Table talk on border etiquette

Councils come together to discuss polite border uses

Miss Manners would make a good member of the latest commission coming out of tri-municipal discussions. The three Peninsula councils came together in one of their co-meetings recently and created a group to discuss border etiquette.

“We’re hoping we can have a discussion that can influence our borders,” said Anny Scoones of North Saanich, the district that brought the topic to the table. “Right now buffering is the only one I can think of that’s obvious,” she added. The members deked and dodged around the elephant in the room, the obvious development that created the conversation in North Saanich council chambers. Referred to repeatedly as “the development we’re not talking about” councillor Dunstan Browne of North Saanich finally just said the words “Vantreight project.”

The project to build homes near the North Saanich border created some resident feedback at that district. 

North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall cited the successful Highway 17 working group previously created at the tri-municipal level. 

“A similar small group could probably bring back suggestions to the three municipalities… so we do it on a really high level, not related to a specific instance,” Finall said. 

Councillor Ruby Commandeur of North Saanich also pointed to the new North Saanich middle school and the old school site as a potential for future discussions. 

“Likely there will be a substantive development there depending on what happens with the old school,” she said, adding she’s supportive seeing what policy on how communication, process and protocol would look like. “It would be really nice to have a bigger, more high-level conversation on what that policy would look like.” 

Alastair Bryson says there’s already open communication among the municipalities. 

“We do have professional planning staff and they’re colleagues,” Bryson said. “I’m sure they communicate with one and other as well … We can certainly talk to each other as councillors.” 

Central Saanich Mayor Jack Mar wanted to take it a step further, bring back a policy that development proposals must run past neighbouring communities at a higher level. “I think it’s about time we got together and run it through the AVICC and UBCM,” Mar said. 

The discussion could break off into an even larger discussion as there are also four First Nations communities on the Peninsula. “We’ve got many more borders than just the ones we’re acknowledging tonight,” Adam Olsen, of Central Saanich pointed out.

Infrastructure impacts are just one portion of the discussion, agreed Sidney Mayor Larry Cross: “That’s the area where perhaps in our protocol we can achieve some success.”