A survey of Saanich residents identifies housing as the top issue facing Saanich, while ranking amalgamation near the bottom.
The Saanich Citizen Survey (2019) finds almost all respondents — 99 per cent — say that Saanich’s quality life is either “good” (42 per cent) or “very good” (56 per cent). Almost eight out of 10 Saanich residents (78 per cent) either “somewhat” or “strongly agree” that they are “pleased” with the overall direction of Saanich. Saanich residents also feel safer than residents in comparative communities, give high marks to the reliability and quality of various municipal services, and appear broadly satisfied with their political and administrative leadership.
But this big picture becomes more nuanced when looking at specific issues. When asked about the single most important issue facing Saanich, 22 per cent of respondents said housing and the cost of housing. Other findings in the report also underscored the importance of housing for Saanich residents. When asked to rate their level of satisfaction with various service offered by Saanich, policies that encourage affordable housing received among the lowest satisfaction rating.
A total of forty-seven per cent told the survey that they were either “not very satisfied” (32 per cent) or “not all satisfied” (15 per cent) with Saanich’s current policies that encourage affordable housing. Forty-two per cent said they were “somewhat satisfied” with 11 per cent saying they “were satisfied.”
Sixteen per cent of respondents also expressed the hope for affordable housing.
If nearly one in four Saanich residents identified housing and the cost of housing as the most important issue, facing the community, traffic and traffic congestion tied with the environment and enhancement of green spaces for second place as the single most important issue facing. In fact, a case can be made that the broader category of transportation might be as important as housing, if one also includes bike lanes and trails (eight per cent), road safety (seven per cent), infrastructure (seven per cent), and road construction (three per cent), tied with the public transit under that heading. Fifty-one per cent of respondents also identified roads and traffic control as the top priority for future spending, with environmental protection and enhancement a close second with 50 per cent.
Notably, amalgamation appears towards the bottom of the list of most important issues facing Saanich, with one per cent identifying it as such.
Almost 67 per cent of voters in Victoria and 57 per cent of voters in Saanich voted in favour of the non-binding referendum question on their election ballot: “Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits, and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?”
The survey — which asked 1,022 randomly selected residents between Jan. 21 and Feb. 1 — appears just days before the start of budget deliberations. Coun. Colin Plant told the Saanich News last week that the findings of the survey would “greatly influence” his deliberations.
One of the big issues facing council heading into deliberations is the appropriate level of taxation, and the survey suggests that Saanich residents appear broadly satisfied with it. About eight of out of 10 Saanich residents (81 per cent) either strongly or somewhat agree that they receive good value for their tax dollars, according to the survey.
Nearly four out of 10 residents (38 per cent) said they would like Saanich to retain the same level of services with a managed tax increase, while 15 per cent would like to improve municipal services with higher taxes. Twenty per cent would accept reduced levels of municipal services for lower taxes.