Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Nelson Mandela Day!

 ‎"Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom." ~ Nelson Mandela

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Food for Thought outlines NDP farm/food proposals.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vantreight Public Hearing Delivers a Clear Message

At last night's public hearing into the Vantreight Development Proposal, Central Saanich Council heard loud and clear that citizens expect them to stick to their election pledges and uphold the Official Community Plan. There was no mistaking the desire to support and save our local farms and that many creative hands will help get the job done, but developing our rural land to do it is not an option.

Speaker after speaker repeated the theme that all the Councillors had pledged to uphold the Official Community Plan when directly asked at two all candidates' meetings during the last municipal election. There is no wiggle room here. Our plan was reviewed just recently by the citizens in workshops, town halls and through surveys. It has defined urban containment areas and states unequivocally that our rural land may not be considered as merely a holding tank pending future development.
The erosion of citizens' decisions by councillors who promised to uphold those decisions is not acceptable.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Vantreight Farms “Hill Project”

Wednesday July 14th at 6:30 p.m.

Cedar Room, Saanich Fairgrounds

Some things to think about if you are considering speaking at the Public Hearing, or sending in a written submission to Central Saanich Council in advance.

-The proposed development is not in keeping with the Central Saanich Official Community Plan (OCP). “Staff … consider that rezoning the hilltop to RE-5 would not be consistent with the vision, objectives and policies toward rural lands found in the OCP.” (May 5, 2010, Staff Report)

-Whether this is an appropriate location for a dense urban style development must be considered separately from the issue of the viability of one farm business

-There is no guarantee to the District of Central Saanich that this Development will “save the family farm”

-The Development represents unplanned growth in a rural area, outside the identified urban containment boundary, already well established in Central Saanich

-It goes against the recently adopted Central Saanich OCP, a document that outlines the future vision for the community

-This proposal violates the spirit and intent of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS)--an agreement entered into and agreed to by the District of Central Saanich and all member municipalities in the CRD

-Calling a development “rural” does not make it so

-The Central Saanich OCP strongly discourages subdivision of any agricultural lands in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The Agricultural Land Commission does not usually allow for subdivision of lands in the ALR, and therefore, the Vantreight’s will not be allowed to subdivide their remaining parcels and sell them off in 10 acre pieces if the Hill Project does not proceed

-The preservation of rural land is a stated fundamental value in the OCP

-The Planning Staff at Central Saanich do not support this Development

-The CRD Planning and Transportation Committee have expressed serious concerns about the Hill Project, and Council’s decision to define it as “rural”

-Only 5% of the property will be dedicated as parkland; the common greenspace will be owned by the Strata. By comparison, the Island View Estates subdivision resulted in a donation of 60% of the property for use as public parkland

-Vantreight’s estimate of water available from the local aquifer is substantially different from that which the CRD reports: 304 gallons/minute vs 4 gallons/minute

-The proposal is for a dense urban-style development on ecologically sensitive rural land that serves as greenspace, and a crucial buffer for agricultural land

-The proposal calls for 57 single family homes, each of which may contain a secondary suite.....for a total of 114 households

-It WILL cost taxpayers to maintain the municipal road, trails and bicycle lanes

-There WILL be a loss of agricultural land, for the purpose of putting in a road and pedestrian paths

-The community garden has severe limitations due to the Golden Nematode quarantine restrictions

-The amalgamation of chunks of ALR land into two parcels is simply a redistribution of existing land, on paper

-There is no evidence that this proposal will improve agricultural viability in Central Saanich

-The ‘Hill Project’ is about bailing out one business, and ultimately could be precedent setting in Central Saanich

-The ALC Recommended Buffer zones are being ignored. There needs to be an adequate interface between active farming and development.

-The Hill Project will impact residents in the Southeast Quadrant of North Saanich, more so than any resident in Central Saanich, and yet there has been no discussion with those immediately impacted.

-There will be a huge impact on residents, particularly in North Saanich, with respect to traffic volumes. Research has shown that an additional 700 car trips every weekday can be anticipated, as a result of the Hill Project.

A motion at Central Saanich Council to refer this Development to the CRD was defeated....why?

A motion at Central Saanich Council to refer this Development for a legal opinion was defeated....why?

If Central Saanich staff, and CRD staff are saying that this proposal should not move forward, do you not think that perhaps there are some very valid reasons for it?

Central Saanich Council cannot receive any further public input after Wednesday July 14th. It is imperative that, if you would like your opinion to be heard, you provide a written submission in advance, or attend and speak at the Public Hearing.


Ltr from PNR last Friday

Hill plan has 'no tangible benefits'

Published: July 06, 2010 1:00 PM

Why is Central Saanich council supporting the Vantreight hill project when

there are no tangible benefits to the community?

The proposal to build 57 luxury homes with suites on rural and agricultural

land is contrary to the vision, objectives and policies of our Official

Community Plan. It defies the principles of environmental stewardship,

sustainability and good land use planning and management.

Simply stated, it is high-density urban development in the wrong location.

So, why are the rules being changed to suit Mr. Vantreight? The proposed

subdivision is outside the Urban Settlement Area and completely contrary to

the spirit and intent of the Regional

Context Statement and CRD Regional Growth Strategy unanimously approved by

member municipalities to protect green space and prevent urban sprawl.

The development plan is based on land speculation for profit, not community

need. If approved, it would set a dangerous precedent and open the door for

others to pave over agricultural land with houses. This is not an acceptable

strategy for saving a farm or building food security.

There are also concerns about the impact of the proposal on area residents

and the aquifer, including possible contamination of wells, toxic run-off

and the sufficiency of water for such a large housing project.

If the on-site water and sewage treatment for the subdivision prove

inadequate, taxpayers can expect to pay millions of dollars in

infrastructure and servicing costs to provide sewer and water for this

development. The July 14 public hearing should be cancelled pending further


Council has abandoned established guidelines, democracy and common sense.

The recommendations of municipal staff are being ignored, along with a

majority of citizens opposed to the project.

Clearly, a largely pro-development council is putting its aspirations and

Mr. Vantreight's business plan ahead of the best interest of everyone in the


Joan Anaka

Central Saanich

Les Leyne: If John Les walks, so should bureaucrat

By Les Leyne, Times Colonist June 26, 2010 Comments (14)

It's outrageous that a former Chilliwack bureaucrat has to face criminal breach of trust charges for doing exactly what his mayor and council encouraged and subtly guided him to do.

Former Chilliwack mayor John Les was cleared yesterday of wrongdoing arising from a four-year investigation of suspicious rezonings and agricultural land exclusions.

Fair enough. If police have spent four years investigating and a special prosecutor has spent three years poring over evidence, the conclusion can be accepted.

But if Les walks away in the clear, then so should the municipal staff member whose job was to execute the will of the mayor and council. Instead, the special prosecutor elected to file three breach of trust charges against then-subdivision approving officer Grant Sanborn.

There are no allegations of bribery in the information provided. There are no allegations Sanborn's allegedly criminal decisions were made for money or personal gain.

The prosecutor's outline says that Sanborn made the decisions based on the "pro-development, can-do" culture established in Chilliwack over the years that Les was mayor. Les went on to provincial politics and was in cabinet when this case surfaced. He properly resigned and has been waiting to be cleared for two years.

Sanborn was following the prevailing ethos in Chilliwack at the time, doing what he was encouraged to do by a firm-handed mayor who was responsible for establishing the municipality's enthusiastic attitude toward growth and development.

But the ex-mayor gets cleared and the ex-bureaucrat gets booked. It's not right.

The police checked 80 development approvals and found a number of mistakes or errors in judgment that contravened plans, bylaws or rules. A lot of them alienated farmland for non-farm uses, such as subdivisions.

Les's mayoralty was all about growth. The evidence shows Les and most of his council "embraced this pro-development philosophy such that staff were encouraged, both directly and subtly, to adhere to what was described as an attitude of innovation and creativity," particularly in processing development applications.

Staff were encouraged to consider regulations and bylaws "as guidelines only, with a goal of finding creative ways to make development opportunities happen," the prosecutor found.

Sanborn is charged in connection with two specific approvals. One was for a housing project for which Les was the developer and main proponent. The mayor had a numbered company that did a sophisticated, multi-step rezoning.

The prosecutor accuses Sanborn of giving Les preferential treatment in the approval process. But he found a paucity of evidence that Les asked for it. Les declared his conflict of interest at council meetings and recused himself when his project came up.

Sanborn is essentially being charged with breach of trust for giving his boss the benefit of the doubt and not being independent enough as approving officer.

He's also charged over another approval because he didn't check compliance with flood plain restrictions. That might be a botch of his responsibilities. But it sure doesn't sound like breach of trust, given that he was operating on an "open for business" premise that was explicitly set by the mayor and council.

The exact specification in the breach of trust charges is that he "used his public office for a purpose other than the public good."

That purpose may have been against the public good. But the mayor and council set the purpose.

They went out of their way to encourage growth and development. They encouraged "creativity" by staff when it came to applying rules. They encouraged everyone to view regulations and bylaws just as "guidelines." They presided over a multitude of mistakes and errors in judgment.

But when authorities take a close look at two decisions made during that era, one of them about a development the mayor himself was fronting, they exonerate the mayor and throw the book at the bureaucrat.

Sanborn has other legal problems to do with his subsequent career as a development consultant. And an earlier report by the Agricultural Land Commission also rapped him for the way development approvals were handled under his watch.

But the special prosecutor's report goes a long way to explaining those calls. Every bureaucrat should read the special prosecutor's report on Les. It's an example of how blame follows the law of gravity.

It flows down in a hierarchy, not up.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Read more:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Peninsula Co-op's Election Invalidated due to "Bad Faith"

This story is a classic tale of what happens when a small group gathers too much power to itself and becomes unaccountable to those it is supposed to serve.

What happened last June at Peninsula Co-op's woefully undemocratic election is also a cautionary tale for all citizens who fail in their duty to be watchful of those they elect.

Arbitrator Jakob de Villiers QC, has ruled last June's Peninsula Co-op election invalid stating that the election at the AGM was conducted "contrary to the Respondent’s Memorandum of Association, in bad faith and in a manner that was oppressive to those members that were in opposition to the incumbent board’s and senior management’s land use plans". He didn't hesitate to use the word "scurrilous" to describe some of the tactics used to blacken the reputations of candidates running against the Board's approved slate.

No one observing this election process could have reasonably doubted its irregularities. From the beginning those who were pledging to protect Central Saanich farmland from development were vilified publicly and repeatedly by the Board and Management of Peninsula Co-op and in particular its General Manager Pat Fafard. Candidates were forced to present themselves before a committee which grilled them on their positions and whose members lectured and scolded them in a classic case of bullying. This committee then released its list of preferred candidates to the membership.

Candidates requesting a copy of the membership list, the financial statements and the most recent Board minutes were refused them despite the fact that all these documents are available under the Act to any member that requests them. Allowing all candidates to have access to the membership lists is no different than allowing all candidates access to the voters' list in any other election. Without equal access the challengers had little chance of being elected.

Other irregularities included unlocked ballot boxes which were frequently emptied into cardboard boxes beneath a table; the lack of voting booths to ensure the secrecy of one's vote and the lack of scrutineers to ensure the fairness of the voting procedure and to witness the count. Allowing members to vote before the meeting was underway was inappropriate as it provided no opportunity for the candidates to be heard (even more important given that the three challengers had had no access to the membership lists) before these votes were cast.

The arbitrator has now set out rules for a new election which must be held within 60 days of the May 26th ruling.

Under these new rules "candidates or their agents may attend and observe the counting of the votes; no completed ballots may be visible to anyone before counting commences; no voting can be allowed before the meeting commences; no candidate shall be required to appear before or be approved by any nominating committee in order to be eligible to be nominated for election and most importantly, no employee of the Co-op is permitted to participate in the election campaign, whether in support of or in opposition to any candidate." So when the employees approach you to vote for their candidates or allow them to have your proxy vote be aware that they are banned from any such action whether at the gas pumps, in the stores or in any other way.

This year's Peninsula Co-op AGM and election was already underway when this ruling was made, but anyone with integrity would immediately re-set that election date and abide by the rules the arbitrator has set out for the replacement election. That has not been the case to date and in addition the Co-op is proposing a number of changes to the bylaws, some of which are blatantly undemocratic and tend to pool even more power in a few hands.

Do not vote in favour of these bylaws.

If you want to know more feel free to contact me at

Please also join the facebook group Friends of the Peninsula Co-op which is posting all information pertaining to these elections.

You can read the entire arbitration award at the website for the Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paradise Threatened
A movie about the Vantreight development proposal
If you live in Central Saanich take 20 minutes and watch this video.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Drop in on the Community Action at L.E.A.D.'s first
Healthy Living Healthy Planet EXPO!
50 Exhibitors, Local Food, & special guest Guy Dauncey from 1 - 1:15.

FREE Admission. Fun stuff for kids! SAT., March 20th, 12 - 3 pm @
Brentwood Hall, 7082 Wallace Drive. (near Tru Value).

For more info: Helen @ 544-2064

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Setting the Record Straight

Recently, Central Saanich Councillor Ron Kubek has been on the airwaves trying to convince citizens that the Capital Regional District is interfering in the internal affairs of Central Saanich. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ron Kubek himself moved the motion (892.09, December 14, 2009), that brought the Vantreight farms issue to the CRD, and the elected councillors of Central Saanich voted on and passed that motion unanimously.

Central Saanich's elected representatives and citizens were part of the seven-year process that created the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), including the process through which that Regional Growth Strategy would be changed and monitored. To say now that bringing something before the CRD is undemocratic is just false. We signed on to it on behalf of our citizens and we now must abide by the rules we agreed on. Muddying the waters and trying to bully the CRD doesn't help the debate.

Time to Step Aside

Central Saanich Councillor Ron Kubek needs to recuse himself on the Vantreight development issue.

He publicly declares his bias in favour of the Vantreight development every chance he gets, as at the Capital Regional District meeting last week when he stated that four councillors publicly supported this project and were elected on that basis.

Speaking on CFAX and at the council table he has clearly declared a bias in favour of a project that hasn't even come to public hearing.

In fact, while it may be acceptable to take donations from anyone, councillors are expected to recuse themselves when a proposal comes forward from someone they can be perceived to be beholden to, or with whom they have a business relationship. A realtor promoting a development proposal will have a hard time banishing the suspicion that he is doing this for his own personal business interest as at some point he is likely going to be selling or re-selling those very houses.

And while it is also acceptable to state your position during an election campaign, once elected you are expected to listen to all the information provided, to treat all persons respectfully be they citizens or councillors and whether they oppose your position or support it. Bullying at the council table and at the CRD is not acceptable.

Ron Kubek has clearly demonstrated that his mind is made up on the vantreight development issue and it is time for him to step aside.