Registered professional biologist Ted Lea has been found in violation of the College of Applied Biology code of ethics. (Ted Lea/Facebook)

Saanich EDPA’s biggest critic found guilty of ethics violation

College of Applied Biology cites lack of due diligence and conflict of interest by Ted Lea

The results of an investigation into one of the biggest critics of Saanich’s Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) has found his conduct in violation of the code of ethics.

Last month the College of Applied Biology (CAB) released the findings of a review and five-day hearing in June that investigated the conduct of registered professional biologist Ted Lea of Saanich. Lea was a key player in the opposition to the EDPA and as a member of Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society (SCRES) helped convince members of the public, and council, that the EDPA was unfair.

His role has one Saanich group calling foul, as they believe Lea had an influential hand in council’s 5-4 vote on Nov. 6, 2017, that quashed the EDPA.

Voting in favour to rescind the EDPA was then-Mayor Richard Atwell, Couns. Karen Harper, Susan Brice, Leif Wergeland, and Fred Haynes, while in favour of keeping it were Couns. Judy Brownoff, Vicki Sanders, Dean Murdock and Colin Plant.

“Saanich council ignored staff, and ignored expert reports and made a decision to rescind the EDPA based on Lea’s insufficient reports and misinformation of SCRES,” said Merie Beauchamp, who attended three days of the five-day hearing and is also a member of SAFE, a group in support of the EDPA.

Read More: Biologist, residents blast Saanich over environmental protection law

Implemented in 2012, the EDPA took effect on about 2,200 properties and existed without controversy until Anita Bull, another member of SCRES, and her family first criticized it in 2015. The anti-EDPA sentiment snowballed from there. Eventually, 72 applications were made by homeowners to remove their properties from the EDPA. Of those 72, Saanich confirmed “a few applications did not have a biologists report, but all applications that were supported by a biologist report were authored by Lea.”

Lea later confirmed that he prepared the reports free of charge.

Thirty of these applications were approved for removal by council before the EDPA was completely rescinded. The remaining 42 applications were cancelled because they were no longer relevant.

Read Also: Give EDPA fair consideration says Saanich manager of environment services

CAB’s investigation into Lea’s reports found they were insufficient with a “lack of due diligence.” Lea was also cited for two more breaches of the CAB code of ethics, “incivility” regarding members of Saanich staff during a SCRES meeting and “conflict of interest” for being a member of SCRES, a “known opponent of the EDPA.”

Regarding the due diligence, the CAB report outlined that “Lea did not appropriately apply the guidelines the District of Saanich prepared in their Saanich [EDPA] area property removal request process fact sheet…”

The report lists repeated incidents of inadequate and insufficient field notes supporting Lea’s reports. “Specially, the field notes lacked any explanation of method or limitations, and they did not attach field notes or photographs, which are necessary given a visual inspection and the absence of plots. Those materials should have been attached.”

CAB lawyers also called Lea on a false statement when he wrote to the District of Saanich saying he had legal advice. However, upon cross-examination at the CAB hearing, Lea agreed “he did not actually receive legal advice.”

In 2015, then Saanich CAO Andy Laidlaw asked Lea to apologize to manager of environmental services Adriane Pollard for comments Lea made during council open forum (which he did).

Read Also: Saanich to spend up to $250,000 on replacement for EDPA

The CAB panel of three registered professional biologists that investigated Lea’s authored reports found they were insufficient, lacking methodological data for photos and basic information for field notes, such as when and where he visited.

Lea declined any comment regarding the results though he may be in the appeal process and therefore unable to comment at this time.

Any CAB discipline or penalties for Lea are still pending. Following the investigation and hearing CAB posted an additional $50 charge to its members for 2019 to cover the $150,000 cost of the review and hearing.

Throughout all the controversy, the EDPA was reviewed in a series of third-party reports by B.C. Ombudsperson, UVic environmental law students, Diamond Head consulting, G.P. Rollo and B.C. Assessment. None of the reports called for the end of the EDPA. G.P. Rollo and B.C. Assessment each found the EDPA did not lower the value of properties within the EDPA, a key criticism of SCRES, which rallied for compensation to properties in the EDPA. In their review, UVic law students Andie Britton-Foster and Gabrielle Grant called for better clarification of the bylaw, as did the Saanich commissioned Diamond Head report (through a series of 15 recommendations). Despite council having commissioned the $50,000 Diamond Head report, it considered none of the recommendations within it before it struck the EDPA from its bylaws.

Staff is currently building a new EDPA for council to consider.

Haynes, who has since become mayor, said it is not his role to weigh in on the CAB decision but did visit the initial properties covered by the reports of Lea.

“My personal observations of the properties were consistent with the scientific findings of Lea’s reports,” Haynes said. “As we know, based on these reports, 100 per cent of the 28 properties under review at the request of property owners were excluded from the EDPA [by council].”

Following these exclusions, the environmental bylaws preceding the EDPA were reinstated, the EDPA was rescinded and Saanich is now working an a comprehensive biodiversity strategy, he added.

reporter@saanichnews.com


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