Right now, the Capital Regional District (CRD) is consulting residents on the Regional Sustainability Strategy (RSS), to guide land use decisions from the Saanich Peninsula to Victoria to Port Renfrew on the west coast.
The RSS will either strengthen the policy of urban containment, mandating that new housing and development be concentrated in existing population centres, or it will provide a green light to urban sprawl, extending pavement and development into the wilderness areas and farmland of the capital region.
I strongly support a policy of urban containment.
Protecting forests and farmland from urban sprawl makes sense for a number of reasons. It conserves wilderness areas for the ecological value of maintaining plant and animal habitat, protecting water quality, sequestering carbon and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Urban containment also conserves farmland for present and future generations, with the capital region having a finite supply of arable land (due to mountainous terrain, constraints of the coastline, and existing development patterns). Local food systems are essential in the context of increasing global transportation costs, a changing climate and instability in the global capitalist economy.
Compact land-use patterns are also important from the standpoint of transportation, with sprawling suburbs being heavily reliant on private motor vehicles, gridlocked highways and the consumption of fossil fuels, which impacts air quality and contributes to climate change. Infrastructure of sprawling suburbs is costly to maintain, with vast networks of roads, sewers and water lines. Suburbs are also often dominated by big box and corporate retail and (because of auto-dependency) have lower rates of community participation.
I hope you will take the opportunity to contact the CRD Board expressing your views on regional land use and urban containment, by emailing CRDBoard@crd.bc.ca or completing this survey before Feb. 15. Together, we can build a sustainable region that leaves no one behind and protects the natural environment. Doing so requires saying no to development in some areas and concentrating new housing within existing population centres.