Regional Growth Strategy - My position


By Cairine Green, North Saanich

I support the motion to deny the amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy. To explain my position, I want to provide the following background information. Like many people, I needed to completely understand what the strategy is and what it really means for North Saanich, the Saanich Peninsula and the region.

The Capital Regional District Board adopted the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) on August 13, 2003. The strategy represents an agreement, developed and approved, by all member municipalities and the regional district in partnership, on social, economic and environmental goals and priority actions.

This is a landmark agreement, a landmark agreement as cited in a report prepared in March 2003 by the Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, titled, “The Capital Regional District Growth Strategy: Herding Cats onto the Road of Sustainability”. In part, the report states:

  • In many urban and rural areas, local citizens motivated by concerns about community disruption and environmental degradation have resisted development projects of various kinds. In some cases, these actions have reflected a broader concern that on a finite planet, or at least in a finite community or region, future growth in human demands will be increasingly destructive.

  • The result has been a second wave of growth management that is expected to cover not just all factors that affect growth patterns, but also all consideration that affect long-term community and ecological sustainability.

  • Sustainability is fundamentally a matter of applied ethics. It has a human focus but involves consideration of future as well as present interests and recognizes ultimate human dependence on the biosphere. Arguably, commitment to sustainability entails adoption of what Aldo Leopold called the “land ethic” – extending the definition of community from the social interaction of individuals to the linking of all components of the natural world, and requiring people to view themselves as stewards of the land.

  • Development of this kind allows for the building of a shared local culture that encompasses history, values and traditions of a particular place or region.

In 1995, the BC government passed the Growth Strategies Statutes Amendment Act to facilitate better coordination of municipalities, regional districts and the provincial government to deal with complex growth management issues. However, its most significant provisions focus on the regional level. The act gave “legislative authority” for regional districts to voluntarily develop and adopt a Regional Growth Strategy.

A regional growth strategy is a regional vision that commits affected municipalities and regional districts to a course of action to meet common social, economic and environmental objectives. It also forms a part of a municipality’s Official Community Plan through a Regional Context Statement, which links the RGS to the municipal plan. The RGS is designed to outline the regional vision for the next 20 years.

The core objective of the Growth Strategies Act is “to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy and makes efficient use of ... land and other resources.” The foremost priority goals for the RGS are:
  • Avoiding urban sprawl and ensuring that development takes place where adequate facilities exist
  • Protecting environmentally sensitive areas
  • Maintaining the integrity of a secure, productive resource base, including agricultural, and forestland reserves
  • Protecting the quality and quantity of ground and surface water
Without consistent support and long term commitment from the Capital Regional District through its Regional Growth Strategy, municipal boundaries that keep urban containment compact will be vulnerable, resulting in unmanaged growth that will continue to threaten green and rural spaces, agriculture and farmland and forests and water resources. Local governments in the CRD must now decide how strong, consistent and effective they will be in the application of sound land use policy that considers critical factors such as:
  • Regional energy planning and conservation
  • Food production and security
  • Efficient, economical and environmentally sound transporation planning
  • Conservation and use of water resources
  • Waste disposal
The Regional Growth Strategy enables local governments to manage growth with confidence and vision, to plan for the future and for an environmental legacy of which generations after us can be proud.

The report by the University of Waterloo concludes with the following statement that, for me, says it all in a nutshell:
  • If the necessary goodwill and commitment are to be found anywhere in B.C., they are to be found among the municipal leaders and residents of the CRD, given the long standing concern for quality of life issues in this region. What happens in the CRD will therefore be an important test of the Regional Growth Strategy mechanism. If effective growth management using the Regional Growth Strategy cannot be accomplished in the CRD, it is unlikely that the mechanism will work well anywhere in the Province.
The latest CRD Report on Regional Growth Management is now available on the CRD website.

I urge voters to read this latest update on the State of the Region Report. It is a five-year review of the Regional Growth Strategy which was released in September 2008.
The report can be found at: