Housing report calls for higher densities

Special meeting of North Saanich council set for August 13 to introduce final CTQ Consulting report

A housing strategy implementation plan is complete and recommends that the District of North Saanich allow higher density housing in up to four parts of the community.

That is the first of 11 recommendations made in the final revisions of a Housing Strategy Implementation plan set to be debated by council at a meeting on Monday, Sept. 9 at municipal hall.

This report stemmed from the District’s public housing consultation process, which was submitted to the municipality last month by CTQ Consulting of Kelowna. They held a series of open houses and stakeholder group interviews in the spring to both gauge public sentiment on creating more housing in the District and look into how three recommendations from a 2008 housing study could be implemented after languishing for nearly five years.

The consultation has been controversial in the community, with opinions split mainly between those who would like to see some level of growth and those who don’t wish to see the character of the District changed. The North Saanich Residents Association even held their own survey on the issue, in an attempt to offer a different take on a similar survey conducted by the consultant.

While the issue has been polarizing, a council majority has been pushing for change and the implementation of higher housing densities in response to a stated need for workforce housing by local industrial employers. The District has already made it possible for a 40-unit, medium density residential project to proceed at 9395 East Saanich Rd. — within one of the report’s recommended areas. That project still won’t proceed pending the outcome of other negotiations on site servicing and an amenities contribution.

The report from CTQ also addresses the fact that for any new project to proceed in North Saanich, the District will have to change its regional growth strategy and context statement to meet Capital Regional District requirements and might have to update its official community plan as well.

CTQ goes on to recommend that the District consider imposing an urban containment boundary around the four areas of potential development (Southeast Quadrant, McDonald Park Road, McTavish Road West, and the Sandown Park area).

The report summarizes the issues and concerns on the housing debate in North Saanich and offers a proposed action plan to implement the recommendations over varying degrees of time.

The regular council meeting starts at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9 at the municipal hall on Mills Road.