Coun. Nathalie Chambers questions the impact of a proposed subdivision on local agriculture. Submitted.

Councillor questions commitment of colleagues to protect agriculture

Concern over subdivision’s impact on local agriculture

A planned subdivision in rural Saanich will receive a public hearing, but already heard opposition.

Coun. Nathalie Chambers said the proposed subdivision threatens the survival of sustainable agriculture in Saanich, even as it satisfies development standards.

The proposal would rezone a portion of a rural property on Holland Avenue near Helmcken Road, as part of a subdivision to create three new lots. Saanich council had rejected an earlier version of the same proposal, citing many of the same concerns Chambers raised in her remarks.

RELATED: Saanich balances need for sewer with rural protection

“The pieces in question are not in the [Agricultural Land Reserve],” she said. “The Urban Containment Boundary runs through the property. So on paper, it meets the criterion. However, upon meeting this site, this is clearly a farmland area. Right now or soon, we will make the decision whether it stays that way in the future.”

Chambers also questioned her colleagues’ commitment to preserving agriculture.

“Many of the promises we made in our election campaigns were about re-affirming and protecting the Urban Containment Boundary,” she said. While this development does not affect the UCB, the local area plan talks about about protecting the UCB through buffering and biological diversity corridors, which protect sustainable agriculture.

“So when we made that promise to re-affirm the Urban Containment Boundary, to me, it wasn’t about rezoning A-1 [rural] properties,” she said.

Chambers’ argument did not win the day, as her colleagues sent the subdivision to a public hearing against staff’s recommendation.

RELATED: Saanich balancing rural and urban needs

Coun. Colin Plant acknowledged Chambers’ concerns, but noted subdivision would lie inside the UCB, as well as the sewer service area. The existing zoning already permits additional density and the applicant has promised to create a buffer, he said, adding that the applicant has also made other promises to improve sustainability.

“That being said, I am looking forward to adjudicating this at a public hearing with an open mind,” he said.

Councillors earlier also heard concerns from the public with Marlene Todd presenting a neighbourhood petition opposed to the subdivision, citing density, traffic and environmental concerns among others.

But the proposal also received support. Rishi Sharma, echoing several speakers in favour of the development, said the subdivision makes sense. It will help solve the housing crisis, improving housing affordability for families through increased density, he said.

Coun. Zac de Vries agreed with Sharma’s argument. “I actually see the smaller lot size [of the proposed subdivision] as a positive,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Camosun College team working to turn Indigenous art into virtual reality

Expert team will scan Victoria Indigenous artist Carey Newman’s work The Witness Blanket

Cherry Bomb Toys, which houses the National Toy Museum of Canada, has had a rough year

The property that’s home to Cherry Bomb Toys is listed at $2.6 million

Victoria hotel proposal threatens Old Town conservation, advocates say

Height requests defy historic district’s guidelines

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5 million for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

Resident mistakes screaming teens’ late-night plunge for an emergency

Big week for Oak Bay Police who respond to rampant theft in Oak Bay, host Polar Plunge

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Maggie and Tim: A residential school survivor and her son who died on B.C. streets

Part one of a two-part series on a young man’s tragic death and his mother’s survival through hardship

Most Read