A central figure in Saanich’s debate over a controversial bylaw can no longer call himself a registered professional biologist according to the terms of the provincial body that oversees the industry.
The College of Applied Biology (CAB) has permanently rescinded the membership of Ted Lea, a key player in the opposition to the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA). The decision flows out of the college’s decision to discipline Lea for conduct in violation of the college’s code of ethics stemming from his role in the various controversies around the EDPA.
Lea said the college’s decision begs for an appeal. [However], it would have been cost prohibitive for me to do so,” he said. “I offered to pay the college’s proposed fine, but not their suggested $60,000 costs, and offered to resign from the College as a way to stop further financial burden and stress to my family. The College has accepted my offer.”
The college announced the permanent rescinding of Lea’s membership on April 18, 2019 after the college and Lea had reached agreement on his penalty. It also sees him pay a $7,000. The college had initially ruled against Lea on Dec. 5, 2018 following hearings in June 2018.
As a member of Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA Society (SCRES), Lea helped convince members of the public, and council that the EDPA was unfair. Council eventually rescinded the EDPA by a 5-4 vote on Nov. 6, 2017.
Then-mayor Richard Atwell, Couns. Karen Harper, Susan Brice, Leif Wergeland, and Fred Haynes voted in favour to rescind, while Couns. Judy Brownoff, Vicki Sanders, Dean Murdock and Colin Plant voted to keep the EDPA.
The investigation focused on Lea’s role in writing reports on behalf of property owners, who objected to the EDPA.
Implemented in 2012, the EDPA took effect on about 2,200 properties and existed without controversy until Anita Bull, another member of SCRES, and her family criticized in 2015. Saanich eventually received 72 applications from homeowners to remove their properties from the EDPA. Of those 72, Saanich confirmed “a few applications did not have a biologists report, but all applications that were supported by a biologist report were authored by Lea.”
CAB’s investigation into Lea’s reports found they were insufficient with a “lack of due diligence.” Lea was also cited for two more breaches of the CAB code of ethics, “incivility” regarding members of Saanich staff during a SCRES meeting and “conflict of interest” for being a member of SCRES, a “known opponent of the EDPA.”
Lea said he stands by his science. “I was never an opponent to the EDPA [bylaw] itself,” he said. “The College never questioned my interpretation of the EDPA Bylaw, or my interpretation of the [sensitive ecosystem] assessment guidelines. In final arguments, the College’s lawyer indicated that my ultimate conclusions on the individual properties were probably correct.”
Lea said it is “regrettable” that the complainants, as well as the [college] would not sit down and discuss the issues with him despite his willingness and requests to do so, before the issue proceeded to a citation and expensive hearing.
Following the investigation and hearing CAB posted an additional $50 charge to its members for 2019 to cover the $150,000 cost of the review and hearing.
Saanich is currently working on an EDPA replacement.