Wednesday, December 31, 2008

132 days until Election Day in this province and boy do we need a serious change of government.
We need:
  • housing for the homeless
  • more money for public education
  • housing for single parents
  • more money for public health care
  • housing for families
  • a ban on P3s (public private partnerships aka boondoggles)
  • housing for seniors with no health problems
  • a $12 minimum wage & a guaranteed income for all
  • training programs
  • green programs that really are green
  • help for families of drug abusers to cope with the stress
  • a stronger social safety net
  • a universal dental care plan
  • more drug coverage under our health plan
  • a limit on the size of homes that can be built

We need so much more than this, a top to bottom overhaul and a commitment to fight greed and respond to need.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clearing Snow!

Why are the crews clearing the paths through the parks while leaving the main sidewalks up to the businesses? Obviously most businesses aren't clearing so make the sidewalks the main priority and bill the businesses for it. It's treacherous walking just to get to the bus stop because the sidewalks have been allowed to turn into ice sheets.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It Doesn't Take Long for Promises to Break!

Councillors Kubek and Siklenka managed to break major promises at their very first regular council meeting on December 15th by voting IN FAVOUR of adding water cut-offs to the actions Council could take against those homeowners/suite owners who will not obey an order to shut down an illegal dwelling or suite.

I spoke out against this motion during the election campaign as did both of these candidates, but their tune changed as soon as they became councillors and were persuaded by staff to change their position.

Luckily for all concerned Councillors Bryson, Olsen, Garrison and Mason kept their promise to vote against this terrible plan. Cutting off water will not be in the toolbox in Central Saanich.

Too bad some of our new councillors are so quick to change their positions.

Half of the turkey consumed in British Columbia each year is consumed during the Christmas season.

BC has 56 turkey producers who generated $41.9 million in turkey sales in 2007

BC is pretty self-reliant when it comes to turkey. We import less than 2% of the turkey we produce domestically.

British Columbians are the third largest turkey gobblers in Canada (behind Ontario and Quebec). We consume twice the amount of turkey that Albertans do.

Relish the Thought
12% of the cranberries being served on tables around the continent this holiday season came from BC, and more specifically from 88 cranberry farms in the Fraser Valley, where the mild climate and wet flood plain provide ideal growing conditions for BC’s top berry crop.

Although the packaging doesn’t show it, BC’s cranberry producers, like Barnston Island’s Opus Cranberries, are major suppliers to Ocean Spray Cranberries.

The Fort Wine Company in Fort Langley has shown that cranberries also make excellent wine.

Holiday Ham instead of Turkey?
BC’s 175 pork producers raise about 300,000 hogs/year. Yet between 70 -75% of the pork eaten in BC is imported.

An Eye for an Eye
Serving russets or nugget potatoes this holiday? In fact, British Columbia produces 35 different varieties of potatoes.

The largest field vegetable crop in the province, BC produces 71,000 tonnes of potatoes annually. But we import 107,753 tonnes (worth over $59.3 million) each year, mostly from the US (Washington State and Idaho).

72% of BC’s table potatoes are grown in the Fraser Valley.

While BC is a net importer of potatoes, we are a net exporter of seed potatoes. Known as “Spud Valley”, the Pemberton Valley’s rich volcanic soils enable it to produce the largest variety of seed potatoes in the world, providing potato farmers around the globe with BC seed potatoes.

Apple or Pumpkin Pie?

In 2002, just 11,000 acres of orchards in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Creston Valleys produced $72.3 million for the BC economy – and a billion apples. BC produces 30% of the apples grown in Canada.
We consume only 25% of those. The average British Columbian eats only 75-100 apples/year – far less than the apple a day recommended to keep the doctor away.

That means that BC exports about 75% of the apples we grow. Yet we import a lot, too. Our biggest competitor for our own and international markets is Washington State which, although they have similar climate and growing conditions, produces up to 20 times the amount of apples that BC does.

If your holiday pie is pumpkin instead of apple, chances are the pumpkin was grown in the USA. Although BC produces approximately 3 million pounds of pumpkins annually, most of those are the large stock used for Hallowe’en jack-o-lanterns. Canada imports the vast majority of pumpkin used for human consumption.


Holiday salad? Although Canada produces 78 tonnes of lettuce a year, we import 305 tonnes. Most of our imports come from the US, and predominantly California (the “1,000 mile Caesar salad”).

In 2001, 659 acres of BC farmland produced 6.1 million pounds of Brussells Sprouts, representing $2.4 million in farm gate receipts.

BC grows 50 types of vegetables and 90% of the province’s vegetables are grown in the Fraser Valley.

In 2002 BC fresh & processed field vegetable production was worth $32 million, while our imports were more than 10 times that or $332 million.

The US represents 80% of all fresh field vegetable imports and 85% of processed field vegetable imports to BC, and California alone makes up 72% of that. Global warming and domestic water consumption are causing severe water shortages in California that are expected to significantly affect agriculture.

Global food shortages in 2008 saw riots and conflict around the world. BC has experienced some increases in food prices, but not as much as Washington State, where prices rose 15%.

Although the food security crisis has not reached BC’s marketplace yet, we are vulnerable. Less than 5% of this province’s land base is suitable for agriculture.

Between 2002 and 2007, BC lost 10,200 acres of farmland from its Agricultural Land Reserve, with most of those losses from the Fraser Valley where rich alluvial soils combine with a mild climate and long growing season to provide the province’s best agricultural productivity. Of the 7.500 acres added to the ALR during this same period, most of the lands were of lowest soil ratings and were located in northern parts of British Columbia, which has colder climate and a shorter growing season.

Thousands of additional acres of farmland were lost to “non-farm uses” including roads and highways, port and airport expansions and country estates.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s British Columbia Food Self-Reliance Report (2007) indicates that BC will need 240,000 additional acres of farmland near urban centres (for irrigation) and 1 million acres of rangeland to meet the needs of our population by 2025.

Let’s make 2009 the year we draw a hard edge around the ALR. Happy holidays everyone.

Farmland Defence League of BC

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mayor Mar Introduces Further ANTI-DEMOCRATIC Procedures Bylaw Amendments

In A Democracy We Have An Absolute RIGHT TO KNOW Who Is Putting Forward What Motions And Who Voted Yea or Nay To Each One.

1. The names of movers and seconders of motions will not be posted in the minutes (not on the record).

2. Councillors can no longer ask to have their vote recorded.

3. All correspondence and presentations go to the end of the agenda and won't be moved forward.

4. During committee meetings you could move a motion and no seconder was required. This allowed for a new concept to be debated on its merits rather than being simply shut down. This is no longer the case. All motions in committee will now require a seconder.

There will be an attempt to suggest that it is poor form for new councillors to vote in favour of this before they have seen the old system at work: voting on things they don't know in other words.

This will not likely get far as Kubek will simply say he's been to many council meetings in the gallery and will vote with Mason, Mar and Garrison. 4 votes, game over. Surprise me!

As we all know Mayor Mar couldn't have thought this up on his own...a fine old hand appears to be behind this.

This bylaw amendment must go through 3 readings and a public prepared for a call out to attend the meetings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Recycle Day
for December
See you January 24th!
9-12 noon
Municipal Hall, Saanichton

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thank you!

Thanks to all those who donated, supported, door knocked, leafletted, put up signs, expressed support and voted. You are all wonderful people and I hope you'll be there next time as we bring Central Saanich home to its farming & family roots.

We're not done yet!
Thank you all so very much, you can't imagine how much I appreciate you.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where I Stand

My name is Sue Stroud and you already know me as someone who cares about community issues and community values.

This election is about working together because our community is at a crossroads: it can remain true to its heritage as a land of peaceful plenty, or it can quickly become just another cookie cutter cityscape.

We chose our urban containment areas with great care. Now, together, we must assess carefully any proposed development because growth is expensive, both environmentally and fiscally. I do not support building outside the urban containment areas for reasons outlined below.

Every development requires both an initial outlay for infrastructure services and an ongoing maintenance cost for those services: sidewalks, lights, sewers, water, electricity, crosswalks and more. These are the things that increase our taxes. We are told that developments increase the tax base, but the reality is that it is rare for that increase to cover the true cost of a development over time.

The country road I took to school is now a thriving industrial park. But we need to make better use of this park and build up within it rather than sprawling out from it. There are many underutilized spaces for expansion in this site.

I have seen the pressures of urbanization and the conflicts as we spotzone on the buffers that divide the residential and industrial lands from farmlands and the food security they provide us. Those buffers make good neighbours and when they are encroached on the district becomes swamped with complaints about noise and smells and smoke.

We have been characterized as a ‘go slow’ municipality by some, but slow is in fact exactly the right speed for us. We need slow roads, slow growth and slow use of our natural resources, because the slow route is the wise route. Going slowly gives us time to measure our footprint and to correct and change our path as needed.

I support Panorama because it is a full service rec centre with activities for all ages. My father uses it; I have recently booked one of the skating rinks for the BCGEU Children's Xmas Party; my nephews have played hockey and taken swimming and scuba lessons there: nearly everyone I know goes to Panorama at some point.

Panorama has served us well and is a necessary part of our community well-being. It is unfortunate that upgrading Panorama and other such structures is so expensive, but that is why we take care of such things collectively.

This election is not about 'common sense' which too often isn't very common. It is about a sense of community which we must build and nurture.

Our municipality includes old and young, First Nations and new immigrants, those with no financial concerns and those struggling to maintain their housing in the face of rising expenses. We must include everyone when we deliberate about how we will meet the financial and environmental problems we are facing and we must have a thought for those who come after because we are only stewards here "in this green and pleasant land."

Monday, November 10, 2008

How can we help our farmers ?

We need to recognize the incredible importance of local food farming to our region.

Recently, our own Nobel Prize winning scientist, Dr Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, stated that we have already passed the tipping point for global warming. This means that we are looking at entirely new scenarios for farming on the Peninsula. Farming is now the single most important business in our region because we are soon going to have to learn to feed ourselves.

At the beginning of the 20th century nearly 50% of Canadians were farmers. At the beginning of the 21st century only 3% of Canadians still farm and many of these farms belong to big corporate interests and are not serving the needs of the local populations. This decline in farming has been exacerbated by the Green House Gases (GHGs) created partly by the way in which we farmed and the unnecessary transportation of food from one region to another spreading crop diseases along the way.

On our Peninsula, farmers have struggled with the overvaluation of land, the increasing costs of fuel and the unfair competition of the gigantic food wholesalers who fill our stores with their products and squeeze out the small local producer. Local farmers have also simply been forgotten by the vast majority of urban dwellers who are so disconnected from the land they have no idea where their food comes from.

As a result of the changes that global warming will bring we will no longer be able to rely on California to provide us with the abundance to which we are accustomed. California will become much hotter and much drier and, since they have already nearly drained their aquifers and other water supplies, the melting of the glaciers and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains will mean the end of farming or at least the end of any extra available for export.

Farming is rapidly going to become a life or death issue just about everywhere on the globe including in our own back yard.

We need to strengthen the Agricultural Land Reserve and recognize that it serves more than one function. Recently it was pointed out to me that the ALR creates buffers around our urban areas so that we don’t become one massive sprawling city like the Seattle to Oakland corridor. It should be much more difficult to remove land from the ALR and we should ensure that each region is putting land back into the reserve as time goes on. Land can be rehabilitated and yes it takes time, but we will have to do it. Dig up unused roadbeds like the one running parallel to East Saanich Road and set it up for community gardens. Search the region for brownlands and waste sites and start the longterm rehab programme now.

We need to ensure that golf courses and hobby horse farms cannot be built on reserve lands.

We need to ensure that what is grown is healthy, sustainable and meets our basic needs. To do this we must lobby the federal government to fully fund the experimental farm on East Saanich Road to provide useful research and assistance for local farmers as we begin the change to global warming preparedness.

A local Central Saanich farmer reminded me that “government could help through property tax breaks that encourage property owners to provide habitat, as well as food production: the combination makes healthier land-use.” This means that farmlands that are not currently in use aren’t taxed differently than lands that are currently cultivated. It also means that farmers will be able to leave treed areas as habitat because they won’t be penalized through their taxes for doing so and when a grandchild wants to return to farming, this land will still be available to them. “Returning the land to woodlot for 15-20 years could give turn-around time, provide green space, wildlife habitat and still keep the land available for future generations. It's a small thing, but a change in the ALR could be very good for preserving family farms”.

These are only a few thoughts and I have been actively promoting growing organic vegetables in your own backyard through the BCGEU CoolCommunities Campaign by having Robin Tunnicliff and Mat Kemshaw make presentations to BCGEU members. I am hoping after Christmas to follow up with workshops by Cathy Rasmussen of the BC Fruit Tree Growers Association and by having a presentation on First Nations food gathering by Greg Sam.

It is imperative that we each take steps to begin the learning process and that we recognize the valuable work of the local farmers on the Saanich Peninsula.
Letter to Times-Colonist

Dear Editor:

Iain Hunter’s comments in “The petty meanness of municipal politics”, November 10th, are just plain wrong when he suggests that rocky or boggy ground in Central Saanich should be okay to build on. He suggests “a few modest houses” would provide farmers “with income and new tenants the pleasures of country living.”

First of all the houses proposed are rarely ‘modest’ and will cost the taxpayers a great deal of money over time because of the provision and maintenance of infrastructure and other services outside our carefully community-chosen urban containment boundaries.

It’s not the farmer, but the developer who will get most of the money and those who move in will immediately begin complaining about the farm odours, the smoke from burning, the early morning machinery start-ups etc. We have these buffers between farmland, industrial land and urban areas for a reason.

We are one of the only countries in the world that so easily writes off land as ‘unfarmable’ to say nothing of the other values embodied in that land. The rocky hillside at Vantreight farms was visited by a snowy owl just this week and the arbutus and garry oaks that clothe that hillside are protected species providing a safe haven for what’s left of the wildlife in our area.

As for anyone who wants to build homes on a bog, they’d best check with insurance companies first. We have several homes built on old bogs or floodplains and the natural water problems they have throughout the winter are only increased by those who have built upslope from them. This will only worsen with the increase in rain that is predicted for this area as a result of climate change.

It would be nice if those judging our municipality attended our council meetings and read our Official Community Plan before commenting.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tree-Lined Streets 'Cut Asthma'

Children who live in tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma, a New York-based study suggests.

BBC News

Columbia University researchers found that asthma rates among children aged four and five fell by 25% for every extra 343 trees per square kilometre.

They believe more trees may aid air quality or simply encourage children to play outside, although they say the true reason for the finding is unclear.

The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
US rates of childhood asthma soared 50% between 1980 and 2000, with particularly high rates in poor, urban communities.

In New York City, asthma is the leading cause of admission to hospital among children under 15.

The researchers found the city had an average of 613 street trees per square kilometre, and 9% of young children had asthma.

The link between numbers of trees and asthma cases held true even after taking into account sources of pollution, levels of affluence and population density, the researchers said.

However, once these factors were taken into account, the number of trees in a street did not appear to have any impact on the number of children whose asthma was so severe that they required hospital treatment.

Exposure theory
Some experts believe that children who are exposed to few microbes in early life are at an increased risk of asthma because their immune systems do not get the practice they need at fighting infection. Therefore, if a tree-lined street encourages outside play, it might help reduce the risk of asthma by maximising the odds that children will be exposed to microbes.

However, trees are also a source of pollen, which may potentially exacerbate asthma symptoms in vulnerable children.

Lead researcher Dr Gina Lovasi admitted the effect, if any, of trees was far from clear.

She said: "There may be something else healthful about the areas that had more trees. "For example, trees could be more abundant in areas that are well maintained in other ways."

Leanne Male, assistant director of research at the charity Asthma UK, said: "Previous research looking at the influence of the environment on levels of asthma has focused on negative aspects, such as pollution and chemical exposure. "This innovative report is the first to look specifically at the potentially beneficial effects of trees in urban areas and raises some interesting issues. "However, there are a number of other factors that have not been considered, for example whether the families involved have pets.

"Despite the need for further work, this is a positive first step into a new area of research linking the environment and asthma."

New York City is planning to plant 1 million extra trees by 2017.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Campaign Leaflet

"Hello, I'm Sue Stroud:

As your neighbour in Central Saanich, I am running for Council to give you a voice at the table. Our community is at a crossroads. We can develop every parcel of land and leave nothing for future generations, or we can protect rural and agricultural land to help ensure food security for all.

I will work to protect the environment, the rural character of Central Saanich and our quality of life. Together we can build a strong, vibrant and sustainable future for our community."

Why You Should Vote For Me

As a 38-year resident of Central Saanich, I am familiar with the complex and varied issues of interest and concern to citizens. I am committed to working on your behalf in the best interest of the community. Having attended and participated in regular Council and Committee meetings and other local government proceedings over a period of six years, I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience that I believe will enable me to be an effective member of Council.

A Proven Record of Commitment, Dedication and Service to the Community

· Former Member of the Central Saanich Heritage Committee
· Member of the Central Saanich Energy Committee and Transportation Management Association
· Member of the Central Saanich Delegation that presented the community’s public transportation concerns and Tanner Ridge citizens’ petition to BC Transit
· Member of the successful ‘Save Our Ferry Committee’ that worked to retain the Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay Ferry Service
· With other community members, collected 1660 signatures in an attempt to persuade Council to save the village trees during the Brentwood Bay Revitalization Project
· Secured the necessary insurance funding for the new soft plastics recycle depot initiative at the Municipal Hall
· Advocate for subsidized and affordable housing

What You Can Expect in the Future

Community Building and Co-operation: A Commitment to Include Citizens in the Decision-Making Process
· Repeal the undemocratic motions from Sept 2007 that made it harder for citizens to be heard and participate in decisions affecting them
· Create new citizen committees to advise Council on environmental issues and other matters of importance to the community
· Develop a dispute resolution system to assist Council, District Staff and neighbours to resolve difficult issues
· Initiate a process of regular tri-governmental meetings with First Nations to ensure they are included in the discussions

Preservation: A Commitment to Rural Central Saanich

· Lobby senior levels of government for more help for farming families such as buyouts, lease-backs, tax changes to protect wildlands and habitat, strengthening the ALR & pensions
· Lobby provincial government for funding for a full-time environmental planner to assess all projects, search for grants, advise on sustainability issues, report on the state of our environment and provide periodic measurements and analysis
· Find more funding and support for community groups seeking to protect and restore our environment and to build community gardens and food forests
· Encourage more community workshops on the environment with a focus on sustainable farming, and protection of Saanich Inlet from over-development
· Protect our heritage -- not just our history, culture, traditions and buildings -- but the natural environment that gives Central Saanich its character and ambience and makes it a special place to live

Conservation: A Commitment to Responsible Fiscal Management, Sound Decision-Making and Sustainable Principles

· Use our financial resources wisely and carefully and live within our means
· Find less costly, more sustainable ways to maintain our infrastructure and public assets
· Respect our natural environment and conserve land and water resources
· Assess the community’s carbon footprint and find ways to collectively reduce it; report out regularly on our progress
· Make the Precautionary Principle the first measure and bottom line of everything we do

Saturday November 15th
Vote for Sue Stroud

All Candidates meetings:

Thursday Nov 6th, 7 to 9 pm at Bayside School, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Peninsula News Review

Wednesday Nov 12th, 7 to 9:30 pm, Seniors Centre, 1229 Clarke Road (beside the Library), hosted by the Central Saanich Ratepayers’ Association

You can vote at the Municipal Hall 1903 Mt. Newton X Road or at the Cultural Centre at the Library.
You can vote early on Nov 5th or 12th at the Municipal Hall.
For details see or call the Municipal Hall at 250-652-4444

Contact Sue at 250-652-3278 or by emailing
See also for further information

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Tortoise and The Hare: A Parable for Central Saanich

We have been characterised as a ‘go slow’ municipality by some, as if that were a bad thing. In fact ‘go slow’ is exactly what Central Saanich should be doing given the changes we are facing. It’s time to be sure we have assessed what we have and what we need for future generations. It’s time take an environmental inventory of our water, our trees, our wildlife, the stresses on our land and on our air.

Are we willing to say goodbye forever to the eagles who grace our skies and rest in our tree tops? Are we willing to say goodbye forever to the salmon and the seals and the otters in the inlet? Do we care if our aquifers are draining and recharge is impossible because we’ve over paved? Do we care about the overheated microclimate we’ve created because we took down so many trees? Do we care about the costs incurred in terms of more frequent paving and the need for more storm drains because we cut the trees?

The accelerated pace of consumption has blinded us to the need to conserve finite resources. There is a total disconnection between what we buy and the resources used to make these products. We buy tomatoes from California because we think they are cheaper when, in fact, they are more expensive than local tomatoes because we are not factoring in all the costs, such as the cost to the environment of hauling chemically ripened fruit long distances in polluting vehicles.

The same goes for the setting of our municipality. We say we love its green coolness and its rural ambience, but then we want to build outside our urban containment areas and buffer zones and we claim that we only want to build on unfarmable land as if that were the only test with which we need to concern ourselves.

It’s time we looked more closely at climate, food security, rural preservation, conservation of resources and whether we have a moral right to use up everything and leave nothing for the future. It’s time we measured our ‘success’ in terms of need rather than greed. It’s time we hired an environmental planner with the power to overrule excessive footprinting.

So remember the tortoise who beat the hare and take your time to go slow, measure and set a sustainable pace!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saving Trees Saves Taxes

Trees are good citizens and if looked after wisely they can help a municipality like ours save large sums of money that could then be redirected for other purposes.
Costly Pavement
“The asphalt paving on streets contains stone aggregate in an oil binder. Without tree shade, the oil heats up and volatizes, leaving the aggregate unprotected. Vehicles then loosen the aggregate which grinds down the pavement. Streets are overlaid or slurry sealed every 7-10 years over a 30-40 year period, after which reconstruction is required. A slurry seal costs approximately $0.27/sq.ft. or $50,000/linear mile (US figures) but because the oil does not dry out as fast on a shaded street as it does on a street with no shade trees, this street maintenance can be deferred. The slurry seal can be deferred from every 10 years to every 20-25 years for older streets with extensive tree canopy cover.”
(Tree Guidelines for San Joaquin Valley Communities 1999)

Expensive Storm Water Management
“In Milwaukee, where urban trees cover about 16 per cent of the city, trees reduce storm water flows by 22 per cent. The city saves an estimated $15.4 million by avoiding the construction of additional retention capacity. In Austin, heavy rains make storm water management a priority issue. Austin's tree canopy, almost twice that of Milwaukee's at approximately 30 per cent, reduced storm water flow by 28 per cent, providing the city with an estimated $122 million in savings.”
(MacDonald, 1996)

“The canopy of a street tree absorbs rain, reducing the amount of water that will fall on pavement and then must be removed by a storm water drainage system. In one study, an 8-year old Cork Oak intercepted 27 percent of the gross rainfall, while a 9-year old Bradford Pear intercepted 15 percent. Savings are possible since cities can install surface water management systems that handle smaller amounts of runoff.”
(Xiao, et. al., 2000)

Thrifty Shading and Protecting
“One tree that shades your home in the city will also save fossil fuels, cutting CO2 build-up as much as 15 forest trees.” (National Arbor Day Foundation–US)

Placing deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home will shade you in the summer and allow sunlight in, in winter. Fir trees on the north side of your home will protect you from cold winter winds.

Research reports savings of between 10 and 15 % on winter heating costs thanks to trees acting as windbreaks, and cooling cost reductions of 20 & 50% in summer due to shade and cooling through evapotranspiration.” (Heisler, 1986)

Cleaning Up Our Environment
“Poplar & cottonwood trees can break down carcinogenic groundwater contaminants such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and Atrazine into harmless compounds.” (Black, 1995; EPA, 1996)

“Trees, especially those with large leaf surfaces, absorb and trap airborne dirt and chemical particles such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone. Trees also help by reducing wind speed so that heavy particles settle out.” (Nowak 1994, Harris 1992)

Decreased Crime
Studies in the US show that developments with large trees have less crime: “compared with apartment buildings that had little or no vegetation, buildings with high levels of greenery had 52 % fewer total crimes, including 48% fewer property crimes and 56 % fewer violent crimes.”

“Residents from buildings with trees reported using more constructive, less violent ways of dealing with conflict in their homes.” (Kuo and Sullivan, 2001 & 1999)

Increased Real Estate Values
“Several studies have shown that the value of homes in neighbourhoods with trees are higher than in those of comparable neighbourhoods without trees. In addition, neighbourhood green spaces or greenways typically increase the value of properties located nearby.” (Theriault et al, 2002)

Trees added $9,500 US, or more than 18% to the average sale price of a residence in a suburb of Rochester, New York. (D.J. Nowak, Benefits of Community Trees, USDA)

Increased Economic Sustainability
Businesses leasing spaces in treed developments find their workers more productive and absenteeism reduced. Trees enhance community economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists. People linger and shop longer along tree lined streets. (Michigan State University Extension, Urban Forestry; University of Washington Study)

Traffic Calming
Tall trees give the perception of making the street feel narrower, slowing people down. (National Arbor Day Foundation-US)

Costs Vs. Benefits
A study of the benefits and costs of tree planting in Chicago found that the projected value of trees (e.g. pollution reduction, energy saving, property value) is nearly three times greater than the projected costs. (McPherson et al., 1995)

“Each of us is responsible for over 4,600 pounds of carbon per year…In one year a single acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven 26,000 miles…The death of one 70 year old tree would return over 3 tons of carbon to the atmosphere.” (International Society of Arborists)

Priceless: Health & Well Being
Trees create a sense of well being that relaxes you, lowers your blood pressure and slows you down. “In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” (Ulrich, 1984)

Symptoms of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are relieved after contact with nature. The greener the setting the more the relief. By comparison, activities indoors such as watching TV, or outdoors in paved, non-green areas leave ADD children functioning worse. (Taylor, et al., 2001)

“Trees purify the air; they also purify the mind……if you want to save your world, you must save the trees.”
The Trees of Endor

Quotes and statistics used in this piece may be found at
See also City of Saskatoon, Urban Forestry branch
This leaflet has been prepared by Sue Stroud

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Community Vision.Org

Take time to sign a very important petition at

Changes proposed to the Regional Growth Strategy will create pressure for more development. This election will be about development vs environment. It will be about the size of our footprint and whether we intend to leave anything for future generations. It will be about maintaining the rural community we love or becoming just like all the other rubberstamped towns like Langford.

Think about it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Apple Pie in a Regional Context: a lesson for all

The Central Saanich Regional Context Statement explains how our Official Community Plan fits into the Regional Growth Strategy of the Capital Region. The current proposed wording says we would provide municipal services outside the urban containment areas for four reasons only: health, environment, agriculture and fire suppression. On the face of it, this sounds easy as apple pie.

But right now, not only is there no recipe for the pie, we don’t know if we have any of the ingredients. What should we be checking for?

First, we don't know the carrying capacity of our land and water table. How much 'growth' is okay? Or too much? How much do we preserve for future uses? What are the climate change predictions for this area, and their impact on our carrying capacity? What are regional water consumption trends, and their longer-term affect on us? Will the proposed services help or just delay the inevitable? For these questions alone, we need a full time environmental planner to carry out environmental impact studies – with regular followups to capture and measure any changes.

Second, we have no way to measure the true need for requested exemptions – other than what is in a submission. At the very minimum, effective guidelines should require every submission be accompanied by receipts or professional reports to demonstrate they have done everything reasonable to mitigate the problem prior to requesting municipal services – and, as a matter of public interest, available at the municipal hall. The municipality should be putting together a list of expectations--acceptable proofs and acceptable third party verifiers--for those wishing services to follow. Among the expectations would be robust covenants that prevent a provision of service from becoming a ‘thin edge of the wedge’, leading to unsustainable development that further drains our resources.

Third, we need clear and unequivocal information about the impacts (health, fiscal, effectiveness of services) of proposed extension of services, and alternatives to the proposed service extension.

Fourth, guidelines embedded in the OCP. We all appreciate that using guidelines based on policies of the council would save time (and public hearings). But council policies, no matter how good, can be easily overturned by the next council. Poor foundations for the certainty needed by both citizens and developers. Rather like dicing a few crab apples into the bowl.

Given what’s riding on their decisions, we really need the cooks to overcome any temptation to improvise.

Our new OCP falls short because of vague concerns about being ‘too prescriptive.’ However, prescriptions have a role in maintaining our health and wellbeing – and may be necessary to establish the clear and constant guidelines so essential to preserving our ‘green and pleasant land’.

This isn’t about denying people clean and healthy water. This isn't about denying someone a piece of the pie. It is about making sure the tree that provides the apples is there for the next generation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September 3, 2008

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I am really becoming more and more concerned that we are preparing policies that will do great environmental harm to our community, destroying its agricultural and intrinsic value right when we most need to be protecting it. I know this is not what any of you intend, there is not one of you that would knowingly harm Central Saanich, but this what may result if we don’t stop and gather scientific information before we go any further.

How can we allow something like the Regional Context Statement to go through when we don't even know what the baselines of sustainability are in our community? We have nothing to tell us how many homes, businesses and farms our water table can handle or whether our land will be seriously depleted of nutrients as a result of climate change. We do know that all around us others are building willy-nilly and they are undoubtedly depleting the water and other resources that are available to us all.

We have nothing to measure any of the four criteria with, we are simply trusting what others have done, who themselves have no way to measure what the environment around us can sustain. It’s not anyone’s fault that we don’t have these measures, we never understood that we needed them before, but now we know that we are in trouble and need to conserve the resources we have.

Maybe we need to take a step back and develop measures using the best science available (Dr. Weaver at UVic would be a good person to guide this process).

We have an obligation to be sure that we are doing no further harm to our environment and that what we pass on to the youngsters in our community is in the best condition possible. We have an obligation not to continue with business as usual when we can’t say with certainty that what we are doing will do no harm.

Changes need to be made immediately and going slowly is probably the most important first step we can take. We have to look at the long term and not be persuaded by immediate pressures.

The problems we are facing are global in scale, but we need to find local government solutions if we are to overcome them. The time we have to make the change is short. Will we continue to grow when growth is contra-indicated or will we have the courage to stop, examine and make the changes that are needed?

Sue Stroud

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Municipal Mail in Ballots
-with thanks to Sara Ribeiro at Central Saanich Municipal Hall

In July, a report was presented to Central Saanich Council with an accompanying Election Procedures Bylaw to incorporate mail-in ballot voting and mobile voting for the 2008 local government election. Below is an excerpt from that Bylaw pertaining to mail-in ballot voting for your information. Please note S. 16 which stipulates who may participate in the mail-in ballot voting opportunity.


16 An elector who:
(1) has a physical disability, illness, or injury that affects his or her ability to vote at another voting opportunity, or
(2) expects to be absent from the District on general voting day and at the times of all advance voting opportunities may vote by mail ballot.

Application procedure

17 A person wishing to vote by mail ballot may apply in writing by providing their name and address to the Chief Election Officer, during the period commencing seven (7) days before the first day of advance voting and ending at 4:00 p.m. on the date two (2) days before general voting day.

18 Upon receipt of a request for a mail ballot, the Chief Election Officer shall, between the first day of advanced voting and 4:00 p.m. on the date two (2) days before general voting day:
(1) make available to the applicant by mail or in person, a mail ballot package containing the ballots, forms, envelopes and other documents required under the Local Government Act ; and,
(2) immediately record and, upon request, make available for inspection the name and address of the person to whom the mail ballot package was issued; and,
Voting procedure

19 In order to be counted for an election, an elector’s mail ballot must be mailed or delivered to the Chief Election Officer at the address specified on the outer envelope provided in the mail ballot package so that it is received no later than the close of voting on general voting day.
Ballot acceptance or rejection

20 Upon receipt of mail ballot packages before the close of voting on the general voting day, the Chief Election Officer shall record the time and date of its receipt and shall examine the certification envelope.

21 If the Chief Election Officer is satisfied as to:
(1) the identity and entitlement to vote of the elector whose ballot is enclosed; and
(2) the completeness of the certification, the Chief Election Officer shall mark the certification envelope as “accepted” and shall mark the voting book to indicate that the elector has voted.

22 The unopened certification envelopes marked as “accepted” shall remain in the custody of the Chief Election Officer until the close of voting on general voting day, at which time the Chief Election Officer shall, in the presence of at least one other election official, in addition to any scrutineers present:
(1) open the certification envelopes;
(2) place the unopened secrecy envelopes together into a ballot box;
(3) open the secrecy envelopes and remove the ballots within; and
(4) insert the ballots into the vote counting unit.

23 The Chief Election Officer shall retain all certification envelopes together with the voting books and for the purposes of document retention and destruction shall treat the certification envelopes in the same manner as a voting book.

24 If:
(1) upon review of an outer envelope, the Chief Election Officer is not satisfied as to the identity of the elector whose ballot is enclosed or the completeness of the certification; or
(3) the outer envelope is received by the Chief Election Officer after the close of voting on general voting day, the certification envelope shall remain unopened and the Chief Election Officer shall mark such envelope as “rejected” and shall note the reasons for the rejection..

25 Any certification envelopes and their contents rejected in accordance with Section 24 of this Bylaw shall remain unopened and shall not be counted in the election.
Challenge of elector

26 Between the time an elector requests a mail ballot package and the time that the mail ballot package is hand delivered or mailed to the elector requesting it, the elector’s right to vote may be challenged under section 116 of the Local Government Act.
Replacement of spoiled ballot

27 Where an elector unintentionally spoils a mail ballot before returning it to the Chief Election Officer, the elector may request a replacement ballot by advising the Chief Election Officer of the ballot spoilage and by mailing or otherwise delivering by any appropriate means, the spoiled ballot package in its entirety to the Chief Election Officer.

28 The Chief Election Officer shall, upon receipt of the spoiled ballot package, record such fact and issue a new mail ballot package to the elector.

For more info call Central Saanich Municipal hall at 652-4444 or check out the website:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Published on Monday, August 18, 2008 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Loss Looms in Seattle’s Urban Forests
by Nancy Dickeman
Fir, cedar, pine: trees that tower, weaving a grove, bringing us the forest. Willow, ash, birch, elm: trees that bend to the wind, the gusts spinning branches. Apple, hawthorn, dogwood, plum: bearers of blossoms and fruit.

This is the litany of trees that carry wind through branches and cradle the nests of birds.These are trees that have come of age, the trunk’s rings telling their years, that in Seattle are disappearing by human design. City leaders boast of a goal for 30 percent tree canopy, yet strive towards it with the curious strategy of deforestation, followed by the planting of saplings.In this scheme, trees and forests are not treasured for their intrinsic value, for their role as anchors in a chain of habitat.

The role a mature tree plays in stemming climate change is dismissed with a wink and a nod to the new shoots of saplings — 70 times less effective in their role in reducing pollution. Little heed is given to the fact that thoughtless new construction abets the forces of climate change.

Beyond the service trees provide us is the home they make to wildlife. In the Maple Leaf neighborhood, near Waldo Woods, I watched an eagle land on the tallest fir. Waldo Woods is one of Seattle’s three remaining urban forests. On land once owned by Camp Fire, and the site of the former Waldo Hospital, much of the forest is slated for clearcutting, making way for new town home construction. While the developer touts that part of the grove will be saved, there is no mention that 72 trees will be lost, nor concern for the fate of the remaining trees. Once the interlocked system of roots is broken, the trees left behind are imperiled by the loss of their collective whole.

North of Maple Leaf, at Ingraham High School, a second remaining urban forest is scheduled to be torn down as part of the high school’s renovation. Despite available land on-site that would avoid the trees’ destruction, the renovation’s design zeroed in not only on requiring new construction but also on the specific piece of land where 84 trees stand. The school district and the city seem indifferent to tearing them out.

These native forests — that have grown over decades, extending from the land, forming a silhouette in the sky, protecting our air and water — cannot be replicated by saplings that will take decades to mature. They are ornamentals often chosen to match a designer’s cardboard visions, more suitable for blueprints than neighborhoods.An Eastern Washington judge recently sentenced a citizen to prison for the destruction and theft of dozens of mature cedars, saying “it is like stealing a part of the history of our country.”

Yet in Seattle, the mayor, Seattle Public Schools and Camp Fire, conjoined with developers, are all too eager to raze two of three of our city’s remaining urban forests, to steal our history and the Earth’s riches, in the quest for excessive density and a quick buck.

Driving through Seattle, the city still hints of neighborhoods graced with green. Yet if we continue with plans to tear down these groves of trees, we will discover too late what it means to destroy something irreplaceable.

If we are not careful, we may turn the Emerald City into a barren city of asphalt and stone.Nancy Dickeman lives in Seattle.

©1996-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people.
-- Bryce Nelson

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On Trees: Save or Cut? A Loss We Can't Repair

Trees have been going down at a great rate in Brentwood Bay this year. It seems the municipality set a precedent by cutting the beautiful trees on our main street despite 1600+ mostly local signatures asking them not to, and now some developers and homeowners have decided to follow suit.

The Bickford trees pictured here are some of those still left on site after many trees were cut earlier in preparation for a new multi-family development just above Trafalgar Square. These are unquestionably heritage trees of an age and size that should make them untouchable. The developer says he has an arborist's report and a hydro report that say they should come down. Have you ever heard of an arborist's report or hydro report that says the trees should stay? Rarely if ever, I'm sure.

It is very easy to set the stage for removing a tree that took decades to reach this size. As you can see the power lines run in front of the trees and the trees are not encroaching. These are healthy trees and should not be taken down.

The maple on the property that the Brentwood Inn is about to turn into 6 condos at $1.4 million each is to be saved apparently, but citizens will have to be watchful. What is the value of a tree like this? It is priceless. Its roots hold our storm waters in the ground and thereby help prevent flooding. Its leaves breathe for us, cleaning our air of the GHGs from the cars along the road and the off-gassing of the pavement itself. Its shade cools the pavement keeping the pavement from creating unpleasant micro-climates that heat us up further. Its branches and trunk provide homes for the birds that eat mosquitoes and other annoying pests. When we cut down a tree we throw the balance of nature out in that spot. Dan Behune has stated that he always intended to make every effort to save the maple and the other native trees on the property and for that we should thank him. It's important to let people know that we are watching and we are concerned.

What will happen to the trees along Mt Newton if the Senanus pipeline goes through?

What will happen to the "mostly-treed" properties along Keating that some would to use to expand the industrial corridor?

Every time you cut one tree you are interfering with others in the interdependency that makes a forest even in an urban setting.

If we have any understanding at all of the global emergency we are facing we would know that we need to keep every tree we can. We need to build around our trees. We need to plant more fast growing, drought tolerant large trees (not ornamentals in need of much watering and bred to stay small).

We need our Council to start saying no to cutting and start saying yes to making sure we keep our lovely village and rural countryside green.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How Do Our Councillors Rate?

We have to start thinking about rating our Councillors’ performance. So from first to worst here are my observations after 6 years of regular Council attendance (they are listed alphabetically where tied) :

Do they make sure we can see how they voted on every issue or do they go out of their way to hide this most important information, including trying to change procedures to eliminate any sign of how they voted; do they actively try and make the votes more transparent?

1. King
2. Bryson
3. Graham, Mar
4. Garrison, Mason
5. Thompson

Do they sincerely care about the environment or are they just greenwashing their own and our District’s record (this includes doing research, making proposals, finding funding and proposing tougher bylaw & OCP wording vs watering down, creating loopholes and refusing to reconsider when a bad decision has been made)?

1. King
2. Bryson
3. Graham, Mar
4. Garrison, Mason, Thompson

Did they provide a welcome atmosphere for citizens coming to council with ideas and problems, or did they whine about too many citizens showing up or that the same ones show up regularly (this includes placing letters at the end of the agenda and finding other ways to muzzle citizens; interrupting, being rude, rolling their eyes, belittling in the media etc)?

1. Bryson, King
2. Graham
3. Mar
4. Garrison
5. Mason
6. Thompson

Are they only interested in their own ‘perspective’ or are they actually listening to the community?

1. Bryson, King,
2. Graham, Mar
3. Thompson
4. Mason
5. Garrison

Special mention needs to made of Councillor Bryson’s reminders that applause and scornful comments may intimidate some of the speakers at Council and that is undemocratic. His wise and thoughtful comments on many issues are very helpful.

Councillor King is far and away the most concerned about our environment and although the vote is almost always against him he never gives up trying to put forward ideas that are for the benefit of our community. He is also the champion of citizen participation and inclusiveness as he encourages people to bring their thoughts, ideas and concerns to Council and to participate on both citizen-initiated and council committees.

I find Councillor Graham and Mayor Mar to be sincere and hardworking, willing to listen to what citizens present for the most part and willing to stand up and be counted on difficult issues. I don't always agree with their decisions, but I do respect them.

Almost all the Councillors have had a 'shining moment' at some point, but this list is meant to be reflective of the general state of affairs.

Someone spoke to me the other day about their anger over part of the new draft Official Community Plan. I pointed out to them that it is a draft only at this point and there is still plenty of opportunity for input and change. Councillors did not make all (or even most of), the suggestions that went into the draft: staff, citizens and the consultant have all added pieces to the document, so saying the Council should be thrown out because the document contains bits you don’t like is quite unfair.

It's interesting to note (see the articles below, especially that on the Civic Leagues and one called 3 Unfair Motions and Their Implications from September 2007) that the sense that Councillors' are hiding the votes so we can't know who stands for what is quite universal in the region, and in fact, in Guelph, Ontario citizens got the Council to buy a voting machine to record the vote as it is cast and project it on the wall for all to see. Knowing how they voted is fundamental to any democracy. Without it we have only a sham.

I guess we need the machine too.
"The earth provides enough to satisfy every one's need, but not every one's greed." - Mahatma Gandhi

For a long time I've been pondering need and greed, wondering how some can be so cavalier about taking more and more as if by right while the rest of us have trouble just getting by.

It's a problem that we all understand when we think in terms of the world: we see the unbearable poverty of Africa and the flaunted billions of the corporate baronetcy, but we don't seem to recognize the same disparity in our own little piece of paradise.

How can it be acceptable for someone to come to Central Saanich Council because they need variances for a 10,000 sq ft home on prime farmland?

How can others lobby for a water pipeline to serve 7-bathroom homes, homes with spas and indoor/outdoor pools, water features and other frills even though our aquifers are being drained and neighbours with more modest lifestyles are deprived of water they always had before the greedy came along?

It seems that our greed is boundless: as long as we can leverage the money we will do what we want.

We need a Council willing to say no to this kind of unsustainable 'lifestyle.'

We need bylaws that limit the size of houses (Oak Bay recently passed a bylaw to limit homes to 3,000 sq ft and other jurisdictions have had such limits for years).

We need environmental standards in place and we need them enforced: for water, for trees, for recycling and for every other environmental concern..

The best way to do this would be to hire an environmental planner for the District, whose job it is to prepare new bylaws; research new methods of water conservation, power production and reduction and other environmental innovations; find the funding to help homeowners, businesses and the District to get the job done; and to put in place tests, measures, reviews and enforcement to be sure we are doing what we should be doing.

Some have suggested funding as a problem, but Councillor Zeb King showed that if the time is spent doing the research and preparing the applications there is money to be had from senior levels of government and from foundations and organizations dedicated to environmental preservation.

Nothing is impossible.
Only greed will fail.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

S-P-R-A-W-L: Undermining the Regional Growth Strategy

If the Senanus waterline is passed by Council we will have set a dangerous precedent that undoes the Regional Growth Strategy, endangers our Official Community Plan and sets up a bleak and overbuilt future for rural Central Saanich.

To satisfy the ‘needs’ of people with 7 bathrooms in one house, indoor and outdoor pools and, in one case, a home spa the owner had featured in Western Living Magazine earlier this year, the District of Central Saanich is preparing to build a waterline which will see those not on the line paying unfair amounts to provide service to those whose need appears frivolous at best. Keeping in mind that these homes were bought by people who knew that they were outside the Urban Containment Zones and therefore not eligible to receive services, we have to ask how this pipeline fits into the protection of our rural environment. Everyone is entitled to the basics, but when the basics become this ostentatious one wonders what the ‘need’ is.

Alternatives used by other neighbours along Mount Newton are not enough apparently for these homeowners. Options include wells and cisterns, rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, green roofs for cooling and for storm water catchment and permeable surfacing so rainwater recharges the aquifer rather than running down the road into storm drains and then into the Inlet. Rain gardens also store water and of course a bit of water 'belt tightening' so that so much isn’t required wouldn’t hurt either. The following material is from the Capital Region District website.

Regional Growth Strategy

The CRD Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) was adopted by the CRD Board on August 13, 2003. The strategy represents an agreement, developed and approved by the member municipalities and the regional district in partnership, on social, economic, and environmental goals and priority actions.

The RGS includes eight strategic initiatives that together express a 25-year program for this joint partnership.

The eight initiatives are:

Keep urban settlement compact
Protect the integrity of rural communities
Protect regional green and blue space
Manage natural resources and the environment sustainably
Build complete communities
Improve housing affordability
Increase transportation choice
Strengthen the regional economy

Regional Context Statements

The Local Government Act Section 866 requires municipalities within a regional district to prepare a Regional Context Statement (RCS) within two years of the adoption of a regional growth strategy (RGS). The purpose of the Regional Context Statement is to outline how the municipality's Official Community Plan is consistent with the RGS or how it may be made consistent over time. The intent is to develop a level of consistency between municipalities and the regional district to achieve common visions and shared goals.

Our Regional Context statement is here:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Civic Leagues: Citizens Organize

Last night saw the start of what could be a significant change in the way municipalities connect with citizens throughout this region. An overflow crowd of 200 plus met at the Vancouver Island Ballroom of the Hotel Grand Pacific to discuss how the Guelph Ontario Civic League was formed and how it creates interest in local elections. The sheer size of the crowd pleased (and startled) the organizers who included the Victoria Labour Council, the Dogwood Initiative and the Columbia Institute as well as the newly minted Saanich Civic League.

Topics that sound all to familiar to Central Saanichers came up from every region (judging by the applause!):

-There is no recorded vote for future reference and therefore no accountability
-There is little or no communication with the public on important issues
-There is no warning of changes as local government advertising is minimal at best
-Unresponsive councillors are the norm, those who really listen are rare
-Citizens don’t know what’s going on at Council and don’t know how to find out
-Voter turnout is dismal as people feel disconnected and unheeded

Solutions include:

-Citizens doing surveys to determine what the community values
-Watching council, recording votes and publishing a voting record measured against these values -Keeping the Civic League non-partisan to allow everyone’s input and feedback
-Communicating online, by phone, by postering, by contacting local community groups etc
-Hosting events: serious ones to discuss civic engagement and fun ones to build community
-Fundraising to sustain the effort

One of the speakers asked for a show of hands for each of our local government areas: the room was about 40% Saanich, 40% Victoria and 20% everybody else.

Everyone was delighted to hear that the Guelph Civic League had managed to get its Council into electronic voting with the recorded vote projected on the Council wall instantly. This has not impeded or curtailed discussion, but it does mean that Councillors have to make their own decisions and not wait to see which way the wind is blowing.

Check it out:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fairness and Accountability

Central Saanich has once again affirmed that a Councillor can ask for a statement or a set of questions to be recorded as an official part of the minutes.

Gary Nason, Chief Administrative Officer of Central Saanich, made it clear that there is nothing in any act that prevents a Councillor from adding information 'for the record' and that it has been Central Saanich tradition to allow this practice.

Of late, it has been used to clarify important information which could otherwise be misconstrued, misrepresented or mistaken. It's unfortunate that the minutes are not reflective of the debates at Council and it is long overdue for their to be a council "Hansard" with fully recorded votes and statements so that the public can have a record of the decision making process.

I'm glad to see that Central Saanich will continue to allow an open record at least when a councillor specifically asks for one.

Councillor Thompson's pretence that allowing others to record their positions is 'time-consuming' or 'politicking' hides the fact that Councillor Thompson wishes to muzzle the active voice at Council. His position in this instance is no different than his continued attempts to silence the citizens who wish to participate in our democracy.

Our Council needs to be more open, accountable and inviting to all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bob Thompson's Bad Memory

Councillor Thompson says he can't remember telling people to get their OCP changes in in the form of motions even though he stated very clearly in the Fireman's Training Hall a few weeks back that 'the more specific the motion the more likely it was to be dealt with." Bob's bad memory is starting to impede the citizens' business as he adds layer after layer of confusion to the process of receiving public input for Council and the OCP. Make sure you take a look at the earlier motions Councillor Thompson promoted last fall to shut down public input.

Game's over Bob - we're on to you! More to follow shortly...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

DRAFT OCP is Online - May 7th Open House

The draft of the new Official Community Plan is online at and click on OCP Update under District Projects down the right hand side. This document is quite long and you will not be able to get the gist of it at the Open House if you haven't taken time to read it before hand.

If you have changes you think should be made send a very specific motion to "Mayor and Council" at

For example here is one I sent:

Re: Policy 4 page 24 of the draft OCP

Moved that the following line be added at the end of Policy 4: Affordable housing shall include low income subsidised housing administered by the District of Central Saanich or by BC Housing, Capital Region Housing or any of the other non-profit housing societies in the region.

The sooner you send in your ideas the better. Remember community is a verb!

Don't Privatize BC Rivers - Keep BC Hydro Public

This is the most important and urgent video I have seen. Please pass it on to your friends and neighbours, have house parties, whatever it takes. Our public power is at stake and we must stop the corporate goldrush to privatize our rivers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Parable for Woodwynn Therapeutic Community

Starfish on the Beach - A Parable for Woodwynn Farm

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer he called out,"Good morning! What are you doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish in the ocean." "I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, "It made a difference for that one."

I saw this story on the Rockridge Institute website. We can make a difference, we can save lives.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Soft Plastics recycling takes Central Saanich by storm!

Have a look at this lovely and funny video of the soft plastics recycling kids from McTavish elementary who inspired our community. Pitching in, working together, laughing and having a good time is what community is all about. Together we can be the change we want to see. Well done!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Councillor Bob Thompson in the TC: A Response

Councillor Bob Thompson is way off the mark when he defends Central Saanich’s record on affordable housing and homelessness.

The “search for regional solutions” that he refers to should mean that we all provide subsidized housing in our own backyard, not that we slough it off to “the urban core.” Providing money so that Victoria could build wasn’t the reason I stood up at Council so many times and asked them to join the Capital Region Housing Trust Fund (with Bob Thompson voting against the motion over and over). We need subsidized housing built in Central Saanich and every other municipality has a right to complain about us. We are not doing our share. Not by a long shot.

When the homeless count was done twenty-two of the homeless interviewed said that they regularly slept in Central Saanich. Anyone who checked out the waiting lists for housing would discover many individuals and families from Central Saanich waiting for the security of an affordable roof over their heads. Seniors and young people alike are being driven out of our community because we won’t do what’s just and fair and decent.

Too many people in Central Saanich are too comfortable and have no realistic understanding of the housing pandemic around us. Homelessness and the fear of homelessness creates severe physical and mental health problems, policing problems, family breakups and delinquency. The cycle of instability creates depression and inertia and a sense that a family has been abandoned by its community. We are driving people away from their support systems into areas where they will inevitably become addicted or ill, or where they may die.

Central Saanich could and should be making the provision of subsidized housing units a condition of development in our community. I have suggested that 10% of the units of any development or cash in lieu for developments under 10 units, be the standard. Based on the developments just completed, or still in the works this would give us roughly 20-30 units to work with and a considerable sum of cash to cover the additional infrastructure costs. Councillor Thompson regularly raises objections to this idea asking how will we administer it, who will be chosen to live there and what does ‘affordable’ mean? All of his questions have been clearly handled by many other jurisdictions, but he continues to ask the same questions.

Councillor Thompson is our representative to the Capital Region Housing Trust Fund. He has not asked council to allow him to put forward a request for funding for any type of subsidized housing in Central Saanich. Yes, Council would have to work out what it wanted, who would build it and who would house it, but this is never on our agenda. No committee has been struck. No work is being done.

Yes, Central Saanich has created a new secondary suites bylaw. That is not nearly enough considering the backlog of affordable housing needed in our community. And while the bylaw has come in, Central Saanich is still shutting down older, less expensive suites rather than providing long-term, no interest loans to the homeowners so the suites can be remodelled to meet the new bylaw. This is because we have no coherent housing plan for our community. Nor do we speak up and call for the provincial and federal governments to make housing plans and provide funding.

‘Let someone else do it’ should be our civic motto.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Earth Hour: An Opportunity to Make a Statement

It started with a question: How can we inspire people to take action on climate change?
The answer: Ask the people of Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour.

On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year.
With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice.

Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement. Manila, Toronto, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv, Brisbane and many more are turning out the lights for one hour March 29, 2008.

We can too. From 8 pm to 9 pm live by candlelight.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Muzzling Councillors

The motion below (in blue) is coming before council in an attempt to muzzle some of our councillors and prevent them from handing in statements, asking that questions, answers and votes be recorded etc. All this does is undermine our right as citizens to know what is going on at Council. Councillors aren't regularly asking for this and surely a couple of times a month can't be onerous for staff (and if it is we need to hire more staff not punish councillors and voters). A large part of the next election will have to be about transparency and openess. Councillors ask for these things for the sake of clarity so that everyone can know what the debate was about, that due diligence was done as far as questioning is concerned and that Councillors decisions can be rightly interpreted.

That Staff review the ‘Central Saanich Council Procedure Bylaw No. 1094, 1993’ as amended, particularly in regards to the practice of including in the minutes verbatim comments and questions from individual members of Council during the course of Council or Committee deliberations.

Please send letters protesting any further attack on our Councillors rights to be heard and our rights as citizens to know what is going on. Between this and the 3 motions last September it has become harder and harder to trace how decisions are being made. Address letters "To Mayor and Council" and send to

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Councillor King's statement on the Woodwynn vote

Attached is a statement by Councillor King regarding the recent Council motion to confirm Woodwynn farm as agricultural land and to prohibit any institutional zoning:

"1st. I wish to make it clear that the vote on this motion authored by Councillor Graham is NOT a rejection of Mr. Leblanc’s idea. Nowhere in the motion does it mention Mr. Leblanc’s idea – which has not been received as an application.

2nd By voting in favor of the motion I am not indicating that I am opposed to Mr. Leblanc’s idea as I have not seen details or yet received an application.

I ask that the media and the public NOT characterize this motion as a rejection, but rather it should be seen as a re-affirmation of the existing zoning given limited information.

Voting opposed to Councillor Graham’s motion does not indicate support for Mr. Leblanc’s idea just as a vote in support does not indicate rejection. It is important to follow what the motion says and not attach extra-meaning to it.

If Council wishes to clearly reject a proposal it should wait for an application and then make a clear motion to deny the request. Council must maintain Mr. Leblanc’s “right to an unbiased decision maker” and must keep an “open mind”, which means that it must accept evidence before making final decisions – such as an application.

I believe that Councillor Graham’s motion is premature but is valid given the limited information before council. This means that I can vote in support of the obvious nature of the motion given the lack of an application or information to the contrary. In order to not have a “closed mind” I ask that it be recorded that I recognize that this motion does not bind my hands or the hands of council if presented with information in the future.

1) This motion is therefore unnecessary… AND I move to postpone the motion until an application is received for deliberation.

2) I move that Council indicate it has not made a decision on the idea presented by Mr. Leblanc AND that Council remains “open minded and unbiased” if Mr. Leblanc wishes to proceed with an application… "

Note that the link attached to this article will take you to the minutes for the Feb 11 Planning and Development Committee meeting where you can look at the motion that was passed, Richard Leblanc's presentation and Councillors King's 12 questions with Mr. Leblanc's answers.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Water Sermon

This is part of a sermon a friend of mine gave to her church a couple of weeks ago:

What is our story today? What needs to be cured in our society today. Do those waters of Jordan that restored the skin of Naaman and brought about his spiritual renewal still baptize communities of faith?

What if Naaman needed to bathe in the river today? In biblical times the river represented freedom from bondage and renewal of spirit. In 1964 Israel began operating a dam that diverts water from the Sea of Galilee, a major Jordan River water provider, to the national water carrier, according to Hillel Glassmam, a stream expert at Israel's Parks Authority. Also in 1964 Jordan constructed a channel that diverted water from the Yarmouk River, another main tributary of the Jordan River. This resulted in great damage to the ecosystem. Syria has also built reservoirs that catch the Yarmouk's waters. In a year, the Yarmouk's flow into the Jordan River will dwindle to a trickle, once Syria and Jordan begin operating a dam they jointly built, he added. The three countries replenished the river with sewage water, agricultural runoff and salt water, Glassman said. The freshwater foliage that once flourished along the river's banks has been replaced with saline vegetation.

What if our local communities need personal and spiritual renewal from our rivers? Will we pay Naaman’s thirty thousand pieces of silver, 10 thousand pieces of gold and 10 changes of clothes? In British Columbia, many of our communities are now receiving their power from private energy corporations. The BC government has granted 'water licenses for power production' on hundreds of British Columbia Rivers & creeks to private energy corporations.
These licenses are for 40-year renewable terms with a very minimal royalty & rent payback to the government. They involve a massive transfer of water- energy and wealth to private corporations, some of who are positioning themselves to be merged or bought by giant U.S. energy corporations.
Prior to the election of the current government virtually all water licenses for power production and all transmission lines were owned by BC Hydro and Power Authority. That means you and me were the owners. This 'integration' allowed British Columbia to have one of the lowest rates for electricity in all North America. Additionally, BC Hydro would often earn tens or hundreds of millions from power exports and that money was turned over to the government for other public expenditures.
The licensing of water for power production to private energy companies represents an extremely significant shift in public policy. While this 'shift' may result in more 'green energy' production, there are enormous environmental, fiscal and political implications that have received little to no examination or debate, either amongst indigenous peoples or other affected communities.
Ask yourself these questions:
Despite an increased demand for electrical energy the current BC government has passed laws which prevent BC Hydro from constructing any more power projects, saying instead that BC Hydro must buy all its future power needs for BC consumers from private energy corporations.
In Alberta residential consumers buy their electrical power from private energy companies, such as EnMax Corporation, at aconsiderably higher prices then what is available from BC Hydro. That scenario is soon coming to British Columbia. Has the government asked you if you want to buy your electricity directly from private energy corporations at whatever price the 'continental electrical energy' market assigns to that energy?
Is it just that the enormous wealth that comes from selling the energy from our rivers & creeks be captured primarily by private corporations when there have been so many closures of schools, hospitals and community care facilities for seniors?
Is it just that the BC government allows private corporations to make such an incredible 'bundle of money' from our rivers and creeks while there is such a high degree of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia, when there is a huge need for more public low-cost housing? Why is it that the government has decided to seek minimal payment of rents, charges and royalties from these private energy corporations?
Is it just that legislation allows these energy corporations to sell-out to bigger United States energy corporations, which implies that our water and energy could come completely under foreign control? Is this good for BC's long-term energy security?
Is it just that the BC government has removed all legal barriers to the export of energy produced in B.C. which implies that there is nothing to stop these companies from directly exporting the power from our rivers/creeks to the United States so as to earn a higher revenue payable in U.S. dollars?
Has the government properly investigated the environmental impact of these private power projects on hundreds or rivers/creeks in British Columbia
Is the broader public interest better served by having our rivers/creeks and 'green' electrical energy production under public ownership and control, or is it better served by private energy corporations?
In low-water flow years how much of our water in those projects will be 'reserved' for power production and how much has been set aside/ 'reserved' for other needs such as wildlife, recreation, etc. ? Can the water licenses be amended or upgraded to give the corporations even more rights to water?
Why have not the the implications for British Columbia been investigated and reported in our mainstream newspaper and television media? Is it just that there is such a monopoly ownership of the mainstream media? Why the cover-up?
Why has not the current BC government made public the information and engaged in a "Conversation on Energy' with British Columbia before allowing this sell-out? Why the secrecy?
Why has the Water Comptroller decided NOT to hold public hearings prior to granting hundreds of water licenses for power production, as he is entitled to do under the Water Act? Where is the accountability? Are there terms and conditions attached to those water licenses, if so, what are they?
Is it just that many of BC's private energy corporations have made significant monetary contributions to the BC Liberal party, and that their 'organization' the "Independent Power Producers" enjoy an extremely close relationship with the Premier and some Cabinet ministers? In your mind do such dealings serve to increase your trust and confidence in the practice of democracy - or not?
When the Squamish Regional District voted twice to deny a private corporation the permission to build a hydroelectric facility on the Ashlu River, the provincial government passed Bill 30, overturning the right of local governments to legislate over local power production projects. Presently, Ledcor, a private energy corporation is building a private hydroelectric generation facility on the Ashlu River. Is this how a democracy should function?
Finally, ask yourself this fundamental question, who pays and who benefits from this enormous shift in 'ownership and control' of public water and energy resources? Do you think that this 'shift' will create a more just, a more equal society or does it set the conditions for a few to benefit privately. Does this 'shift' create the kind of legacy you wish to leave your children and grandchildren?

Where is God in this picture? When is the welfare of the community to be considered?

In these times, however, we have different ways of dealing with politicians who worship false idols. We vote them out. Let us share that God within us and build a community that shares its resources. The next time I fish, swim or seek spiritual renewal in a BC river, I want to give thanks to God and my community, not to a P3.