Citizens group calls for incentives on EDPA

Saanich is holding an EDPA town hall on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Garth Homer Centre

Anita Bull stands along an overgrown path along Saanich property near the base of Christmas Hill. Bull says Saanich needs a complete plan to deal with invasive species on its own properties – such as the English ivy strangling a tree and Himalyan blackberries in the backround – before it can hold residents accountable to do the same on private property.

A group of concerned citizens have drafted a report more than 20 pages long with suggestions they believe Saanich staff can use to “fix” the controversial Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw.

The report comes from the Citizens for a Responsible EDPA, led by Ted Lea and Anita Bull, who plan to deliver the report prior to Saanich’s call for public feedback on the EDPA, which ends Nov. 27.

The group believes their report covers the shortfall of incentives and compensation for EDPA-affected landowners while pointing out other issues in need of attention with the bylaw.

“If Saanich expects to be taken seriously about the EDPA and desires to effectively protect and restore private areas of environmentally sensitive areas, it needs to be seen as a leader in restoration of its public lands,” says the Citizens for a Responsible EDPA report.

“This will provide encouragement for the public to do the same with private lands.”

Saanich council adopted the EDPA bylaw in 2012 following public consultation. It’s designed to protect biodiversity, mitigate development impacts and restore degraded ecosystems. However, as of 2015 it has been met with backlash as property owners believe the mandated covenants often protect areas that are no longer sensitive, and that Saanich hasn’t done enough to initiate or encourage active protection of sensitive areas (suggesting Saanich is not acting on invasive species  currently wreaking havoc on sensitive ecosystems).

In a series of extreme cases homeowners are claiming a devaluing of their property, including Larry Trupp, who says his family took a hit of more than $200,000 on a recent sale of property.

By assuming some of the report’s suggestions Saanich could share the burden “among all landowners.”

The report also suggests incentives, such as a 65 per cent property tax exemption to landowners who agree to a permanent (EDPA) conservation covenant, which is in line with B.C.’s Islands Trust act.

Saanich is holding an EDPA town hall on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Garth Homer Centre.

Saanich’s ongoing EDPA virtual open house is at saanich.ca/edpa.

 

All feedback must be submitted by Nov. 27 to be included in the EDPA review process.