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Saanich greenlights farmstands, garden suites after extensive public input

The end is in sight for Saanich residents fighting for the right to open a roadside farm stand or build a detached garden suite on their property.

Following a Sept. 15 public hearing that lasted nearly four hours, council voted unanimously in favour of bylaw amendments to permit roadside stands selling homegrown and homemade goods in the Urban Containment Boundary, and also approved garden suites – small, detached rentals – in areas zoned for single-family dwellings.

READ ALSO: Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

During the public hearing, residents were invited to phone in and share their thoughts on both matters which have been on council’s radar for several years. After extensive public input and council debate, both issues are nearly resolved – news that Mayor Fred Haynes called “super positive.”

He noted that after four years, Saanich will now see garden suites popping up, which he said will bring a number of benefits to residents; the small, detached dwellings allow seniors to “age in place,” help young families get into the housing market, permit multi-generational families to co-habitate, and create additional rental housing.

READ ALSO: Saanich looks at relaxing farm stand ban

Haynes was also pleased to see the bylaw amendment for roadside farm stands pass unanimously. He pointed out that farm stands have a long history in Saanich. The move to implement temporary use permits for farm stands came as a response to the pandemic, but Haynes said it will continue to benefit stand operators long after.

Efforts to permit farm stands in the district were catalyzed by resident Katherine Little, who began fighting to keep her jam business, The Little Stand, open on her street for more than two years. Saanich bylaw officers came knocking after neighbours complained and Little hasn’t stopped pushing for change since.

Her campaign gained momentum when Colleen O’Farrell, a local florist who opened a flower stand amid the pandemic, joined the fight in March.

READ ALSO: Support blooms as Saanich flower stand operator takes on bylaw

Little, who plans to write a book about the farm stand debacle, was “thrilled” with council’s decision and felt it was a testament to their hard work and the outpouring of community support.

“Two years ago, I was just some crazy lady selling jam in front of her house,” and now the bylaw is changing, she said. “They messed with the wrong roadside stand.”

Council will conduct final readings and adoptions of the amendments at a future meeting. Afterwards, those operating stand-operators will have 30 days to obtain a permit. Little said she and O’Farrell will be the first ones to apply – Little plans to frame hers – and the pair have a bottle of champagne ready to toast their success.


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Devon Bidal

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