mediation process, well past the June 14 deadline. In addition the CRD board has voted to appoint CRD director Ben Isitt as one of two directors representing the CRD’s position in the mediation.

Isitt is a tremendous debater who is passionate and persuasive in forwarding his beliefs. One of his publically stated views is that the residents of Juan de Fuca should not receive piped water as it might result in urban sprawl.

Although I respect director Isitt’s strong representation of his Victoria constituents, I feel strongly that he will not represent the residents of the Juan de Fuca or the CRD Regional position as described in the 2016 RGS document.

The CRD board instructed the mediator to grant a one-hour presentation from the Juan de Fuca Regional director in response to the request from Minister Fassbender. CRD staff have confirmed that the JDF presentation will only be received if the “rejecting” municipalities unanimously agree.

The amended 2016 RGS document is the official position of the CRD and supports the extension of water to the JDF electoral area. CRD senior staff have confirmed that the two directors representing the CRD position at mediation are free to represent their own personal beliefs rather than the CRD position. CRD staff have also confirmed that if the process moves to binding arbitration, the CRD board will decide on their submission and the Juan de Fuca’s position might again be excluded.

The mediation process which excludes direct input from the Juan de Fuca residents and allows for the CRD’s position to be represented by directors opposed to the plan and extension of water, is totally and utterly unacceptable.

A binding arbitration process that does not allow for direct representation from the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area is equally unacceptable. The CRD comprises 13 municipalities and one electoral area affected by the RGS. It is inconceivable in our country and province that the 5,000 residents of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area would not be permitted an equal voice over their future, especially when it involves a matter as important as water.

On behalf of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area residents, I would request that your government dissolve the CRD mediation process and initiate binding arbitration. I would also ask that the binding arbitration be fair to the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and allow for a direct submission with our justification to provide water to our residents.

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