A Saanich councillor said residents are “owed” an environmental development permit area bylaw like the one that the previous council had rescinded on “faulty science,” an aspect that deserves formal and immediate recognition.
“The science used to rescind the EDPA has been proven to be based on faulty scientific process, and unusable,” said Coun. Nathalie Chambers in remarks to the Saanich News. “Staff was bypassed and the professional registered biologist who ‘volunteered their services’ has now lost [his] licence.”
With this comment, Chambers alludes to a recent ruling by the College of Applied Biology against Ted Lea, a critic of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw that the previous council eventually rescinded in late 2017.
The College of Applied Biology (CAB) last month permanently rescinded the membership of Ted Lea, a key player in the opposition to the EDPA. The decision flows out of the college’s decision to discipline Lea for conduct in violation of the college’s code of ethics stemming from his role in writing reports on behalf of property owners, who objected to the EDPA.
Saanich must also recognize that the previous council acted contrary to the recommendations of the so-called Diamond Head report that the municipality had commissioned. While it recommended several improvements, it also recommended that Saanich should leave the legislation in place.
“I say acknowledgement of these facts is [an] immediate action,” she said.
Chambers also said in her comments to the Saanich News that Adriane Pollard, Saanich’s manager of environmental services, should be commended.
“She [Pollard] deserves and apology and in my opinion an award,” said Chambers.
Pollard has found herself on the receiving end of criticism, including from Lea himself, for what her critics called mistakes in the application of the EDPA and her perceived conflict of interest as the municipality’s representative on the Garry oak Ecosystems Recovery Team.
In 2015, Lea actually apologized to Pollard for what then-chief administrative officer Andy Laidlaw called “inappropriate and offensive” comments by Lea towards Pollard.
According to Chambers, the college’s ruling against Lea vindicates Pollard, something that the District needs to acknowledge through the public record.
Chambers for her part tried to achieve that goal during the last regular council meeting, but interventions by acting mayor Coun. Colin Plant on procedural grounds eventually limited Chambers to a more general statement in support of staff.
This discussion unfolded against Saanich’s ongoing search for an EDPA replacement. Council will resume that search July 8 when it picks up debate around the proposed Environmental Policy Framework that appears under the label of Natural Saanich.
That future debate has since gained in significance after council asked staff to bring back a report for the July 8 meeting into ways that would allow Saanich to update its general development permit guidelines around climate change and biodiversity.
The public had heard earlier that it could take Saanich up to three years to develop and deliver Natural Saanich, whereas Saanich could move faster to achieve the same goals through the development permit guidelines process.