North Saanich subdivision to be phased-in over time

Project offers more affordable options, says councillor Daly

A controversial residential project in the District of North Saanich will be phased-in over time, according to a development agreement working its way through council.

On May 6, council gave the first two readings on a phased development agreement between the district and Sanpen Properties Inc., the developers of property at 9395 East Saanich Road. In essence, the agreement states Sanpen will build a maximum of 40 single family homes at the site over two phases — with final subdivision layout and configuration approval from the district’s approving officer prior to the first phase commencing.

This agreement does not allow the work to proceed, it only sets out to allow the developers to complete their project in two phases — should council give the overall green light.

Each step of the approvals process for this project garners opposition from Mayor Alice Finall and councillors Elsie McMurphy and Celia Stock. While Stock continues to have problems with a lack of a specific parking policy for the site, McMurphy says she’s reluctant to change her position over what she calls a lack of  clarity on what the project will look like.

“I want to be able to tell residents what the property will look like in the end,” she said.

Finall repeated her ongoing concerns with the project, saying there has been no public impetus for it, no public consolation by the developers and no public interest in it.

That would seem contrary to ongoing calls for more affordable housing by industry based in North Saanich, who have been calling for months for more options for workforce housing on the Peninsula. Councillor Ted Daly pointed this out and suggested he would make Finall eat her words once the project is completed.

“My opinion is opposite to the mayor’s,” he said, “and I feel this will be affordable housing on the ground.”

Sanpen has stated in the past that the price for these homes would be in the $400,000 range. McMurphy said she wondered if that constitutes affordable in North Saanich.

“The houses will be at a price point that North Saanich doesn’t have right now, and badly needs,” Daly said.

Homes at that price are being sold to families in other parts of the region, added coun. Craig Mearns.

“They are a lot more affordable to a lot more people than we think,” he said.