Saanich could be in for years of gathering, analyzing and translating public feedback into public policy as it seeks to replace the rescinded Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw. Saanich council agreed to spend up to $250,000 on the search for a replacement. Black Press File.

Update: Saanich spends up to $250,000 on search for EDPA replacement

While council approved funding unanimously, it will likely take years to find replacement

Saanich will spend up to $250,000 from its strategic reserve fund and seek public feedback on the search for a replacement for the rescinded Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw.

“It is going to require time, it’s going to require resources — that is why we have this motion here tonight — and it will require commitment,” saidCoun. Susan Brice, who proposed the motion. “This is one of those long-term decisions that council makes.”

The unanimously approved motion calls on Saanich develop a report that would bring forward options for a Saanich-specific program to “serve as a policy framework” for other environmental policies and programs with climate adaption, biodiversity and stewardship as topics.

It also calls on staff that “a new Environmental Development Permit Area be considered” part of this program and that the recommendations of a long-awaited but never realized report by Diamond Head Consulting Ltd. “be considered as a component of this report.”

Saanich approved the funding after council had rescinded the EDPA, which Saanich had introduced in March 2012 to protect environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs).

Coun. Fred Haynes described the move as a “good first step” that will also partially serve as a “healing process” for the community that will give all parties a say.

“It was a tough set of meetings that we had [over the EDPA], and I think it was the most challenging decision I have had through this council to move this forward and get us to a position where we can work collectively together for a better outcome,” he said.

Council, meeting as committee-of-the-whole, rescinded the EDPA 5-4 on Oct. 28.

This vote surprised many because it happened during a meeting scheduled to receive public input on various recommendations to improve the EDPA and symbolized the deep divisions that had sprung up around the bylaw.

Council later confirmed this vote, but also promised an alternative policy.

Brice said her motion reflects those previous decisions. Whether councillors favoured or opposed the rescinding of the EDPA, all spoke “of the critical need” to have a replacement bylaw, she said.

It is uncertain when this replacement will appear. While staff could have a report on options by the end of the year, it would only be one milestone along a path that could take “years ” to complete, as Atwell said.

Plant also warned against high expectations. “Until we get this report, there is very little to nothing that is going to be happening that is different as a result of rescinding the EDPA,” he said.

Relying on maps of sensitive eco-systems, the EDPA restricted development in certain pockets of Saanich for the purpose of protecting Saanich’s few remaining areas of Garry oak and associated ecosystems.

Applicable to more than 2,000 properties, the EDPA impacted some five per cent of all private properties in Saanich, many of them in the wealthier parts of the municipality. Public land (mostly parks) accounted for fifty-two per cent of land previously subject to the EDPA.

The functioning of the EDPA became a focus of public attention no later than March 2016, when Saanich held a special meeting into the EDPA that drew hundreds to the Pearkes Recreation Centre. Critics, whose ranks grew as the years past, lamented that the EDPA was paternalistic, restrictive and scientifically flawed by relying on maps from the 1990s.

Atwell called it “draconian” and Harper won last September’s byelection by promising to scrap it.

Facing public pressure, Saanich subsequently commissioned a report into the future of EDPA, but never implemented its recommendations,

as council meeting as committee-of-the-whole voted 5-4 to rescind the bylaw on October 28, 2017.

Other questions are also bound to emerge as Saanich seeks to find a replacement.

One question concerns costs. If council were to approve Brice’s motion, it will have spent no less than $300,000 on reports into the future of the EDPA. Saanich had earlier commissioned Diamond Head Consulting Ltd. at a cost of $50,000.

While this minimum figure of $300,000 appears small in the grand scheme of things, it nonetheless represents funding that did not go towards other items, and EDPA supporters can easily argue Saanich could have saved itself this expense by reforming rather scrapping the bylaw, especially, if the search for a replacement “would be extensive and require significant resources,” as the notice of motion from Brice acknowledged.

“It was acknowledged that attempting to include adequate project funding in next year’s budget would be challenging because of other costs pressures,” she said. Hence, the recommendation to tap into Saanich’s strategic initiative fund.

While Brice’s motion calls on staff to consider the report from Diamond Head Consulting “as a component” of any future report, it is not yet clear how staff would incorporate it into a future EDPA replacement, and whether its findings will remain relevant.

It should also be pointed out that the report recommended keeping rather than scrapping the EDPA.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Materials linked to 1992 Colwood murder found at construction site in Metchosin

West Shore RCMP investigating to determine if relevant to the old case

Local and international artists paint murals across Victoria

Sixteen murals are spread out across downtown Victoria as part of the ‘concrete canvas’ project

Crash snarles traffic on Highway 17

Traffic southbound is seriously delayed and northbound down to one lane on… Continue reading

Oak Bay brothers scoop 10 kg of poop from park paths in 30 mins

Family picks up dog poo to give back, inspire others to be more responsible

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Safeway union urgest rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Most Read