Two questions from North Saanich residents about council’s decision to proceed with 40-80 units on the four acres at 9395 East Saanich Road are worthy of response.
Commenting on whether to participate in the May 13 public hearing, one said: “This was all a done deal and did I really want an exercise in futility and frustration? When the council is really asking for input before making their decision, I would love to come and put in my two pennyworth!”
Another asked, “Is there no higher power that can require council to adhere to the official community plan?”
The short answer to both queries is no.
No one need experience the frustration and futility, the impotent feeling of speaking to closed minds. And there is no statutory power or legal recourse to support residents in enforcing the current provisions of the OCP.
I would offer a more encouraging response to these citizens.
Although the input of some residents at the May 13 public hearing was described as pearls before swine, as one of the porcine councillors, I found much of value in the presentations, both pro and con, and attempted to reflect that in my motion (unsuccessful) to postpone the decision until this new information could be incorporated into the picture.
Nevertheless, I still encourage folks to present council with their opinions, views and values for North Saanich.
Opportunities for communication must not be wasted; council cannot be allowed to take positions without hearing the full range of residents’ perspectives and the valuable additional information they provide.
While there may be no immediate statutory relief for residents worried about undermining the OCP, there is indeed the ultimate higher power of the ballot box.
In the next election, voters will have a more clear understanding of the density implications of the affordable housing euphemisms that were tossed into the 2011 campaign and the outcome of the 2014 trip to the polls will give a more honest picture of where people in North Saanich want their community to go.
So, my plea to all concerned citizens: please come to council and give voice to your vision for North Saanich.
Share your views with your neighbours and local media. Don’t let council have a free ride to development.
The election of 2014 is not far off: your opportunity to use a pencil as a power tool to shape the future of North Saanich.
Elsie McMurphy, Councillor
District of North Saanich