(May 11) Yesterday the Central Saanich Planning Committee voted against staff and Advisory Planning Commission recommendations and give preliminary approval for Vantreight Farms to build another commuter subdivision. The proposal requires the re-zoning of a rural and agricultural area to allow development. Critics worry that this could set a precedent for the entire Saanich Peninsula.
“Agricultural land and rural areas are two of this islands most valuable assets,” said Gordon O’Connor, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Dogwood Initiative. “Most places in North America have already buried their farms under urban sprawl and we can’t let that happen here.”
The Advisory Planning commission recommended against approving the density of this application and should the development proceed they recommended clustering houses to reduce the impact, using restrictive covenants, energuide initiatives, green building guidelines and creating wider buffer zones between farm land and the proposed neighborhood. All of these recommendations were ignored by the planning committee.
“The Central Saanich planning staff and Advisory Planning Commission provided a laundry list of concerns with this application that are being ignored,” said O’Connor. “The approval process is being pushed ahead by councilors who seem to have already made up their minds to promote urban sprawl on our bread basket.”
The Vantreights brought a proposal to build over 200 houses in the same area that was turned down in 2008. They came back in 2010 with another proposal to re-write the Official Community Plan for an 89 house development that was also turned down. Their latest proposal for 57 houses (with secondary suites) raises major questions about the availability of water in the area and the impact that sewage treatment will have on surrounding agricultural land. The application was recommended for first and second reading at the next council meeting and will go to a public hearing later this summer.