EDPA Town Hall, Nov 12, 7pm

At the Garth Homer Centre, 813 Darwin Ave.

Please ensure you attend the Town Hall Meeting this Thursday.  It has taken hundreds of person hours and work on our part to get us to this meeting.  This will be the first time that Council gets to hear from you directly on your views to the EDPA and the serious impact and issues it has created.  It is so important for Council to hear from each of you to ensure they understand that the EDPA must be changed.  Please speak at the meeting.  There will be other special interest groups and individuals, most of whom do not have property in the EDPA, who will attend and try to convince Council not to change the EDPA and promote expanding the bylaw to include more properties.

We must ensure Council clearly sees the large number of people who do not support the current EDPA or other supporting bylaws, like the very concerning Invasive Species Bylaw that is proposed by staff and how this bylaw targets EDPA property owners.

Anyone wishing to speak at the Town Hall will be required to register when they come in the door.  You will be given a number. This will alleviate people lining up in the aisle waiting a turn to speak.
You will be given 5 minutes to speak.
There will be a facilitator.  We expect the facilitator will tell us we must be respectful to staff.  While most of us that have contacted Saanich with regard to the EDPA will have only talked to one person, it is strongly advised that you do not say their name but rather just say “STAFF”.  
The Mayor has made it clear to us he does not wish to just sit there and listen all night.  He would like there to be some dialog.  You are welcome to ask questions of Mayor and Council or direct a question to a particular person.  Viki Sanders was chair of the Environment Committee when the EDPA bylaw was adopted.  Dean Murdock is the current chair.

Over the past few days we’ve received emails asking, “What difference will it make if I attend the Town Hall?  I’m already in the EDPA.”     It will make a lot of difference, and even more if you get up and speak.    On Sept 28th, two EDPA property owners made application to Mayor and Council to have their properties removed from the EDPA as they were just lawn and garden under trees and the biologist report confirmed there was no sensitive ecosystem.  These two residents along with 20 others got up and spoke.  They made a difference.  The Mayor made a motion that the EDPA bylaw be repealed and we look to developing a bylaw that works better for everyone and the environment.  Colin Plant agreed.  Vic Derman made a motion that the two properties be removed from the EDPA.  The other council did not agree with either of these motions.  Vic Derman made a motion that they wait until after the Town Hall and that was carried.  If 200+ people get up and speak at the Town Hall, we stand a good chance of convincing the other Council that this bylaw needs to be changed.

If you are a property owner with just lawn and garden under trees, all you need to say is exactly that and request that your property be removed from the EDPA.   If you have waterfront property or rural and there is no sensitive ecosystem on your property, tell Mayor and Council and again request your property be removed from the EDPA. If your house, driveway, gardens or lawns are in the EDPA tell council this is not sensitive ecosystem and they must remove it.  If you are one of the many people who have suffered a financial loss or loss of use over your property because of the EDPA, tell council about this.  For those of you who have applied to Saanich to do one of the activities restricted by the EDPA, and have had difficulties in your dealings with Saanich staff, you should talk about those difficulties.   If you believe you were mistreated by Saanich staff or they were not forthcoming, you should talk about these issues. If Saanich staff directed you to use a particular biologist for your report, contrary to procurement rules, you should talk about that.  For those of you that got a development permit and were required to do restorative work, you may have been referred to a particular native plant store.  You should mention this.  If you were made to register a restrictive covenant on the title of you property in order to get a permit, you should talk about this.

Dean Murdock should be asked why we weren’t told about the proposed Invasive Species Bylaw at the two Open Houses despite this bylaw being recommended by staff and approved by the Natural Areas Subcommittee in May 2015 prior to the open houses being conducted. .   The last line of the enforcement section guidelines of this bylaw best reflects the mentality of this bylaw and its application to EDPA property owners where it states, “and Saanich will arrange to achieve compliance at the owner’s expense.”   Were we to only find out about the bylaw after the fact when we receive notice of a fine by mail?   It appears the Mayor and Council were not aware of this Invasive Species Bylaw until we brought it to their attention last week.  Why has staff kept this bylaw hidden?  Were they afraid we would be upset?  Where did staff get their direction to craft this bylaw?

On our website we have posted Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Report to Council.  It is a very lengthy document but well worth the read.  This document covers the many concerns brought about by the EDPA Bylaw and makes suggestion for rebuilding the bylaw.  Other districts with EDPA bylaws are not having the difficulties that Saanich is.  Our report covers what these other district have done and what Saanich should not have done..

We can’t say enough how imperative it is for everyone to attend this Town Hall Meeting.   Please bring others with you.   We need to fill the hall.  It is strength in numbers that will enable us to succeed in having the bylaw rescinded and rebuilt ensuring our property rights are protected while promoting activities which will encourage preservation of truly sensitive ecosystems.

Look forward to seeing you Thursday and working together on this project.
Don’t forget to sign the petition if you haven’t already.

Anita Bull
Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA

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