Mediation Finds Solutions to Regional Growth Strategy Dispute

Mediation was triggered when seven municipalities refused to accept the RGS

The Capital Regional District (CRD) Board meets Wednesday (Jan. 10) and will consider a revised Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) bylaw.

The Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is a vision for the future of the capital region, guiding decisions on regional issues such as transportation, population growth and settlement patterns.

The existing RGS is currently being updated as part of a 5-year review process, however, it ran into problems when seven municipalities refused to accept the updated RGS. The disputed RGS provisions related to how the region plans for, accommodates and manages impacts related to growth.

Due to the refusal of the RGS by the municipalities, mediation was triggered. Mediation began in February 2017, as per provincial legislation, in order to resolve disputed provisions. Participating in the sessions were the CRD, the seven municipalities who did not accept the RGS (Central Saanich, Colwood, Esquimalt, Highlands, North Saanich, Saanich and View Royal) and the three municipalities who accepted the RGS and voluntarily chose to participate (Metchosin, Sooke and Victoria).

“Mediation helped get solutions on the table that all participants could agree to,” says CRD Vice-Chair David Screech. “For a document that guides decisions on regional matters, it was important to take the time and put in the effort to get it right.”

The CRD says a range of solutions were generated by mediation, including providing more detailed population projections, refining content concerning parkland protection and transportation, and including new content related to urban settlement, food systems and climate adaptation. The agreement on water servicing refines criteria and process requirements for addressing new water services extensions, and identifies the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area communities where water extensions could occur.

The sessions concluded with all parties agreeing on policy content for inclusion in a revised RGS bylaw document. The revised bylaw incorporates solutions to disputed provisions that were agreed to by all participants in the RGS mediation process.

“I am extremely pleased with the solutions coming out of mediation, thanks to a strong collaborative effort from all participants,” says CRD Board Chair Steve Price. “I’d like to thank Directors Ben Isitt and Nils Jensen for their excellent work representing the CRD at mediation and to recognize my municipal and electoral area colleagues, the mediation team and staff for their roles in successful mediation.”

Adoption of the RGS bylaw requires acceptance by all municipal councils within the capital region. Should the Board approve the revised bylaw, it would be referred to municipal councils for acceptance. The Board may only adopt the RGS as bylaw once accepted by all municipal councils.

“The mediation process was a very positive experience,” says Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks. “I hope that the CRD Board and all councils will support the mediation compromise that came out of the process so we can put this dispute behind us.”

The policy content will be considered by the CRD Board on January 10, 2018.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

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