Re: Saanich begins review of environmental development bylaw, Oct. 12. The problems with the EDPA are not just about loss of value of property due to restrictions placed that do not apply to similar properties, but also the loss of use as the EDPA limits many of the everyday uses (regardless of the limited exemptions), especially those on rural properties.
These uses cannot be initiated or expanded within EDPA areas. While Saanich spends much of its time saying it encourages these activities and lifestyles, doesn’t the unfortunate manner in which the EDPA was developed and implemented produce a very different result?
Rural lands need to be treated differently and more carefully. Other jurisdictions recognize this distinction and are very careful with restrictions. Most rural landowners are excellent stewards of their properties, and value the important natural areas that exist. Encouraging these people to maintain their natural areas needs to be an important aspect of this contract, its review and a revised EDPA. The District of Saanich needs to work with individual landowners, rather than simply having restrictions placed on their properties without inspection or even telling them that they have done this to each landowner specifically.
Secondly, there is a reference in the article to the 52 per cent of properties in the EDPA being public lands. To be clear, while it’s true the EDPA mapping is applied to some public lands in Saanich, Saanich has exempted itself from the expectations, requirements and restrictions of the EDPA, it nonetheless ensures the mapping continues to apply to private property owners regardless of whether there is a sensitive ecosystem or not.
The district allows full recreational access to sensitive ecosystems on its lands. The public can walk all over these areas including areas with rare plant species. With respect to the remaining 48 per cent of the EDPA area, representing thousands of private property owners, they are in fact only five per cent of the property owners of Saanich. It seems unfair in the extreme to have this five per cent of land owners bear the weight of 48 per cent of the EDPA burden and restrictions and costs, all with no offer of compensation or accommodation. Is this not expropriation without compensation? Or do the ends justify the means in Saanich?
If Saanich wants to be an environmental leader it should start with restoration and conservation on its own properties and parks. Is it a mark of environmental leadership to proclaim an EDPA program when invasive species dominate many areas of Saanich parks, and the control plan is to hope volunteers will keep them at bay? Wouldn’t a complete assessment of Saanich’s sensitive ecosystems and preparation and implementation of needed conservation plans demonstrate a true, “money where one’s mouth is” environmental leadership? There are no accolades for those who oblige a few private property owners to suffer losses for a community good while exempting themselves from their comparable responsibilities.