Re: Council requests review of EDPA bylaw. Coun. Judy Brownoff is correct in indicating that a greater emphasis on education is required in moving forward with the Environmental Development Permit Area. She indicates that Planning has had a consultant working on linking corridors for the EDPA for four years. However, this information was not presented to residents at two open houses that were held to educate the public about the EDPA.
Do Saanich landowners know that their properties will be used to create these corridors on their properties? There are many new environmentally significant areas (ESAs), mapped by this same consultant, which the public were not informed about at the open houses. Many more properties could be added to the EDPA atlas and bylaw. At the same time, the proposed invasive species bylaw was kept from the public, when it has specific clauses aimed at landowners that have properties in the EDPA.
Taxpayer money went into creating this new ESA mapping before field verification was done on the original EDPA atlas. Many properties in the EDPA have neither natural ecosystems nor true ESAs. A number of scientists have come forward to say that the original ESA mapping is being misused and needs field verification. Council needs to be open to being educated about these issues.
As for Saanich lands, Coun. Brownoff indicates that 22 per cent of the EDPA occurs in Saanich parks and other lands, when in fact District of Saanich documents say that 52 per cent of the EDPA is on public lands. Our group has called for more funding to maintain and restore sensitive ecosystems such as Garry oak woodlands and coastal bluff ecosystems that occur in Saanich Parks.
We recognize that there are many very dedicated volunteers that deal with invasive shrubs in many, but not all Saanich parks. However, we have pointed out that it is the invasive grass species that are degrading Saanich’s special ecosystems, and the District of Saanich is doing nothing towards their management. If the district is putting a high standard of management on private landowners, they need to find significant funding to maintain our public lands to that same high standard.
We also believe that education is key to all individuals, including councilors, in understanding the EDPA and how it is being implemented. We will gladly give Coun. Brownoff, or any other councilor, a tour of the many hundreds of properties, currently mapped in the EDPA, which no longer have natural ecosystems (i.e. no ESAs), as well as a tour of Saanich parks which would benefit from council committing to restoration funding.
Anita Bull, president
Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA