We did not agree with the motion put forward by North Cowichan Councillor Christopher Justice to put a moratorium on development in areas of the municipality.
The motion was convoluted, and the consequences had not been properly considered. Many businesses and private citizens were rightly very concerned about the implications for everything from housing, to legal trouble the municipality would have to pay for, to economic ramifications.
However, the core principle it was trying to champion is a laudable one and we hope it is something people will continue to discuss as we move into the process of reviewing the Official Community Plan. Curbing urban sprawl is vital to creating great communities for both environmental and liveability reasons.
We agree with the principle that it’s desirable for most development to take place within a short distance of amenities such as grocery stores and other businesses. It makes public transit more viable with core communities to serve, is easier for seniors to get around, requires fewer cars on the road, is more bikeable, more vibrant and healthier, as people tend to get more physical exercise in their daily lives just by walking.
In the past, development hasn’t much taken the environment into account, except to be able to offer view properties. It was once common to simply fill in streams and wetlands if they were in the way among other undesirable practices. We know now that disregarding nature comes back to bite us.
So while we were relieved that the moratorium motion did not pass at council on Monday night, we also don’t agree with the calls by some to have the councillors who voted for it removed from office. First of all, in a democracy, that is total nonsense. You have the choice to not vote for them in the next election, of course, but disagreeing with you is not a reason for duly elected councillors to be fired for an unsuccessful motion. Second, take another look at the core principle. You might agree with it more than you thought.