Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saanich Civic League Has Council Voting Record

The Saanich Civic League has looked at the voting record of Saanich coucilors on a number of important votes and given their analysis of who voted for their values and who did not. Click on this link.

I like the tracking of who voted how on different votes, but I do think that some of their comments on the votes on how they meshed with the values not entirely convincing.

As an example, the SCL believes the building of a large grocery store at 760 Tolmie is against the ide of a community in social, environmental and economic balance. Given that the neighbourhood lost a grocery store when the Fairway closed at Town and Country, and given that a lot of people drive from town to the Real Canadian Superstore in Langford, does it not make sense to allow one to built in the core of the city? Real Canadian Superstore is popular place for people with families and limited incomes to shop because they provide good quality at a low price.

The SCL also speaks about "quality development", I presume they mean high quality development. What is a high quality development? The term is so loose as to be meaningless. The SCL believes that the Luteran Church development was not a high quality development, but I do not understand what they see as being of low quality about it.

The SCL also seems to have a problem with the Saanich council support of acting on climate change. I read both motions and can not see how there is a dramatic difference between the two.

Another example is in realation to the rezoing of 4257 Cedar Hill road because the new building would be out of character with the neighbourhood and community balance was not maintained. On the other hand the development increased density so it makes a walkable community more realisitic and deals with climate change through increased density. In my mind those two values trump the others.

All in all I am not impressed in a lot of cases with how the SCL takes the values and tries to apply them. I think what they want to do is an important tool for the public to understand how we are governed, I just think they did not do a good job of it this time around.

There is one value I agree with, "Support for local agriculture, local markets, local food supply", but I do not believe the SCL value statement is what they are looking for, they seem to be interested in the preservation of teh ALR above all else.

The ALR is not a functional tool to achieve the support for local agrculture. If people want to see more local agriculture, they need to have a council that will intercede on the side of farmers in disputes. This means supporting the farming on Panama flats. This means making it clear that farming practices that bug neighbours will be supported - early morning equipment, propane cannons, large compost piles, building of greenhouses and allowing them to heat with wood waste, and a lot more things that people hate about farming.

Lower Vancouver Island could support a thriving greenhouse agriculture business, but this means Saanich council has to say they will support it. Greenhouses completely cover the land but produce high quality food with limited need for pesticides.

Too often people only want our farm lands to be there as bonus green space for the public. The public does not want real farming happening close to where they live. As an example, look at all the hassle the blueberry grower got at Panama flats. People want farmers to be pretty rural additions to their world and not to be efficient modern farmers.

Farming is an industry, it is efficient and produces food on an industrial scale. If people want us to produce food locally on any sort of a scale, it has to be economic and that means intensive and industrial.
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