Revised growth strategy getting rough ride on Saanich Peninsula

Two of the three Saanich Peninsula municipalities want changes to the proposed Regional Growth Strategy. - File photo
Two of the three Saanich Peninsula municipalities want changes to the proposed Regional Growth Strategy.
— image credit: File photo

Two out of the three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula have decided not to support the revised Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

North Saanich and Central Saanich councils have issues with the plan, while Sidney Mayor Steve Price says town council is onboard so far.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) is currently reviewing the RGS and is asking municipalities for input into the draft document.

In North Saanich, Mayor Alice Finall listed off a series of objections from their council.

She said their objections were based, mainly, on policies regarding growth management, keeping urban settlement compact and protecting the integrity of rural communities.

“We need a great deal more solid protections,” said Finall.

Some of the examples she gave included population projections, the food system and transportation.

She said there are no clear population projections broken down by municipalities in the CRD to provide sufficient certainty.

She said staff with the Victoria Transit Commission, on which she sits for the Peninsula, told them that lots of buses can’t keep to their schedules because they can’t get through the traffic.

“The belief that we can just keep increasing (urban density) without addressing any realistic transportation needs is really quite unrealistic,” she said.

Finall said when it comes to the food systems target, there isn’t sufficient strength in aspirational targets in the proposed Regional Growth Strategy to ensure objectives are met, particularly containing development and meeting crop production goals.

Mayor Ryan Windsor of Central Saanich also objected the draft RGS.

Councillor Zeb King supports that positionand spoke about his main concern on water issues.

“Primarily I have concerns with regards to the expansion of water servicing to rural and outside urban containment areas,” he said, adding that it’s a tool to prevent sprawl.

He said if you have the CRD’s pipelines going out for one house somewhere way out, then it enables sprawl, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee it.

“Whereas if you currently have to get water by well or cistern that limits the number and size of units you will put in the Juan De Fuca electoral area (for example)…”

King said council noted its objection to one of the policies, saying it needs to be strengthened to avoid development and sprawl on rural land in electoral areas like Juan De Fuca, which, he said, would be contrary to the objectives of the RGS, which supports complete and compact communities.

“By removing water servicing as a growth management tool, I think that basically undermines the strong growth management …”

According to the CRD, the RGS must have the approval of all of its members municipalities before it can be enacted.

The deadline for municipalities to state their position on the document was Feb. 2.

Seven municipalities did not accept the proposed RGS; five did so.

The CRD is now informing the provincial minister responsible for municipal affairs of the impasse and will seek direction from the upper level of government on how to proceed.

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