Silvia Exposito, planner in Saanich’s community planning division, identifies a location in Cadboro Bay during the second of two open houses held last month. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Cadboro Bay charts a course for future

Saanich updating local area plan for neighbourhood of more than 4,000 residents

It is among the first pieces of business in any urban planning exercise – describe the current state of any community, before moving ahead with any changes.

Cadboro Bay residents had a chance to do just that last month when the neighbourhood hosted two open houses as Saanich has begun updating the local area plan for the neighbourhood. It gave attendees a chance to learn more about the project and share their ideas about the future direction of the neighbourhood.

The open houses also offered a treasure trove of demographic data about the neighbourhood. In many ways, it stands apart from the rest of Saanich, while previewing aspects that are bound to shape the rest of Saanich in the future.

With an estimated population of 4,085 people, Cadboro Bay represents about 3.6 per cent of Saanich’s total population, according to 2016 statistics. On the surface then, Cadboro Bay represents a numerically insignificant part of Saanich. But it previews, perhaps drastically, the greying of Saanich.

Whereas Saanich has a median age of 44 years, Cadboro Bay has a median age of 54. Looking at separate age cohorts, the area has a higher proportion of residents over 55 and a lower proportion of residents under 55 than the average for the rest of the community.

Projections prepared for Saanich by a third party consultant predict that the number of Saanich residents 65 years and older will grow by 16,496 between 2011 and 2036. “Conversely, the pre-retirement population is expected to decline by 3,459 people between 2011 and 2036,” the public heard last month. “These broader trends are anticipated to be reflected in Cadboro Bay.”

Cadboro Bay, in other words, could become the local epicentre of an unprecedented demographic transition. If Cadboro Bay previews one social phenomenon, it also stands to feel the effects of an environmental transition.

“Adapting to the impacts of climate change is a key component of planning in Saanich,” a report notes. “As a coastal community, Cadboro Bay needs to prepare for sea level rise and potential impacts related to flooding, erosion, and ecosystem health.”

While Saanich acknowledges the need for more analysis, a report from the Capital Regional District indicates that “Gyro Park and surrounding homes may experience inundation.” In short, public infrastructure and private properties could in the future experience significant stresses that will require planning now.

To help mitigate the effects of climate change, Saanich has been promoting alternative forms of transportation, and Cadboro Bay residents are in many ways model citizens. Cadboro Bay residents drive less (70 per cent travel to work, four per cent below the Saanich average) and use more alternative forms of transport, as over 17 per cent of them walk or cycle to work, six per cent above the Saanich average.

If residents of Cadboro Bay are older and more environmentally conscious than their fellow Saanich residents, they are also richer and better educated. The median household income in Cadboro Bay ($81,726) is more than $13,000 higher than the community-at-large. Almost three out of four residents hold a post-secondary diploma or degree, as opposed to 60 per cent for Saanich as a whole. Cadboro Bay residents are also more likely to own their own homes than Saanich residents elsewhere (90 per cent versus 73 per cent).

But it would be somewhat misleading to think of Cadboro Bay as an enclave of the well-educated and the well-off. Among Cadboro Bay households, 28 per cent are living beyond Statistic Canada’s threshold for affordability. Canadian social scientists consider housing unaffordable when the ratio of shelter costs to income exceeds 30 per cent. In fact, Cadboro Bay has a higher share of low-income individuals (16 per cent) than Saanich as a whole (12 per cent).

The local area plan update continues this month with the Cadboro Bay Village Design Charrette June 19 and 20.

Residents can also continue to fill out a community vision survey until June 10.

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