Private crews spent Thursday morning clearing out the undergrowth of lots of Milner Avenue, where Kasapi Construction plans to build a sub-division. Area residents believe that the work aims to tip the application in the developer’s favour. (Wolf Depner/News Staff).

Residents accuse developer of playing ‘dirty’ over sensitive eco-system in Saanich

Resident says Kasapi Construction tries to create facts on the ground over sub-division application

A local developer is trying to create facts on the ground by clearing a sensitive Garry oak eco-system of its undergrowth, says a Saanich resident speaking for a group of concerned residents in the North Quadra area.

Stefanie Cepeda offered this assessment Thursday morning as private crews were clearing four lots off Milner Avenue of its under-growth. Last August, Saanich told Kasapi Construction to revise their plans for a sub-division on the properties after staff raised a number of environmental issues.

“This proposal is viewed as highly overdensified for the sensitive and valuable ecosystem present,” staff said in asking for revisions. “Would like to see a proposal that includes fewer lots, greater protection of the QEP [Qualified Environmental Professional] identified sensitive areas and perhaps includes a larger common area protected under natural state covenant, and a restoration plan.”

RELATED: Subdivision planned for area once protected by EDPA

RELATED: Neighbourhood praises Saanich’s decision to deny subdivision

Cepeda said Saanich staff specifically identified the under-growth of the area for protection and this clean-up — which started Wednesday — represents a bad faith attempt by the developers to tip the application in their favour.

“So they are playing dirty,” she said. “They are absolutely trying to get rid of the problem,” she added later.

Cepeda said this move by the developer makes a “mockery” of Saanich’s environmental protection process. (By way of background, staff are currently working on ways to replace the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw, which had protected the four lots, until council rescinded the bylaw, following criticism from a small but vocal lobby of home-owners who argued that the bylaw diminished control of their properties and their values).

“The vegetation that they are stripping would have been protected under the EDPA,” said Cepeda, who also used the occasion to criticize councillors, who voted in favour of eliminating the EDPA.

“Councillors who repealed the EDPA, and all those who have failed to replace it in a timely way, must be held responsible for the environmental destruction that has happened today,” she said.

Kelsie McLeod, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, said the sub-division application remains active, and staff have been on site today, where they found no evidence of any infractions against Saanich’s tree removal bylaw.

“As for the removal of the under-story vegetation, staff have doubled checked other relevant legislation and can find no contraventions at the present time,” she said. “Without a specific assessment of the site by a qualified professional, it can not be confirmed if the vegetation being cleared would or would not have been protected under the old EDPA.”

The Saanich News has reached out to representatives of Kasapi Construction for comment, and will update this story accordingly.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

Oak Bay win first Bridgman Cup since 1973

Annual UVic event is an indicator for coming South Island finals, Island finals and provincials

‘Panda’ Goodlife runner searches for his head

Facebook post for help leads to ‘unconfirmed panda head sightings’

Saanich staff recommend rejecting ALR exclusion of former Royal Oak golf course

Finial decision rest with Agricultural Land Commission

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Most Read