North Saanich drops landscape bond

Waterfront owners had pushed to end 125 per cent bond

An organization of waterfront property owners in North Saanich are pleased with plans to remove what they term a cumbersome set of regulations when it comes to property upgrades in the community.

On April 7, the council majority at the District of North Saanich voted to remove a landscape bond requirement in the amount of 125 per cent of the total cost of a project. Councillor Craig Mearns had posed a motion to drop the bond requirement for single family zoned lots in environmentally sensitive development permit areas. Those areas in North Saanich include areas of foreshore, significant water features, steep slopes and others.

Mearns said he didn’t want to see landowners penalized by having to pay 125 per cent of their total project costs into a landscaping bond.

“In most cases, those properties (work plans) come with landscaping plans,” he said.

Coun. Elsie McMurphy suggested council discuss Mearns’ motion following an in-camera session that evening, as she said council has material in-camera that is pertinent to the debate.

Mearns agreed, as long as council would re-convene that evening to vote on his motion. Afterwards, Mayor Alice Finall pointed out that a landscaping bond ensures required work will be done — and that taxpayers won’t be on the hook for it if a property owner fails to follow through. She added the bonds are often in the form of letters of credit, which cost considerably less than the full 125 per cent charge.

“Without a bond, we can’t hold people to their promises,” added McMurphy.

A 4-3 vote after the in-camera portion ended the performance bond stipulation.

A media release from the North Saanich PROW Association, which represents waterfront property owners, said the bond requirement targeted waterfront owners. The Association pointed out that a $10,000 seawall replacement project would have required a bond of $12,500 to be held by the municipality until District staff were satisfied conditions of a development permit had been met.

“Waterfront property owners in North Saanich face an increasingly expansive and cumbersome set of regulations and requirement,” said Keith Routley, PROW president. “We are relieved that one unnecessary step in an unfair process has been removed.”