Decisions need to be based on solid cases, not emotion

Perhaps the residents of North Saanich could find these major departures from the current OCP acceptable

Re: Questionable Facts, PNR, 16 Jan., 2013.

Mr. Upward and Ms. Eaton ramble on in various directions but finally assert that my earlier letter is, among other things, “devoid of tangible fact” then offer few themselves.

The one fact offered by them regarding school enrolment is interesting but does it justify significantly altering the character of a community? We have just built a new school — we’re certainly not in danger of closing it. The more I research these demographic issues, put forward as self-evident justifications for development, the less black and white they become.

These statistical gymnastics are just background noise in the current debate about property development. It desperately needs serious public dialogue based upon facts, not uninformed opinion and rhetoric. I am continually surprised by the threadbare justifications of the few vocal development supporters. Regrettably, they are more likely to take aim at the messenger rather than the message.

The current proposals before council generally fall well outside the constraints of the OCP and RGS. The proponents realize they have to invent some special attributes to attract public support if they hope to acquire the major OCP changes required. So, they refer to “workforce”, “young families”, “affordable”, “inclusive”, “complete communities”, “seniors housing”, etc. These are noble social values, which many can support, but unfortunately, if one takes a closer look at the proposed solutions — higher density housing — we see that they are still not priced to be affordable to the workforce and young families.

In addition, close scrutiny of the so-called proof that we need more workforce housing will show that case to be unclear also. Without any clear evidence of the need, the rationale for higher density housing just becomes ordinary market housing well outside the OCP. But if we’re significantly changing our OCP, shouldn’t we expect significant community benefits? Garden-variety market housing doesn’t provide that, although truly socially beneficial housing may.

Perhaps the residents of North Saanich could find these major departures from the current OCP acceptable, but that decision should be based upon solid cases and not emotional generalities.

Springfield Harrison

North Saanich