Victoria, B.C. – Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development Ida Chong announced today that she is refusing the Capital Regional District (CRD) board’s request to make improvements to their land-use decision-making system.

On April 13, the CRD board voted strongly in favour of a resolution to give the entire board authority over the resource lands that compose two-thirds of the district on Vancouver Island and sent a request to the province to change their voting structure.  The decision was motivated by a recent application to build 266 houses on land bordering 17 km of the Juan de Fuca trail.  Currently, a five-member committee of the board is allowed to vote on this issue and has voted in favour of the project.  

“It is completely undemocratic for Ida Chong to veto a decision made by our representatives,” said Gordon O’Connor, Vancouver Island campaigner with the Dogwood initiative.  “This is another deliberate act from the province to open up our home for reckless development.”

The land in question next to the Juan de Fuca trail was privatized by the province in the 2007 tree farm licence scandal and the community has been scrambling to protect it ever since.

“While the CRD has taken some progressive steps to prevent urban sprawl in the region, the province has refused to heed public concern and is now deliberately interfering with regional government’s attempt to sustainably manage the area,” said Tria Donaldson, Pacific Coast Campaigner at the Wilderness Committee.

Outraged community members will be converging in Centennial Square this Saturday April 30 for Sprawlapalooza, a rally and concert against urban sprawl.  From 3 to 9 p.m. there will be a series of musical performances and speeches from labour, environmental and anti-poverty leaders about how reckless development is impacting the entire community.

Photo opportunities:
3 p.m.:  Indigenous welcome and opening remarks
3:40 p.m.:  A community mural about protecting the Juan de Fuca region, created by more than 200 people, will be presented to CRD directors.

Media contacts:
Gordon O’Connor – (250) 857 – 5215
Tria Donaldson – (250) 686 – 9249