The North Pender Conundrum

This is the first in a series of articles dissecting the RAR Community Information meeting held April 28, 2011.

For months now we have been told by the contract planner tasked with preparing and authoring the proposed Riparian Area bylaw for Salt Spring, that we must “meet or beat” the Riparian Area Regulation requirements. To that end, we have been told that every ditch, which is connected by surface flow, whether it contains water or not, must be included within the new Riparian Assessment Area. In other words, highways ditches within the Ministry of Environment Riparian Area Watersheds (“MoE RAW”) (identified by the Ministry of Environment and a group of students from the University of BC – and the subject of my next post) are to be declared “streams” under the proposed definition of “streams” in the proposed bylaw.

The public has been told in no uncertain terms the Local Trust Committee “doesn’t have a choice” – it must comply with the RAR.

Enter the North Pender Conundrum.

Unlike the approach taken by the contract planner on Salt Spring, the Islands Trust planner and LTC on North Pender have taken a different stand. Having applied for, and received funding from the Islands Trust Council to obtain accurate mapping (approximately $10,000, 40% of which was paid for by Salt Spring taxpayers) from Madrone Enviromental Services (see full report at http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/np/pdf/nprarstreamrpt.pdf ), Trust staff in Victoria then prepared mapping which reduced the MoE RAW, which covered a good portion of North Pender, down to three major stream and lake areas, and one wetland. A 4 page bylaw was prepared and attached to the simplified mapping, North Pender LTC gave it 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings, and, on April 19th approval was given by the Islands Trust Executive.

The conundrum? The mapping and bylaw, approved by staff, the LTC and the Islands Trust Executive, does not protect “ditches” as defined in the RAR.

This completely blows apart any contention from Islands Trust staff, the contract planner or the Salt Spring Trustees that we don’t have a choice, and, “must protect ditches” as defined in the RAR.

I brought the conundrum up at the Community Information Meeting, and not a single staff member or Trustee had an intelligent and/or informed response to it.

Amazingly, Trustee Peter Luckham of Thetis Island, who chaired the meeting, and, who is one of the four Islands Trust Executive Committee Vice-Chairs who had passed the North Pender bylaw last week, also could not give a response. Evidently the Trust Executive hadn’t given the question a moment’s thought before approving it. So much for “having to comply” with RAR definitions.

As I have been saying for awhile not, it is now crystal clear the public is being misled on a number of issues, not the least of which is the “necessity” to blanket 60% of Salt Spring with a development permit area.

It is not good enough to simply ignore the North Pender Conundrum as if it does not exist. Trustees and staff need to provide the public with a clear response to it before making one more public statement about how wonderful, unobtrusive and convenient they “hope” the proposed bylaw will be for property owners within the proposed DP area.

Next post – “Accuracy? We Don’t Need No Stinking Accuracy”

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One Response to The North Pender Conundrum

  1. Kol Ayre says:

    Too much to hope that the Islands Trust will do other then reinvent the RAR bylaw wheel for each and every Trust area. It’s just too sensible, not to say fiscally prudent, to craft a bylaw that can have applicability across the Trust region, making such local amendments as prove necessary.

    Of course this would have denied Salt Spring trustees their very own, dedicated, pet planning consultant who, they hope, can lend the illusion of objectivity to what is clearly the usual flawed work of Ehring and Torgrimson. The Director of Local Planning, the Island’s Planner and the freelance planning consultant all recommended detailed mapping. Our trustees, of cours, know better.

    George and Christine, elections are looming. You (or your clones, if you mercifully decide not to stand again) will be under the scrutiny of the community like never before. So you can get some very rare practice in justifying your decisions to the great unwashed who happen to elect you, perhaps you’d like to explain which aspects of the advice that your planning staff offered on detailed mapping were so flawed to prove unacceptable to you. The cash cow voters are just itching to know.

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