Saanich by-election delays EDPA hearing

Saanich by-election delays EDPA hearing

Saanich residents will likely not get a chance to comment on a controversial bylaw until after Oct. 16, when the newest council member assumes office.

Council last month scheduled a special public hearing for some time in October to receive comments on a third-party report into the future of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs).

Council chose October for two related reasons: avoid the upcoming by-election on Sept. 23 to replace the seat empty since the death of former councillor Vic Derman and afford the new member of council to participate in the hearing.

“September is a crazy month, not only because we have a byelection, but as members said, that is when people are coming back from holidays,” said Coun. Judy Brownoff at the time. “This is something that should be debated and decided on by a full council,” said Coun. Fred Haynes.

The meeting calendar however shows little flexibility following the by-election. Council has no meeting scheduled for Monday, Sept. 25 because of the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention. Losing candidates have also nine days to challenge the outcome of the election. While the meeting calendar shows a meeting on Oct. 2, the new member could not assume office on that date, because Saanich must fulfill various elections rules, said Angila Bains, manager of legislative services. So the earliest swearing-in date would be Oct. 16, she said.

The public heard this as council unanimously changed its schedule to meet on Monday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 19. Saanich’s procedure bylaw does not permit a council meeting two Mondays before general voting day and the Monday after general voting day, those dates being Sept. 11, Sept. 18, and Sept. 25.