After all is said and done, how new housing development in North Saanich plays out will be the telling of the tape for one of the community’s most divisive issues in recent history.
On Monday, North Saanich council voted into effect changes to its official community plan to allow for increased housing density in two specific areas of the district.
On the map, those zones look entirely appropriate for new growth — close to transit, near places of employment, infrastructure is for the most part in place and most importantly, it does not appear to be any different than existing housing right next door. As we have seen with the Canora Mews development, there is a demand for homes that cost significantly less than the North Saanich average (more than $800,000 over the last six months) and are suited to a changing demographic.
They do not appear to threaten existing properties or productive agricultural land in the district and meet a variety of housing needs expressed in our communities.
Looking ahead, hard feelings left over from this debate will carry into the November municipal election. Let us hope that those feelings do not blind the community to the fact that each elected official acted in what they saw were the best interests of their constituents. The politicians, too, must remember they are at the table by the grace of the electorate.
So, while this debate clearly demonstrated deep-seeded division not only on the council but in the community, it must be remembered there is a lot of hard work ahead.
Both sides on the housing issue have said they don’t want the character of North Saanich to change. While Monday’s outcome might be hard for some to swallow, to ensure that community goal is maintained, everyone must still use their voice and their vote to ensure that it does.