The applause offered on Monday night after Saanich council moved forward with a rezoning application in the Gordon Head feed lot fiasco was appropriate.
The neighbours near the Mount Douglas Cross Road property have been putting up with odours, light pollution and a proliferation of rodents in the area for two summers, and they’re about to enter a third. They’re rightly sick of waiting for both parties to sort out the issue, and they made that clear when council debated whether or not to advance the file on Monday. (Click here for more details.)
The biggest question left looming after that evening’s robust discussion is this: Why has it taken more than two years for anyone on council to do anything about this mess?
New Coun. Fred Haynes spent the past month bumping up against staff, lawyers and colleagues in his attempt to break the stalemate, which has existed since council refused to go move forward with a rezoning application for the urban farm until its owner removed the parcel from the Agricultural Land Reserve. There are a host of unique circumstances that make the property unsuitable for farming and very appropriate for residential development.
As Haynes and others pointed out on Monday, the discussion wasn’t a land versus homes debate. It was about process – something as simple as advancing a rezoning application while acting in good faith with the land owner to appease all interested parties. Council now needs to undergo a public hearing process, after which they’ll decide whether or not to approve the land for residential development or leave the land alone. The latter option means the cattle lot will continue on.
Whatever the outcome, Gordon Head residents are simply dumbfounded this issue has been “log-jammed” for the past two years, as several councillors put it. These residents should stay angry and they should keep up the pressure on council to sort this out. As Mayor Richard Atwell said: The neighbourhood needs to heal, and doing nothing certainly won’t lead to that resolution.