Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers on a Kubota tractor. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Saanich councillor calls for interim Garry oak protection from development

Development in Saanich needs no environmental permits

First term Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers is seeking a series of interim measures to protect trees in Saanich that might otherwise be vulnerable without an environmental development bylaw in place.

Saanich council rescinded its bylaws regarding its own environmental development permit area in November of 2017, only five years after it was created. The EDPA officially came off the community charter in April of 2018.

On Monday (Jan. 21) Saanich council will consider a report and suggestion from Chambers to have staff look at an “immediate implementation of a conservation strategy that would protect the same ecosystem assets as the environmental development permit area bylaw.”

“The EDPA was rescinded based on faulty scientific process leaving this important biological diversity with sub-standard protections,” says her report to council. “New development in Saanich no longer requires environmental permits.”

Chambers said she is not trying to replace the EDPA bylaw.

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Instead this is about looking for quick fixes, she said, by asking staff to explore options for filling any gaps in protection for immediate implementation, and not detracting from the bigger goal of an EDPA replacement she believes could take two years.

“I would like a moratorium on Garry oak cutting and other native trees,” she said. “This is about interim measures to protect the trees while the EDPA protection is being replaced. As well, I want to commend Saanich staff, especially Adrian Pollard, environmental services manager, and others for their diligence and holding the line.”

LETTER: A solution to the EDPA bylaw challenges

Chambers said she made no secrets in her campaign of her intentions of conservation of Garry oak ecosystems and biodiversity and to raise tree cutting fines.

Chambers has long championed the concept of an ‘ownership exemplary program.’

“If you have Garry oaks or biodiversity [in the form of environmentally sensitive areas] on your property, count yourself lucky as it’s a sign of health, fertility and past stewardship,” she said. “We must ask ourselves if 2012 environmental protections policies are relevant, especially when we are in a climate change emergency.”

RELATED: Saanich EDPA’s biggest critic found guilty of ethics violation

Among Chambers future goals are a plan to review a revival and relocation of the defunct Saanich Farmer’s Market to the inside of the Panama Flats warehouse for three months of the year, as well as UCB improvements including planting more trees, a house-size review of A1 business licences (mega mansions), the creation of farmland trusts, and further enhancements and protection of urban biodiversity.

reporter@saanichnews.com


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