The Ehring Proposition – Accurate Mapping a Waste of Money

“The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.” – Albert Einstein

Einstein knew a “corollary” was the reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion, or making a logical judgment, on the basis of circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than on the basis of direct observation.

Trustee Ehring, at the April 28th RAR Information meeting, in response to a call from members of the public for accurate riparian mapping, offered the following proposition – that accurate mapping of riparian areas on Salt Spring is a waste of time and money because, hey,  if you want to know if you are going to be within the new Riparian development permit area, all you have to do is get out a 30 metre tape measure, walk out to the stream or ditch near or on your property and measure for yourself.

Perhaps Mr. Ehring was reading my blog a couple of weeks ago when I suggested property owners should get a 100 foot measuring tape to see how their property was going to be impacted.  (see – https://islandstrust.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/how-the-proposed-riparian-area-mapping-will-affect-your-property/ )

However, the differences between my blog recommendations and the Ehring Proposition are not just metric vs imperial in measurement.

First, let’s look at what Mr. Ehring is actually saying – accurate mapping is a waste of time and money.

If that proposition is true, then the corollary follows that all of the accurate mapping, which has been done on the other islands (e.g. North Pender, South Pender, Mayne, Saturna, etc.), and which:

  1. was recommended by Islands Trust staff,  and
  2. was requested by the Trustees of the other islands, and
  3. funding for which was approved by Islands Trust Council, including by Trustee Ehring, and
  4. 40% of which was paid for by Salt Spring taxpayers,

was unnecessary, and a waste of time and money.

David Marlor, Director of Local Planning Services, and the former Regional Planning Manager for the Southern Gulf Islands, has gone on public record less than a month ago as supporting and recommending “accurate mapping.” Other Islands Trust planners evidently agree.

The common sense conclusion, upon examination of the corollary is proof that Mr. Ehring’s Proposition fails miserably.

The Real Unanswered Question

However, the real underlying question, remains unanswered.

That question is born out of the “North Pender Conundrum”

One of the major considerations of accurately identifying streams on other islands was to reduce the potential size of the riparian development permit areas.

Witness for yourself the difference accurate mapping makes. The “Pink Areas” are the MoE Riparian Area Watersheds, and the “Black Areas” are the North Pender/Islands Trust approved Riparian development permit area based on accurate mapping by Madrone Environmental Services:

Any ditch or stream or creek outside the “Black Area” is not a development permit area.

Now, look at the Ministry of Environment’s Riparian Area Watershed areas on Salt Spring in green, being proposed as a development permit area:

When Is a Ditch Not a Ditch Under RAR?

The North Pender Conundrum is a graphic example of a local government using its discretionary powers under Section 12 of the Fish Protection Act of BC.

Under Section 12 (4) (b) of the Fish Protection Act, a local government may form an opinion as to whether the level of protection their bylaws, established to protect fish habitat, are “comparable to” those established under the Riparian Area Regulation.

“If a policy directive…applies, a local government must (a) include in its zoning and rural land use bylaws riparian area protection provisions in accordance with the directive, or (b) ensure that its bylaws and permits under Part 26 of the Municipal Act…provide a level of protection that, in the opinion of the local government, is comparable to…that established by the directive.”

The most important word in that section is the word “or” in between subsection (a) and (b).

When I read out this section at the meeting, it was apparent Planner Kris Nichols was not familiar with it.

Further, when I asked him if he had read the opinion which I had provided to the LTC on April 7th, which states the LTC has been in compliance with the RAR since 2005, he said, “I believe I have…I think I have.” When I asked him if he had formed an opinion on that opinion, he said he would have to read it again, and that he had not formed an opinion on it.

What? Is anyone to actually believe a professional planner can read a detailed, 9 page opinion, on a singular question, which is critical to the basis of whether any changes need to be made to conform with the RAR, without forming some kind of opinion? The very basis of the opinion is in complete contradiction to Mr. Nichol’s oft-stated opinion  that the Salt Spring LTC has no choice but to change our bylaws.

Surely any professional planner who received a well reasoned, historically correct opinion, quoting applicable legislation verbatim, which contradicts what he has been saying for four months, the planner would be interested enough to read it thoroughly and form an opinion, or at least, to further investigate the facts upon which the opinion was formed.

This is further proof the public process leading up to the public hearing is misleading. No one appears to be doing their homework assignments.

North Pender’s LTC has deemed that, in their opinion, the level of protection which they are implementing into their local laws is “comparable to” that established by the RAR directive. On North Pender ditches outside of the “Black Areas” shown above, are not “streams,” while ditches inside the “Black Areas” are streams.

And, therein graphically lies the difference to property owners. It’s as clear as black and green.

On North Pender –  Black

On Salt Spring – Green

For Trustee Ehring to blithely propose accurate mapping won’t change anything, and would be a waste of time and money, begs many questions, not the least of which regards his comprehension of basic concepts such as magnitude, cause and effect, and the relation between expanded RAR areas and the resulting, and unnecessary impact on property owners.

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