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LETTER: Development devastating Peninsula’s natural surroundings

I echo Sue Starkey’s comment to “Get developers out of the OCP process in North Saanich.” I previously wrote a letter to our local paper thanking Mayor Finall for listening to residents over the developers who accused Mayor Finall of leaving them “blowing in the wind.” Residents showed up in droves to speak out against the council who ignored residents’ concerns and worry of following what Sidney did to a once affordable senior destination.

North Saanich has hired a Vancouver firm to conduct the OCP engagement. Our council has started the work for developers by ignoring our mixed land use, clear-cutting to maximize housing, relaxing building envelopes and setbacks, subdividing half-acre minimum lots to build subdivisions, and altering natural ground water in place of brick and mortar. Don’t take my words as a warning, just take a drive along Landsend Road to Moses Point and along Norris Road. These roads now look like urban areas. Waterfront acreage being carved up to put three or four homes on these lands, while council says the solution is to build more housing, but our access to the treatment plant is not available because Sidney has tripled its population for development.

Residents are witnessing an assault on nature. When you talk to council they preach about climate change and their responsibility which now comes across as double talk with what we are witnessing for development. We are left wondering whose job is it to lead and make the hard decisions to address climate change? It appears it is the citizens, not politicians/policy makers. What we are seeing is a partnership between our local government and industry. We are in this climate mess because the economy has trumped humanity and now this cancer has infected our local government.

It is simple science folks, you cannot remove all the trees – this is what filters the air we breathe. Over-building along the ocean front amidst rising sea levels is willful ignorance. The developers have decimated natural greenspace once the home for our wildlife habitat.

Our council has failed in Sue’s words to “preserve and protect” and I will add council has delegated our eco-system to developers, who do not share in the sacrifices needed to slow down climate change. More population means more shopping, more pickle courts, more schools and more services. This all equates to more natural land lost and higher taxes. Affordable housing now means 450 square foot condos for $1,000 a square foot with expensive strata fees and ever-increasing property taxes.

If North Saanich wants to ignore its residents and follow Sidney and Central Saanich, residents should push for a referendum to amalgamate the Peninsula to one local government. This council has turned their responsibility over to the developers, so why should taxpayers pay for multiple firehalls, city halls, ambulance services, policing, etc.

The failures are mounting while residents who will be impacted are shut out of engagement while in government regulated COVID lockdown.

Jo-Anne Berezanski

North Saanich