Pirjo Raits: Time to rethink role of CRD

What’s the point of having directors in each of the municipalities and unincorporated areas if they have no actual decision-making powers?

The Capital Regional District has 22 directors, with most appointed by their respective municipal councils and electoral area representatives directly elected by resident voters.

What’s the point of having directors in each of the municipalities and unincorporated areas if they have no actual decision-making powers?

The Capital Regional District has 22 directors, with most appointed by their respective municipal councils and electoral area representatives directly elected by resident voters.

While the system is based on population, any vote can be heavily weighted. Case in point: Victoria has three directors and Saanich five. Each of the other cities, districts, towns and electoral areas only have one.

When regional districts were formed by the province back in the mid-1960s, it was to share the costs of services such as fire protection and hospitals, and to provide borrowing power. The provincial government had stepped away from the governance of unincorporated areas.

Changes since then have given regional districts much broader powers. They have, in essence, become a fourth level of government, created with little public input. Taxpayers had no say in the creation of regional districts – it was foisted on them whether they liked it or not.

While they serve a purpose, they are relatively unanswerable to any other legislative body, or the public, for that matter. Regional districts have fashioned their own voting structures, again without broader public input. They rule the roost, so to speak, and their powers are in many ways limitless. Does a director from Saanich have the right to vote on issues in the Juan de Fuca? Does a director from Sooke care what happens in North Saanich? Should they?

Can the members dictate what happens in municipalities or electoral areas other than their own? Apparently they can. Is this fair? Probably not.

The CRD adopted a Regional Growth Strategy, where a vision was created dictating what areas should be densely populated and which should remain rural. Local politicians didn’t want to see urban sprawl, and rightly so in many cases, but what defines “urban sprawl”?

Is it huge arable acreages covered over with big-box stores? Is it recreational cabins hidden in the forest? Is it a subdivision of affordable single-family homes? The concept of “urban sprawl” is open to interpretation and it is being used as a club by special interest groups to get what they want, even though they are not appointed or elected by anyone except themselves.

The growth strategy is narrow in focus and out of touch with what is actually happening in rural areas. Those who developed it could not have, at the time, predicted the need for economic development and jobs. They did not anticipate the shrinking job base in the resource sector or see that the only foreseeable option was tourism.

The world economy has sent once-prosperous companies to the brink of bankruptcy and people are finding vacation opportunities closer to home.

If tourism is to be the economic saviour in the reaches beyond Greater Victoria, then those communities have to cater to all tourists, not just the ones with backpacks and a hunger to trek, or the ones who go no further than downtown Victoria.

Each community knows its community best and the elected directors were voted in to speak for the people they represent.

The CRD board should not have the right to hamstring a director by taking away his or her power to govern, and they should not make a director a eunuch by giving him no options for economic development.

Pirjo Raits is editor of the Sooke News Mirror.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP better than municipal police forces, mayors say

West Shore municipalities funding more officers and civilians at local detachment

Increasing cloudiness with a high of 12 C for today

A look ahead at this week’s forecast

Purple Day marks long journey for Gorge resident

Legislative Assembly to recognize epilepsy on Tuesday

Stay alert for spring sweepers on Greater Victoria highways

Motorists asked to be on the lookout as road crews prepare for spring

The shores will not rock in 2019

Atomique Productions announce Rock the Shores festival will not return in 2019, future is uncertain

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Video service to compete with Netflix, Amazon expected from Apple on Monday

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Kootenay city councillor starts nationwide climate caucus for municipal politicians

Climate Leadership Caucus has 57 members including seven mayors

Edmonton judge to rule on whether Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Canada’s top court ruled punishment handed Khadr for alleged acts committed in Afghanistan when he was 15 was to be a youth sentence

Most Read