It looks like you did it! The people of the greater Victoria region have great reason to celebrate, as overwhelming public outcry and a historic three days of public hearings later, the members of Land Use Committee A have decided that they cannot go against your wishes and allow a sprawl vacation resort off the Juan de Fuca trail.
Mike Hicks, director of the Juan de Fuca electoral district, was the first to announce his decision Friday morning. Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders and Sooke Mayor Janet Evans said they made up their minds following the public hearings. Metchosin mayor John Ranns has consistently stated his opposition to the project. We are yet to hear from Denise Blackwell, representing Langford, but when it goes to the Capital Regional District board on Wednesday, it could be unanimous. Read the Times Colonist report here (Defeat looks likely for Juan de Fuca resort proposal).
This couldn’t have happened without the massive numbers of people packing the public hearings and speaking passionately and eloquently, writing letters, calling their representatives, and letting your opinions be known in every possible forum. It wouldn’t have happened without the tireless efforts of Stacey Jones, Bill Jones, the late J P Jones of the Pacheedaht First Nation, whose unceded lands were at risk, Forest Action Network, the Wilderness Committee, the Dogwood Initiative, the Jordan River Steering Committee, the Sierra Club of BC and so many others. We at the Council of Canadians were proud to support these efforts.
It is a reminder that, despite our cynicism at times about the nature of the democratic process, it definitely worked this time. The public was given ample opportunity to express themselves, which we took full advantage of, local groups organized very well, and worked well together. The elected officials heard us, and could not ignore us. Please remember this occasion the next time you are organizing. In this age, the only voice that can oppose the power of corporations, developers and money is the voice of thousands of people. We congratulate the members of Land Use Committee A for being responsive to public opinion, we congratulate members of the CRD board like Vic Derman who fought to have this issue heard at the full CRD board, and councillors like John Luton who spoke against the proposal both in the media and in public hearings.
Where does this leave us? In April, we joined a call for a moratorium against land use changes in the CRD until the regional sustainability strategy was complete and the CRD committed to adequately consult and accommodate indigenous governments. This will avoid any repeats of proposals like this one. Also, remember that these lands should never have been sold to private interests at bargain basement prices, as happened in 2007. These are public lands that need to be held in public trust.
What happens next with this land will be decided in coming months, we would like the lands to be re-acquired into public trust and added to the park. But, that discussion can wait, at this point in time, pat yourselves on the back and give yourselves a big round of applause!