Second Meeting on Marine Task Force Report Recommendations Calls for a Third Meeting

Citing the need to receive additional information on factors such as environmental impacts, re-zoning and jurisdictional issues related to building private docks on the waterfront, Council voted 6 to 1 against Councilor Sheilah Fea's motion to move ahead with private docks in North Saanich. I also agreed with the Council majority to defer to a third meeting the rest of the Marine Task Force (MTF) report's recommendations, including recommendation #7 related to private docks. A sometimes noisy waterfront group attended the October 29th Committee of the Whole special meeting, the second held by Council to address the MTF's 2008 report.

I knew going into these meetings that some recommendations would be controversial, particularly the recommendation dealing with private docks. As you know, North Saanich, since 1984, has restricted private docks, resulting in current Official Community Plan zoning limits known as M5 and M6. As a result, the North Saanich coastline is relatively unobstructed, making public access to our beaches and waterfront one of the attractions of living here -- I support public access to our beaches and will always try to find a balance between the need for public beach access and the desires of waterfront property owners.

As you know, some waterfront property owners disagree with North Saanich's current zoning restrictions for private docks, believing the municipality should allow private docks whenever a waterfront property owner makes an application. One waterfront owner at this week's meeting stated that he feels that it is his "right to have a private dock and unfettered access to deep water." But another waterfront property owner cautioned the municipality against allowing private docks that impede adjacent neighbours' sight lines and interfere with their views, acknowledging my belief that a significant factor that determines waterfront property values is the quality of the view.

Council also agreed to move ahead with the MTF's recommendation for a public boat launch on the West side of the Peninsula, below the airport. Mayor and Council plan to re-open talks with the Victoria Airport Authority, the Federal government and other community stakeholders to explore having a small public boat launch on the West side that provides vehicle parking and access for small boats, kayaks, canoes, etc. I understand from one resident who attended the meeting that Tulista Park will be one of the last small public boat launches left on the Peninsula, given that Van Isle Marina is rumoured to be closing its boat launch to allow expansion of a restaurant.

Regarding the MTF's recommendation on the Federal government's initiative to designate the Saanich Inlet a marine conservation area, Council agreed to invite Parks Canada to make a presentation to Council on the status of the initiative and on what impacts, if any, such a designation would have on waterfront property owners. Some owners express concern about a marine park/conservation area designation, suggesting that it might interfere with their property rights. We learned, however, thanks to Frances Pugh of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society, that a conservation area designation means only three things: no dumping, no dredging and no oil drilling. I can't imagine that the majority of North Saanich residents wouldn't wholeheartedly embrace such protection for the Saanich Inlet.

A new date for the next special Council meeting to address the MTF's report will be announced on the District website, in the District newsletter and I will ensure that the date is also announced on this blog. Stay tuned and watch for the date and time of the next meeting. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or e-mail and I will try to answer your questions. Thank you.