The controversial Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw will be at the forefront again on Monday when Saanich Council will consider the removal of eight Ten Mile Point properties from the District’s Environmental Significant Areas atlas.
It’s the largest single application for EDPA bylaw removal to come before council.
Kevin Cuddihy is a member of Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA (SCRES) and has taken the lead on the application. He represents the homeowners of six properties in the 2700-block of Tudor Ave., including his own, and two more adjacent properties in the 2800-block of Seaview Rd.
“It’s a particular EDPA polygon that our group of properties fall in,” Cuddihy said. “The group of us share a backyard overrun with invasive species, we have a biologist, and he’s assessed there is no sensitive areas.”
Cuddihy says the group’s priority is merely to have the EDPA mapping updated, while SCRES also seeks to have the bylaw reworked. However, when he approached Saanich, he said the options were limited.
Despite waiting seven months since the group made its initial application in August, Cuddihy says he’s not overly upset with the wait.
“It’s that Saanich isn’t doing anything to update the maps,” Cuddihy said. “We want the maps updated, and whether you believe in the EDPA or not, it should be focused on protecting sensitive ecosystems, like the parks.”
One of the EDPA boundaries on Sea View runs through a neighbour’s house and that could have been fixed by staff by now, Cuddihy said.
“We need to tighten up the way [the bylaw] its written, compensate those affected, and make it a lot clearer,” Cuddihy said.
The way Cuddihy sees it, the bylaw suggests protecting sensitive ecological areas that are in pristine condition, not ones that are overrun with invasives or landscaping and will take years of remediation and replanting.
Cadboro Bay Resident Association president Eric Dahli will be speaking on behalf of the matter on Monday night.
“Our concerns [from the start] were that we thought the mapping was not current, it’s out of date,” Dahli said. “There were no boots on the ground when it was made, representatives from Saanich didn’t go out and look at areas, they used old aerials.”
Dahli also says it’s hypocritical that the EDPA asks homeowners to protect sensitive areas while Saanich limits fencing for deer protection.
“Saanich fence heights are two feet less than the CRD’s recommended heights for deer fencing,” Dahli said.
In turn, the fencing, or lack thereof, invites deer to eat the precious native species that people plant.
“These are deer and plants that were here long before [settlers],” Dahli said.
Dahli was the chair of the Victoria property review panel in 2012, when homeowners applied for reductions based on the EDPA. Back then B.C. Assessment Authority agents were unaware of it, he said.
He said that despite the pending third party review coming there is no reason for people to wait if they believe their property should be removed from the EDPA.
”There’s been such a tremendous backlog in Saanich that people have been waiting more than a year to have their application seen at council, and I don’t blame them that they’re frustrated,” Dahli said. “It’s a waste of time sending all of these to council. There should be a dispute resolution process similar to the board of variance, it’s taking up valuable time.”