COLUMN: Assault continues on private ownership

Why is it that taxpayers must always be on guard against those we elect to represent us, yet are supposedly in that position to serve...

Why is it that taxpayers must always be on guard against those we elect to represent us, yet are supposedly in that position to protect and serve our best interests.

A year or so ago I appeared before council to protest a subdivision creating some 70 lots. Not that I was against the project per se, but the methods by which the city would allow it to proceed.

The city told the developer there was no city water available from the nearby main since it did not “own” the line or the water. To create the subdivision the city required the developer to dig wells.

Those wells would have drained the aquifer that supplied water to my property and those of my neighbours. I objected, and a few weeks later the city “discovered” it actually did own its water main, and the water within it. There was sufficient volume to accommodate a thousand more homes.

The developer got the nod to hook up to city water and our aquifer was protected. We had to fight for that, and the developer had to eat some $300,000 wasted on unnecessary wells.

Then there is the tree protection bylaw, followed by the demand that rural property owners pay to clean the city’s ditches.

The tree bylaw is now being heavily modified, but is still not needed since tree protection is already available through subdivision bylaws and development permits.

For the moment, ditch cleaning is in abeyance.

Yet the city continues its assault on ownership. Tonight, July 31, Sumas Mountain residents will face a plan to convert much/most of the private land on the mountain into wildlife preserves, public recreation areas and “sensitive” habitat.

Though the city claims “all existing land uses will be allowed to continue” try building on your own property a house within, or a fence across, a wildlife corridor. Sorry, not allowed!

What the advocates of a green agenda at city hall do not appear to understand is that adjacent to the private lands on Sumas Mountain is 10,000 acres of public land – Crown land. The city already owns an additional 400 or more acres of park land on the mountain, and Metro Vancouver parks owns another 160 acres.

You would think that much land, more than 100 Stanley Parks, would be sufficient to create public recreation land, protect wildlife and preserve sensitive habitat.

But no, they want all the private land too.

Perhaps, looking eastward from the fifth floor of city hall, councillors see this green hump on the horizon and think it all theirs. Sorry folks, but some of what you see belongs to others, and we will fight you tooth and nail to keep it.

If you want to “save” it, then come buy it (oh, right you don’t have enough money to clean our ditches, let alone buy our land).

Otherwise, adopting the plan being presented tonight is nothing less than confiscation without compensation.

Council, and staff, also seems not to understand the fact that within 20 years or so, a lot of the land on Sumas Mountain will be needed for housing.

Now won’t that be confusing for the bears who thought they had their own “corridor,” probably complete with signs informing them of such, to get from the vast chunk of Crown land area to residential areas where they will likely be, as just happened in Sandy Hill, shot.

Sensitive areas and wildlife protection can be accomplished when it is needed, or threatened, by controlling future development. The city already has a handle on that with existing powers to determine when and where such necessary items for development as water mains, sewer trunks, roads and streets are to occur.

Properties are already protected by curbs on subdivision, and by federal and provincial habitat protection laws.

Shouldn’t council, with clear direction to staff, contentrate its efforts on looking after cost controls, finding the funds to maintain current infrastructure, and ensuring our city develops properly, instead of trying to be popular by emulating the environmental bent of Vancouver?

And please, quit wasting tax money on studies that won’t fly, particularly when the area you want to “green” is immediately adjacent to 10,000 acres of government-owned wilderness.

markrushton@abbynews.com