Affordable housing outreach in Central Saanich too narrow in scope, says councillor

  • Sep. 16, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Hugo Wong/News staff

Central Saanich is growing, and the District may start holding town halls on how that will affect residents, but one councillor believes the plan does not address bigger questions about the best way to grow the area.

Brentwood and Saanichton will grow through two processes: infill and densification, as detailed in a 2015 consultant’s report to council.

According to the report, an example of infill would be subdividing an existing single-family residential lots so several single-family homes can be built while maintaining existing neighbourhood characteristics.

Densification is a more significant change, where a single family-home could be replaced with apartments, mixed-use developments or condos that sit atop ground-level retail space. This larger scale change would require upgrades to roads, sidewalks, cycling lanes and transit.

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor said infill and densification creates more affordable housing, which helps diversify a community in age, gender and ethnicity.

“Younger families just starting out tend to need to have something that’s a little bit more within their price range, that they can afford a mortgage on, as well as single individuals who are younger and just starting out as professionals might build themselves a life of some sort out here as well.”

The council is voting on the details of a consultation plan, but Councillor Alicia Holman said that the $30,000 plan is too narrow in scope.

Holman wants to ask residents how and where the region should grow, rather than just explain the effect of infill and densification.

The process is also a chance for the District to determine if related bylaws need tweaking.

As an example of a broader question, council is looking to further develop the Keating district in the next 25 years, which could create about 3,500 jobs on the Peninsula.

According to Holman, the plan that council has furthered would only see five per cent of those jobs going to people living in Central Saanich.

Holman said that puts a strain on already unaffordable housing, so she would like to use this consultation to see if people would support residential units in the Keating area, when the plan is focused on Saanichton and Brentwood Bay. The existing consultation plan would not address this broader question.

“Less than 15 per cent of all of the housing that has been built on the Peninsula is affordable for our low-to-moderate income [residents]…That’s what puts people on the verge of living one paycheque away from being on the streets.”

Council will vote soon on whether to solicit bidders for a public consultation.

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