SAANICH NEWS LETTERS: Wednesday, April 16

Letters to the editor published in the Saanich News discuss a cow farm in Gordon Head, legalizing secondary suites north of McKenzie Avenue

Farm unfair to neighbours, Albergs

Re: Cattle battle could soon be done (News, March 26)

I have lived directly across from the Alberg family property on Mount Douglas Cross Road for 29 years.

I support the Albergs’ subdivision plan. A feedlot, which can legally accommodate up to 500 head of cattle, is not welcome in a residential neighbourhood. Nor is any other type of intensive farming. Years ago this whole neighbourhood consisted of farms, however, all but the Alberg farm have been subdivided into residential lots. Why is this?

I was assured years ago by the Saanich planning department that the Alberg farm was designated for residential use. Saanich’s mayor and council changed their mind in 2011 and decided they wanted the land kept in the ALR. Is this fair to the residents who bought their houses in good faith, believing what they were told over the years by Saanich planning?

The Albergs have every right to farm their land, but where does that leave their neighbours? Furthermore, isn’t it up to the Agricultural Land Commission to decide what land is to be kept in the ALR and what land is to be released?

The Albergs need a commitment from Saanich council agreeing to their subdivision plan before they take an application to the Agricultural Land Commission. Otherwise, if the application was successful and the land is removed from the ALR, Saanich council could refuse to rezone and the Albergs would be left with a large parcel of land designated as single family use. The Albergs would no longer be able to farm as the land would be subject to municipal bylaws and would no longer protected by B.C.’s Right to Farm Act.

We need to make it clear to the mayor and council that we are unhappy with their actions to date with respect to this property.

Elaine Moser



Development would bring neighbours relief

Re: Cattle battle could soon be done (News, March 26)

We live close to the Alberg property at 1516 Mt. Douglas Cross Rd. which has been listed in the Gordon Head Local Area Plan to be removed from the ALR for decades.

In December 2012, Saanich council voted in favour to give the decision to the Agricultural Land Commission regarding removal of the property from the ALR. By voting this way, Saanich council made it clear they do not think it should be in the ALR.

As mentioned in the article, a sensitive ecosystem was mapped on the property. This had never been confirmed on the ground.

A biologist’s report from last spring indicated that there is no viable sensitive ecosystem on the property. There is no Garry oak meadow.

The Alberg property has many Garry oaks. An important concern, not mentioned in the article, is that if the feedlot remains on the property most of the Garry oak trees that occur there will die within a few years, or less, due to the activity of the cattle. The proposed subdivision development will protect many of these trees in covenants, and it will have larger lots and smaller houses.

A cattle feedlot, with its smell, dust, bright lights and nutrient-loaded runoff, is not appropriate in a residential neighbourhood.

I hope Saanich will move this subdivision proposal to council as soon as possible for a decision to support it. The neighbourhood has suffered enough from decisions that have been made on all sides of this issue.

Lora Lea



Farm will kill oaks, subdivision won’t

Re: Cattle battle could soon be done (News, March 26)

We live across the street from houses that back onto the Alberg property, which is now a cattle feedlot.

Imagine living in a lovely residential neighbourhood with the ever-increasing stench of cow manure, the presence of rats, and the potential health impacts that this brings.

For 25-plus years the Gordon Head Local Area Plan has indicated that the property should come out of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Many people made their home buying decision based on this fact.

The 16-lot subdivision proposed has covenants that limit the size of houses on relatively large lots and maintains many of the Garry oak trees. If cattle remain, most of the oak trees will die within a few years.

Intensive agriculture is not appropriate in this residential neighbourhood.

Mark and Pam Vukobrat



Suite fees to Saanich could solve affordable housing problem

Re: Tackling the elephant in the room (News, April 11)

As reported on April 11, an estimated 9,000 illegal suites exist in Saanich and 98 suites have received legal permits – that is a little more than one per cent.

In the end, the municipality will probably change the north of McKenzie bylaw and we will get another 100 permits, at best. I am not opposed to the suites in my area, but I am against my neighbour pocketing $600 to $1,000 a month rent and not putting anything back into the infrastructure.

If we had a flat fee of $10 a month per suite, that would generate over $1 million a year towards affordable housing.

Chris Nielsen