Vicki
Vicki Sanders Saanich Councillor
                 
 
Vicki's News Page
 
This page is dedicated to news stories that will keep you informed of my efforts to achieve the goals that I have set. Below is a summary of articles that I have been involved in. The bolded script within the articles are my comments.
If you click on the underlined title you will be transported to the complete article.
RECENT NEWS:
 

Saanich history revealed in heritage walking tours – Christine van Reeuwyk, Saanich News, June 9 2014

 

Victoria should fulfill Silver Threads promise

 

Saanich 2014 in preview: Welcome to a civic election year

 

Saanich mayor: clay court proposal 'dividing the community

 

Clay court tennis opponents decry loss of parklandKyle Slavin, Saanich News, November 29, 2013

 

Deal to build sewage plant in Esquimalt falls apart - Rob Shaw, Times Colonist, November 13, 2013

 

Clay court tennis proposal for Cedar Hill rec centre feels the heat –Kyle Slavin, May 29, 2013

 

Bid to stop more oil-tanker traffic approved by narrowest of margins.  Activists taken aback by vote, pipeline supporters delighted.  Bill Cleverley And Judith Lavoie, The Victoria Times Colonist , September 28, 2012

 

Oil tanker resolution squeaks by at UBCM - Charelle EVELYN, The Prince George Citizen, September 27, 2012

 

Saanich joins chorus to ban tanker traffic - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, May 10, 2012

 

Saanich to take a hard look at community grant policy -Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, May 09, 2012

 

Saanich waives garbage fee  - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, April 25, 2012

 

Decision to close golf course restaurant was contrary to staff recommendation - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, March 29, 2012

 

Oil tank spills continue to cause concern in Saanich - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News  February 23, 2012

 

Closing Cedar Hill restaurant a 'mistake,' admit Saanich councillors -  Kyle Slavin ,aanich News, February 08, 2012

 

Oil tanks pose potential problems without careful maintenance – Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, December 23, 2011

 

Oil spill history repeats itself in Saanich, stream steward says _ Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, December 06, 2011

 

Saanich history revealed in heritage walking tours – Christine van Reeuwyk, Saanich News, June 9 2014

Despite a lot of Saanich being rural in nature, the municipality now boasts five heritage walking tours to take residents and history buffs on a walk down memory lane.

“We have such a huge number of heritage homes,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders, chair of the arts, culture and heritage committee, holding the district’s Heritage Register, a book filled with nearly 300 homes and buildings that are relevant to Saanich’s history. “It’s exciting. It’s been more of a challenge. We are a suburb. A lot of the properties are large and it’s a long walk.

Saanich recently created two new heritage walking tours to highlight landmarks of significance in the Quadra/Tattersall and Prospect Lake areas. Sanders’ own home is one of 10 on the new Quadra tour.

“(The map) also points out houses that aren’t in the register, but are important to the history of the neighbourhood,” she said, standing in front of the grand Tudor revival house known as Craigmillar Lodge, or Brown Residence, at the corner of Kathleen Street and Tattersall Drive. “(The walks highlight) structures, as well as buildings.”

An example of a significant structure is the nearby stone pillars, former gateposts for Craigmillar and its former gate house on a different property.

The other three tours highlight history along the Gorge Road West and in Gordon Head.

Visit saanich.ca to download maps for the five heritage walking tours.

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Victoria should fulfill Silver Threads promiseVicki Sanders, Letter to Times Colonist editor: May 26, 2014

Re: “Seniors centre move decision put on hold,” May 24.


“Guilt-ridden”? Or is the request to Victoria council by Victoria Silver Threads simply asking council to fulfill the commitment made a decade ago. Since 2006, as Saanich council liaison to the Silver Threads, I have watched the Victoria centre struggle in a temporary facility that is inadequate and inappropriately located to serve Victoria seniors. Membership has steadily declined in spite of the best efforts of staff and the organization.

In 2004, when the Capital Regional District was looking to relocate, Victoria council of the day wooed them to the current location to kick start the redevelopment of Centennial Square. This decision displaced the successful Silver Threads operation from its purposely designed seniors’ location.

Over 10 years, Victoria has drained the money from the sale to the CRD to support the facility on Douglas Street, rather than fulfill its commitment to assist Victoria Silver Threads find a suitable permanent location. Now Victoria has chosen to terminate their lease.

Silver Threads has found a suitable location on Richmond Road — easily accessible, high seniors population, local community support and one where seniors feel safe. The Douglas Street location is not in an area where seniors feel safe.

Silver Threads has a legacy of more than 50 years serving seniors in Greater Victoria. They developed the successful “Memory Plus” and “On the Go Again” programs for isolated seniors. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Victoria needs to fulfill the commitment it made in 2004.

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Saanich 2014 in preview: Welcome to a civic election year - Kyle Slavin, Victoria News, Jan 1, 2014

Ten months from now, civic politicians around the province will be in the middle of campaigning for the Nov. 15 municipal elections.In Saanich, expect to see familiar names on the ballot.

Mayor Frank Leonard says he will be running again, seeking his seventh term as mayor.

“I’m so proud of what we are accomplishing here in Saanich. I’m excited about the priorities we are working on and I’m enjoying the opportunity to serve,” he said.

As well, most (if not all) of the eight councillors have indicated they plan to seek re-election.

Couns. Judy Brownoff, Dean Murdock, Paul Gerrard, Leif Wergeland, Vicki Sanders and Nicola Wade indicated they would run again.

Coun. Vic Derman said he is inclined to run, but hasn’t made a decision.

“It’s important to ensure all viewpoints are reflected in making Saanich a place for all to feel proud to live, work, do business in and especially play in our amazing outdoors spaces. It is my hope to continue to put my energies into making future decisions reflective of community,” Brownoff said.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve on council for the last five years and very rewarding to play a role in bringing positive changes to our community. There is still lots of work to do,” Murdock said.

“I am proud of the work and results we have accomplished in the last two terms I have been on council, and I want to continue to maintain and improve the quality of life that we enjoy in Saanich,” Gerrard said.

“Many of the challenges facing Saanich and our region are not new; but at a time when demands are increasing, it will be a challenge to keep our taxes and spending within our means. I would like to be part of a team finding solutions to these ongoing challenges,” Wergeland said.

“I find the role as a Saanich councillor very rewarding. I enjoy working with the community on current issues as well as planning for the future generations of Saanich. These are exciting changing times,” Sanders said.

“My work on the transit commission has given me a really good opportunity to put into practice things that are not just theoretical, and I know there’s lots of opportunities in Saanich to see some of those good principles come into debate. And I want to be a part of that,” Brice said.

The End

 

Saanich mayor: clay court proposal 'dividing the community- Kyle Slavin, Victoria News, Jan 24, 2014

Not since 1986, when Saanich council was considering a proposal to develop houses on the edge of Cedar Hill Park, has the community been so fiercely divided, says Mayor Frank Leonard.

And perhaps it's coincidence that the issue that's pitting neighbour against neighbour in 2014 is a proposal to develop part of the very same park.

"I saw meetings like this to save Cedar Hill Park in 1986 when I was running for council, so it's like deja vu. I've seen this before and therefore I was anticipating this kind of dynamic. But it's dividing the community, and I don't like that," Leonard said following Thursday's meeting on a plan to build eight clay tennis courts behind Cedar Hill rec centre.

The committee of the whole meeting was a continuation of one that began in November 2013, which was adjourned because so many people wanted to speak to the issue. And on Thursday, after hearing from 92 speakers so far, Leonard adjourned the meeting yet again, as dozens of people were still lined up wanting to have their say.

"This is the first issue I've seen go to three meetings," Leonard said. "I'm dismayed that this is lining up where there's winners and losers – that does distress me. The more this goes along and the more the division gets deeper, that dismays me, particularly over something that is an activity in a park."

The division isn't sitting well with Coun. Vicki Sanders, either, who said while most residents are being considerate to one another, some people are being "disrespectful" and "inappropriate."

At least two Saanich residents – both supporters of the Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society's proposal – reminded councillors that a municipal election is coming up this year, and receiving their vote hinges on the outcome of the clay court decision.

"At election time I support candidates who facilitate enterprises which promote healthy living and provide the greatest good for Saanich residents like myself," said Margaret Laxton, who received a loud boo from the opponents in the crowd.

"I think (that comment is) absolutely inappropriate. We're a very mature, well-educated council that makes decisions based on knowledge and evaluating the situation," Sanders said after the meeting. "To question the decision we make in that manner is threatening, intimidating and it's demeaning."

Unlike the Nov. 28 meeting, which was dominated by speakers opposed to the plan, on Thursday more than two-thirds of the speakers were tennis proponents.

"This is an opportunity for Saanich to truly be innovative and cutting edge. How amazing would it be for us to have the only clay court facility on Vancouver Island? If we don't do it, somebody else is going to," said Saanich resident Jane Cunnington.

Many opponents have told council they support the idea of more tennis courts in the region, just not at Cedar Hill Park. Speaker Bob Chong suggested that the tennis society contact the owners of Bear Mountain as a plausible alternative location to build.

Last week the Langford-based organization released its long-term vision for the resort site, which includes a plan to build a world-class tennis facility.

Sy Silverberg, founder of the newly established Society for Kids at Tennis, says he wants to see the clay courts built at Cedar Hill Park. He says Kids at Tennis, once its up and running, will provide children who don't have the financial means to pay for lessons and equipment with opportunities to learn and play the sport.
He said he's spoken with John Miller, president of the clay court society, who would be willing to provide them with court time.

"What we're hoping to do in the future is to run our own programs, set up  classes each week for a number of kids, and run them in the public tennis courts," Silverberg said.

This year he anticipates spending between $7,000 and $10,000 to pay for kids to participate in existing tennis programs run out of Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria rec centres.

Silverberg says the goal of his program is "to create (for kids) an attractive alternative to the ever-increasing lure of drugs and the streets."

The clay court society proposes to build its facility, including eight courts and a tennis pavilion, on land currently occupied by two little-used ball diamonds.

Opponents have focused on a number of issues with the project, including a lack of meaningful public consultation, the loss of green space, the potential impacts on Bowker Creek, and the society's request for a $100,000 grant an a $250,000 interest-free loan from Saanich.

Ann Wilk lives on Megaw Place; the park is in her backyard. From her living room she says she can look down onto the land that's up for debate, currently used in the spring and summer by Special Olympics baseball players.

"The sound of a baseball hitting a bat, that's like the start of summer for me. Seeing people playing with their dogs in the field, playing in the grass, running around in the open space is priceless. It's part of the reason we bought the house," she said, before turning her attention to her concerns about light pollution, noise, parking and the environment. "The tranquility in nature that we have now will not be there. … That needs to remain greenspace, in my view."

Saanich has not yet announced when and where the next committee of the whole meeting will take place.

The End

 

Clay court tennis opponents decry loss of parkland –Kyle Slavin, Saanich News,

November 29, 2013 Saanich has ignored its own policies and procedures when it comes to the proposed clay courts at Cedar Hill park, says a former Saanich councillor.

Carol Pickup, who sat on council for 14 years, said the process to build the clay courts behind the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre shouldn't be before council because staff haven't consulted with the public.

"From the moment parks was approached by the proponents of the clay courts, this should have triggered the parks policy that calls for the development of a park concept plan," she said Thursday night at a special committee of the whole meeting, which drew upwards of 300 people. In February 1990, the council of the day made a policy change after a developer was allowed to mow down nearly 100 trees at Arbutus Cove Park, according to a Saanich News article from Feb. 28, 1990.

In response, council approved a policy that requires a concept plan be developed for all park developments and improvements, and Saanich-run community meetings will be held prior to a proposal being reviewed by council.

"I would recommend to Saanich council that they restart a comprehensive public process to seriously examine the future of Cedar Hill park, and direct Saanich parks to also complete an in-depth (site assessment) before any approvals are given for any development proposal."

John Miller, with the Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society, said he learned a lot about the importance of talking with the community due to the University of Victoria's two failed attempts in 2010 to build a new sports facility on campus. "Everything I heard was about the proponents not following the process. And so that's why in the last two years we've been mindful of doing everything possible to make sure we've followed the process, make sure people are informed," he said.

"Two years is a lot of time to go through, but every step of the way we were mindful that engaging the community was important to (Saanich council). And while engaging the community, it allowed us to modify and change our plan and make it better."

Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders points to the turnout to the meeting as proof that that's not the case. While the full room appeared to be an equal mix of proponents and opponents, council mostly heard from residents in opposition to the plan.

"We have a policy," she said, referring to the one Pickup mentioned. "Why didn't we call the public meeting? We haven't followed policy. Had that happened, we'd be in a far different place today."

Peter Haddon, one of a handful of Saanich residents behind SaveCedarHillPark.com, impressed upon council that the community shouldn't lose green space to a single-use facility.

"We need to develop a more community-centred vision for the (park)," he said. "Surely a special interest cannot take from our park. (They) are not entitled to make private that which is shared by the entire community."

Miller qualifies that the club is not private, per say. While there will be annual membership fees, the CHCCTS will donate 1,500 hours of court time to Saanich every year to distribute for public programming or recreation opportunities.

A resident living two blocks from the park, on Oakmount Road, argued that building the tennis facility would turn most of Cedar Hill Park into a "user-pay zone, except for the pencil-thin walking trail."
Pickup and Haddon's wife, Susan, both read a quote from Mayor Frank Leonard published in the News in October, related to the opportunities available at Panama Flats: "I have a lot of confidence that if you get input from a lot of voices that ultimately good ideas will prevail over bad ideas."

"This area deserves the same treatment (as Panama Flats). The public has the right to be full participants in planning for (this park's) future," Susan said.

"Ask yourselves a very important question," Pickup said to council. "What is the best use of this public property to provide for the unmet needs for the greatest number of community members?"
The CHCCTS proposes to build eight clay tennis courts on the area behind the recreation centre that currently houses two baseball diamonds.

The project is estimated to cost $1.3 million. The tennis society is seeking a $100,000 grant an a $250,000 interest-free loan from Saanich for the project.

Leonard cut the meeting short at 10:30 p.m. and said there was no reason to make a hasty decision or to have residents sit and wait for everyone to get a chance to speak. The meeting will continue, allowing for more public input, on Jan. 23 at Garth Homer Centre.

Miller says he's looking forward to the next meeting, and getting an opportunity to respond to public concerns.
"No matter what side of the issue you're on, it's important to listen."

Special Olympics Softball

Jeff Martin and his fellow Victoria Special Olympic softball players call the two ball diamonds at Cedar Hill Park their home field.

Every spring some 40 athletes of varying abilities train and play on the site that's currently proposed to be overtaken by eight clay tennis courts.

"Over the time we have used the softball program we've had several athletes qualify for higher level competition," said Martin, who'll compete in softball at the 2014 Special Olympics in Vancouver. "Losing the fields would make it difficult for us. In short, Special Olympics Victoria may have to suspend or eliminate a softball program due to not funding replacement fields."

Chantal Brodeur, president of Victoria Special Olympics, says those diamonds are centrally located and on transit routes, have nearby are indoor washroom facilities, are well maintained, and recreation staff are close in the event of an emergency.

"Two years ago Saanich recreation moved us to Braefoot Park for approximately a month. We immediately felt the impact because of the isolation, and because there's only one diamond. With 40-plus athletes, we need two," Brodeur said. "What's at stake from moving us … is the safety of our athletes and not enough ball diamonds."

Grants and loans

One of the issues many opponents spoke to is the clay court society's request from Saanich for a $100,000 grant and a $250,000 interest-free loan.

"I don't want tax dollars going to build or bail out this project," said Art Beck, one of the speakers at Thursday's meeting.

Leonard says this sort of financial request is identical to other recreation groups Saanich has issued loans and grants to in years past.

Since 2005, Saanich made a similar financial contribution to four different soccer groups to upgrade fields at Hampton, Tyndall, Lochside and Braefoot parks. Saanich also provided a $100,000 grant to upgrade Layritz Park, but no loan was needed.

"We'll still judge (the tennis society's request) separately and on its own merit, but it's not out of the range of expectations for sports groups to ask for it," Leonard said.

He said the $100,000 grant is essentially a good-faith gesture from Saanich to sports groups for investing in and maintaining a recreational asset in the municipality.

Not ball diamonds or tennis courts

Two Saanich residents – Ken Campbell and Andy Ruszel – brought their own presentations to council, with detailed drawings suggesting alternative options for the land.

Campbell suggested a focus on the arts, tying the space in to the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill by creating an "Art in the Park" event, a sculpture garden and carving sheds.

Ruszel suggested a more comprehensive plan that included a children's playground, community garden, an accessible walking trail, and green space for outdoor arts expansion.

Some speakers suggested that if Saanich is adamant that changes can be made to the park, it should be restored to its natural state as a Bowker Creek wetland.

"Why must everything on this green earth justify its existence only in terms of its utility to us?" asked Oakmount Road resident Jana Kalina.

The End

 

Deal to build sewage plant in Esquimalt falls apart - Rob Shaw, Times Colonist,

November 13, 2013A tentative deal for a sewage treatment plant in Esquimalt fell apart Wednesday as Greater Victoria politicians refused to endorse a plan to barge construction materials to McLoughlin Point.

The unknown costs of building a dock and running barges to and from the site raised alarm bells for almost everyone on the Capital Regional District’s sewage committee, except Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.
The politicians refused to support the idea, and after much debate punted the entire issue to a future meeting while staff gather more information.

In addition to barging, the proposed rezoning deal between Esquimalt and CRD staff called for $55,000 a year for at least five years to compensate hosting the unpopular sewage plant, as well as a million-dollar bike and path system on Lyall Street, public art, an oceanside walkway, road upgrades and possible Esquimalt ownership of a sewage heat system.

The zoning dispute is one of the last hurdles before contracts are signed and construction begins on the sewage treatment megaproject, including the plant at McLoughlin Point and a sludge facility at Hartland Landfill.

CRD staff told politicians they couldn’t estimate the cost of barging materials to and from McLoughlin Point, but could ask the three short-listed companies preparing bids on the plant to include the cost in final proposals next year.

The entire project has a budget of $783 million.

Several directors expressed concern that agreeing to barges before knowing costs could leave taxpayers on the hook for millions.

“Once prices do come in, we have no control over it,” said Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland.

Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders, whose husband spent 40 years working for marine barging company Seaspan, said costs would likely be in excess of $12,000 a day for barging, and service could be disrupted by weather and wind.

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young said the region should decide a “reasonable upper limit” for barging costs and compare it to simply giving Esquimalt cash compensation.

“We’re not trying to figure out how much it will cost to barge, we’re trying to figure out how much it would be worth to Esquimalt to put up with the vehicles,” Young said.

The rezoning proposal was further complicated by Esquimalt’s insistence on new setbacks for the oceanfront plant, which it said needs to be built farther away from the high water mark and property lines.
Two of the three short-listed bidders can’t comply with those new distances, said project director Albert Sweetnam.

If the two sides can’t agree on rezoning, they will have to appeal to Environment Minister Mary Polak to dictate a solution — something she has so far refused to do.

That could work to the CRD’s advantage, said Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt. “There is the club of the minister of environment hanging over these negotiations,” Isitt said. “So there’s an incentive for Esquimalt council and staff to give a little.”

Esquimalt residents are clear that they don’t want construction trucks travelling through town, Desjardins said. The setbacks are necessary to preserve public access to the shoreline and prevent tsunami damage, she said.
Desjardins said she would be interested to see cost estimates on barging, but her community’s needs are clear and it’s up to the CRD to meet them.

“By taking away barging, taking it off the table, that may be … a deal breaker,” she said.
“But I’m not the one who has to sell this thing.”

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Clay court tennis proposal for Cedar Hill rec centre feels the heat –Kyle Slavin,

May 29, 2013Saanich residents support a plan to build a large eight-court tennis facility – just not behind the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre.

At a meeting Tuesday night at the rec centre, scores of residents expressed frustration at Saanich for allowing the tennis proposal to move forward amid a lack of public consultation.

People in the crowd argued that there’s nothing that indicates a demand or need for more tennis courts in Saanich, nor has the municipality properly gauged community input for future use for the land in question.
The site is viewed as open greenspace, though it currently houses two little-used softball diamonds.
The plan to build eight clay courts and a small pavilion isn’t coming from Saanich – it’s from a non-profit called the Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society.

John Miller, president of the society, says it wants to build a club on Saanich-owned parkland in a partnership similar to that of soccer clubs or lawn bowling clubs, where Saanich leases the land to the society, which owns, operates and maintains the infrastructure.

But Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders, who along with some 80 other residents attended the meeting at the recreation centre, says there’s a big difference between this proposed tennis partnership and others that currently exist.

“Most of the other partnerships were improvements to well-established recreation (infrastructure). Like the all-weather field at Braefoot Park. What the (Lakehill Soccer) organization did was they upgraded the soccer fields – they didn’t take anything away from the community,” Sanders said. “This is going to take something away.”

Miller spent much of the night defending his plan to people who aren’t keen to see the public space change.
“When I see a community allotment garden or a public swimming pool or a lacrosse facility or a soccer field that’s on public land, I don’t look at it and say, ‘Boy, that could be just open public space.’ I look at it and say, ‘I’m not a soccer player, I don’t have a garden in the community allotment garden, but I appreciate that it’s there because a lot of people do use it and do appreciate its use,” he said.

Most attendees supported the idea – in principle – of a state-of-the-art tennis facility in the municipality, just not at the expense of greenspace at Cedar Hill. Some residents suggested alternative locations near Lambrick Park or Reynolds secondary schools.

Miller told the crowded room that the society looked at all its options for locating the tennis club, and the Saanich land behind the rec centre was the only viable option.

“There are existing tennis courts at Cedar Hill, so it makes sense to have these (clay) tennis courts right there,” he said.

Saanich parks and recreation says there are currently backlogs and waiting lists to access tennis lessons and court times at Cedar Hill.

Former Saanich councillor Carol Pickup spoke at the meeting, organized by the Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association, on behalf of people opposed to the plan.

She outlined eight major concerns that need to be addressed, including what she called a “flawed consultation process” and the potential impact the facility could have on nearby Bowker Creek and any future restoration plans.

“Bowker Creek and Saanich’s commitment to the natural resource – that is a very important issue and Saanich’s feet should be held to the fire on that one. They should be moving to do that restoration and enhancing, without having to entertain eight tennis courts,” Pickup said.

Residents also expressed concerns around the notification process, as many people didn’t know there was a proposal for the site, let alone that Saanich-owned greenspace was up for grabs.

Sanders says Saanich should have taken the initiative, when the society approached the municipality, to ask residents how they see the future of that land.

“Saanich could’ve done the actual planning for the greenspace, not become the people promoting the tennis courts,” she said. “That’s where the conversation needs to start first.”

Miller hopes to go before Saanich council in June to present the proposal.

The End

 

Bid to stop more oil-tanker traffic approved by narrowest of margins. 

Activists taken aback by vote, pipeline supporters delighted.  Bill Cleverley And Judith Lavoie, The Victoria Times Colonist , September 28, 2012 B.C. Green party leader Jane Sterk: Close vote "doesn't make sense."   Photograph By Adrian Lam, Times Colonist


A resolution calling for the Union of B.C. Municipalities to oppose any projects leading to expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C. coastal waters narrowly squeaked through Thursday.

The non-binding resolution, proposed at the group's meeting in Victoria by Saanich, passed with 51 per cent of the vote, with 450 votes cast, leaving both sides in the tanker debate claiming a measure of victory.

In 2010, a UBCM resolution asking for a legislated ban on bulk crude oiltankers in specific northern B.C. waters passed with an easy majority.

But this year's resolution went much further, encompassing other projects such as Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline twinning and the subsequent increase in tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet, said Eric Swanson of the Dogwood Initiative.

"The vote was so tight because today's resolution aggressively pushed the envelope," Swanson said. "Some were reluctant because it was not just about Enbridge. ... People are still gathering information about Kinder Morgan. This is brand new territory."

Thursday's resolution included a second part, calling on the province to use any available means to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.'s coastal waters.

Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders said it appeared from the debate that many delegates in the room had not read the resolution."It shouldn't have been a squeaker," she said.

"It was to urge the province not to expand tanker traffic. There was no ban. There was no ruining our economy."

Polling shows a majority of British Columbians oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, which, if approved, would mean super-tankers carrying bitumen through northern B.C. waters, but the vote did not reflect that feeling, said EsquimaltRoyal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis.

"Does it mean that our municipal leaders are not as in touch with their constituents on this issue as they should be?" she asked.

Passage of the vote should send a strong message that there is opposition to any expansion of oil tanker traffic, Swanson said.

That was not how the vote was interpreted by Colin Kinsley, chairman of the Northern Gateway Alliance, a coalition of business and community leaders who support the project going through the full review process.
Kinsley, a Prince George resident, said the vote was a pleasant surprise, especially as mainstream media portray widespread opposition, and electronic voting allowed people to vote how they wanted without fear.

"There's some very wellorganized opposition, so to have this kind of a vote is more than I really expected," he said.

"There has been a lot of intimidation and bullying going on behind the scenes, so this electronic vote was a godsend to me."

Michele Perret, Enbridge municipal and community relations spokeswoman, said the vote reflects support that the company believes exists in B.C.

"We have been talking to people along the proposed right-of-way and we know there's strong support out there for this project," she said. "A narrow vote like this shows more discussion is required."

Green Party of B.C. leader Jane Sterk was among those taken aback by the close vote.

"It doesn't make sense," said Sterk, whose party opposes any expansion of coastal tanker traffic.
"There was an oil and gas reception last night. Maybe enough people were seduced into their point of view. It was closer than predicted," said Sterk, who wants the B.C. government to step in with give a clear message that the province opposes Northern Gateway.

"We don't need to mess around with extended environmental assessments that go on for years and years and usually just delay approval," she said.

The End

 

Oil tanker resolution squeaks by at UBCM - Charelle EVELYN, The Prince George Citizen, September 27, 2012VICTORIA

A vote to curtail oil tanker traffic through B.C.'s coastal waters was nearly too close to call at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Thursday.

Barely more than 51 per cent of local government delegates endorsed the resolution put forward by the District of Saanich for the union to lobby against projects, such as Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, that would promote the expansion of crude-carrying vessels.

"Any more increase of this traffic, the tankers going to the U.S. and Asia, would increase the risk of an oil spill and long term impacts on the marine environment and human health," said Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders.

Prince George Mayor Shari Green was the first to speak against the proposal, saying that not only would curbing oil tanker traffic not matter if there were a spill outside of the Canadian boundary, but also more importantly that it was sending the wrong economic signal.

"We have one pie and we're asking the province to slice up more pieces of it for us, and yet we're making decisions that are going to shrink the pie of this province," Green said. "I'm pretty concerned about that."
Thompson-Nicola Regional District director Tim Pennell echoed Green's concerns, saying the resolution and any subsequent action would be saying no to pipeline projects before they've gone through the environmental assessment process.

"It will stymie economic development and close opportunities to expand distribution networks throughout the province," he said. "Many areas, such as my own, do not have gas services and this is an opportunity to build off of that network."

But supporters who spoke up during the nearly 15-minute long debate called attention to catastrophic oil spills still wreaking havoc on nearby ecologies, such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"They say it's not a question of if, it's a question of when," said Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt.

Prince George Coun. Brian Skakun didn't get to speak to the resolution before debate was cut off, but said he voted in support of Saanich's proposal as a way to "stand shoulder to shoulder with the First Nations communities, the coastal communities and any other communities that might be affected by this massive oil tanker traffic."

Kamloops Coun. Donovan Cavers said he also voted in support of the resolution on a fundamental question.

"Should we be expanding our use of fossil fuels?" he asked. "It's not so much about particular issues of pipelines and projects like that. Where should we be putting our energy with our knowledge of climate change right now?"

The End

 

Saanich joins chorus to ban tanker traffic -  Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, May 10, 2012

Saanich council threw its support behind a motion Monday night which read that the expansion of oil tanker traffic should stay away from the B.C. coast.

The motion was brought forward by Coun. Vicki Sanders, chair of the environmental advisory committee. She said adding more tankers transporting unrefined oil to California and Asia along the West coast will raise the risk of a disaster impacting this community.

"Saanich's goal, as stated in the community plan, is to be a sustainable community where a healthy environment is recognized as paramount for ensuring social wellbeing and economic vibrancy, for current and future generations," she said.

"Oil tanker expansions clearly don't serve this goal."


The motion asks that the Union of B.C. Municipalities oppose all projects that would lead to tanker traffic expansion, and that the UBCM urge provincial and federal politicians to stop the expansion.

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Saanich to take a hard look at community grant policy -Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, May 09, 2012

A small but impassioned group of volunteers has clocked thousands of hours removing aggressive ivy, English holly, broom – all invasive species – from Mount Douglas Park over the last six years.

Upwards of 60 hectares of the park have been cleared so far, but Judy Spearing, with the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, says there’s always more work to do.

“We have to go back and do secondary sweeps because of how thick (the invasive species are) in some of the areas. And sometimes we get surprise infestations of other invasive species that you wouldn’t think about – garlic mustard, periwinkle, lamium,” she said.

Friends of Mount Doug is one of 13 community groups that received a grant this week through Saanich’s community matching fund program. The program provides financial assistance to projects that benefit Saanich, so long as the group applying matches the municipality’s contribution, through money or sweat equity.
Spearing says she’s glad Friends of Mount Doug successfully lobbied for $1,800, which will be spent on work equipment like tools, gloves and tarps.

“It’s important because as volunteers, you burn out. These tools are critical to preventing injury and making things a little faster and easier,” she said.

While council approved a baker’s dozen worth of grants Monday night – for projects ranging from strings concerts atop Mount Tolmie to youth programs at Shoreline community school – the approvals came with hesitation.

“Some of the types of applications we’re receiving have mutated to something different now,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders. She noted that the fund began in 2002 as a way to assist community associations with environmental improvement projects and build neighbourhood features like benches and notice boards.

Matching grants shouldn’t go to pay for such requests as “a bouncy castle for Cadboro Bay Fest,” Sanders said. She also raised concerns, echoed by her fellow councillors, that some groups may be taking advantage of an ambiguous and unclear granting policy.


Coun. Vic Derman, pointing to Shoreline’s application, says that request appears aimed more at offsetting an operating budget.

“As I understand it, there weren’t specific projects being identified – it was more ongoing services they wanted funding for,” Derman said of the View Royal school’s application.

Coun. Nichola Wade, noting that four of the 13 projects were to buy equipment for invasive species removal in different parks, suggested creating a community where the tools can be shared among different volunteer groups.

Council unanimously asked staff to review the language in the grant policy, to see how it can be refocused to clarify council’s intentions behind issuing grants.

“If we’re going to be make the investment, it’s important to understand what we’re trying to get out of it,” Sanders said.

In total, council approved $11,900 worth of community matching grants Monday night.
Spearing says while the money will be a huge help in improving Mount Douglas’ natural look, the group is always in need of more volunteers.

For a calendar of ongoing invasive species removal projects around the municipality and when volunteers meet and visit.
olunteer opportunities in Saanich
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Saanich waives garbage fee  - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, April 25, 2012

Saanich will waive a $149.60 garbage collection fee for a Baker Street resident because her annual recycling efforts have eliminated the need for a garbage truck to stop at her house.

Council agreed to the move somewhat tentatively out of fear of "opening the floodgates" for more residents asking to opt out of garbage collection, Coun. Vicki Sanders said.

The Baker Street home is now one of two Saanich households that don't pay the collection fee. And though councillors said they encourage more residents to minimize their waste, the collection fee pays for more than just garbage pickup.

"The current charges also contributes to offset the costs of other municipal environmental programs including leaf collection, composting and bus shelter litter pickup," wrote director of finance Paul Murray in his report to council.

Coun. Nichola Wade suggested the municipality look at separating fees to ensure Saanich gets the money it needs to pay for those other environmental programs, but also provides incentives to residents who reduce their waste output.

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Decision to close golf course restaurant was contrary to staff recommendation - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, March 29, 2012

The closed door decision to shut down the restaurant at the municipally owned Cedar Hill golf course was made despite a recommendation from staff to give the facility another chance.

According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Saanich’s mayor and councillors chose an option that was more severe than what their staff suggested.

A joint report from the directors of finance and parks and recreation recommended the restaurant remain open, but only at peak times (in the summer and around Christmas).

“Should this approach not prove successful, the next step would be to close the restaurant operation entirely,” read the report, dated Dec. 5, 2011. Keeping the restaurant open in this manner “will determine if the food and beverage operation is economically viable in this location.”

The report first went before council at an in-camera meeting on Dec. 12.  On Jan. 9, 2012, also in-camera, council voted to close the restaurant.

Three other options were presented to council in the report. Each focused on how much Saanich would have to subsidize the course, and each was accompanied by a list of pros and cons for the municipality.

Maintaining the status quo, the report said, would require an $819,000 subsidy in 2012 and would result in either a 0.9-per-cent property tax increase, or a 1.5-per-cent budget reduction for all municipal departments. A partial subsidy of $482,000 would need to be funded by either a 0.5-per-cent tax increase, or a 1-per-cent budget reduction. An outright outsourcing of the golf course and food service would require no subsidy, but could have negative impacts on the golfers and community.

“Adding the financial burden of budgeting for an annual golf subsidy … will increase the difficulty of achieving a reasonable property tax lift in 2012 and shift away from the council mandate for the (golf course) to be self sufficient,” the report reads.

Coun. Vicki Sanders said a very tight budget was the reason the more drastic decision was made to close the restaurant.

“The decisions were based on what we heard during the election – they want their council to be fiscally responsible,” she said.

The changes decided on – closing the restaurant, and not increasing taxes – struck “a balance” between financial prudency and maintaining municipal services, Sanders added.


Coun. Susan Brice agreed. “I think all of us came to the decision that it would not be supported by the public to continue subsidizing the food service aspect of the operation,” she said. “Food service is an area that we didn’t feel would be an essential component to the success of the golf course.”
The News attempted to ask all members of council why they voted to close the restaurant when staff’s advice was to keep it open.

Councillors Dean Murdock and Judy Brownoff said it was part of an overall need to restructure food service at the golf course.

Councillors Nichola Wade and Paul Gerrard said the decision was made too long ago for them to remember why it happened.

Coun. Vic Derman didn’t want to talk about an in-camera decision without consulting first with the municipal solicitor.

Coun. Leif Wergeland did not return requests for comment.

And Mayor Frank Leonard said: “No comment.”

Doug Henderson, director of parks and rec, said no matter the option council chose, “some pretty substantial changes” were going to come.

“For a variety of reasons, (council) landed on one particular approach, and that’s the way we went,” added Paul Murray, director of finance, noting that a variety of options was presented.

The restaurant closed on Feb. 17, and now sits unused most of the time.
What that space will be used for remains unknown for now, but Henderson said it’s a topic that will be considered publicly.

Even with the restaurant’s closure, the golf course is expected to face a $720,000 deficit in 2012. To help offset part of that, the cost to play a round goes up as of Sunday (April 1).

Earlier this year council voted 5-4 to support a plan that will see the cost of an annual pass rise $37 to $1,087 for a restricted pass. A full pass is going up $68 to $1,418. Green fees will jump $5, to $45 on the weekends and $40 on weekdays.

“I don’t think anybody’s expecting a 180-degree turnaround (this year),” Henderson said, acknowledging that the changes will likely keep some people away. “I think we still provide one of the best value opportunities for folks, in terms of golf. It’ll just take a bit of time to build (the business).”

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Oil tank spills continue to cause concern in Saanich - Kyle Slavin, Saanich News  February 23, 2012

Since last November’s oil spill that saw 1,000 litres of home heating oil pollute the Colquitz River and kill a number of salmon, Saanich’s environmental advisory committee has been looking at ways to prevent a similar disaster in the future.

But in that time, at least three more home heating tanks in Saanich have had spills, leaking at least 400 more litres of oil into the ground.

“That is a big number, and how many more are there that we don’t know about that the homeowner hasn’t noticed yet?” said Coun. Vicki Sanders, who chairs Saanich’s environmental advisory committee. “There aren’t a tremendous number of people still using oil as their fuel, so what we can do is mainly on the education side.”

However, education wouldn’t have helped prevent the most recent spill.


On Feb. 3, an oil company mistakenly delivered and pumped oil into the wrong house on Adelaide Avenue – one that wasn’t even using oil as a heat source.

“What I understand is the oil delivery was made to a house that used to have an oil tank. And when (the home-owner) went to a different form of heating, they removed the tank and furnace, but there was still (an oil supply) pipe making a hole in the side of the house,” said Adriane Pollard, Saanich’s manager of environmental services.

B.C. Hazmat continues to work on the property, testing oil samples and replacing portions of Saanich’s storm water system that were contaminated.

“We still don’t know the extent of the contamination on the property, but the crews are chasing the oil down in the storm water system,” said Dave Rogers, senior incident commander with B.C. Hazmat, a private company that specializes in hazardous material management. Rogers expects crews will remain on Adelaide Avenue for a few more weeks.

In a typical winter, Rogers says his company responds to one spill a month. In the last seven weeks, there have been 11 home-heating oil spills in Greater Victoria that required B.C. Hazmat’s services.

“Most of them have been because the oil tanks are made by Burrard Yarrows and Victoria Machinery Depot. Those places went under and closed 20 years ago,” Rogers said. “All those ones are now deteriorating from the inside out. That’s been the major cause of a lot of contamination this winter.”

The municipality recently unearthed some old records that shows which Saanich homes have oil tanks – or had them years ago.

“Once we can establish where they all are, I would think we could send out a notice making people aware of the issue,” Coun. Sanders said.

Clean-up is now complete from the devastating Nov. 25 spill that saw oil contaminate the Colquitz River, as well as Colquitz Creek and Swan Creek.

“At this point no further remediation is required,” said Graham Knox, manager of B.C.’s environmental emergency program. “Key for us was (water quality) – sampling results and comparing them against the provincial aquatic life standards, and they’ve all come back (within acceptable levels).”

Ian Bruce, a biologist who was brought in by Saanich to help in the remediation, says the municipality shouldn’t be criticized for its response to the spill.

“In my experience of over a dozen fish kills including pollution events, each one is an individual case and there is no easy template to follow,” he wrote in a report on the spill. “In the future, with incidents approaching or exceeding the scale of this event, Saanich should look at engaging the stewards as ‘eyes and ears’ to supplement staff efforts. … It may be prudent for Saanich to make sincere efforts to reduce or eliminate the present adversarial relationship with the stewards of the Colquitz and other watersheds in the municipality.”
Chris Bos, one of the Colquitz River stewards who helped in the response efforts, says he’d like to sit down with all the agencies involved.

“It’s not about finger pointing, it’s about learning from what happened so that we can avoid it in the future,” he said. Like the environmental advisory committee chair, he anticipates better education for oil tank owners will play a crucial role.

Bos says he, as well as Saanich, will continue to keep an eye on the river and creeks through the coming months to see if the residual oil that remains trapped in upstream vegetation evaporates naturally or if further removal is required.

“There’s still oil on a lot of the vegetation, but it’s not causing a massive problem at the moment,” he said. “It’s still something that needs to be addressed because it’s not right to have it in the creek.”

He’s optimistic the spill no longer poses a danger for aquatic life – salmon, insects, seals, otters and herons.
“We’re going to try and count the (juvenile salmon) in the spring so we know how the overall watershed has done,” he said.

Bruce made seven recommendations to Saanich to help minimize the impacts of future oil spills, and improve the response. Among the recommendations was posting signage along public waterways informing the public how to “observe, record and report” pollution. There’s also a call for more training for field staff to help them identify spill material and track it back to its source.

Mike Ippen, Saanich’s director of public works, said the cleanup costs related to the November spill have surpassed $60,000.

The Kenneth Street homeowner who is on the hook for that bill, after his  underground oil tank feed line failed, told the News that he’s still dealing with his insurance company on the issue.

He said that oil tank owners need to be better educated on the potential environmental and financial impacts an oil spill can have.

The End

 

Closing Cedar Hill restaurant a 'mistake,' admit Saanich councillors -  Kyle Slavin ,aanich News, February 08, 2012

The Cedar Hill Golf Course’s troublesome deficit has been a dark cloud for almost a decade.

As early as 2002, the course’s revenues started to decline. Over the years it was hoped changes to green fees and the installation of a new $2-million irrigation system would attract more people to the club.  That didn’t happen.

In 2009 Saanich commissioned a $40,000 report to determine how to reverse the golf course’s fortunes.

“There’s so many assumptions and unknowns associated with whether the recommendations (from the report) are going to work or not,” said Doug Henderson, director of parks and recreation. “What (the report) said was ‘based on our background knowledge of golf, what we found at Cedar Hill, and what we think we know about the golf industry, here are some of the things we think will work.’”

Of the 64 recommendations that came in that report, Henderson says the majority were implemented. And despite Saanich’s optimism in 2010 that the changes would collectively help make the course financially sustainable, the course is still bleeding money.

“I think that the discussion around the golf and restaurant operations should’ve been laid out on the table at that point, and should’ve been a full public process,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.

He, along with councillors Vicki Sanders, Judy Brownoff and Vic Derman, admit that council made a “mistake” last month when they voted to close the restaurant on Feb. 18 without first going to the public.

“There was a mistake made, and we need to step back and see how we can deal with it,” Brownoff said. “What’s happened is we conducted all this stuff in-camera and it makes the community feel like we haven’t been transparent.”

Council first began discussing the closure of the restaurant in December, a few weeks after the municipal election.

“I’ve had people ask me, ‘Did you know about this issue before the election?’ Yes, I knew there were some problems, but I didn’t know that the sky had fallen and we needed to do some drastic measures,” Brownoff said.

Mayor Frank Leonard says keeping the whole thing in-camera was necessary because you can’t separate discussion on the closure from discussion on related employment issues.

“When management comes to council about discussing (employee’s) specific jobs … that’s not a public discussion,” the mayor said. “Ultimately it was a unanimous decision. I’m not going to give you play-by-play of an in-camera meeting.”

Coun. Vic Derman disagrees, saying that the employment aspect and the financial viability aspect could've been separated.

"I think that material could've been brought to council that didn't involve directly the issue of personnel, simply the future of the restaurant and future of the course, and community consultation could've been started much earlier," he said. "The decision to close down the restaurant, I'm not sure it's in-camera item. What happens to personnel clearly is. I think they can be seen as independent issues."

Coun. Susan Brice said council didn’t make an uninformed decision – it was simply a business decision.

“The decision to close the restaurant wasn’t because we didn’t know it was enjoyed and loved and needed. It was for financial reasons, and those financial reasons remain,” she said. “I fully understood that there would be disappointment – every member of council did.”

That disappointment came to a head on Tuesday, as more than 200 people attended a budget meeting at Colquitz middle school. It was the first of two meetings to be held to gather input on the golf course – the second is set for Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Garth Homer Society (813 Darwin Ave.). Council will make a decision on increased passholder and green fee rates after that meeting.

Almost 30 people voiced their opinions Tuesday. All were concerned about the operation of the golf course.
The restaurant’s chef, Dino Clarkson, suggested having staff currently employed in the restaurant and pro shop manage the entire operation.

Early next month, Cedar Hill golf course manager Gary Kelly will retire, and Saanich isn’t looking to replace him, confirmed Henderson, the parks and rec. director.

Coun. Leif Wergeland anticipates the restaurant closure will allow for an opportunity to refocus on all aspects of the course that are in financial trouble.

“We have to reevaluate what we’re doing and how it’s going to be managed. We’re not going to bulldoze it over,” he said. “Everyone on council wants to see it succeed, but we all understand we have to do things a whole lot different.”

The End

 

Oil tanks pose potential problems without careful maintenance – Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, December 23, 2011

From the 1950s through the early 1990s, oil was the energy source of choice for Greater Victoria residents to heat their homes.

But last month’s oil spill that saw an estimated 1,000 litres of home heating oil leak into Swan Creek and Colquitz River points to oil having the potential – in the worst-case scenario – to be an environmental disaster.


“You can’t even afford – and this is afford environmentally, not cost-wise – to have something like this happen and ruin the good work that people have spent years doing, re-establishing a creek to be fish-bearing,” says Coun. Vicki Sanders, who chairs Saanich’s environmental advisory committee. “Usually (oil spills are) not as catastrophic as this.”

Bradley Shuya, who owns an architectural firm in Victoria and sits on Saanich’s heritage advisory committee, says oil tanks need to be properly maintained, otherwise they become ticking time bombs.

“It’s not if the tank will fail, it’s when it will fail. Eventually it will,” Shuya says.

For years, homeowners on Vancouver Island, because of our physical distance from the mainland, had limited options to heat their homes. Natural gas, for example, only became available on the Island in the 1990s, when a large underwater pipeline was installed.

Shuya says you can almost tell how old a house is in Greater Victoria based on its heating system.
Wood stoves and coal furnaces were primarily used in the pre-1950s homes, Shuya says. Oil heating dominated the market from 1950s through the 1980s, until natural gas came to the Island. The ’90s and 2000s saw gas and electric heating become the norm in new houses. And now, green technologies – like solar and geothermal – are popping up, though those options aren’t in mainstream use just yet.

Shuya predicts that many older home heating tanks have some kind of leakage, but he doubts homeowners even realize it.

“Typically you’ll find some contamination (near an oil tank),” he says.

And while oil is one of the predominant methods for heating homes in Greater Victoria, time will tell how long that remains to be so.

Rod Lidstone can’t help but laugh when asked if home heating technology has changed much since he first became a tradesman in the early 1980s.

“You can’t keep up with the technology changes!” he says with a chuckle. “People are really thinking outside the box in the way we’re designing heating systems. Every day we’re talking about another person who’s recovered some form of energy that was otherwise being lost, and is, for the most part, free – like the sun.”
Lidstone is chair of the pipe trades department at Camosun College. The post-secondary school’s apprenticeship program covers a wide range of topics, including plumbing, air conditioning, gas fitting and home heating.

But Lidstone says the technology is such these days that all sources can run efficiently, and be environmentally and economically sound.

“The consumer should know that every one of these could be made very efficient with the technology out there, as long as they’re properly designed and installed,” he says.

Coun. Sanders says she couldn’t agree more. Proper installation and maintenance, especially of oil tanks, is crucial to protecting the environment.
“There needs to be more in place (to inform homeowners about potential tank leaks) than just an information sheet,” she says, citing possibly more stringent tank check-ups from insurance companies
.

With regard to the most recent spill, Saanich’s manager of environmental services is concerned that if any rainfall comes, cleanup efforts in the McKenzie and Glanford avenues area will be hindered.

“We’re expecting that if we get heavy rain it’ll agitate the vegetation, the water level will rise, and any oil that was left high and dry stuck to the vegetation could be released,” says Adriane Pollard. “We’re expecting we might have some residual oil, which people may notice as sheen or smell.”

She says it’s too early to look at how to best prevent such an incident from occurring again, as well as what the long-term effects of the spill are on Colquitz River.

Lidstone says homeowners should thoroughly research all energy source options before choosing how to heat their home.

The environmental footprint of each source, and potential impacts if there is a failure, varies depending on where you live and the type of energy.

“There’s benefits and drawbacks for all of them,” he says.

“I think with the changing technology, we’re soon going to see oil and propane and gas and electric become more of a backup (to green heating options) than anything else.”

The End

 

Oil spill history repeats itself in Saanich, stream steward says _ Kyle Slavin, Saanich News, December 06, 2011

Bob Bridgeman has been a friend of Mount Douglas for more than a decade.

He's the go-to guy when it comes to the protection and health of the salmon spawning creek that runs through the park.

And he wasn’t shocked to hear that as much as 1,000 litres of home heating oil had leaked into the Colquitz River system.

Bridgeman has seen dozens of oil spills in Douglas Creek, he said, contending that not enough is being done to prevent it from happening again.

"Once these spills get into the creek, whether it's Douglas Creek or Colquitz, it's already too late," he said. "The oil boom technology (the municipality is using) is absolutely inefficient, so you have to ask the question: how much oil is actually being recovered? The rest is going into the environment."

According to Graham Knox, manager of the Ministry of Environment's Environmental Emergency Program, the amount recovered by booms and absorbent pads is minimal.

"We're lucky if we get 15 per cent of the hazardous material," Knox said.
Bridgeman said the only repercussions for the municipality's inadequacies are "public outrage, despair, angst and anger."

Quoted in a November 2005 ***News article after 872 litres of furnace oil leaked from Saanich firehall No. 3 into Douglas Creek, Bridgeman said: "(Saanich has) a plan so people think (the problem) is taken care of, but it doesn't work."

Six years later he says nothing has changed.

"We've expressed our feelings about how spills are being managed several times, and we haven't been able to get (Saanich) to budge, or at least buy into a different technology," he said.

The municipality's manager of public works defended Saanich, saying the oil spill response procedures were audited.

"The recommendations that came out were pretty minor, and the overall confidence level the third-party auditor had was extremely high," Mike Ippen said.

Crews are still monitoring the contamination of the water in Swan Creek and Colquitz River, Ippen said. A dozen booms and additional absorbent pads are being checked and replaced on a routine basis.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, a home heating oil tank from a residence on Kenneth Street failed and began leaking into Swan Creek. It took until Friday, Nov. 25, before Saanich crews moved in to try and contain the spill.

"There are parts of the system upstream, between Glanford and McKenzie, where there are pockets where we think the vegetation is fairly contaminated," Ippen said on Monday. To mitigate the impacts, an environmental consultant is working with Saanich and making recommendations on how to ensure the watershed stays healthy.

Coun. Judy Brownoff says the Capital Region needs a watershed management strategy acceptable to all municipalities in order to protect natural environments in Greater Victoria.

"It's fair to say we'd be lost without these volunteer groups (like Friends of Mount Douglas). I'm hopeful that the watershed management plan, whatever that may look like, might have some more opportunities financially (to help these groups)," she said.

The region's watersheds run across municipal boundaries, which is why a strategy within the regional government would be beneficial, said Glenn Harris, senior manager of environmental protection with the CRD.
The reality is that it's going to be nearly impossible to ensure hazardous material never again enters the waterways, Brownoff said.

"I don't think we recognize where that pollution goes when a (home heating oil) tank leaks, and the kind of environmental devastation it can cause," she said. "We all watched the spill in the Gulf (of Mexico) with the big oil rig. I don't think as citizens we relate it our natural environment locally, and that's what we need to be doing."

Saanich's environmental advisory committee was expected to meet yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss the impacts of the recent spill.

Chaired by Coun. Vicki Sanders, she said Monday that there is room to make improvements to proactively prevent oil spills.

"At the end of the day … (the environmental advisory committee will) have to look at the environmental impacts and come up with policy changes, and then we'll make recommendations to council on how we're going to deal with this," Sanders suspected. "We're going to have to look at changes in the bureaucratic process … because this oil spill is huge."


Bridgeman has spoken to the committee about improvements that can be made to the whole storm-water management system.

But policy changes spurred by past spills have never been a topic of discussion at the advisory committee, Sanders said.

Bridgeman wants Saanich to make improvements – such as changing the underground piping to include control pumps that can stop contaminated flows from reaching a watershed – though he admits such plans are expensive.

"People have insurance, but what about the fish? … It could take years to build up that urban stream again," Bridgeman said. "(Saanich's current response is) a terrible indicator of how we're living on these watersheds and what our values really are."

The End