Delay denied

North Saanich council majority holds off challenge to development process

A majority of councillors in the District of North Saanich are fed up with roadblocks being thrown up against residential development proposals and said as much in a vote at the most recent council meeting.

Mayor Alice Finall raised a motion on Monday, Oct. 1 to halt any action on density issues — including hearing development proposals — in order for council to complete its public consultation process. It was an attempt, said some councillors, to put the brakes on the municipality’s approvals process and in the end did not pass.

“The mayor is trying to stall what we are trying to do,” said councillor Ted Daly, recalling his previous cries for a review of the official community plan, which failed at the time, but would have addressed the current issue of housing density.

“We’ve had this discussion before,” added coun. Dunstan Browne, saying by statute, the district has enough meetings to hear from the public on these issues.

“The problem with this motion … is that it’s wording … means nothing gets done.”

Finall’s motion, “that council complete the public consultation process prior to considering or taking any further steps with increases in density,” is about public input, she said.

“My concern is consultation with the people in this community,” she said, adding none has been done at all on the two recent development applications — on John Street and East Saanich Road.

“These have gone through council quite quickly,” Finall said, adding this is the case because they have convinced some councillors that they will offer workforce — or affordable — housing.

Yet, said the mayor, neither project addresses workforce housing at all.

“We are looking at dramatic density changes,” she said, “without any understanding that they are of benefit to this community. We should not be proceeding.”

Coun. Elsie McMurphy added the homes proposed in both of the current development applications will be selling for market value.

“There will never be a guarantee (by a developer) that those will be affordable,” she said.

McMurphy added she supports the mayor’s position, saying it’s important that council shows the public that consultation means something and that council shows them that respect.

“Council may not do what each (person) says, but at least we hear them.”

Daly responded by saying the two developments calling for increased density do benefit the community and will provide more family and workforce housing.

“This is an attempt to put the brakes on what the majority of council has already approved,” he said.

“We still have nothing in any of those proposals that do anything for workforce housing,” countered Finall, suggesting council needs to hold large public meetings — not just public hearings at council chambers — to get the public’s opinion on the district’s housing and growth strategies.

Coun. Celia Stock, also on the mayor’s side, said she’s not sure if these development proposals meet the standard for workforce housing that the district needs. As well, she said she’s concerned public input will fall on deaf ears.

“You can’t go to people with a prior mindset,” she said, “where everybody in the community knows you’ve already made up your mind.”

Coun. Craig Mearns added he wants the two project proposals — which he termed quite small — to proceed and “to see how they do.”

Coun. Conny McBride said the term ‘affordable’ is up to individuals and what they can afford. Yet, with workforce housing needed to keep industry in the area, “it’s needed here. It’s why people voted for us.”

In a 4-3 vote, the mayor’s motion failed.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Phase-by-phase look at how Greater Victoria Public Libraries will reopen

GVPL to quarantine returned material for a minimum of 72 hours before lending again

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read