Saanich council voted to pause the renewal of the District’s 12 Local Area Plans to the chagrin of some. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich mayor pens open letter addressing paused Local Area Plans

Council paused updates to the 12 neighbourhood plans in December to focus on housing

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes addressed concerns regarding the paused Local Area Plans in open letter to residents on Jan. 27.

In December, Saanich council voted to pause the Local Area Plans (LAPs) – objectives distinct to each of the District’s 12 neighbourhoods – in an effort to reallocate planning resources to housing availability and affordability in Saanich.

In the letter, Haynes explained that the plans were formed through “extensive community consultation” and were tailored to meet the needs identified by residents. Housing, accessibility, road safety, cycling infrastructure and environmental protection were highlighted.

READ ALSO: Saanich council pauses updates to local area plans

In the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, council directed staff to begin the process of updating the LAPs – a process that Haynes noted can take several years. The plan also included a housing strategy that he said was under-funded.

After rethinking the plan, council determined that resources needed to be refocused to “the urgent Saanich-wide housing need” and that temporarily pausing the LAPs renewal process would allow this. On Dec. 16, 2019, despite protest from residents and some members of council, the motion to hold off on updating the LAPs passed.

Haynes emphasized that re-allocating resources from LAPs updates would allow Saanich-wide housing issues to be addressed more quickly. He also noted that the community consultation that would have taken place for the LAPs renewal process will instead be conducted as part of the District’s review of Saanich’s housing needs.

READ ALSO: Saanich Talks event kicks off Local Area Plan updates

Haynes pointed out that the LAPs have not been “dismantled” and that the neighbourhood-specific environmental protections remain in place. The updates have just been put on hold, he explained.

Haynes also noted that new Development Cost Charges were also approved, which means that funds are coming in to the District which will help with “park acquisitions as well as to support improvements in neighbourhood sidewalks, cycle routes, parks and infrastructure.”

He closed the letter with a thank you to residents for their patience while Saanich’s housing needs are addressed.

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