Sunday, 6 April 2014

New Page re Changes to our OCP!

We have posted a new page with detailed background information on the proposed changes to the OCP that will be considered by the CRD on April 9, 2014.

Check it out here.

A Plea to Protect our OCP - please circulate

Dear North Saanich resident,

The rural/residential and agricultural character that we love in North Saanich is under threat and we urgently need 2 minutes of your time to save it.

We need at least 100 people to send a short email to the CRD Board of Directors at    crdchair@crd.bc.ca     telling them they have no business changing our Official Community Plan for us.

Here's a bit of background:  As you may be aware, there is a Regional Context Statement (RCS) amendment going before the CRD Board of Directors on April 9 at 1:30 that, if approved, would significantly alter the North Saanich Official Community Plan (OCP).  If approved, this amendment would allow for average gross densities of up to 8 to 16 units per acre, with some densities as high as 30 units per acre (3 story apartment buildings) in two areas of NS.  In some parts of those areas, these densities would be put on agricultural land, or be situated directly across the road from ALR land.  More information is available on the district website here:  http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Planning_and_Community_Services/Regional_Context_Statement_Amendment.htm
or at the North Saanich Community Voices website here:  www.nscv.ca

To be clear:  if this RCS amendment is approved, its adoption constitutes a change to our OCP.  Our OCP was developed over a long period of broad public consultation and input, and reflects a rural/residential and agricultural vision that has been consistently supported by NS residents since NS was established in 1965.  The proposed RCS and OCP changes would negatively affect our quality of life, increase our taxes, and drastically increase traffic in NS.

Do you believe that a group of regional politicians who don't know our municipality, don't live in our community, don't pay taxes here, and don't understand our unique issues and character should be allowed to change our OCP?  If not, they need to hear from you.  

We believe that the CRD Board of Directors needs to hear from as many North Saanich residents as possible that we believe that broad changes of this magnitude need to be made through an OCP review, not by a group of politicians who don't even know our municipality, its character or its issues.

What we're asking you to do is simple and quick, and if enough people do it, could save the rural/residential and agricultural ambience that we in North Saanich love:

Would you take 2 minutes to send a brief message requesting (or even demanding) that the CRD keeps its hands off our OCP and leaves any decisions around OCP changes up to NS residents ourselves?

Send your comments to  crdchair@crd.bc.ca   The proper opening salutation is:  "To the Chair and Board of Directors at the Capital Regional District."  Please send a copy to our North Saanich Council too at   admin@northsaanich.ca

The message can be brief, stating simply that you're a NS resident, how long you've lived here, and that you do not want the CRD making OCP decisions for our municipality.  Of course, you may add more if you wish.

The main thing is to send the CRD Board a message that they can't ignore.  A flood of emails from NS residents indicating our demand that we decide our OCP, not the CRD Board, will hopefully get their attention, and make them think twice about interfering in and significantly altering another municipality's OCP.  We think that at least 100 emails (more would be better!) will make the CRD Board sit up and take notice, and we need your help to achieve that goal.

Please take those 2 minutes right now and send an email.  Ask every adult in your household to do the same.  Then forward this to your NS friends and neighbours, letting them know that you are behind this effort, and asking them to help too.

We've seen too many local areas destroyed by unplanned development.  We don't have to be like them.  Please send an email now, and help us protect our OCP.

Thanks,

North Saanich Community Voices

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Shootings at Walnut Grove Licensed Medical Grow-op

       Several arrests made in shootings at Walnut Grove licensed medical grow-op

By Paula Baker, Global News, Mar. 17, 2014

Several arrests have been made after the shooting in Walnut Grove yesterday afternoon, according to mounties.

Police responded to the 8300 block of 216 Street yesterday at roughly 3:30 p.m. after receiving reports of shots being fired.  The location turned out to be a licensed medical marijuana grow operation.

The shooting took place in or around the grow operation and the motive is still being investigated, according to RCMP.

Two men linked to the licensed grow operations were injured.  One man was shot and had a non-life threatening wound and the other was treated for injuries received during the assault.

Several arrests have been made and police also seized a firearm.

Police will be recommending charges for a 23-year-old female and a 29-year-old male, both from Surrey.  The pair are currently in custody and are waiting for their next court appearance.  It’s expected a third person, a 22-year-old male from Surrey will be charged in the shooting as well.

Officers remain at the scene today and will be continuing their investigation.

Changes to the Agricultural Land Commission and ALR

       News Release: 27 March 2014

Core Review ALC Changes Threaten BC’s Food Security
Agriculture Advocates Respond to Bill 24

Victoria—Like forests and water, our foodlands are a public trust.  We must retain agricultural land for a food secure future.

Changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and Commission (ALC) announced today in the Legislature refer to regional differences, fertile land and benefits for BC farmers.  A common interpretation of the “fertile land”  and two-zone emphasis from the Premier and Ministers is the Okanagan and Fraser Valleys and southern Vancouver Island as deserving of more protection and the rest of the province less. What this does is to weaken protection for 90 per cent of lands currently in the ALR.

Less than five percent of BC`s total land base is suitable for agriculture and protected in the Agricultural Land Reserve. “This is potentially disastrous: it could leave just one-half of one per cent (0.5%) of BC’s land base with the present standard of farmland protection,” said Brent Mansfield, Co-Chair of the BC Food Systems Network (BCFSN). “That is not enough!”

It also raises questions about agricultural lands in BC’s north.  “We already know that we will have to look north for food production as growing seasons change due to the effects of climate change, such as the present drought in California,” said Co-chair Abra Brynne. “Almost half of the ALR lands are in the north, with 72 per cent of BC’s remaining prime quality lands in the Peace River Valley. Future generations cannot afford to lose that food growing potential.  There is just too much at stake.”

The ALR has earned broad public support over 40 years. As well as preserving farmland, it is a key element of regional and community planning, defining urban containment boundaries. “Cannibalizing the ALR – with two zones and six regional panels - is no way to improve it,” said Brynne.  She questioned the process that led to these changes. “The Core Review process promised but did not deliver public consultation,” she stated. “Farm and food organizations, local governments and the Agricultural Land Commission itself have not had a proper opportunity for dialogue.”

Given the importance of access to both land and water for food production, this rushed and unusual process is a marked contrast to the public consultation process undertaken before introduction of the Water Sustainability Act.  “We understand that farmers need more flexibility from the farmland protection system for succession planning and for agriculture-related ancillary businesses,” said Mansfield. “But the methods need more discussion.”

The BCFSN calls on the government to set this Bill aside and consult properly with stakeholders and the public on any changes to the Agricultural Land Commission Act, just as it did with the Water Sustainability Act. Let’s find a way to work together to update a province-wide farmland protection system for the 21st century that will serve food producers and support food security for all British Columbians.
























































BC Food Systems Network Media Backgrounder




 
 
Lots of good information, links and resources about the proposed changes to the ALC and ALR


Pot zoning change approved

by Wayne Moore, Apr 1, 2014

Kelowna City Council has given first reading to a zoning amendment to allow Medical Marijuana Production facilities in the I1 (Business Industrial) zone.

The amendment came out of a March 18 public hearing.

This means Medical Marijuana Production facilities will be allowed on I1, I2, I3 and I4 zones.

"The rationale is based on the fact there is very few uses that were allowed in the I4 zone that weren't already allowed in the I1 and I3 zone," stated Subdivision, Agriculture and Environment Director, Shelley Gambacort in her brief report to council.

Meanwhile, it will be a month or more before staff are prepared to come back to council with wording on a bylaw amendment which will allow production facilities on agricultural lands.

"We are trying to target a meeting in May for that. We are doing the research for that right now," says Gambacort.

"We have met with a number of proponents that are looking at having the facilities within the agricultural zone. We are just trying to get some background as to what they are looking for as far as the facilities and we will be then taking it to the AC for comments on the draft bylaw at which point we are hoping to be before council in May."

Gambacort says staff within the Ministry of Agriculture will also be consulted prior to coming to council because any proposed bylaw will have to receive ministry approval prior to adoption.


Democracy, North Saanich Style

by Ross Campbell, Saanich Voice Online, April 1, 2014

“I encourage all citizens to attend North Saanich council meetings and to play a part in our democracy,” writes North Saanich Councillor Craig Mearns in a letter to the editor in the Peninsula News Review of February 20 2014.

Apparently the invitation does not extend to all citizens, as local resident Springfield Harrison recently found out.  At issue was the presentation of a professional report by University of Victoria professor, Dr. Brock Smith on the merits of the recent North Saanich Housing Strategy Implementation Plan (HSIP).  Mr. Harrison was struck from the agenda with statements such as “I don’t care what Mr. Harrison says,” from Councillor Dunstan Browne.

Councillor Ted Daly initiated the motion, supported by Councillors Brown, Mearns, and McBride, overruling Mayor Alice Finall’s plea to respect a basic right guaranteed all citizens. But this was only one act in a multi-act play being performed for the benefit of those who take an interest in such affairs in the council chambers.

The HSIP got its start early in 2012, when CTQ Consultants of Kelowna was retained at a cost of $ 16,800 to initiate a process of public consultation related to the prospect of possibly introducing higher density housing in the District.  The Terms of Reference state that “the District is taking a proactive approach to identify and address local housing needs.”  In  fact, housing needs had been on the radar since at least 2007 when the District decided on public meetings to allow residents to opine about potential higher density housing.

In its report then, CitySpaces Consulting Ltd. noted that there was strong support for keeping North Saanich’s rural landscape intact. Therefore it recommended secondary suites and secondary dwellings be considered, along with recognition of locations where “smaller lots and multi-family housing would be acceptable…preferably in the form of dwelling units affordable to moderate income households.”  This “moderate income” was defined in 2008 as a family with an income between $70 to $90,000 annually.  Affordable housing became “rental or ownership housing that is attainable by a household without spending more than 30% of their annual gross income on housing.”

Further it stated, “A North Saanich couple family earning $91,099 (median income 2007) can afford to pay $ 2,429 monthly on housing without spending more than 32% of their income.  At this income, the couple could afford to purchase a home of $453,390, assuming a 10% down payment.”  A single income worker with a median annual income of $35,500 was limited to a purchase price of $177,000.  These figures have not changed much in the intervening years, according to CMHC and TD Bank figures in the later CTQ report.

With a population of 11,000, it is important to note that the public input consisted of three information sessions attended by between 25 to 40 people, and similar numbers were contacted by telephone, attended the open house, or the community workshop.  “The participation level was similar to housing strategy processes in other communities,” the report stated.

Fast forward to 2012 and yet another consultant, CTQ, hired for the task of identifying “housing needs and community values.”  Again stakeholder focus groups, a public open house town hall type meeting as well as an ‘exit’ survey were used to gauge public sentiment during the first three months of the year.  The report recognized the need to “balance these new dynamics (growing industrial hub, diverse employment node, growing ferry terminal, more highway traffic and pressures for development) while maintaining a community character for future generations to enjoy.”  And, “the agricultural land base (ALR) and farming area helps define what North Saanich is all about for many residents,” leading the consultant to repeatedly describe ALR land as “sacrosanct.” Protection of property values and the environment were also strong considerations.  In spite of this the Sandown Racetrack lands were suggested for comprehensive development because, it stated, “although these values are important, they must be considered in unison with other planning principles…”  The complete report is at: http://tinyurl.com/oguz93o.

By the time this was completed, the consultant’s bill to the taxpayers for this exercise had risen to over $68,000.

Several professional responses to this report came from the public-at no cost to the District.  The first, written by Dr. Natasha Caverley in September, 2013, was accepted without discussion by council.  Her remarks questioned the vagueness of terminology and the use of terms, such as “anti-higher density” to seemingly cast aspersions on groups of residents.  As well, “a series of statements, often provocative in nature, are noted in the HSIP final report without any source material referenced/cited,” Dr. Caverley adds.  The complete letter can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/caverley.

Dr. Brock Smith, Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, and CEO of Cordova Bay Consulting Ltd. was asked by Mr. Harrison and a group of concerned citizens to “assess the validity of the HSIP Exit Survey.”  Dr. Smith has done similar survey-based research for Tourism Victoria, the Victoria Airport Authority, Clipper Navigation, among others.

In his critique, Dr. Smith also took issue with the limited numbers sampled, “The sampling approach was, at best, a convenience sample…the weakest samples from a perspective of representativeness….It would be inappropriate to generalize findings beyond the sample.”

He concludes with, “In my opinion, this convenience nature of the sample, and significant limitations in the question wording and measurement scales (answer choices) in this particular [exit] survey warrants significant caution in making key administrative or policy decisions based on the results of this survey.”  The entire document can be found here. http://tinyurl.com/ok2t9ua.

In his letter of March 3rd, Mr. Harrison takes certain council members to task. “There is ample evidence that your group has no interest in a level playing field when it comes to public discussion…..Section 8 of the Procedures Bylaw requires [council members] ‘to consider the well-being and interests of the District and its community.’  Shutting down free expression does not align with this directive.” He adds, ‘this evaluation leaves the HSIP process, its recommendations and conclusions and all policies flowing from them, resting upon a very weakened foundation.” The complete letter can be found here:  http://tinyurl.com/oen5g37.