The Week — April 21

Central Saanich becoming the new Langford, musicians and Juan de Fuca activists unite, new federal candidate enters the race

'Net' may be the newest federal candidate to win votes, at least if the VoteNet.ca campaign has anything to say about it.

Central Saanich the new Langford

Development seems to be the word of the day when it comes to Central Saanich’s new policies, according to some upset community members.

The harsh news came this week when residents learned the controversial Vantreight housing development would be allowed: an application to quash the Central Saanich bylaw that allows the development was dismissed on Monday, April 18, by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

“It does seem like Central Saanich is becoming the new Langford,” says Gordon O’Connor of the Dogwood Initiative, who’s been keeping a close eye on Ian Vantreight’s actions. “This is really a loss for the entire community. To have these 57 houses approved against the advice of every formal planning body really speaks to something here.”

The ruling, by Justice Victor Curtis, stated that it would not be fair to interfere with an elected council’s “reasonable interpretation” of the community plan. Yet, O’Connor says, many residents, councillors and city planners have publicly declared the development too dense for the largely rural area and stated it defies the Central Saanich official community plans.

“Right now, the rules are set to support urban sprawl. But this is so tragic to see, since this is the area of our Island’s prime agricultural land,” says O’Connor. “It’s hard to watch a handful of people get to decide to do whatever they want to our land.”

The Capital Regional District is currently examining their options of involvement, and the Ratepayers of Central Saanich Society are deciding whether or not to appeal.

Rock the future of the fuca

Speaking of controversial land, when Kevin Wilson and his Electric Empress bandmates heard a giant resort along seven kilometers of the Juan de Fuca trail was in the mix, they decided to team up with Wild Coast activist Zoe Blunt to help out.

“This is the worst kind of strip development you could imagine,” Wilson says. “Almost 300 vacation homes, plus a helipad and parking lots, on a provincial park? What are they thinking?”

Now, a fundraising and awareness-raising event is planned for April 21, 7 p.m. at the Victoria Event Centre. For $10, you can “Rock the Fuca” and trade a few powerhouse jams for some feel-good activism.

“People want to see these lands preserved,” says Blunt. “They’re calling us meddling outsiders who aren’t representative of the whole, but these developers aren’t representing the whole, either. So, someone has to do something.”

Vote freedom: vote net

Not convinced any of the federal candidates are worth voting for in the May 2 election? Lucky for you, there’s another runner in this race: the internet.

The Vote Net campaign, launched by OpenMedia.ca, is throwing “Net” into the race in an effort to draw attention to at least one thing nearly all Canadians care about — access to free information, YouTube videos and, of course, Facebook and Twitter.

“We’re not seeing a lot of issues important to Canadians being brought up by politicians in this election, so we wanted to find a way to engage citizens and bridge the gaps,” says Lindsey Pinto, Vote Net Communications Manager. “We’ve asked candidates to step up to the plate and join the Vote Net campaign to show their commitment to making the internet accessible to all Canadians.”

So far, the team has seen 140 candidates nation-wide sign on to the campaign, and the Vote Net campaign was mentioned explicitly by the Green Party, says Pinto.

“The internet has played an even more prominent role in political discourse,” she says. “Right now, there are large telecommunications companies that threaten that freedom and its availability to Canadians. We need policies in place to give us a safety net.”

However you are voting on May 2, Pinto says all citizens are encouraged to sign onto the campaign by visiting votenet.ca. M

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