Created on Sunday, 11 July 2010 14:18
Written by Chris Cook
Fight for Farmland Continues
on the Saanich Peninsula
Greed's dogged persistence never ceases to amaze. Even as fuel, food, and water shortages around the world loom, warning us of a very near future where transporting our groceries great distances is no longer possible, the monied interests owning land within Vancouver Island's richest agricultural area wish to pave over that rare treasure, planting instead on it dense rows of housing units.
It doesn't matter to those interests that Vancouver Island currently imports in the neighbourhood of 95% of the food consumed here from off-island. It doesn't seem to matter much to council that an Official Community Plan (OCP) is already in place forbidding the lands in question, lands outside the Urban Containment Boundary, be developed.
It all flies in the face of the Regional Growth Strategy signed on to by municipalities comprising the Capital Regional District (CRD), and is contrary to the spirit of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
This week, Central Saanich council will entertain arguments for and against maintaining the law. The current council will then decide whether the thousands of person hours put in by both staff and citizen volunteers past to develop the OCP will be tossed out like so much used tissue paper to favour the newest incarnation of filthy lucre-grubbing individualists.
Public Hearings on the so-named 'Vantreight Farms Hill Project' are scheduled to convene in the Cedar Room at the Saanich Fairgrounds this Wednesday, July 14th at 6:30pm.
See below the break for more details on how those concerned about the future of farmland in and around Victoria can have their voice heard. It will be your last chance to save another piece of the South Island's disappearing countryside.
Let them know it isn't right to tear up our Official Community Plan and the Regional Growth Strategy to accommodate development.
Address letters to Mayor and Council
Vantreight Farms "Hill Project"
Wednesday July 14th at 6:30 p.m.
Cedar Room, Saanich Fairgrounds
Some things to think about if you are considering speaking at the Public Hearing, or sending in a written submission to Central Saanich Council in advance.
-The proposed development is not in keeping with the Central Saanich Official Community Plan (OCP). "Staff … consider that rezoning the hilltop to RE-5 would not be consistent with the vision, objectives and policies toward rural lands found in the OCP." (May 5, 2010, Staff Report)
-Whether this is an appropriate location for a dense urban style development must be considered separately from the issue of the viability of one farm business
-There is no guarantee to the District of Central Saanich that this Development will "save the family farm"
-The Development represents unplanned growth in a rural area, outside the identified urban containment boundary, already well established in Central Saanich
-It goes against the recently adopted Central Saanich OCP, a document that outlines the future vision for the community
-This proposal violates the spirit and intent of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS)--an agreement entered into and agreed to by the District of Central Saanich and all member municipalities in the CRD
-Calling a development "rural" does not make it so
-The Central Saanich OCP strongly discourages subdivision of any agricultural lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The Agricultural Land Commission does not usually allow for subdivision of lands in the ALR, and therefore, the Vantreight’s will not be allowed to subdivide their remaining parcels and sell them off in 10 acre pieces if the Hill Project does not proceed
-The preservation of rural land is a stated fundamental value in the OCP
-The Planning Staff at Central Saanich do not support this Development
-The CRD Planning and Transportation Committee have expressed serious concerns about the Hill Project, and Council’s decision to define it as "rural"
-Only 5% of the property will be dedicated as parkland; the common greenspace will be owned by the Strata. By comparison, the Island View Estates subdivision resulted in a donation of 60% of the property for use as public parkland
-Vantreight’s estimate of water available from the local aquifer is substantially different from that which the CRD reports: 304 gallons/minute vs 4 gallons/minute
-The proposal is for a dense urban-style development on ecologically sensitive rural land that serves as greenspace, and a crucial buffer for agricultural land
-The proposal calls for 57 single family homes, each of which may contain a secondary suite.....for a total of 114 households
-It WILL cost taxpayers to maintain the municipal road, trails and bicycle lanes
-There WILL be a loss of agricultural land, for the purpose of putting in a road and pedestrian paths
-The community garden has severe limitations due to the Golden Nematode quarantine restrictions
-The amalgamation of chunks of ALR land into two parcels is simply a redistribution of existing land, on paper
-There is no evidence that this proposal will improve agricultural viability in Central Saanich
-The ‘Hill Project’ is about bailing out one business, and ultimately could be precedent setting in Central Saanich
-The ALC Recommended Buffer zones are being ignored. There needs to be an adequate interface between active farming and development.
-The Hill Project will impact residents in the Southeast Quadrant of North Saanich, more so than any resident in Central Saanich, and yet there has been no discussion with those immediately impacted.
-There will be a huge impact on residents, particularly in North Saanich, with respect to traffic volumes. Research has shown that an additional 700 car trips every weekday can be anticipated, as a result of the Hill Project.
A motion at Central Saanich Council to refer this Development to the CRD was defeated....why?
A motion at Central Saanich Council to refer this Development for a legal opinion was defeated....why?
If Central Saanich staff, and CRD staff are saying that this proposal should not move forward, do you not think that perhaps there are some very valid reasons for it?
Central Saanich Council cannot receive any further public input after Wednesday July 14th. It is imperative that, if you would like your opinion to be heard, you provide a written submission in advance, or attend and speak at the Public Hearing.
Hill plan has 'no tangible benefits'
Published: July 06, 2010 1:00 PM
Why is Central Saanich council supporting the Vantreight hill project when there are no tangible benefits to the community?
The proposal to build 57 luxury homes with suites on rural and agricultural land is contrary to the vision, objectives and policies of our Official Community Plan. It defies the principles of environmental stewardship, sustainability and good land use planning and management.
Simply stated, it is high-density urban development in the wrong location.
So, why are the rules being changed to suit Mr. Vantreight? The proposed subdivision is outside the Urban Settlement Area and completely contrary to the spirit and intent of the Regional
Context Statement and CRD Regional Growth Strategy unanimously approved by member municipalities to protect green space and prevent urban sprawl.
The development plan is based on land speculation for profit, not community need. If approved, it would set a dangerous precedent and open the door for others to pave over agricultural land with houses. This is not an acceptable strategy for saving a farm or building food security.
There are also concerns about the impact of the proposal on area residents and the aquifer, including possible contamination of wells, toxic run-off and the sufficiency of water for such a large housing project.
If the on-site water and sewage treatment for the subdivision prove inadequate, taxpayers can expect to pay millions of dollars in
infrastructure and servicing costs to provide sewer and water for this development. The July 14 public hearing should be cancelled pending further assessment.
Council has abandoned established guidelines, democracy and common sense. The recommendations of municipal staff are being ignored, along with a majority of citizens opposed to the project.
Clearly, a largely pro-development council is putting its aspirations and Mr. Vantreight's business plan ahead of the best interest of everyone in the region.