The District of Central Saanich is asking for feedback on the second draft of its Official Community Plan. Residents have until Dec. 5 to submit feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)

The District of Central Saanich is asking for feedback on the second draft of its Official Community Plan. Residents have until Dec. 5 to submit feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)

Revisions to OCP draft emphasize housing, agriculture and health care in Central Saanich

Residents have until Dec. 5 to submit feedback on the second draft

Central Saanich is asking residents for another round of input as the review of its Official Community Plan (OCP) continues with the second draft featuring more language on housing, agriculture and support services including health care.

Residents have until Dec. 5 to submit their feedback on the second draft. Mayor Ryan Windsor said in a release that the second draft is more concise, with some policies changed from the first draft following community input. “Now we want you, our residents, to get involved again by reviewing our latest update,” he said. “Our Community Plan is a primary guide for district decision-making, and it touches our residents’ lives every day.” The revisions reflect input from the community, stakeholders, council and the OCP advisory committee.

A review shows what some may describe as extensive additions to parts of the document dealing with housing. Examples include sub-section 4.1, describing the context for the municipality’s objective and policies for growth and management.

The section nearly doubles in size as it spells out growth scenarios, housing needs and future direction. The section anticipates that Central Saanich’s “slow and steady growth rate of approximately (one) per cent” will continue into the future while acknowledging a housing shortfall of 557 units for the period between 2020 and 2025.

Other revisions speak of encouraging housing proposals for healthcare and emergency personnel along with the already stated goal of encouraging workforce housing, including farm workers. This addition appears as a response to growing concerns within the community about access to doctors, nurses and paramedics in face of rising housing prices and other discouragements.

The new draft also includes language committing the municipality to encourage “multi-generational housing” as well as “alternative forms of ownership such as cooperative housing” in spelling out growing support for that type of housing across Greater Victoria.

RELATED: Central Saanich councillors identify housing, active transportation as top issues heading into new term

The new draft also specifically includes language supporting cottages and carriage houses on rural and agricultural land.

Other key revisions dealing with agriculture include a blanket ‘no support’ policy for exclusions from the agricultural land reserve (ALR).

This new proposed language marks a departure from the first draft, which left open the possibility of support from the municipality for such an application, subject to various provisos. The new draft also toughens the language around allowing non‐farm uses and non‐adhering residential uses.

The new language now reads that the municipality would not support such applications on agricultural lands “unless demonstrated that the proposed use would directly support and complement agriculture operations.”

Other passages dealing with agriculture are less specific, but emphasize the importance of agriculture to the community in specifically spelling out that Central Saanich is home to 152 farms, across more than 2,679 acres of cropland, while signalling to senior levels of government and market forces that the municipality intends to play an active role.

Subsection 4.4 deals with economic development and includes new language addressing support services, including health care. “The community continues to expand the range of social support services, healthcare services, education opportunities and other methods to support families and make the community desirable for the current and future generations of workers,” it reads.

Subsection 4.11 strikes a similar note. Now bearing the heading of Institutions and Community Services instead of Good Governance, it speaks of supporting “local healthcare facilities and the associated personnel through taking action within municipal jurisdiction and resources, and supporting the coordination of contributions of community stakeholders and other levels of government.”

Staff will present council with a final draft in early 2023 followed by a public hearing prior to adoption.

Saanich Peninsula

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