With a broad sweep of the brush, Saanich council appears to be in favour of allowing a self-interested group of environmentalists to whitewash a policy that is essentially a land grab of private property within a 15-metre zone of the waterfront in what is being called ESAs, all in the name of protecting the flora and fauna of Saanich.
Council was elected to protect the property and rights of the electorate, the legal owners, not to confiscate them. We all love parks, trails and natural areas of native plants, but not by taking away the rights of the very people council is supposed to represent by drastically devaluing their property and ability to sell at true value in the future and yet, not offering any compensation.
My husband and I have been planting native species, encouraging birds and butterflies, discouraging the tangle of invasive foreign plants since 1972, and without any help from Saanich. And now after 43 years, it appears that the Saanich EDPA wish to control a 15-metre parcel along the shore thereby destroying our property’s value and leaving us as mere tenants on our own land without a whisper of financial compensation or tax relief.
This act, if not illegal, is immoral, punitive and a devious form of bullying. Where will it end? All property is at risk, not only waterfront. Saanich has written that staff are proposing amendments to areas that are not 100 per cent accurate and does not plan “on checking every boundary before including them.” What kind of rubbish is this and how is this supposed to promote the botanical environment?
Perhaps the committee should be encouraged to do more research and check on possible legal implications before they try to bulldoze this through without a proper vote by those affected, the legal owners of properties that the EDPA deem “sensitive areas”. Was the ED Committee policy supposed to slip by unnoticed until too late for property owners to object?
If Saanich is seriously seeking guidance, I suggest that council openly and honestly discusses the devaluation of property this policy will bring about and decide what form of compensation it is considering to homeowners, takes a vote of those affected and implements a no-charge disposal program to pick up invasive plants that, according to the Invasive Species Council of B.C., ”could cause the extinction of native species if left unchecked.”