Public engagement is underway for a biodiversity conservation strategy in Saanich, which may include an EDPA (Environmental Development Permit Area). Details can be found on the District of Saanich website.
The survey for this public engagement clearly shows that an EDPA is being considered along with other regulatory actions. One line of questioning indicates requiring ecosystem restoration and enhancement, and requiring ecosystem retention and protection on private lands. Regrettably, it appears we are heading down the same road as with the previous EDPA that council rescinded in 2018.
The mapping that will be used to determine properties that would be included in a new EDPA, is known to be faulty. A technical committee appointed by council to provide independent advice on the Resilient Saanich program, advised council they did not endorse this mapping for a myriad of reasons. Primary was confusion for the public in the form of out-of-date information, inaccuracies, contradictions, and overlapping designations. Most of the 33 properties council removed from the EDPA in 2018 because science showed they did not have sensitive ecosystems, continue to be mapped.
Within the urban containment boundary, less than 10 per cent of sensitive ecosystems are on private land, with the majority being on public lands. Saanich Citizens for Resilient Environmental Stewardship believes that until Saanich shows that it is leading by example on public lands, there should be no regulation on private land.
The greatest gains in biodiversity can be and should be made from restoration and protection of public land. Not only do we have control over what happens in parks, there is the ecological principle that the larger the land is, the more likelihood that species and habitats will survive.