Central Saanich densification needs neighbour input: councillor

Ruining privacy is an issue with infill and densification in any community.

In Central Saanich they hope to address those concerns in the new year. Recommendations from a densification study, delayed prior to the election, will come back to council at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The study will "help neighbourhoods understand neighbourhood densification better," said Coun. Adam Olsen. He and Coun. Terry Siklenka were tasked to meet with staff and investigate the details of the study.

"We've delayed making a decision on the terms of reference that we laid out," Olsen said. "We're going to go back to them and talk about holding more workshops or what's going to be in those workshops."

The residential densification study addresses concerns raised by neighbourhoods when proposals are submitted requesting increased density. The district’s official community plan notes residents have expressed concerns about the impact of densification on their property and quality of life.

The policy encourages council to start the process of developing a set of guidelines for rezoning, comparable to the Design Guidelines for Infill Housing, to give direction to potential developers and provide a sense of security for neighbourhoods.

"Clearly residential densification is something that people should have an interest in because it is their neighbourhoods they're talking about," said Bob Thompson, a former Central Saanich councillor who's been following the densification study.

Thompson hopes the community will come out with creative ideas, at more than just the one public workshop suggested in the report.

"One of the biggest challenges for Central Saanich, and it came up during the campaign, was communication," he said. "When you're looking at such a complex process it's just not adequate to have that little public input. They're open to hearing suggestions from people. That’s a good thing."

He's promoting residents submitting ideas via letter, which when submitted by noon the Wednesday before council (Jan. 4), make the agenda package each council member reads.

"The goal is to talk about infill development in our neighbourhoods and have community discussion about that," Olsen said.

It will come back to council Jan. 9.

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