A report summarizing the Official Community Plan review in North Saanich so far makes a case for sensitive infill to help create affordable housing, but finds no consensus about housing needs in the community.
These findings appear in the OCP Phase 2 summary coming before council July 12. The report summarizes community engagement and presents six so-called emerging concepts distilled by the consultants of that engagement, specifically an OCP design workshop.
The first of these six concepts calls for the creation of blue-green networks linking and restoring marine, riparian and terrestrial environments. The second calls for agricultural hubs. The third calls for neighbourhood nooks designed to diversify land uses in largely residential neighbourhoods through the encouragement of alternative transportation and small businesses. The fourth calls for sensitive fill to supply more diverse housing options close to transit, services and amenities. The fifth calls for a community hub in the Deep Cove neighbourhood. The sixth calls for the development of a village centre focused on the McTavish Interchange, McTavish and East Saanich Road and the Panorama Recreation Centre.
The report points to the contours of the current debate about the future nature of North Saanich. On one hand, the report points to no small measure of support for more diverse, affordable housing. For example, 39 per cent of respondents who filled out an online survey definitely agree with more housing growth in strategic locations close to transit and services, where people work and where servicing currently exist. The report also includes figures showing support for the neighbourhood nook concept, the McTavish Village Centre concept, and the sensitive infilling concept.
But the report also acknowledges a lack of consensus about housing needs. “Others believe that the projected growth of North Saanich is not enough to require additional housing demand,” it reads. The report also points to considerable opposition to the proposed densification of the Deep Cove neighbourhood.
Of interest is the geography and sociology of community engagement. Nearly 60 per cent of all participants in the online survey come from four neighbourhoods (Deep Cove, Cloake Hill / Horth Hill, Dean Park, and Ardmore) with other parts of North Saanich appearing to show less interest.
Nearly 52 per cent of respondents were 60 years and older, three out of four did not live in households with children under the age of 18, nine out of 10 own their own home, and almost 44 per cent described themselves as retired.
In other words, a process designed to shape the future of the community for the next 20 years appears dominated by individuals who are older, of means and likely conservative in inclination.
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