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LETTER: Housing crisis no reason to shelve Local Area Plans

Not only was the updating of most Saanich Local Area Plans (LAPs) paused (December 2019), but on March 8, the completed draft for Cordova Bay was also shelved, under the guise of a housing crisis.

This pause is disrespectful to all those involved in preparing the plan, three years in the making, and particularly to the community who actively participated in reaching a consensus about the future of Cordova Bay. The issue which still requires clarification is the hierarchical status of the LAP over the Official Community Plan (OCP), which if not included would totally devalue the existence of the LAP itself.

The fact that council at this time is apparently unwilling to commit to this well-researched LAP update is very concerning. If the process to address the ‘housing crisis’ is the reason given for this pause, then why, for the same reason, are development permit applications still being accepted, many with requests for amendments to the OCP/LAP and rezonings with considerable variances.

It is difficult to see the justification of a housing crisis as there are currently so many active planning applications on the Saanich website, in fact 4,700, of which 2,800 are dated 2020 or later, so coincidentally or not, since pausing LAP updates. In addition there are 600 units at UVic also underway.

The provincially mandated Saanich Housing Needs Report (November 2020) projects an increase in the population of Saanich of 5,011 over a five-year period 2020-2025, and the corresponding number of household units over the five years as 3,049. This equates to about 1,000 population, translating to 600 total housing units per year. This is based on only 1.6 persons per household; the likelihood of more than that would reduce the number of housing units required.

So when there are 4,700 units currently applied for, others already under construction, and only 600 required at this time, where is the housing crisis?

Surely time to make Local Area Plans a priority again?

Fiona Millard

Saanich