It’s funny to me, how juxtaposed Western Forest Products'(WFP) Duncan Kerr and Capital Regional District Board Chair Geoff Young areregarding the recent announcement by the BC Court of Appeal. Late Wednesday February 25th theBC Court of Appeal announced that the CRD has won the right to appeal a December08 Supreme Court judgment which struck down progressive bylaws in the Juan deFuca Electoral Area.
Kerr, is publicly adamant that the court will uphold theoriginal decision, Young very certain it won’t. Of course this should not be that surprising considering the stake ofthe game is high. Both have to put ontheir game face for a supposed all or nothing gamble. It’s a waiting game, the CRD has until June30th to be heard by the court, and the decision could come anytimeafter that. The clincher is it all comesdown to the judge; there is obviously no avenue for public comment.
If the appeal upholds CRD bylaws, WFP will be throwing outits massive subdivision application on the WildCoast between Otter Point and Jordan River- and will have to start from scratch. Likely WFP will be forced into genuineconsultation with communities because it will have to deal with the down zoningof the lands.
If the appeal sides with WFP, then the sprawlingsubdivisions will have all the time in the world to be approved- unless ofcourse WFP gets thrown a curve ball.
The story of WFP’s provincial government approved Tree FarmLicence deletions (privatization of forest lands on a massive scale includingsections of the Wild Coast) were certainly asweetheart deal from government. However,because of the persistence of local communities and First Nations, WFP has notbeen able to run full steam ahead with its plans for urban sprawl and realestate development. The power of localpeople continues to be the throwing arm behind these possible curve balls:
Curve ball #1: Use ofa MEVA or the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act. The CRD has asked the province to step up andcreate legislature to uphold the bylaws no matter what the courts decide.
Curve ball #2: The upcoming elections. The provincial government is well aware thatthey messed up, people keep letting them know. An Auditor General Investigative Report goes into 73 pages of detail asto why the TFL deletion was not in the public interest. Since then, in a TFL deletion in BC’sinterior, communities were awarded land and cash compensation for the deletion,as well as a considerable consultation before the deletion occurred. The provincial government wants this to goaway before the election, and has a number of options in taking action to cleanthings up. Not least of these isutilizing a section in the land title act to disallow WFPs subdivisionapplication.
Curve ball#3: The provincial approving officer disapprovesWFPs subdivision because he finds it to be against the public interest. We keep pressing him for a public hearing.
Curve ball#4: Onebonus of the process of appeal is that it is potentially buying some time forthe CRD to get their planning documents in order. The CRD may have time to put updated OfficialCommunity Plans through the public review process for the area. If these plans obviously clash with WFPssubdivisions (which they no doubt will) this could prevent the currentsubdivision application.
Personally, its interesting that Kerr says he isso confident that the appeal is going to go his way. If he is so secure, then why has WFP stoppedpursing their subdivision plans? FYI: Nofurther information has been submitted to the approving officer since October 08.