Victoria, BC – The Capital Regional District Board voted today to appeal the BC Supreme Court ruling on CRD local area planning bylaws in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA). The court’s decision found the present voting arrangement invalid; the invalidated bylaws included the rezoning of rural Forest Lands to a minimum of 120 hectares.
The CRD passed the bylaws in response to the release of 28,000 hectares of land from Tree Farm Licenses 6, 19 and 25 on Vancouver Island by the Minister of Forests. The land, owned by Western Forest Products, included approximately 9,000 hectares in the JDFEA. The bylaw was passed in order to give more time for planning and development decisions by the Juan de Fuca Planning Department.
“The CRD has decided to appeal the Supreme Court of BC’s decision for a number of reasons,” said CRD Board Chair Geoff Young. “The Local Government Act was interpreted in a way that does not adequately represent the scheme of the legislation. With a successful appeal, the court will then be free to decide on all issues argued by the petitioners. The CRD also intends to ask for a stay of proceedings while the appeal is underway. Responsible, sustainable decisions for the Juan de Fuca Forest Lands are imperative; without a stay of proceedings there is a chance that irreparable harm could befall public interest due to the questioning of legislative validity.”
The CRD Board also voted to request a Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act (MEVA) from the Province, which could retroactively override and correct decisions made by the Courts. The CRD will be consulting with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) regarding the appeal and how it might apply to other regional districts and with the Province regarding the MEVA.
Under the old zoning rules, Western Forest Products has submitted an application for subdivision which includes waterfront and water view lands in the Jordan River area. A decision regarding this application is expected by the Provincial Approving Officer by April 23, 2009.
While the stay of proceedings is being considered, the CRD will revert to its previous arrangement in dealing with any incoming subdivision applications. This will see a return of Land Use Committees A and B, made up of an elected representative from each community and the Electoral Area Director. Directors from relevant municipalities and the JDFEA Director will then vote on motions passed by the Land Use Committee. Land Use Committee A serves the communities of Jordan River, Port Renfrew, Shirley/Otter Point and East Sooke. Land Use Committee B serves the communities of Malahat and Willis Point.
Voting on issues pertaining to Land Use Committee A are the JDFEA Director and Directors from the City of Colwood, the City of Langford, the District of Metchosin and the District of Sooke. Voting on issues pertaining to Land Use Committee B are the JDFEA Director and Directors from the District of Central Saanich, The District of Highlands, the City of Langford and one Director from the District of Saanich.
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For further information please contact:
Sheila Taylor, Manager, Community Relations
Corporate Communications, CRD