Town hall offers homeowners a say on new EDPA bylaw

Saanich's new Environmental Development Permit Area is the subject of a town hall meeting set for Nov. 12

A fence atop Christmas Hill protects a sensitive Garry oak area. A pair of property owners near Christmas Hill

A fence atop Christmas Hill protects a sensitive Garry oak area. A pair of property owners near Christmas Hill

Saanich staff and council are preparing for the second and final of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) town hall meetings which were called for back in June.

The town hall is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 at the Garth Homer Society (813 Darwin Ave.).

It’s the latest opportunity opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to provide feedback to council on the current EDPA bylaw, which resulted in serious concerns being raised at a September council session. The bylaw is drawing the ire of several property holders who want to sell but believe the EDPA is devaluing their property.

Coun. Colin Plant said the current series of town hall and open house sessions are a type of bylaw check-in to see how the EDPA is working.  “The intention wasn’t to make major changes … but we’re hearing that it’s quite the opposite,” he said.

Saanich’s environmental services department continues to supply information boards at all Saanich recreational centres and stands behind the bylaw, saying there’s a lot of misinformation and it’s best to contact them and deal with each property on a case-by-case basis.

But Plant said the situation has caught the attention of council and a more thorough review is looking likely once this last town hall is finished.

“If there are similar [development permit areas] in the other municipalities then why isn’t there the same level of upset,” he said.

Former Saanich resident Larry Trupp spent the better part of the past three years subdividing and selling his family’s property on Maywood Road, a sloped lot that abuts Peacock Hill Park.

EDPA restrictions were applied to about 60 per cent of the two properties which made selling them increasingly difficult, he said.

“We final sold them but to be honest, I’m surprised we did,” he said this week.

The two properties sold for about $750,000, nearly $250,000 under the private assessment and $200,000 under their B.C. Assessment value.

Trupp said he’s interested in how the future of the EDPA unfolds but is unlikely to attend the upcoming town hall.

“After three years of dealing with Saanich, I really don’t want to be part of it anymore, but there are solutions for the EDPA…,” he said. “It’s great to save property and land but what are they doing with it, there are issues to be addressed.”

Incentives for residents affected by the EDPA are chief among his concerns, as his family saw no refund or reimbursement from Saanich to cover the professional biologist fees and legal fees necessary to register the Saanich-mandated covenant.

Trupp believes others in Saanich are likely sitting on their EDPA affected property, riding out this process.

In the meantime, it irks him that the bare lots on Maywood continue to be overrun with invasive species like English ivy and Himalayan blackberry.

“The wildflowers aren’t coming back in that tangle.”

 

Property owners needing further information about the EDPA can contact Environmental Services staff at 250-475-5471.