LETTER: Additional housing options needed to make North Saanich complete

A populist, NIMBY element has derailed the North Saanich official community plan review in order to stop development for self-serving reasons. We as a community need to support the greater good and the greater good calls for more housing options everywhere in Greater Victoria, including North Saanich. North Saanich needs some additional housing, in part for our First Nations neighbours who face a terrible housing shortage, in part for workers who staff businesses here and in part for those of us who would like our children to be able to live in our community.

Complete communities have affordable workforce housing for our children and those who work in the community and appropriate accommodation for our older residents as they phase out of their homes.

The recent hysteria driven by Save North Saanich seeks to ensure that we remain an incomplete community that cannot house our young, that cannot house our friends in need and cannot house our elderly. They spread misinformation about the OCP process in order to preserve a community for the privileged and to offload all social responsibility on to other municipalities that are already overloaded with demands for development.

People in need, people with disabilities and seniors come from every corner of Greater Victoria, yet North Saanich seems to only want those who can pay the high price of living in our very privileged community.

North Saanich’s first obligation is to protect farmland and encourage increased food production. That can’t happen in Victoria, or Oak Bay or Esquimalt because their farmland is gone but it still exists here, though too often it is occupied by the wealthy who want a “rural” lifestyle but produce little by way of food. We need better protection for Agricultural Land Reserve lands and greater incentives for people to actually produce food.

It is ironic to hear people demand that the rural nature of North Saanich be preserved. The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development defines rural as communities with less than 150 persons per square kilometre. Very little of North Saanich makes that test so demands to “preserve” the rural aspect of North Saanich are disingenuous.

Making suggestions about North Saanich becoming Langford is simply and completely inaccurate. Some of the development they most strongly oppose is part of the present OCP and in the years that I chaired the North Saanich Planning Commission these were directions we sought to encourage.

I’m sad to see the disruption and derailment of the North Saanich OCP review which will only add to the cost of the process. Hopefully saner voices will be heard and we can move forward soon.

Tom Gore

North Saanich