Controversial project gets by the CRD

North Saanich housing projects one step closer to green light

The site of the proposed 40-unit residential subdivision at 9395 East Saanich Road.

The site of the proposed 40-unit residential subdivision at 9395 East Saanich Road.

There are still a few more votes to go at the District of North Saanich, but the developers of a proposed 40-unit residential subdivision at 9395 East Saanich Road don’t have to worry about the Capital Regional District barring their way.

On Dec.19, the CRD board voted to let the district amend its regional context statement to allow the project. The vote ended a series of back-and-forths between the municipality and the CRD as the district sought to move the project forward.

The proposal will still require the context statement and official community amendment to go through council votes — and this has been controversial in the community. Council itself has been split and some residents have taken sides in the matter, saying on one hand the district needs more housing options and on the other, saying the council’s plans for growth is too much, too fast.

CRD chair and Central Saanich mayor Alastair Bryson said the board had a spirited debate over the matter, but a useful one when it comes to the rights of member municipalities.

“It spoke to the growth philosophy in the CRD and the balance in the region,” Bryson said.

He added some of the directors questioned why this matter even came to the CRD board in the first place, calling it a North Saanich issue.

“Any changes to their OCP is up to North Saanich to decide,” he said. “But clearly, regional planning has to mesh with the current aspirations of each individual council.”

The CRD does have a say, however, when a member municipality seeks to change its OCP or context statement — as the impact on neighbouring communities is measured.

North Saanich councillor Ted Daly, firmly on the pro-growth side of the table, said he expects changes to be made to the district’s context statement and OCP — but through an ongoing consultation process that will seek public feedback in the new year. It has been his and other councillors’ contention some projects could be on stream at the same time as local regulatory changes.

“I am hoping this will be addressed by the consultative process,” added Daly, saying consultation is set to begin in mid-January, with a  report expected by the end of March, 2013.