I admit to ignoring the Capital Regional District sometimes.
Prior to spending oh these many months on the still stewing Juan de Fuca controversy, I assumed there was little to see; that once you got under the surface, the regional body was just a way for the municipalities to look like they’re getting along.
As it turns out, lacking any clearly defined authority doesn’t stop the CRD from being shunted into playing a leading role in every drama that plays out in areas like JDF, Central Saanich and Sooke.
To deal with this, the CRD created the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), which says where and how the region should expand. Unfortunately, the RGS isn’t especially enforceable, which means the capital must rely heavily on its elected officials to put aside their individual municipality’s desires for the sake of the region. Consequently, the RGS doesn’t always work.
However, with the municipal election looming, we’ve been guaranteed at least some movement in the CRD lineup. While change doesn’t necessarily mean for the better, a quick look at the who’s who of who’s leaving this fall provides a glimmer of hope for containing our urban growth.
Among those dropping out are Janet Evans — currently mayor of Sooke — and Colwood Mayor David Saunders. Neither will see advocates of urban containment weep at their departures.
Saunders spent much of his career, both at the CRD and in Colwood, advocating for development, and often in opposition to the RGS. Evans is in a similar camp, quoted during the Land Conservancy’s Deertail purchase as saying, “Goddamn them anyhow, how much more land do they need?”
Bringing down the mood a bit is the departure of Oak Bay Mayor Chris Causton, who was chair of the CRD park committee when it helped save lands in Jordan River and the Sooke Hills.
With the RGS currently under review, the capital has been given a chance to determine whether the next few years see more of the same (read: condos in the middle of nowhere) or a renewed effort to protect what wild space there is left.
I’m inclined to listen to our friend Gordon O’Connor at the Dogwood Initiative when he says, “The election results in November are absolutely critical to our ability to create a resilient future.” M