Saanich bears responsibility for property owner’s actions

Property owner proposed several ideas for his property before removing 4,900 trees

It appears that Mr Vanderkerkove is smarter than some of the Saanich councillors. Twenty years ago, the CRD told him they wanted a portion of his land for a sewage treatment site. The enjoyment of his land was put on hold while the CRD did their research. They spent thousands of taxpayer’s dollars examing his farm as a suitable location. Like most Saanich residents would be, he wasn’t pleased with the CRD intrusion but he did not want to be a NIMBY. Over time, he believed his property would suit the needs of the capital region. But the CRD kept their decision on his property in “never-never land” as the CRD has deep pockets with little public accountability.

After a couple of years of stress, frustration and little consultation, he learned that his property was no longer under consideration.

Since then, he has proposed several ideas for his property. Saanich has rejected his applications, hasn’t returned his calls and basically ignored him. Recently, Mr. Vanderkerkhove spent $100,000 on consultants fees proposing his property as a sewage treatment facility with resource recovery. It was offered for rent, lease or sale.

As part of the negotiable agreement, the forest would have hidden the sewage treatment facility. With flexibility, some of the property might have been donated as a park, housed some homeless or possibly been used for extended care accommodations, being so close to the Victoria General Hospital. Once again, some incumbents on council rejected his proposal and refused to send it forward for public scrutiny. Like a band of pampered cats, they turned up their noses at the thought of Saanich farmland being considered as a litter box for Victoria. They ignored his invitation to see the potential of onsite resource recovery to supply the hospital with heat, light and electrical energy. The facility would have removed the hospital’s pharmaceuticals, antibacterial resistant viruses and toxic chemicals that continue to flow freely through the Clover Point outfall.

Now, we are learning that the B.C. government may consider purchasing B.C. farmland for the future. It won’t come cheap. Perhaps the intention is to prevent land speculation by offshore investors. Or maybe, Mr. Vanderkerkhove’s 30 acres of agricultural land might be considered to grow medicinal marijuana, as it grows like a weed. B.C. Liquor stores will boost their profits, government will increase tax revenues and the distribution could be through farm stands, perhaps known as the road-side buddies.

I would have preferred to see the trees stand, but one can sense the anger of his clear-cut decision. It would have been so easy for Saanich to have listened and been a willing, co-operative partner. Now, they are red-faced over Mr. Vanderkerkhove’s green-thumb. They should be ashamed and they are the one’s to blame. They’ve reaped what they have sown.

Art Bickerton

 

Saanich