Saanich residents are raising concerns about a controversial environmental bylaw affecting more than 2,000 properties, from Gordon Head to Portage Inlet.
Homeowner Chris Phillips has been fighting the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw for three-and-a-half years, saying it has decreased his land value.
BC Assessment Appeal confirmed Phillips’s property has plummeted in value, dropping from $1.7 million to just $754,000. The drop is due to uncertainty regarding future development of the land, which falls under the EDPA.
The bylaw was enacted in 2012 to help protect Saanich’s rare and sensitive ecosystem.
Environmental Development Permit Areas in Saanich. Global News
Environmental Development Permit Areas in Saanich.
In order for Phillips to gain a permit to replace the existing home on the property, it required forfeiting another portion of the land and handing it over to the municipality.
“This is railroading. Saanich is scaring us to death, we feel like we need to fight this and get the hell out of here,” said Phillips.
So far, Phillips is the only one affected by loss in assessed value, but pressure is on city hall to do something about it.
“There needs to be some short term relief for residents and there needs to be some longer term changes that need to be looked at through a scientific lens so that it makes sense, said Sannich mayor Richard Atwell.
This is not the first time the mayor has pressed for changes to the EDPA. He tried to repeal the bylaw last September, only to be out voted. Since then, there have been a series of reports and public meetings.
“As elected officials our job is to listen and to act, so now it’s time to act,” said Atwell.
An emergency meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday night to discuss potential amendments to the bylaw.
For Phillips, the outcome could make or break his investment in Saanich property.
“We have to do something now, this is a game-changer for us, simple as that.”
-With files from Kylie Stanton