Meaningful consultation needed

In my view Mr. John Upward’s criticism of Ms. Greene’s earlier letter is unjustified on a number of points.

Re: Anti-development faction wants new results, Dec. 7, 2012

In my view Mr. John Upward’s criticism of Ms. Greene’s earlier letter is unjustified on a number of points.

Firstly, provincial legislation requires council to effectively consult with residents when considering fundamental changes to the District’s Official Community Plan (OCP). The proposals to establish new land and zoning designations to allow urban density levels two to three times higher than previously supported in North Saanich are clear examples of such changes.

The East Saanich Road development is being fast-tracked and a couple of other applications have received preliminary approval. In other words, the high-density train has left the station. On the “better late than never” basis, it is good that public consultation is being planned, hopefully on an expedited basis. Nonetheless, Ms. Greene’s concern around lack of a transparent consultative process to date is fair comment. Also Mr. Upward states that developers must pay “significant development cost charges (DCCs)”.  This is incorrect, as the District does not impose development cost charges.

Finally, consultations with residents undertaken in connection with the 2008 Housing Strategy showed public opinion was very divided with regard to the proposals for high-density multi-family units and smaller lots. This lack of consensus and the conflict of such densities with the then recently adopted 2007 OCP were some of the reasons previous Councils were cautious on any implementation of these proposals.

This underscores the need for meaningful consultation and involvement of residents in the planning process.

Sheila Irving

North Saanich