The results of an investigation into one of the biggest critics of Saanich’s Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) has found his conduct in violation of the code of ethics.
Last month the College of Applied Biology (CAB) released the findings of a review and five-day hearing in June that investigated the conduct of registered professional biologist Ted Lea of Saanich. Lea was a key player in the opposition to the EDPA and as a member of Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society (SCRES) helped convince members of the public, and council, that the EDPA was unfair.
His role has one Saanich group calling foul, as they believe Lea had an influential hand in council’s 5-4 vote on Nov. 6, 2017, that quashed the EDPA.
“Saanich council ignored staff, and ignored expert reports and made a decision to rescind the EDPA based on Lea’s insufficient reports and misinformation of SCRES,” said Merie Beauchamp, who attended three days of the five-day hearing and is also a member of SAFE, a group in support of the EDPA.
Implemented in 2012, the EDPA took effect on about 2,200 properties and existed without controversy until Anita Bull, another member of SCRES, and her family first criticized it in 2015. The anti-EDPA sentiment snowballed from there. Eventually, 72 applications were made by homeowners to remove their properties from the EDPA. Of those 72, Saanich confirmed “a few applications did not have a biologists report, but all applications that were supported by a biologist report were authored by Lea.”
Lea later confirmed that he prepared the reports free of charge.
Thirty of these applications were approved for removal by council before the EDPA was completely rescinded. The remaining 42 applications were cancelled because they were no longer relevant.
CAB’s investigation into Lea’s reports found they were insufficient with a “lack of due diligence.” Lea was also cited for two more breaches of the CAB code of ethics, “incivility” regarding members of Saanich staff during a SCRES meeting and “conflict of interest” for being a member of SCRES, a “known opponent of the EDPA.”
Regarding the due diligence, the CAB report outlined that “Lea did not appropriately apply the guidelines the District of Saanich prepared in their Saanich [EDPA] area property removal request process fact sheet…”
The report lists repeated incidents of inadequate and insufficient field notes supporting Lea’s reports. “Specially, the field notes lacked any explanation of method or limitations, and they did not attach field notes or photographs, which are necessary given a visual inspection and the absence of plots. Those materials should have been attached.”
CAB lawyers also called Lea on a false statement when he wrote to the District of Saanich saying he had legal advice. However, upon cross-examination at the CAB hearing, Lea agreed “he did not actually receive legal advice.”
The CAB panel of three registered professional biologists that investigated Lea’s authored reports found they were insufficient, lacking methodological data for photos and basic information for field notes, such as when and where he visited.
Lea declined any comment regarding the results though he may be in the appeal process and therefore unable to comment at this time.
Any CAB discipline or penalties for Lea are still pending. Following the investigation and hearing CAB posted an additional $50 charge to its members for 2019 to cover the $150,000 cost of the review and hearing.
Staff is currently building a new EDPA for council to consider.