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.

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

Just Posted

Nainamo grew faster than Greater Victoria in 2019

Other Vancouver Island communities also recorded growth, but at lower rates

Sidney faces rising capital costs around RCMP building

Town staff expect RCMP model to remain ‘cost effective’ option

Campus View Elementary undergoes $4.2 million in seismic upgrades

Campus View Elementary undergoes significant seismic upgrades

Claremont Spartans win the inaugural Senior Girls’ AAAA Basketball Island Championship

Claremont Spartans win their Feb. 15 game agains the Royal Bay Ravens 71 - 64

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group to meet on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citzensip, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

Most Read