LETTER: EDPA restricts normal enjoyment of properties

I would like to respond to what I believe to be misinformation in the letter from Carmel and Woody Thomson.

While Saanich is blessed with its remaining Garry oak ecosystems, most of them are within Saanich parks, where they suffer from severe neglect. The problem with the current EDPA is that many homeowners’ lawns, homes, driveways and completely degraded areas are also being “protected”. They no longer meet the criteria of sensitive ecosystems required by the bylaw. This gives little credibility to the EDPA that proponents’ claim is preserving our local gems.

It is completely false to say that “three independent reports” said the EDPA bylaw does not cause property values to fall.

Rollo stated, “Some recent public concerns regarding the adverse impact of the EDPA on property values are justified, with substantial impacts on some” and goes on to specifically list which types of properties are likely to be impacted.

SCRES met with BC Assessment, and they indicated that as most properties evaluated in their report were bought and sold with no knowledge of the EDPA’s existence on the part of the buyer, or real estate agents, that sale prices likely did not reflect any potential impact of the EDPA on the property value.

Further, when the EDPA’s existence was known and disclosed, sale prices in a rising market were sometimes far below assessed values. In one case, the EDPA caused a property to sell at $250,000 below assessed value.

Finally, the Diamond Head report did not evaluate pricing as it was specifically looking at how the EDPA could be improved and not at land value.

The current EDPA was brought in without consulting the owners of the properties to be protected by inviting them to open houses without telling them directly that their property was in the EDPA. These are the very people who will actually do the protecting or enhancing of ecological values. The EDPA restricts the normal enjoyment of people’s properties based on the often spurious mapping that supports it.

The Thomsons suggest this decision not be driven solely by economics. It should not be, but SCRES supports Ms. Thomson’s suggestion at the most recent public hearing about the need for monetary incentives for those that are willing to protect ecosystems and other features on their properties. Preserving our ecological heritage is a task that should be shared by all.

SCRES supports rebuilding our approach to preserving the truly special features in Saanich through a carefully crafted EDPA that works with owners, not against them, and is based on sound science, expert advice and achievable goals.

Kevin Cuddihy

Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA

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