Nearly 100 people turned out to Vernon City Hall in support of protecting heron habitat from development disruption. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

LETTER: Vernon rookery covenant confusion

To the editor:

The Vernon city ity council meeting of June 8 provided some important insights from Will Pearce, the Vernon chief administrative officer, regarding the importance of ensuring that any covenant dealing with property adjacent to the heron rookery on 20th Street be in compliance with provincial standards.

For that reason, he was involved in a discussion with Coun. Scott Anderson regarding the absolute necessity for a public service announcement to be issued prior to a future public hearing around the specifics of any such covenant directed at a developer in the vicinity, and the need to make it a valid document.

Hundreds of people have written to councillors and the mayor demanding the existing covenant not be waived, and in fact, be extended beyond its original scope of a 100 metres from the rookery. This extension, based on emotionalism, whipped up by an understandable affection for the herons, is symbolic of what I call “a slippery slope” when established parameters are taken into a different sphere based not on rules, but emotions.

I have spoken to a number of people who have taken to wearing blue shirts to symbolize their support of an extension of the reach of the covenant, who in many cases don’t know what a covenant was or that the issuance of covenants are based on the laws of this province.

Hopefully, a public service announcement will help more people understand how much misinformation they have been given, and ground themselves in the reality of what a covenant can and can’t do, and to what extent emotions can extend the reach of any such covenant.

To see Mayor Victor Cumming and Coun. Kelly Fehr vote (in unison, as the often do) against educating the public so a meaningful public hearing can be conducted, boggles my mind.

Knowledge of reality spread through a PSA should override partisan political antagonisms against people like Coun. Scott Anderson, who proposed the PSA.

“What the province expects may not be in the covenant that council passed,” said Will Pearce.

Dean Roosevelt, Vernon

Editor’s note: Vernon council voted to defer the matter of reconsidering the covenant protecting the Great Blue Heron rookery off 20th Street at the June 8, 2020, meeting.

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