EDITORIAL: Judge weighs in

Comments of B.C. Supreme Court judge in Langley relevant to current debate in Qualicum Beach

A court ruling in Langley last week could have implications for municipalities across the province. And considering what’s happening in Qualicum Beach, the decision is relevant for this region right now.

According to reports in our sister paper, The Langley Times, the Township of Langley won a court battle last week against the Metro Vancouver regional authority over who has final say over development planning.

While the specific details are available through court documents and at www.langleytimes.com, suffice to say it boils down to this: a judge has ruled a regional growth strategy is only “guidelines expressing policy” and not enforceable laws.

In her written decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neena Sharma said regional districts like Metro or, presumably, the Regional District of Nanaimo, “does not have superiority over land-use management within the boundaries of a municipality.”

The Town of Qualicum Beach is currently engaged in a debate about this very thing, ie. the weight of regional district edicts like regional growth strategies and urban containment boundaries.

The court ruling last week in Langley will be welcome news for those in Qualicum Beach who believe the town, through its elected officials and staff, should determine what happens re: development within its boundaries. It will be unwelcome news for those who have favoured an extra level of scrutiny by another level of government.

It’s logical to ensure a process where one municipality lets another know what they are doing, especially in regards to developments near each other’s borders. Water, sewer and other environmental concerns do not respect man-made lines on a map.

There should be consultation — that’s what good neighbours do. However, the decisions of a duly elected council in one municipality (provided they are lawful and respectful of environmental concerns) should not be overridden or burdened by the laws of another municipality. The people of Qualicum Beach did not elect a Nanaimo or Cedar councillor to make decisions about Qualicum Beach.

We will watch with interest in the weeks and months ahead what effect, if any, this court decision will have on the debate in Qualicum Beach.

— Editorial by John Harding

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