Broader vision is needed for land use

For three days, the walls of the CRD’s Land Use Committee A hearing were rattling with opposition to Ender Ilkay’s proposed development along the Juan De Fuca trail.

For three days, the walls of the CRD’s Land Use Committee A hearing were rattling with opposition to Ender Ilkay’s proposed development along the Juan De Fuca trail. Representatives from the Jordan River and Otter Point/Shirley residents associations, local indigenous representatives, anti-poverty groups, environmentalists of varying levels of organization, and too many more to list showed up last week for the marathon meeting. The result? Only five voted for, while 200 voted against.

I won’t get into too many details here. LUC-A director Mike Hicks has publicly renounced his support for the project, and local media has declared it dead in the water; anyone wishing to learn more can take a cursory glance at the headlines.

But while basking in the glow of a fight well fought, I am nonetheless forced to stand back and place this victory in context. Indeed, I must take this opportunity to highlight the cloud that is parked square in front of this silver lining.

A proposal for 260 vacation homes was the latest in a line of land-use controversies in the JDF area. In 2007, then Minister of Forests Rich Coleman released Tree Farm Licence lands into private hands, a decision which needs no criticism here.

Soon after, The Shores and Wildwood Terrace subdivisions were well on their way despite being illegal under the existing CRD bylaw (later amended to accommodate the two projects), with another subdivision recently hived off of Wildwood. Going back to 2003, the Sooke Potholes were purchased by The Land Conservancy in order to prevent development along the Sooke River.

These are just the highlights of a decade of environmental activists fighting development in the Capital’s own wild west. Smaller projects that received local and regional attention — not to mention those that didn’t — are too many to list.

When developments that double the size of an entire community can happen literally by accident, when every six months the outrage of those opposed to urban sprawl must be pointed at something new, this is evidence of a deeper problem.

Until the focus shifts from individuals to the structures that allow development without a broader vision for the region, people will continue to fight over the fate of Jordan River. M

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