After three years of work, implementation of Cordova Bay’s updated Local Area Plan (LAP) has been postponed to allow further consideration of housing diversity and affordability in the neighbourhood.
On March 8, Saanich council received a final draft of the proposed plan for the neighbourhood’s future development, transit and design.
Coun. Zac de Vries moved that council hold off on sending the LAP to a public hearing until Saanich’s housing strategy has been completed and send the plan to the district’s advisory committees for input. Council voted 7-2 in favour with Couns. Nathalie Chambers and Judy Brownoff opposed.
The Cordova Bay LAP update was one of two that continued after the rest were paused in December 2019 to allow planning resources to be reallocated to a series of housing and service delivery studies. The Cordova Bay and Cadboro Bay plans continued as they were already underway.
Concerns about insufficient housing diversity and concrete plans to increase affordability in Cordova Bay were top of mind for de Vries. The proposed plan is “not bold enough” and doesn’t quite capture the needs of the community, he said, adding that it’s common practice for LAP updates to come through advisory committees but it didn’t happen this time around due to COVID-19 delays.
“Cordova Bay will never be the most affordable, but we do have an obligation to do better,” de Vries said.
Chambers and Brownoff voiced concerns about what postponing would say to the WSANEC leadership council and members of the community who spent significant time consulting on the plan.
“I think it’s really important that we follow through with the work that we have promised,” Chambers said. “Breaching trust by further suspending does not breed trust.”
She added that discussing increased density without consideration for culturally significant areas in Cordova Bay was “out of line.”
Mayor Fred Haynes felt there was no harm in sending the LAP to the advisory committees for further consideration as any substantial changes would result in the plan being brought back to the community for consultation. He added that it’s better to be thorough than fast so the plan will stand the test of time.