Coun. Dean Murdock has called for a dialogue with Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) over changes that could impact the urban containment boundary.

Saanich balances need for sewer with rural protection

A Saanich councillor says the public does not need to be concerned about the future of the urban containment boundary that protects rural Saanich from development, but nonetheless calls for measures to preserve its integrity.

“I don’t think we need to sound alarmed,” said Coun. Dean Murdock. But he also hopes that Saanich will have to look for effective mechanisms that will protect the urban containment boundary against the backdrop of a potential policy change by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)

He made these comments after council extended sewer services to two rural residential properties outside the urban containment boundary because of health concerns from VIHA. The regional health authority found both properties unsuitable for septic systems because of their respective “potential” for future health risks.

“Although the application is not in response to a current known health hazard, both Island Health and the applicant’s [Registered Onsite Wastewaster Practitioner], support municipal sewer servicing for this property to mitigate the potential for future environmental and health hazards,” reads the staff report for the application from 4543 Blenkinsop Rd. Similar language appears in the application for 4671 Pipeline Road.

Saanich, in other words, is not responding to actual but hypothetical health threats, and councillors wondered whether these applications marked a language change or a policy change by VIHA that could slowly but irrecoverably break the bounds of the urban containment boundary. As of this writing, the urban containment boundary is congruent with the sewer service area, except for areas where Saanich has already extended sewer service.

Against this backdrop, council asked staff to engage in a dialogue with VIHA. Murdock said during discussions Monday that VIHA might be unaware of the land use implications of its language.

If VIHA continues to insist on sewer extensions on the basis of “potential” rather than actual health threats, Saanich has to come with up a strategic response, said Murdock. “If Island Health continues to take this position, it will require a policy change on the part of the District of Saanich,” he said.

Saanich’s historic policy of restricting residential properties outside the urban containment boundary to septic systems might have run its course after having prevented subdivisions and development, said Murdock.

“If so, I think there is some serious thinking that needs to take place internally within Saanich on what policy mechanisms are available to ensure that intruding beyond the urban containment boundary isn’t going to be possible by virtue of an application to hook up to the sewer service,” he said.

Staff have promised to contact VIHA within the week as part of their search for a long-term solution.

Just Posted

Report shows Saanich police officer retroactively fired over corruption, deceit, relationship with sex worker

Saanich Police had six of eight substantiated allegations against officers in Greater Victoria

Head of Greater Victoria builders critical of stricter climate policy

Casey Edge says Step Code will raise cost of housing without addressing climate change

Esquimalt Rec Centre pool goes to the dogs

The inaugural “Dog Swim” happens before the pool is closed for maintenance

Oak Bay police officer fired after hiring sex trade worker, watchdog says

Report by police watchdog shows Oak Bay police officers faced discipline for misconduct

Police, prosecutors tight-lipped about legislature investigation

Craig James and Gary Lenz were removed from the B.C. Legislature by police on Tuesday

Feds give formal notice for law to end Canada Post strike

Trudeau government ready to legislate employees back to work after five weeks of rotating strikes

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 20

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

Getzlaf lifts Ducks to 4-3 win over skidding Canucks

Vancouver now winless since Nov. 8

POLL: Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

The Christmas lights are twinkling and holiday music is playing in local… Continue reading

Pressure builds for B.C. to recognize physicians assistants

“We can make a difference and I think we’re being overlooked.”

Paramedic treated accused killer at the scene of Chemainus murder

Described strange behaviour of man with minor injuries

Senators urge Trump to expedite congressional vote on USMCA

The 12 Republican senators are warning of the dangers of getting the trade pact approved in 2019

Bill just one tool to deter foreign interference in Canadian elections: Gould

Bill C-76 is just one means to deter outside interference in Canadian elections

Investigation into B.C. legislature officers began in January

RCMP brought in months after former prison administrator started

Most Read