Jillian Foght, 9, tests her balancing skills on a slack line in Cadboro-Gyro Park Sunday afternoon. A similar balancing act awaits the Cadboro Bay neighbourhood as it embarks on revising its local area plan.

Saanich’s Cadboro Bay neighbourhood gets ready for its close up

Revisions to local area plan are set to decide future of popular beachfront neighbourhood

The future of Cadboro Bay Village. Safety along Sinclair Hill. The beach in Cadboro-Gyro Park.

These three issues will likely loom large as the Cadboro Bay neighbourhood prepares for what likely qualifies as a long over-due overhaul of its local area plan.

“It’s important to go through this process, because things change,” said Eric Dahli, chairperson of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association.

Saanich defines local area plans as “neighbourhood plans that are developed with extensive consultation with community members.”

While Saanich’s Official Community Plan (OCP) trumps local area plans, they complement each other by filling in specific planning details that do not appear in the OCP, and the future of Cadboro Bay will likely resonate beyond Saanich as its small but quirky village, and Cadboro-Gyro Park with its stunning beach draws visitors from across the region, especially during events such as the Cadboro Bay Festival.

Notably, the review of Cadboro Bay’s local area plan coincides with a review of the local area plan for Cordova Bay Village, another regional attraction.

Council initiated both reviews last November. Saanich last changed the area plan for Cadboro Bay in 2002, for Cordova Bay in 1998.

In short, a lot has changed in both neighbourhoods, including Cadboro Bay, and Saanich staff have focused their initial efforts on gathering social data about the neighbourhood, said Cameron Scott, Saanich’s manager of community planning.

Saanich is currently recruiting an advisory committee, whose membership will consist out of representatives from the local residents association, local business association, local institutions such as the nearby University of Victoria, and neighbourhood residents speaking for different parts of the area. Parties can express interest until Jan. 21.

Scott said Saanich staff will use this panel as a source of local expertise, and as sounding board for planning themes and concepts that emerge during the process that will feature a series of community engagement events. The process will last about 18 months as part of mandate from council to review and revise local area plan reviews in what Scott called a “more expeditious fashion” with an eye towards replicating the process in other parts of Saanich.

If Cadboro Bay Village shapes up to be a procedural test case, substantive issues include the appropriate amount of commercial space in the area.

“What should the village look like? Should it grow? It’s a vital part of the area,” said Dahli.

Another looming issue concerns the state of Sinclair Hill, which leads into the heart of the area from the western sections of Saanich by way of the University of Victoria.

The route — as the name implies — takes travellers up and down a steep gradient. According to Dahli, it is full of potholes, and lacks adequate sidewalks for cyclists.

“If you are going on a bicycle up or down, you are taking your own life in your hands,” he said.

Finally, the review will also consider the state of the beach in Cadboro-Gyro Park. Derelict boats have routinely washed up on the beach, be it on the Oak Bay or Saanich side of it, thereby creating various environmental and safety hazards. The most recent incident happened in November 2017.

This issue appears as the most complex because the future of the beach depends on not just Saanich, but also private interests, non-governmental groups, neighbouring Oak Bay, as well as the provincial government, and the federal government.

A task force including representation from these various parties is set to begin their work in early 2018, said Dahli.

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