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LETTER: Saanich ignores properties encroaching on municipal land

Across Saanich, dozens, if not hundreds, of properties encroach upon municipal property and, despite official assurances, little is being done to prevent it. Thousands of square feet of public property, worth millions of dollars, upon which no taxes are being paid, have been illegally appropriated by homeowners for their sole use and enjoyment. People who know how to manipulate the system are obtaining permits for fences and hedges at the expense of the majority.

In 2020, the Saanich Engineering Department issued a boulevard permit, contrary to policy and for which there is no charge, for a fence. Granting the homeowners a strip of property worth roughly $16,000 and with the consent of the Bylaw Department. In just the last year I have appealed to the Bylaw Department to enforce infractions in clear violation of bylaws dealing with encroachments on roughly 2,000 square feet of municipal property, yet officials maintain the municipality’s policy of discretionary enforcement and nothing has happened.

While many of these encroachments endanger public health and safety by forcing pedestrians to walk on roadways [an illegal act in itself, MVA part 3, section 182(2)] the municipality regularly turns a blind eye. While our new mayor and several councillors claim road safety is a priority, it is obvious from their actions that sentiment is not shared by all municipal officials and employees.

A large part of the problem is the public’s lack of knowledge with regard to property lines and bylaws, but by far the greatest problem is the municipality itself. Failure to follow policies, discretionary enforcement practices and indifference by management and employees will all but guarantee the continuation of unfair taxation.

David Kerr