Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“We have the potential to become the most transparent Council in the region.” – Councillor Zeb King

Last night saw the hottest item of the recent election campaign, transparency, arrive at the Council table in the form of two motions. One motion was based on a staff recommendation to reinstate the voting record so that citizens can tell how Councillors are voting and the other, put forward by Councillor King, proposed that the item “Delegations and Petitions” be restored to its rightful place near the beginning of the agenda.

Unfortunately, it was another evening of mixed results with those in the gallery left unsatisfied by the explanations given and the votes taken. Councillor Jensen made a valiant effort to cut through the baloney and have all votes recorded for all motions. Staff and some council members felt that it was necessary to differentiate between “substantive” motions and procedural motions such as approval of the agendas and minutes of council and committees.

This writer and others are well aware that procedural motions can be just as contentious as any other motion when used to curtail discussion and debate, but most councillors (except King and Jensen) were content with the assurance that any councillor opposed to these motions  would have their names recorded. It’s worth noting that the debate was going rather well until non-resident Councillor Garrison did his mumble-jumble which always begins with “from my perspective.” In the end the hide-as-much-as-we-can councillors stated that any name not listed as opposed must have been in favour. So save this bit of information, it will be useful later on no doubt when they start claiming they were not in favour and the chair/mayor/recorder did not see their hand up.

The next motion, intended to restore respect for the citizens who foot the bills by putting “Delegations and Petitions” near the beginning of the agenda, failed. This section was relegated to the back of the agenda by former Councillor Kubek and friends and it means that citizens may have to wait until 9, 10 or 11 o’clock to be heard. Working people, seniors, youngsters and those with children all find this a difficulty. Being near the beginning of the agenda ensures that you are heard nearer to 7:30 or 8 pm and can then get home as needed.  Kudos to Councillor King for trying, it would have gone a long way toward clearing the uncivil atmosphere created by the last Council.

Finally the proposal for the densification workshops came to the table. The proposal suggested two workshops, one for the public and one for the developers to be held in a single day. When the gallery queried the rationale for the workshops Councillor Siklenka did a good job of explaining that there was a need to clarify what was meant by densification and what it would mean to different neighbourhoods in Central Saanich “so that we have clear guidelines to help us assess the suitability of developments as they come forward.” So far so good except that the first step must be to ascertain if the community wants densification at all!

His Worship, Mayor Bryson, clarified that he had not asked for a separate closed workshop for developers which the wording of the proposal suggested and which was creating a frisson throughout the gallery as people wondered what information developers would be giving and getting that would not be for all ears to hear. In fact the gallery was pretty much unanimous in thinking that developers don’t need a workshop at all since they are simply to make their proposals based on the expectations of the citizenry. These expectations would be outlined in several workshops that would be held in the various neighbourhoods to give optimum opportunity for input.

Cathie Ounsted asked for some clarification of the timeline, but got more of a history of the thought process than a clear answer as to why these workshops needed to be organized in such a hasty fashion.  

In the end it was decided that a second look was needed, that the gallery’s concern about the small number of workshops needed to be re-examined (and I would suggest heeded, I can’t see how fewer than three will achieve the desired consensus). For more on this item we’ll have to wait for the January 9th Council meeting by which time it is to be hoped councillors have a more realistic idea of what citizens expect from these workshops. We are after all footing the bill for the contractor.

Please also mark your calendars for the Strategic Planning Session to be held February 8th (evening) and February 9th (daylong). This planning session is open to the public and sets the table for the coming year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Next depot is Saturday Nov 26 at Stelly's 9 - 12.
Google Pacific Mobile Depot for details on what you can bring and what it costs.

PLEASE NOTE! There will be a depot in December this year.
  It will be the THIRD Saturday, Dec 17th - same time, same place.
Volunteers always welcome.
Maria St.Amand
Thank you to all those who supported me in the recent municipal campaign. I very much appreciate your time and efforts and votes!

I will continue actively working to protect farm and rural land in our beautiful community. I encourage you to help in every way you can. Our environment is fragile and finite, we must become better stewards to ensure a healthy green future for those who come next.

                                                                                   - Sue

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 19th

Province moves to protect farm land

Extra enforcement, oversight, funds for B.C. Agricultural Land Reserve

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/Province+moves+protect+farm+land/5718300/story.html#ixzz1dzwVYvQS

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Environmental Credentials

  • Helped write the terms of reference for BC Housing's Livegreen Council which promotes environmental conservation and action at work, at home and in the community
  • Hosted organic gardening workshops for members and friends through the BCGEU Cool Communities Campaign, I invited local organic farmers like Robin Tunnicliffe and Geoff Johnson, composting experts from the CRD, tree pruning and heritage tree expert Cathy Rasmussen and more to share their knowledge, many of those who took the classes have now converted their lawns to gardens, are gardening in the schoolyards etc
  • Through the BCGEU Cross Component Committee provided the first year's insurance to the HOPE Recycle Depot in Central Saanich
  • Fought to save the trees in Brentwood Bay from destruction during the Brentwood Revitalisation
  • Helped blow the whistle on Randy Sewell's mass destruction of trees in Central Saanich (he was fined $125,000)
  • Provided several species of native plants free for the past few years to those attending the Labour Day picnic (Ocean Spray, wild currant, douglas fir seedlings and others)
  • Worked to save the Vantreight hillside from development because rural land is important to farmland for mason bees and other species (Dogwood Initiative joined this action)
  • Worked to protect farmland in Central Saanich in every way I can
This is just a sample of what I have done for our environment. In addition to this I am always postings information about farming and the environment on the internet, sharing everything I can find. It's important to walk the walk and that is what I do.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why I support Woodwynn Therapeutic Community

I support Woodwynn Therapeutic Community at historic Woodwynn Farm wholeheartedly, because I believe that this is a wonderful, caring, community use for a long under-utilised farm. I will never vote to rezone Woodwynn for permanent residential housing or allow it to be carved up for subdivisions, this promise is written in stone.

The application sent to the ALC is for non-farm use on a portion of the land and 100% of Woodwynn will remain in the ALR.

The buildings being proposed have been designed to be easily moved, and Woodwynn has offered a covenant to put monies in trust to remove the buildings should the program be closed. All over the world land used for everything from housing to the most poisoned industrial purposes is rehabilitated and used for farming and nothing planned here would be difficult to reverse.
The Woodwynn Community has already shown their care and concern for the farm in many ways including

·         rehabilitatating  the creek (with the help of Peninsula Streams) by planting 200 native trees, shrubs and grasses along its edge

·         extensively repairing the buildings

·         planting over 400 fruit and nut trees

·         planting 180 blue spruce

·         planting 12 garry oaks and 12 maples

·         planting a 2 acre vegetable garden  (the first vegetables grown and harvested on this land since First Nations harvested the native plants)

·         increasing the hay crop

·         installing 6 bluebird boxes (this was done by the Garry Oak RestorationTeam)

·         raising pigs
The people who have come to the farm so far have done well and have caused no harm to the community in any way.  New lives have begun and the testimonials from parents and others are inspiring to read.

The volunteerism fostered here is extensive and goes a long way to creating a respect for farming in the wider community:

·         over 2,000 individual volunteers have come to work on the farm, some for an hour others putting in 50 hour weeks

·         85 five year old girls (Sparks from the girl guide movement) came to the farm with their parents and had a wonderful day building a new pond and filling it with plants and fish

·         local farmers have been helping by providing advice, expertise and equipment

·         elementary schools, middle schools and high schools have come to the farm (St Michaels has been a few times) as well as groups of students from UVic, Camosun and Royal Roads who are currently planning a fund and awareness raising event for the farm

·         Church and community groups come to volunteer and use their experience as a team building exercise

·         3,500 attended the Open House held earlier this year and a steady flow has come to the farm market (that started slowly but ramped up as word got out)
Many of the homeless or nearly homeless in downtown Victoria are from Central Saanich and use services provided by other municipalities. I believe that we must do more to support the region in its efforts to end the cycle of poverty and homelessness. This is a piece we can do that fits our community well.

This use is a good use.  I support it because I understand the need.