Environmental bylaw costly for Saanich property owners

There is clear indication that several Saanich property owners have lost value in the sale of their properties

Re: Saanich begins review of environmental development bylaw, Oct 12. We are the owners of 4351 Gordon Head Rd., that was referenced in the above-mentioned article.

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some overlooked points as there continues to be misinformation about property values in the EDPA, which your article appears to perpetuate.

In fact, information on this very subject was gathered from several sources over a period of several months for the much-anticipated Rollo report, which was to have been released in March of this year, and the release of which has been delayed over and over again. Many of us are suspicious the municipality was disingenuous with the introduction of the bylaw and heavy handed in its implementation and support of the bylaw.

Also, articles from 2015 clearly point to other property owners having lost value in the sale of their properties, in spite of a very hot real estate market.

An article in the Saanich News in May 2015 reported that a landowner was having difficulty selling two lots, due to Saanich placing a protective covenant on 60 per cent of their lots. This in spite of the area that was covenanted being described as completely covered by invasive species.

They subsequently indicated that they had lost approximately $100,000 per lot, when they were finally sold. In yet another story reported from 2015 regarding a property owner on Burnside Road, who owned two one-acre lots, both of which had 80 per cent of the property in the EDPA, again dominated by invasive species, as was the adjacent area of Knockan Hill Park. In spite of there being no covenant on this property, one of these properties sold for about $250,000 below assessed value after being on the market for over 400 days. It is no comfort to these landowners that your article states that “instances of direct monetary loss are still inconclusive.”

How many other applications are there like ours, where we were told by Saanich where we had to build, even though three different registered professional biologists indicated in their reports that alternative locations would have been better suited to build from an environmental perspective?

While we agree there are properties where the EDPA may not impact property values, we must take into account other factors that are driving market prices such as the current high-demand real estate market, the favourable exchange rate of the U.S. dollar for foreign purchasers, historically low interest rates, and highest and best use properties. Of the latter, this would include newer houses that fully cover buildable areas within a lot, properties where there is only an EDPA buffer, or a small portion of EDPA on them, or simply do not require a permit of any kind.

If, however, someone wishes to buy a property within the EDPA where they plan to replace the existing home, or add another structure, even if no natural environment remains, they may be subjected to unreasonable requirements, restrictions and costs…which is exactly what happened to us.

Chris and Charmaine Phillips

Saanich

 

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