Saanich staff released its much anticipated Environmental Development Permit Area review on Tuesday with a firecracker of an announcement. Council will host a special session just for the occasion in the field house of the George R. Pearkes Community Rec. Centre at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 16.
Anticipating great numbers, the meeting is sure to draw hundreds as the contentious EDPA bylaw has drawn more than a thousand people to council chambers (last year) and to the fall and winter town halls on the subject, open houses and other presentations.
The report provides a recap of that public check-in process conducted from June 2015 to February 2016.
Unfortunately, feedback from the B.C. Assessment Authority’s current study is not available for the report at this time.
Feedback at this time shows the leading interest among public concerns is support for the protection of the natural environment. This could be considered a surprise as the overwhelming majority of vocal responses have shared concerns over unfair economic “de-valuing” of their property. But there is clearly a parallel desire for value fairness and also protection of Saanich’s unique natural setting. Second in concerns listed is, in fact, potential for financial hardship. This point is likely the most debatable. In the short term, however, there seems to be a worry that real estate values aren’t what they could be, though it seems logical to assume a covenant protected urban lot will one day hold added value as nature decreases.
The report suggests three basic process options: a repeal of the entire bylaw (which Mayor Richard Atwell attempted in November but no longer supports); a revision of the existing bylaw; or to retain the bylaw as is.
If Option 1 is chosen, it would see the “regulatory framework” revert to its March 2012 state, and would affect a number of bylaws which have been changed since, such as the numerous 2014 Tree Bylaw revisions.