The University Heights redevelopment project is an example of a compact, multi-family living space that accommodates other community needs nearby, Mayor Fred Haynes said. (Rendering courtesy Wesbild Holdings Ltd.)

The University Heights redevelopment project is an example of a compact, multi-family living space that accommodates other community needs nearby, Mayor Fred Haynes said. (Rendering courtesy Wesbild Holdings Ltd.)

Saanich council hopes broader planning approach will address urgent need for housing

Council supports priority shift from local area plans to focus on high-growth areas

Saanich council wants staff to pause local area planning initiatives to instead focus on broader community planning as a way to increase housing supply and affordability.

Sitting as committee of the whole last week, council approved a series of staff recommendations and directed staff to report back in January with a proposed work plan for taking a centres, corridors and villages (CCV) planning approach that would allow each new plan to be completed within 18 months.

The Dec. 13 special meeting was a continuation from October of discussions about the district’s planning approaches.

Among several options presented for adjusting planning priorities, council chose one that calls for CCV planning to focus on smaller geographic areas where significant growth is anticipated, and more quickly address issues around housing availability. Council agreed solving the housing crisis sooner rather than later is imperative and that this broader option would speed up said process.

“We realize this is a very complex matter and that is why we’re taking time to give people the opportunity to follow this process,” Mayor Fred Haynes said.

The approach to broad community planning would emphasize the urgent need for corridors, centres and villages to ensure more compact and efficient living areas, he said.

“This will prevent urban sprawl and in these centres people will efficiently have their needs met,” Haynes said. “This would be through having daycares, grocery stores, ample green space, transit systems and all other necessities within range of their compact multi-family homes within their similarly compact areas.”

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Other directions to staff included the undertaking of a strategic and focused update of the official community plan (OCP). Before that process begins in earnest, staff will report to council on such elements as the timeline, structure and terms of reference for public engagement; provide results of a high-level progress evaluation of the existing OCP implementation, and present feedback on the viability of adopting the One Planet Saanich and/or Doughnut Economics principles as a guiding framework.

Council also approved allocating $80,000 from the Council Strategic Initiative Contingency to fund the strategic update of the OCP and the use of surplus funding from the prior year for CCV updates.

Official community plans provide broad, district-wide guidance on growth and potential changes in land use where necessary, staff wrote in a report. Detailed planning in centralized areas, such as the Shelbourne Valley, are delivered through local area plans and CCV plans.


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