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

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