Current Issues - Our Opinion
Vantreight development proposal
Central Saanich has previously committed itself along with 12 other municipalities to cooperate with planning on a regional level. As such, we are obligated not to encourage development in land that we have already agreed to as being outside the Regional Urban Containment Boundary, which has been adopted by the Capital Regional District and the 13 municipalities. This regional agreement was brought in to stop urban sprawl, and prohibits a municipality from extending infrastructure into land beyond the Urban Containment Boundary for all but the most pressing health, fire, agricultural, or environmental reasons. The Vantreight’s development application lies beyond this boundary and is in conflict with the Region’s goal to keep this land in a rural state. Any attempt by Central Saanich Council to increase density or to extend infrastructure beyond this point for the purpose of increasing density will be at the very least, violating the spirit of the Regional Growth Strategy.
The application also conflicts with the Official Community Plan (OCP) , which has set out a number of policies to protect rural and agricultural Central Saanich. This OCP goes through a public process approximately every 5 years and many of these policies cited below, have been regularly reviewed and supported by the residence of Central Saanich for the past 25 years.
There are 3 points worth noting from the OCP that conflict with the Vantreight application:
1) Rural and agricultural land should be consolidated, not subdivided to improve the farms viability. (The land in question is currently all one lot and is not subdividable under the current land use bylaws.)
2) Infrastructure should not be placed on agricultural lands (i.e. The proposal is to place the access road to the development over the farm field rather than using an existing road in North Saanich.)
3) Environmentally sensitive lands should be protected. (The hill top that the development is proposed for is a Garry Oak forest, which is a remnant ecosystem in need of protecting.)
Below are the policies in question:
3.2. Guiding the Future – Agriculture
3.2.1. Preserving Agricultural Land
Objective: To preserve lands with potential for agricultural production and to protect these areas from incompatible land uses.
- Policy 1: Areas designated as Agriculture on Schedule A, Land Use Plan will be retained for agricultural uses over the long-term regardless of any changes that may be made by the Provincial Government with respect to the Agricultural Land Reserve.
- Policy 3: Support the B.C. Agricultural Land Commission objective of retaining agricultural lands and consolidating them in large parcels to maintain their viability for agricultural use and further support consolidation of farmland.
- Policy 4: Further subdivision of agricultural lands is not supported. Amend the Land Use Bylaw to remove the distinction between A1 and A2 zones and increase minimum lot area to 20 hectares. Over 50% of the farms in Central Saanich are under 4 hectares, and while the District endeavors to protect larger lot sizes, it fully recognizes the contribution and viability of all sizes of farms in its jurisdiction.
- Policy 6: Where possible, major roadways have been used to define the transition from Urban Settlement to Agriculture on Schedule A, Land Use Plan.
- Policy 9: New roads, utility corridors or other public uses shall not be located on agricultural lands unless no suitable alternative exists.
3.2.3. Environmental Stewardship
Objective: To encourage and support the implementation of environmentally considerate farm practices.
- Policy 1: Encourage the agricultural community to provide leadership in the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources as it relates to farm practice.
3.3.1. Rural Character
Objective: To preserve rural lands for rural purposes rather than being considered as a reserve for future residential, commercial or industrial uses.
- Policy 1: The areas designated as Rural on Schedule A, Land Use Plan are intended to be retained for rural residential and agricultural uses over the long-term.
- Policy 2: Support agricultural uses on rural lands where possible and discourage subdivision or development of rural lands.
- Policy 3: Support the inclusion of any agriculturally viable rural land into the ALR.
- Policy 4: Support any consolidation of rural designated parcels with agricultural
parcels for the benefit of farm units and agricultural uses.
"In politics and ethics, human difference is morally irrelevant."