EDPA impact far from minor

Saanich should be sure they are truly protecting valuable ecosystem before foisting costs onto homeowners

The Rollo report says the economic impact for Saanich’s Environmental Development Permit Area is either substantial or minor and “hidden”, yet mysteriously concludes it has done little to diminish property values.  Leaving aside methodology and data issues highlighted by Ms. Bull, let’s say the “hidden” cost is one per cent on a $500,000 property – that’s $5,000 out of my pocket to support a community initiative.  I don’t consider that minor.

Further, the Rollo report highlights the properties that will likely have a substantial impact – those that are sub-dividable or which will have potential land use significantly limited.  Anyone with a basic understanding of economics would come to the same conclusion – no need for wasting time and money on consultants for that.  Saanich has had plenty of time (the bylaw took “years” to develop and the ESA map has existed since 1999) to identify and mitigate those hard-luck cases, yet choses to do nothing.

Two other conclusions in the report are worth noting:

“Saanich’s EDPA coverage affects a considerable number of properties in established neighbourhoods, unlike most other surveyed municipalities.” The reason most EDPAs don’t cover established neighbourhoods is they no longer contain natural ecosystems at risk.

Secondly, the report says that “field surveys are presumably more accurate than remote sensing for determining boundaries.” Again, no need for consultants to tell us that, and again, Saanich had the time to ground truth the ecosystems rather than rely on outdated high-level inventories based on aerial photographs.

In the end, the EDPA does have a financial impact.  Before foisting that impact on individual homeowners, Saanich should be sure they are truly protecting valuable ecosystems, and then find ways to ensure the cost of protecting community assets is borne by the community as a whole.

Kevin Cuddihy