Council ratified measures to temporarily suspend the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) for single residential properties and exclude 29 properties from it.

Saanich’s suspension of controversial bylaw finalized

Council ratified the temporary suspension of the EDPA and excluded 29 properties from its application

In the end, it all happened quickly and quietly.

Council Monday finalized measures that excluded 29 properties from the provisions of an environmental bylaw and temporarily suspended its application to single residential properties.

Mayor Richard Atwell and Couns. Susan Brice, Fred Haynes, Colin Plant and Leif Wergeland approved final reading of two bylaws affecting the map and application of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA). Couns. Judy Brownoff, Dean Murdock and Vicki Sanders voted against the measures.

The first measure excludes 29 properties from the EDPA map, the second temporarily suspends the application of the EDPA to single residential properties, the largest category of properties subject to EDPA provisions.

The EDPA – which is currently undergoing a review – seeks to protect environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) and has been the subject of considerable public debate.

Its most vocal critics claim the EDPA denudes their private sphere by imposing undue restrictions on them, restrictions they say devalue their properties. Other critiques have challenged the accuracy of the map identifiying areas subject to the EDPA and its procedures, specifically those for excluding properties.

Atwell , for example, last month framed the EDPA as paternalistic piece of policy out of step with current times, while difficult to administer in arguing for its temporary suspension. “For me, we have moved forward years ago with great intentions, but unfortunately, stepped into the quagmire of the nanny state, where we are telling [residents] what is good for you,” he said.

While proponents have acknowledged these concerns, they defend the EDPA as a necessary tool to protect and restore sensitive eco-systems. Proponents – perhaps none more forcefully than Murdock – have argued that the temporary suspension represents a fatal blow.

“If the EDPA is a house, the roof is leaking and we better get somebody in to have a look,” Murdock said previously. “I think that sounds reasonable. We want to make sure that we are able to keep the house. What I think we are doing today … under the guise of a temporary exemption … is that we are making a decision to knock the house down.”

None of these arguments however aired Monday. Both votes took place in less than a minute and generated no debate.