Saanich looking for input on environmental mapping project

"It's always easier to protect environmentally significant areas if you know where they are in advance of development proposals."

Do you know of a little-known Garry oak ecosystem, or where a coastal bluff outcropping is in Saanich? The municipality wants to hear from you.

The planning department is currently upgrading its Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA) atlas and wants to add more unique pieces of land to the ESA inventory.

“It’s always easier to protect environmentally significant areas if you know where they are in advance of development proposals. That way when a (development) application comes in, people already know they need to consider the environment on that property,” said Adriane Pollard, Saanich’s manager of environmental services.

She says it also gives the municipality a leg-up when it comes to long-term land protection.

“You can monitor these areas over time and possibly restore them, if it’s needed. If we don’t know about these areas, we don’t know where we should be spending our time and resources.”

Until March 26, residents are invited to tell Saanich about the special natural areas they know of, with the potential of getting them added to the ESA inventory.

The atlas was first produced in 1999, with information from the provincial and federal governments.

Pollard said she expects more areas to join the inventory this time around, as the original information didn’t include anything under half a hectare in size.

Here’s a complete list of the type of areas that the planning department is looking for, and what you can keep your eye out for to identify these areas. You can also fill out a site form online to notify Saanich of one of these areas.

Pollard urges individuals interested in participating to cross-reference the existing atlas to see if their suggestion is already recognized as an ESA.

For more information, contact environmental services at 250-475-5471.

kslavin@saanichnews.com