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Survey finds little support for increased density in North Saanich

North Saanich Residents Association conducted the online survey
North Saanich council Monday will consider the results of a survey conducted by the North Saanich Residents Association that finds little support for increased densification. (Black Press Media File)

The president of the North Saanich Residents Association (NSRA) says the results of a new survey show little support for increased densification in the community.

John Kafka said while the survey didn’t show much support for increased densification, that doesn’t mean they were saying ‘no densification.’

The NSRA released the results of a survey that asked residents eight questions around a range of topics, including the character of North Saanich, preferred location for housing and levels of support for development options such as subdividing.

The survey found 17 per cent of respondents agreed with that statement that North Saanich “should supply a range of services, amenities and housing options similar to those of other nearby municipalities” while 83 agreed or strongly agreed that North Saanich should limit housing to sites allowed in the current OCP.

An accompanying analysis of the survey results finds that that “residents surveyed by the NSRA clearly stated that the long-term development of the community should reflect the desire of the residents to retain rural qualities and should not reflect external demands for housing growth.”

The results of the survey appear as residents weigh competing perspectives on the housing question during the ongoing review of the Official Community Plan. Voices like those of former mayor Alice Finall warned of undue influence by developers, while the Urban Development Institute has questioned current land-planning policies against the face of demographic changes and rising housing costs.

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Kafka said the NSRA offered the survey because of what he called dissatisfaction among residents with questions around housing in the municipality’s OCP process.

“Our survey wasn’t designed with any specific agenda other than to provide clear questions on housing, because we didn’t think the project team’s questions on housing clearly identified what the potential interest or non-interest was with densification,” he said.

NSRA said 95 individuals (90 per cent of which are identified as residents and homeowners in North Saanich) completed the survey. The survey did not ask whether respondents were members of the NSRA.

North Saanich council Monday adjourned before dealing with correspondence items, including the survey results, but it is expected to take them up next Monday.

The municipality has shared both the UDI report and the NSRA survey results with the OCP review project team, but neither document will make the engagement summary for this current, second phase of the OCP review process. A spokesperson for the municipality said the survey results are not appearing in the summary because the municipality did not design the survey.

The NSRA claims a current membership of 142 North Saanich households, representing over 225 residents. NSRA says 344 residents living on the Saanich Peninsula follow the organization through PlaceSpeak.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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