It was a word for word ordeal on Monday as Saanich council debated the terms of reference that will guide a third-party review of the Environmental Development Permit Area.
The process was unique, as Coun. Colin Plant submitted an initial round of edits to the bulleted list of staff-prepared terms. Plant’s list was based on Option 1 of the staff recommendations, and ended up as a hybrid of all three options.
The motion passed 8-1 with only Mayor Richard Atwell opposed.
Option 1 is based on the position that significant engagement has taken place to date and that the consultant is being hired to develop potential solutions which will be presented to council. Rather than seek new information from the public, input would be received at the time the potential solutions are presented to council. The public will also be kept up-to-date throughout the review process on Saanich’s website.
Merie Beauchamp, a mom in the Swan Lake area, supports Option 1 and also supports the EDPA, saying a lot of family-aged adults aren’t being heard from because they’re happy.
“We’ve gone through community consultation, we’ve had town hall meetings where opinions, mostly negative, are aired, and there’s nothing else to come from it. At this point we’re beating a dead horse,” Beauchamp said. “I think more non-professional people or people with misinformation and opinions coming forth will cloud the objective of the EDPA, which is to preserve the small amount of environmentally sensitive areas we have left.”
Atwell said he had trouble with Option 1 because he was committed to a higher level of engagement with the public earlier in the review process.
“With [Option 1] the public is coming here and talking to us [when the review is submitted], which is when we make the decisions, and it puts us back in the same boat,” Atwell said.
Saanich will soon post a request for proposals for a third-party consultant.
“They should be from outside the Capital Regional District, otherwise their work will look tainted,” said Eric Dahli, president of the Cadboro Bay Community Association.