OUR VIEW: Two towns, two reactions

A proposal for a new housing development in Sidney is showing off all the ways Sidney and North Saanich are different

It’s like night and day. A proposal for a new housing development in Sidney is showing off all the ways the municipal councils — and communities for that matter — of Sidney and North Saanich are different.

This latest proposal — for the former middle school land at the corner of McDonald Park Road and Resthaven Drive — is nearly a mirror image of the development at 9395 East Saanich Rd.

Both are on similarly-sized pieces of property.

Both plan for an almost identical number of new houses — 37 in Sidney, 40 in North Saanich.

Both suggested there could be affordable housing options on the table.

There are other similarities, such as how the layout of the properties look on paper, but that’s where it ends.

The big differences come in how the developers approached their respective municipalities — and the reactions they have received so far.

In North Saanich, the community has been clearly divided on housing growth for years and that attitude is reflected on its municipal council. With such housing pressure relatively new to the district, it has taken months of policy creation, public meetings and at times rancorous debate to get to the point where 9395 East Saanich Rd. (Canora Mews) can put shovels in the ground.

That single project has put in motion a strategy to make changes to how North Saanich handles future proposals — and there are more on the horizon.

Perhaps learning from that, the developers of the middle school site (Harbour Landing at Resthaven) spent weeks reviewing Sidney’s policies with Town staff. That, combined with a very different attitude towards growth in the community and on council, made Monday’s presentation of the preliminary plans a relative breeze.

That said, the project still has to be reviewed by the public — and if there’s going to be a sticking point, it might come in the form of another roundabout in Sidney.

There are vastly different attitudes on growth between these two neighbours. It’s still up to residents to make their leaders reflect what the community wants.