Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society is a grass roots organization that believes the EDPA places an undue burden on homeowners while not protecting the environment. We are asking Saanich Council to rebuild the EDPA with the inclusion of all stakeholders.
The Current State of Things
One day you receive a letter from Saanich that says your entire backyard is has been declared a park that you are responsible to take care of. This decree is what the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw inflicted on thousands of homeowners across Saanich in 2012, and now Saanich is looking to increase the scope and restrictions to impact even more property owners.
We have developed a Voluntary Stewardship program – you can read about it here.
Please read and sign our latest petition here: https://www.change.org/p/residents-of-saanich-revise-the-saanich-edpa
February 15, 2016
Thank you to all of you that attended Town Hall #2.
We believe it was a success with lots of conversation about moving forward with a solution. We were told 500 chairs were set up for the meeting. and almost all the chairs were filled for the first half of the meeting. There were a number of speakers from a fairly new group called Saanich Advocates For the Environment (SAFE) and most of them spoke at the beginning, then left. While this group may believe they oppose the direction of Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society (SCRES), when you listened to their speeches there were many commonalities between our group and theirs. Ted Lea and his wife Lora presented our proposal for a Volunteer Stewardship Program. Consequently, SCRES is well respected by Mayor and Council and seen as a partner in working together for a solution.
We expect Saanich will announce very soon a Committee of the Whole meeting for the EDPA. We will advise as soon as we hear.
Finally, for your convenience, below are links to the Townhall in its entirety:
January 29, 2016
The next Saanich EDPA TownHall has been announced.
Date & Time: Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 18:00 to 23:00
Location: Pearkes Arena – 3100 Tillicum Rd.
It is vital that any who support rebuilding the EDPA attend!
January 24, 2016
We have received numerous emails with regards to property assessments with several people wondering about appealing their assessments. Appeals must be received by Jan. 31st, 2016.
Most property assessments on all types of properties in Saanich have gone up this year to reflect the general increase in values for all properties sold in Saanich during the year. Do not let this fool you into thinking the EDPA does not affect property values. When Saanich adopted the EDPA Bylaw in March 2012, they did not advise BC assessment of the Bylaw. There is nothing registered with BC Assessment to say a property is in the EDPA or it is not just as there is nothing registered on title to notify people if an EDPA exists on a property. If EDPA properties were registered with BC Assessment, or the EDPAs were registered on title to reflect its restrictions on land use, we believe you could expect to see many properties reduced in value in comparison to similar properties without the EDPA. One of the big issues with the EDPA remains how it was implemented without proper consultation or the knowledge of homeowners, real estate professionals and the general public. In turn, we believe this information issue continues to expand the negative impacts on property owners and purchasers.
In December 2015, executive from Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society (SCRES) met with BC Assessment. BC Assessment advised they recently have received public inquiries from EDPA property owners and other stake holders with regards to the perceived loss of property values. BC Assessment committed to doing a review. On Jan. 14, 2016 our executive was invited back to hear the results of their review. Having used the standards they are bound by in assessing property values (actual sales data), they could not determine that properties sold with EDPA in 2015 were selling below their assessed values. It is only for the purpose of this review that Saanich provided them with a list of EDPA properties.
The review found that 98 EDPA properties sold between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 14, 2015. It is very important to note however that of these 98 sold properties ‘0’ mentioned the EDPA in the property listing notes according to BC Assessment. In other words, given the lack of mention of the EDPA in the listing notes, it’s likely many of the purchasers were not aware of the EDPA when they purchased the property. If purchasers are unaware the property they are purchasing has an EDPA, there would be no impact to the price because the property appears to be an otherwise normal property without EDPA land use restrictions. We also note that reviewing a small random sample of the current properties listed for sale now which we know have EDPAs on them, there is no mention of the EDPA in the listing notes and disclosure statements. It is also important to note that the BC Assessment review can only look at properties that have sold, they cannot look at properties where sellers are unable to sell or they did not want to sell at a loss and may have taken off the market due to the EDPA.
Lots of conversation followed the presentation of the review report. I think that everyone at the table agreed that knowledge of the EDPA (or lack thereof) would be an important factor in whether the EDPA impacts the value of a property during a sale. Additionally there is general acknowledgement that land use restrictions like the EDPA can result in reduced market values especially where neighboring similar properties are available without the restrictions. Other factors which would determine what, if any, impact the EDPA would have on the value of property are the size and extent of the EDPA and how the EDPA is situated on the property.
We believe that the inability for BC Assessment to currently determine the impact of the EDPA during 2015 has a lot to do with a combination of the following 3 issues:
the presence of the EDPA was not known by purchasers before purchasing a particular property;
the inability of the review to take into account properties where the EDPA may have prevented the sale or the property was taken off the market; and
it’s possible that for or some of the sales the EDPA area was so small or inconsequential to the overall size or enjoyment of the property that the EDPA restrictions did not materially impact the property value (e.g. a very small EDPA area in the back corner planting bed of a mature single residential lot versus an EDPA covering 15% of a property and having a larger impact on use and enjoyment and therefore property value).
As many of you know, most homeowners and real estate industry professionals only started to become really aware of the EDPA in the fall of 2015 following the Saanich Open Houses in September and October 2015. At the Open Houses, our SCRES members manning our information booths met individuals who had purchased in 2015 but had no idea the property they bought was under an EDPA until finding out later through neighbors or other sources. Some of us who are part of the SCRES are people who have bought properties since 2012 and who did so with no knowledge of the EDPA as there was no disclosure and have now recently found out the property we own has an EDPA. Knowing what we now know about the EDPA land use restrictions (as well as what is store for EDPA properties under other bylaws being proposed like the new Invasive Species Bylaw) many of us would not have purchased the property or would have only done so after greatly reducing the price we were willing to pay for the property.
As many of you saw at the first town hall in November 2015, some of the speakers reflected on how the EDPA greatly impacted the sale of their properties when the EDPA was known to purchasers. The real estate agents who were part of these sales were also there to speak to how much the EDPA reduced the market price and made the properties very difficult to sell. We are aware of a few properties that did disclose and were sold for $200,000+ less than assessed value. One of these sales did not close until after December 2015 so it was not considered in the BC Assessment review.
We cannot speculate as to who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that purchasers are aware of whether a property has an EDPA on it or not, but we believe the current situation is a mess due to how this bylaw was implemented. The longer this bylaw remains, the larger this issue will get as more properties change hands. We note that the current MLS standard form contract and disclosure statement does not include a place which specifically lists the EDPA, even though it does have a place to indicate other types of land use bylaw restrictions like heritage status. New purchasers may find themselves unknowingly in the same situation where many of us find ourselves today, with properties that have significant land use restrictions on them which they were not aware of and would not have bought, or would have only bought at a reduced price.
Given the issues outlined above, we believe the true impacts of the EDPA will be better reflected in prices in 2016 as more information is now available. However the issue about purchaser knowledge will always be present until questions around who is responsible for informing purchasers of an EDPA become clearer.
Regarding appealing your assessment, while BC Assessment is not currently in a position to make broad based adjustment to all EDPA properties, we believe they will review each case on its own to determine if the nature of the EDPA on your property would, in their opinion, impact value and warrant a reduction.
Appealing the 2015 Assessments
If you believe the EDPA impacts the value of your property, you must make your own decision to file an appeal or not. We are not property or legal experts and cannot advise you as to whether you should appeal. If you believe you need professional advice regarding an appeal, you should seek this for your own comfort. We, the founding members of SCRES, are everyday people like you who have worked very hard to afford our properties which represent the largest financial asset most of us have. We strongly believe the EDPA has unfairly impacted our use, enjoyment and ultimately reduced the value of our property and should be removed. We believe there are more effective ways to promote environmental stewardship and improve the true sensitive ecosystems without the negative impacts of the current EDPA.
With that said, the founding members SCRES met this week and have decided that the best course at this time is for us to file appeals on our own assessment notices. We believe that the more people who appeal their notices the more likely the EDPA and its negative impacts on values will be highlighted and cannot be ignored or swept under the rug as some are trying to do. If you believe the EDPA has impacted the value of your property and you wish to stand with us by filing your own appeal, you need to do so on or before January 31, 2016.
The Process to Appeal
The process of filing out the appeal form is fairly simply and straight forward. The form requires you to answer the questions provided and file it. There is no fee and should you decide later you wish to withdraw your appeal you may do so (for example in the event that Saanich realizes its mistake and indicates its willingness to repeal the EDPA in the next few months). There is a step by step guide on BC Assessments website explaining the process to file an appeal you can access online at http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/ parp/pdfs/ PropertyAssessmentComplaintPro cess_Booklet_web_Enabled.pdf . The guide requests that you contact BC Assessment before you appeal to discuss your assessment concerns and potentially avoid having to file the appeal. However, there is no requirement for you to call before filing your appeal. We will not be making this call before filing as we believe it is strategically more important that an official appeal be filed than settling for less or not filing.
The easiest way to file your appeal is to prepare and submit your property assessment notice of complaint (appeal) form online with BC Assessment. Please use the following link (by pressing the Ctrl key while clicking your mouse cursor on the link) to the online formNotice of Complaint (Appeal) Form (to the 2016 Property Assessment Review Panel) . Once you have completed the form you must hit the submit button at the bottom of the form and you will receive a confirmation your appeal has been filed.
If you do not wish to file online, a printable version of the form is available at https://eforms.bcassessment. ca/Notice%20of%20Complaint% 20Appeal%20Form.pdf . If you use this printable form your complaint will have to be mailed (postmarked no later than January 31), delivered in person, or faxed to your local assessment office, listed on the front of your Notice.
In closing, only you can decide whether you wish to appeal. We have made our own decisions because we believe the EDPA does impact our property values and these issues will become more known as time goes by given how little was known about the EDPA until well into 2015. None of us really in the end want to see our assessment go down but that is the reality for many of us if we cannot change this current EDPA. We believe the more appeals that are filed the greater likelihood this issue will need to be recognized both politically but also financially. We will not continue to reward Saanich with increasing taxes being paid when its policies have done so much to limit our rights to use and enjoy our own properties and to maintain the value we have worked our whole lives for.
If you have not already signed our NEW petition, please do so and get your family, neighbors and friends who support our goals to sign as well. We intend to provide this petition to council soon to support removing the EDPA mapping from your property and replacing with a Volunteer Stewardship Program for everyone in Saanich who wishes to participate.
Click Here to Donate – We are using PayPal as our payment gateway, so transactions are secure as possible.
Thank for you support,
Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society
December 31, 2015
Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society is created. A board of directors was elected by a group of “founders” who donated money and time in October and November. Thank you all for your support.
Anita Bull was elected President of the Society. Other board members include Adam Orser, Lee Green, Larry Murphy, Peter Rantucci, Chris Phillips and Matthew Green – all property owners in Saanich.
The initial money that was raised has been used to fund a number of activities that lead up to the Town Hall meeting in November. Flyers were printed, delivered and mailed, signs posted and a new website that will be launched in January, has been created.
While things may have seemed quiet since the last town hall, let us assure you that a great deal of “behind the scenes work” has been done and is ongoing including dialog with most of our elected officials in Saanich.
2nd TOWN HALL MEETING – Andy Laidlaw has confirmed the 2nd Town Hall Meeting is to take place the last week of January 2016. The exact date and venue have yet to be confirmed.
We need to have a very strong showing at the next town hall as we did at the first. We encourage and need you to attend this 2nd Town Hall and speak to Mayor and Council. We heard several people say they didn’t get up to speak because someone before them said what they intended to say. Saanich staff recorded not only what people had to say but how many people had something to say. We need the strength of numbers, even if it is only to get up and say “I don’t have a sensitive ecosystem on my property, I want my property removed from the EDPA.” PLEASE – IT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU SPEAK AT THIS TOWN HALL.
Several weeks ago Mayor Atwell said on CFAX “what surprised him most about the 1st TOWN HALL was that more than 400 people showed up in miserable weather to express their dissatisfaction with the EDPA Bylaw.” Saanich staff had told Mayor and Council that only 20 residents were upset with the Bylaw. We need to continue to show Mayor and Council how they have been misinformed and misled by staff with regards to the EDPA.
Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society has worked to communicate the negative impacts of this bylaw on property owners that was snuck in without our knowing in 2012. Mayor and Council have now heard that we do not accept the bylaw as it is. The bylaw is not working for the environment or the residents and it needs to be amended and rebuilt.
With your support, we believe we can remove this bylaw ‘s impact on your property. We want to see Saanich encourage, not punish landowners in order to truly to protect our areas of highest biodiversity. This includes neglected Saanich Parks and others – not just the 2400 property owners that were arbitrarily selected in 2012. We believe this can be done while maintaining everyone’s property rights and values.
There is lots more work to be done, but with your continued support we can be a partner in a solution that will work for all of us.
We will be sending you an update early January
Best wishes for this holiday season.
Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society
November 15, 2015
The Garth Homer Center was filled to capacity on Thursday night for the Townhall. Many citizens braved the weather to make sure their voices were heard by council.
Speaker after speaker shared with Council their ideas on why the EDPA does not work, as well as suggestions for how it could be improved.
We have video of the entire event on our resources page.
Unfortunately, Councilor Brownoff continues to say “education” is the answer, while Councilor Derman continues to say he needs to do his homework. The time for these has passed – it is time to start work on a new EDPA.
There was also much concern about the draft Invasive Species bylaw, which you can read for yourself on our Resources page.
October 29, 2015
When: 7 P.M. Thursday, November 12, 2015.
Where: Garth Homer Centre at 813 Darwin Avenue, next to the Saanich Municipal Hall.
Saanich is hosting a public townhall focused on the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA). It is vital that all Saanich citizens attend to understand how this drastic bylaw affects them and their property.
For more information, go to: http://www.saanich.ca/living/about/news/2015/edpatownhallmeeting.html
To receive news related to the EDPA, please sign-up for our mailing list to the right
September 29, 2015
A very long council meeting results in no action on the EDPA…
Thanks to every one who came out to support the removal of two properties from the EDPA. Mayor Atwell surprised everyone by proposing to repeal the bylaw immediately. My heart skipped a beat with excitement until the other councilors began speaking. Several mentioned that we should not rush into this. I thought Councilor Derman made a reasonable argument that turfing the bylaw without having advertised might be unfair, but generally, council does not get the urgency of this.
What about the young family forced to move due to a job transfer?
What about the aged Saanichite looking to clean up their affairs before entering care?
For them, this is extremely urgent.
The bylaw was implemented with minimal engagement and no “trial” period – it was rushed in at what we are now realizing is a huge cost to property owners. Why can’t we get rid of it with equal vigor?
Rebuilding the bylaw is the way to go – why wait to throw out the trash? I don’t keep old chicken in my fridge once it starts to smell.
September 20, 2015
The webpage has not been updated in a while – summer was relatively quiet. However, in recent weeks, much activity has taken place.
– Council Meeting Sept 28 – There is an item on the agenda to remove two properties from the EDPA atlas. These properties are lawn with some Garry Oak trees. They were profiled in the Saanich News. Under resources, I have attached Saanich staff’s response to the proposal. It is a long but interesting read as it gives clues about how Saanich staff feel the EDPA should be applied – basically, they want the EDPA to be kept in place so that any future development can be forced to restore the environment.
2nd Open House Announced – Oct 3 at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre.
July 4, 2015
Saanich held the first of two open houses on the EDPA the other week. They have information boards, staff was available for discussion, and they had one on one meetings available so you could discuss your particular situation and understand how the EDPA impacts you.
Unfortunately, the information being provided by Saanich continues to indicate that the EDPA is a wonderful (their words, “best”) tool for protecting the biodiversity of Saanich.
We disagree with many of the messages they provided in the open house. Simply put, what that are saying is not what the bylaw says.
Click this link or go to our resources page to see our response to Saanich’s message.
June 6, 2015
There have been lots of activities lately. We made a presentation at the last Saanich Council meeting, which was very well attended. In the meeting, it came to light that Staff was proposing some “Open Houses” to check in on the status of the EDPA. We argued that the citizens of Saanich also needed a chance to have their voices heard, and requested a public meeting similar to what happened with the Cedar Hill clay courts. Council seemed to agree. Most importantly, we argued that impacted residents must be directly contacted by mail.
This seems to have happened – Saanich has mailed a feedback form to impacted residents, which also includes the schedule for the the first Open House, on June 17 in the Garry Oak Gymnasium. See the details here.
Unfortunately, the feedback form leaves a little to be desired. Firstly, it is paper based and gives no way to email it. Having to mail it or drop it off to Saanich will greatly reduce the response rate.
Further, the way the form is written, it seems to gather feedback in a way that reduces the ability to be negative about the EDPA.
We encourage everyone to attend the open houses and let Saanich staff know your concerns, and to make sure you get your feedback into Saanich so they know how you really feel about the EDPA.
In addition, there was a Saanich News article that really highlights the dramatic impact the EDPA can have on land values – read it here.
Saanich staff were also guests at a SCAN meeting where they answered many questions. Unfortunately, they are still giving the same answers about EDPA only being about development, subdivisions, and monster homes, and that they have evidence that the homes in protected areas actually increase in value. I have attached the minutes of the SCAN meeting to our resources page.
This is in line with the “Science Fair” style information booths that you might be seeing at various recreation centres around Saanich. Again, they highlight all the good things the EDPA is supposed to be, without talking about the bad things that it actually is.
We are preparing our report for Council and hope to have it here for review by June 11th. Please check back.
Voluntary Stewardship Proposal
Recommendation for Existing EDPA Bylaw:
The Bylaw should be carefully revised and removed from individual properties. It would only apply to Subdivision applications-until replaced with the program described below. What would be left is a science-based bylaw to guide ecologically sensitive subdivision development, which balances development with protection of the environment.
Saanich Communities helping Biodiversity
(Cooperative Community Action for Saanich’s Biodiversity)
Vision: Maintain and Improve Biological Diversity in the District of Saanich by encouraging cooperative landowner actions
- To develop a landowner stewardship program that is based on best science and that works with landowners in a cooperative manner to maintain and enhance biodiversity in Saanich.
- To encourage the general populace of the District of Saanich to understand and improve biological diversity in the district by means of education, outreach, incentives and other stewardship mechanisms.
- To develop a foundation of understanding across a large number of people in Saanich.
Issues to be addressed – develop a voluntary landowner centric program to bring awareness to the following:
- Loss of biodiversity – species at risk, ecosystems at risk, natural ecosystems
- Degraded ecosystems, agriculture, urban/suburban development, invasive species
- Protection of marine and shoreline values
- Loss of urban forest, concern for future forests
- Viability for both species and ecosystems at risk
- Need for measureable success
- Climate change implications for natural communities
- Focus on all Saanich residents, not just those presently in the EDPA
Create an all encompassing program to encourage action and volunteerism to maintain and improve biodiversity in Saanich by landowners and residents contributing to:
- Clearly identify areas of highest biodiversity to ensure they attract the appropriate resources and attention
- Maintain existing areas of highest biodiversity in Saanich
- Take actions to improve degraded natural communities by plantings and/or removal of invasive species
- Provide the means to enhance or protect species at risk on their properties
- Provide proactive leadership on Saanich lands including Parks to maintain or enhance the biodiversity through invasive species removal, encouragement for funding for restoration of Sensitive Ecosystems and promoting action by Saanich.
- Developing community based programs through, resident associations, neighbourhoods, youth based groups, schools and other organizations.
- Work with Saanich staff, Council, stewardship groups, science-based organizations and individuals to successfully implement these actions
- A document outlining scientific knowledge and principles as they relate to Saanich Ecosystems
- Better understanding of the District of Saanich’s inventory of natural ecosystems and species on public and private lands
- Course materials and program to assist in the education of landowners so that they become voluntary stewards on their own properties leading to greater community spirit and pride of ownership.
What benefits will be provided to society and to the environment:
- Improved Ecosystem Services, and Green Infrastructure
- Resident buy in – proactive landowner involvement towards improving the natural environment.
- Increased willingness to plant native trees, Garry oaks, arbutus, etc.
- Increased willingness to plant other native species, shrubs, herbs, wildflowers, native grasses
- Urban forests for the future
- Improved funding and emphasis on maintenance and restoration in Saanich Parks
- Significant awareness and need to manage invasive species
- Restoration/maintenance/population supplementation for species at risk
Create an Independent Scientific Advisory Panel reporting directly to Saanich Council, to develop the science and voluntary mechanisms to protect and enhance biological diversity in Saanich. The Panel is to be created with joint approval by landowners and environmental groups, chosen as experts in Sensitive Ecosystems, Species at Risk, Urban Forestry, Restoration, Marine, and Riparian Ecosystems, and Landowner Stewardship (such as from HAT).
- Failure to achieve the objective of maintaining and improving the environment and for private property owners viewing environmental stewardship as a liability to be reduced versus supported and enhanced.
- Significant losses of tax revenue that is expected with reassessment of property values which have already begun by BC Assessment.
- Significant costs to Saanich of litigation expected under the present bylaw.
Funding: To be determined – for a two year start up with potential funding from Landowners, District of Saanich, Foundations that support the environment, and from other environmental groups. Significant Funding is required by the District of Saanich to show its commitment to improving biodiversity on its own properties and its willingness to lead by example to demonstrate their commitment to the environment.
Saanich will be praised and Council will be respected as a leader for both a public and populace based stewardship model that can be used in many other places.
Am I affected?
You can use Saanich’s excellent website to see if your property is affected: gis.saanich.ca
Turn the volume up on your computer and watch the video below to see how it is done.
To get a complete property report, you can use the “I want to…” button and select “Create Property Information Report”.
It is important to remember that Saanich is planning to increase the number of sites covered by the EDPA so while you may not be impacted today, you might be in future.
What You Can Do
Write a letter to Council, to the Mayor, and to individual Council members letting them know your concerns – include photos and details.
Mayor Richard Atwell – email@example.com
Councillor Dean Murdock, Chair, Environment and Natural Areas Advisory Committee – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Vicki Sanders, Previous Chair, Environmental Advisory Committee – email@example.com
Councillor Vic Derman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Leif Wergeland – email@example.com
Councillor Judy Brownoff – firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Colin Plant – email@example.com
Councillor Fred Haynes – Fred@FredHaynes.ca
If you wish to call, phone numbers can be found at www.saanich.ca/living/mayor/council/index.html
Contact senior Saanich staff
Andy Laidlaw, CAO – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Hvozdanski, Director of Planning – email@example.com
Adriane Pollard, Manager of Environmental Services – firstname.lastname@example.org
Carrie MacPhee, Director of Legislative Services – email@example.com
Contact your local community association to express your concerns. A list of contacts can be found at this link.
Like our Facebook page.
If you are unhappy with how you have been treated by Saanich, please write to Carrie MacPhee, Director of Legislative Services. If you are unsatisfied, or are getting treated unfairly or unreasonably, then you should contact the Ombudsperson of British Columbia to register your complaint. You can call them locally at 250-387-5855 or online at www.bcombudsperson.ca. We initially believed we could link complaints, but this is not the case. Each complaint will get their own complaint number.
With your help, we can ensure that Saanich’s most sensitive ecosystems are protected.
The links and documents below will provide more information.
Fraser Institute Report on Stealth Confiscation of Properties
Video of the April 28 community meeting
Green Bylaws Toolkit – Chapters 6 and 7Times Colonist
Editorial – March 4
May 29Saanich News
Various articles and lettersCFAX
Anita and Ted on Ian Jessop – November 11
Mayor Atwell on Ian Jessop – November 5
Anita and Ted Discuss the EDPA – June 11
Mayor Atwell talks about the EDPA on CFAX – start listening at 41 minutesTown Hall Videos – November 12