RCS Amendments to the OCP

 CRD Meeting, 18 June, 2014 - Summary of Proceedings
 
Dear North Saanich Resident,
At the Wednesday June 18th, 2014 Capital Regional District Board Meeting, Directors voted 12 - 10 in favor of accepting the North Saanich Regional Context Statement (RCS).  The debate was lengthy and a variety of perspectives was offered;  it was clear that the matter was contentious.  Had one more Director voted against, a tie would have resulted, and the amendment defeated. 
We understand that the CRD Board received over 250 letters from concerned citizens, with over 97% opposing the amendment.  They heard dozens of speakers at three different meetings, almost all in opposition-- one could argue that those who spoke or wrote in support of the amendment, with only a few exceptions, may have a pecuniary interest in a favorable outcome.
The CRD’s role is to ascertain whether or not the RCS Amendment is consistent with the Regional Growth Strategy, and in the opinion of CRD Staff, on balance, it is.  The referral to the Board was from a duly elected North Saanich Council which has a responsibility to ensure that thorough and adequate consultation has taken place with  residents.  There are wildly varying opinions on whether that has taken place.
The Local Government Act requires the District to hold a Public Hearing on this matter to allow people to express their views to Council on the proposed changes.  The RCS amendment is substantial -- an increase of up to 520 housing units in two areas of North Saanich over 5 years -- and results in significant change to our Official Community Plan.  Is this the will of North Saanich residents?  We don’t believe that to be the case.
The Public Hearing is scheduled for Monday July 14th at 7:00 pm at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.   The purpose of a public hearing is to afford all persons who believe their interest in property may be affected by a proposed bylaw an opportunity to be heard and to make written submissions.   This will be the LAST opportunity for residents to weigh in on the discussion about increasing urban densities in some areas of North Saanich.  It is crucial that all North Saanich residents participate in this democratic process!    
Council contact information can be found here:  http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Mayor_and_Council/Council_Contact_Information.htm.  Letters may be sent to Mayor and Council at admin@northsaanich.ca.
We will communicate with you again in greater detail, once the official Public Hearing notice has been issued.

Thanks for your continued interest in North Saanich issues.  Please forward to your contacts.
 
Heather Gartshore, Bernadette Greene, Jack Thornburgh




North Saanich Residents

Significant changes are proposed
for our NS Official Community Plan

Densities could be up to 45% greater than adjacent
 areas in Sidney (11 units/acre) for single family
homes.  Multi-family densities could exceed
 many of those in Colwood and Langford.

Come to a Community Meeting
to learn how this might affect you.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.

St. John’s United Church
10990 West Saanich Rd.

Mayor Alice Finall will provide an update
and answer questions.

Sponsored by Heather Gartshore,
Bernadette Greene, Jack Thornburgh and
North Saanich Community Voices

More info at: www.nscv.ca

Dear North Saanich Resident,
As you may already be aware, the CRD Board will soon be giving final consideration to the North Saanich application for an amendment to our Regional Context Statement.  The above noted meeting is an opportunity for you to learn more about this threat to our community, and what you can do to help.
Should the CRD Board approve this application, and the vote could be very close, the doors to the urbanization of North Saanich will be forever opened. 
It has been suggested that this is “a very small change” and that “you won’t even notice it”.  We suggest that is NOT the case.  The densities proposed for single-family homes in the areas in the attached map are 45% greater than the maximum densities allowed in adjacent areas in Sidney.  Multi-family densities are greater than some in both Colwood and Langford. 
In addition, higher density housing is being proposed on land zoned rural-agricultural, including existing small farms, and directly across the road from ALR land, further endangering our farmland and future food security.
It should be noted that this RCS amendment is a response to applications for development, as opposed to broader community planning, and represents significant changes that have never been supported by our Official Community Plan (OCP).  In fact, the people of North Saanich, throughout the history of our OCP’s, have always supported rural/residential and agricultural values, rather than this type of urbanization.  The proposed changes will significantly alter our rural/residential and agricultural identity, and pave the way for more urban sprawl.
A couple of projects in North Saanich are awaiting this final CRD approval before they get the green light to go ahead; specifically, the 95-home Reay Creek Meadows development in the Canora/Rideau area, and the 55-condo McDonald Park Estates project just north of Parkland High School.  We understand that there are a number of additional housing project applications being processed at this time; it is easy to see   that these are significant changes to the trend of housing density in portions of our community.
We understand that it is time consuming to consider the magnitude of the proposed changes and to communicate your objections, and so provide the following comments for your consideration.  We are asking you to write the CRD Board or speak at their upcoming June Board Meeting (details below).  Please use your own words when addressing them.
   Point out that these changes stem from developer applications, not broad community demand
   Suggest that the proposed changes are far too great to be brought about without a full Official Community Plan review
   Suggest that such massive changes to our community ought to be decided by an election, which is only 5 months away
   Remind the CRD Directors that their duty is to protect the CRD from urban sprawl and that while their own urban containment policies are undergoing redefinition is no time to be approving such drastic changes within North Saanich
   Respectfully tell the Directors that this is an issue for North Saanich residents to decide, not the CRD, and that the only responsible decision is to refuse the North Saanich application and tell North Saanich not to come back before the CRD Board until after an election and an Official Community Plan review
We encourage you to object to this application by writing to the CRD Board.  If you are one of the over 160 people who sent emails before the April 9th CRD meeting, we ask you to do so again – it can even be the same email.  We have learned that those emails were given in a 600-page agenda package to the Directors the day before the meeting, and many of them probably didn’t even have a chance to read the letters.  They were excellent letters, and we want them to have the chance to read them again.
You may also register to speak directly at the next CRD Board Meeting on Wednesday June 11th at 1:30 pm.  PLEASE encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.  There will be a limit of 3 minutes per speaker, and simply reading your email in person to the CRD Board will be very effective. 
It is our democratic right to address our local government in this manner and we feel this is a crucially important time to do so.  North Saanich is at a crossroads, and now is the time to act.
Letters and comments should be sent to crdchair@crd.bc.ca.  The appropriate opening salutation is:  “To the Chair and Board of Directors of the Capital Regional District.”  Please also consider sending a copy to our elected representatives in North Saanich at admin@northsaanich.ca. 

The agenda for the Wednesday June 11th CRD Board Meeting at 1:30 pm will be posted on the CRD website on Friday June 6th.  You may register to speak after the agenda is posted.  Here is the web address for registering to speak: https://www.crd.bc.ca/about/how-we-are-governed/addressing-the-board.
More information about the RCS amendment to our OCP is available at the North Saanich Community Voices website:   www.nscv.ca
We do maintain a couple of email lists.  If you would like to be included for the purpose of receiving updates on this and other North Saanich issues, please contact Heather Gartshore at heathergartshore@shaw.ca.

Sponsored by Heather Gartshore,
Bernadette Greene, Jack Thornburgh and
North Saanich Community Voices





Dear North Saanich Resident, 

You are no doubt wondering:  what happened at the CRD Board Meeting on Wednesday April 9th?  The short answer is that the CRD Board ACCEPTED the Regional Context Statement in principle, and so the process of urban intensification continues to move forward.

It was clear that the CRD Board struggled with the decision.  There appear to be two perspectives.   Since it is the right of a municipality to amend its OCP,  some of the directors argued that a municipality can amend its OCP without an OCP review, even with a change of this magnitude.  Many Directors appear to believe that North Saanich has played by the rules,  and that there has been adequate consultation, while at the same time maintaining that a Public Hearing will still be required, which will give the residents a chance to speak to Council on this issue.  However, since the public hearing will take place AFTER the final CRD meeting where this RCS amendment will be discussed and voted on one last time, some residents wonder whether the pro-development majority of NS Council will simply go through the motions of having a public hearing, without being open to hearing what the residents really want, even if a majority of residents are opposed.

The second perspective argues that it is the duty of the CRD not to allow major changes to a municipality's OCP without a full OCP review, and recognizes that a consultation and/or public hearing is NOT a full OCP review, and that that is the only issue the CRD should be considering.  Pro-process directors also argued for the importance of protecting farmland, containing urban sprawl, postponing a decision of this magnitude until the Regional Sustainability Strategy is complete, and waiting until an election and/or OCP review could decide the future direction of NS.  

North Saanich's representative at the CRD, Councillor Ted Daly reported that letters from the District  were sent to "everyone in the area that would be affected", and that the district received  "TWO, that's TWO, inquiries back", implying that there were no concerns expressed by the residents.  However, he neglected to mention the recent Community Meeting of 100 residents that he attended, where by far, the majority  were concerned about the changes.  Nor about the over 200 pages of emails that were received by the CRD (and would have been part of his reading material), of which all but a few of the pages expressed opposition to the CRD's allowing changes to our OCP.  Unfortunately there is no opportunity for a member of the public, during the discussion, to refute those statements once made.

You can watch the webcast of the CRD debate here:  http://crd.ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=144&meta_id=3896

A couple of quotes which may be of interest:

Councillor Daly in response to a question by Councillor McMurphy at the April 14th Council Meeting about the letters received by the CRD Board:  "…I actually didn't read them….I really didn't pay much attention to what was in them…."

Councillor Browne to the CRD Board on April 9th, in reference to the RCS Amendment and proposed developments:  "…..a very very small limited scale….a very moderate scheme…."

There are a couple of steps ahead……this RCS Amendment is anticipated to be back before the CRD Board on May 14th at 1:30 pm, following some minor adjustments, followed by a Public Hearing in North Saanich, which we anticipate to be toward the end of May.  Stay tuned.


Heather Gartshore and Bernadette Greene



Update on RCS amendment to the NS Official Community Plan

This is a follow-up to the Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee Meeting held at the CRD last Wednesday, March 26th.  The Planning Committee was considering North Saanich's request to amend its Regional Context Statement (RCS), which, if approved, would pave the way for significant rapid urban growth in two areas of North Saanich over the next five years.

Proposed Changes to the OCP
     
The proposed changes to the OCP would facilitate an increase in residential density, including: 

·      small lot developments
·      townhouses (up to 15/acre)
·      apartment buildings (up to 3 stories, 30 units/acre)

Densities could range up to an average gross density between 8 and 16 units per acre

The overall intent is to achieve an increase in density of up to 420 units in the McTavish area (bounded by Mctavish Rd. to the south, Telsan Ave/Sidney to the north, East Saanich Rd. to the west and the Lochside Dr. to the east).  A second area of increased densification is proposed in the Tsehum area (Parkland School and North Saanich School area), where an additional 100 units would be allowed.

The proposed bylaw responds to recommendations adopted by Council from the recently completed and highly controversial Housing Strategy Implementation Plan.

The CRD Planning Committee Meeting

On Mar. 26, the Planning Committee received thirteen (13) letters from North Saanich residents, all opposed to the proposed changes.  In addition, the Committee heard twenty-three (23) presentations.  Fifteen (15) residents spoke in opposition or expressed concerns.  Eight (8) spoke in support of the proposed amendment:  two (2) Councillors (Browne and Mearns), three (3) representatives of local industry, two (2) developers or their agents and one (1) resident. 

The CRD Planning Committee recommended to the CRD Board that the RCS amendment be approved in principle and be sent back to North Saanich for further revision.  The RCS amendment contained wording that referenced a RUCSPA for North Saanich that does not exist in the current Regional Growth Strategy, and CRD Planning Staff deemed this to be problematic.  All references to the Regional Urban Containment and Servicing Policy Area (RUCSPA) are to be removed and North Saanich is to request that Area 1 and Area 2 be included in RUCSPA as part of the current Regional Sustainability Strategy (RSS) now being developed.

The Planning Committee's recommendation will now appear before the CRD Board of Directors on April 9th at 1:30.

North Saanich staff will have to revise the RCS to say that two areas have been identified for residential intensification, resulting in urban type density not currently contemplated for North Saanich in the RGS.  In order for North Saanich to demonstrate how this will be brought into compliance over time, North Saanich will have to request that these areas be added to the RUCSPA as part of the CRD's ongoing implementation of the Regional Sustainability Strategy (new and improved RGS). 

In essence the CRD decision of last Wednesday was more of an administrative issue and will only serve to delay, by a couple of months, final approval of the OCP / RCS amendment by the CRD.   This is, of course, assuming that the CRD Board approves the recommendation.  There is always the possibility that the Board will refuse to accept the RCS in principle with the RUCSPA removed.

Concerns

An important conversation took place at the meeting:  Director John Ranns moved that this RCS amendment be denied, seconded by Director Vic Derman, both very experienced CRD Directors.  They argued that it is not the place of the CRD to make OCP decisions for North Saanich (or any other municipality).  Director Ranns stated that this is a decision that should be made either by an election, or by an OCP review. While there was some agreement around the table on this point, the motion was ultimately defeated, and the new recommendation (described above) was moved and carried.  (It should be noted that more than half of the Directors voting on this RCS amendment were Alternates, and generally less experienced with the role of the CRD.)

We believe that the role of the CRD is a very important point, and that this process has been undertaken to avoid having to engage the community in an OCP review, even though the changes to our OCP will be significant.  We also believe this process is being rushed in order to have it go through before the next election.  More than one speaker wondered why there was such a rush, and where is the hazard in asking the residents of North Saanich to decide?  If this direction is truly supported by the majority of the community, as the proponents claim, it will survive an election and an OCP review.

Another point that we believe has not been adequately explored by the Directors has been the question of what is sufficient in terms of "community consultation" when making a decision of this import to a municipal OCP. A number of Directors felt that a "consultation had taken place", therefore it would be fair to move this RCS amendment forward.  Many speakers had argued that the community consultation was inadequate, biased and/or flawed, and that the recommendations that resulted had not been debated or assessed in Council, or presented to the community for comment.  But it would appear that, at least to a number of the Directors, ANY consultation is enough and that recommendations from a consultant do not need to be reviewed or assessed.  This sets a very dangerous precedent.  There must be a standard that should be applied before changes of this magnitude are approved by the CRD.  At the very least, a community should be able to review and comment on recommendations before they are used to change a community's OCP, and this did not happen.

How You Can Get Involved

The webcast of the Planning Committee meeting can be viewed here:  http://crd.ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=122
You can easily identify and listen to the various presentations, followed by the discussion of the Planning Committee.

Please note:  if you submitted a letter to the Planning Committee, or made a presentation to the Committee on March 26th, those letters and presentations  have only been distributed to the Committee, NOT the CRD Board.  It would be advisable to submit those same letters to the CRD Board.

What are the next steps?  The Planning Committee's recommendation will be considered by the CRD Board on Wednesday April 9th at 1:30 pm.  The Agenda and relevant Staff Report will be available on Friday April 4th;  you can anticipate another email with those details sometime on Friday.

As a member of the public, you may communicate with the CRD Board in two ways:

  • Submit your comments in writing to the Board Chair, Alastair Bryson:  crdchair@crd.bc.ca.  The appropriate greeting would be:  'To the Chair and Board of Directors of the Capital Regional District' 
  • speak to an agenda item (details follow)  
 You are welcome to address the Board of the CRD  in person.  The CRD Board will meet in the Board Room at CRD Headquarters, 625 Fisgard Street.  You can make an online request to speak or complete this printable form (PDF).  Printed forms can be submitted by fax to 250.360.3130.  You may also call the CRD main number and request to be added to the speakers list for the meeting:  250-360-3000
Your request  to speak must be received no later than 4:30 pm on Monday April 7th.  You are allowed a maximum of three minutes, but your comments can also be as short as a few words expressing your thoughts and/or concerns.  
Please consider sending a copy of any correspondence or presentations to North Saanich Council at:  admin@northsaanich.ca

For easy reference, we have again included some speaking points, and a link to the North Saanich Community Voices website (www.nscv.ca);  we encourage you to put your concerns in your own words.

Please feel free to share this information with your North Saanich neighbours and friends.  If someone would like to be added to the email list, please have them contact Heather at heathergartshore@shaw.ca

Thanks, as always, for your interest in preserving the values we cherish in North Saanich.


Heather Gartshore and Bernadette Greene

*********************************************


Issues we believe the Directors at the CRD need to consider when making their decision:

 We believe that it is premature at this stage, for the reasons mentioned below and in view of the review of the RGS, (to be renamed the  RSS- Regional Sustainability Strategy), for the CRD to consider such a dramatic change for North Saanich.  The CRD should not consider an RCS amendment which would have significant adverse implications for the role of the District in the RGS without clear support from the community following a full OCP review.

Briefly, our concerns center around:
-- the proposed changes will undermine the RGS in the following ways:  a)  they will result in urban sprawl contrary to RGS objectives;  and b)  they will negatively affect the liveability of North Saanich and Sidney, which provide an enviable balance of land use development on the North end of the Saanich Peninsula, ranging from manufactured home parks to farmhouses.
-- this process has been driven by land speculators, not by the community.  At an earlier visit to the CRD, to advocate for a 40-unit development on 4 acres of rural-agricultural land at 9395 East Saanich Rd., North Saanich was cautioned not to keep returning with new spot rezoning proposals on a piecemeal basis, but to review the OCP and bring it into conformity with the wishes of its citizens with respect to higher density housing.  The process that was actually undertaken is essentially a tweaking of the OCP to facilitate several spot rezoning projects that sprang to life after the last election.
-- this proposal goes well beyond our OCP and the vision which has repeatedly been reinforced by our residents since our incorporation in 1965, up to and including the present OCP.  We feel that these significant changes to our community and our OCP should be done in a thoughtful and thoroughgoing manner and not rushed through before completion of the RGS sustainability review.
-- population projections do not warrant this level of urbanization for an area that has been designated chiefly rural/residential and agricultural.  There is much confusion about the size of the future population of North Saanich.  In the most recent staff report from North Saanich, population growth estimates appear to be derived from a "telephone conversation with a VAA [Victoria Airport Authority] employee".  From this are projected family sizes and housing units using methodology that lacks clarity.  Other figures obtained from various surveys, CRD documents and Statistics Canada files indicate that there is little consensus as to future growth in North Saanich.  For many figures it is unclear if they are estimates, targets or limits.
-- a lack of public consultation -- our council has refused to have any public consultation about the proposed changes.  It fell to a small group of private citizens to organize, at their own expense, a meeting Wednesday night, March 19, to share information, and that meeting drew about 100 people, an estimated 80% of them deeply concerned about the changes proposed.
-- recommendations based on a deeply flawed Housing Strategy Implementation Plan (HSIP) that is based on a questionable foundation, which has not been taken to the public, nor even scrutinized, assessed or debated by our own council.  The only opportunity, back in August 2013, to question the consultant about his recommendations was truncated when 3 of the pro-development councillors left in protest of a question by another councillor, thereby denying quorum and effectively ending the meeting.  Although the consultant has been invited to return, we have not seen him yet, nor heard whether he plans to return.  Neither has he supplied the promised raw data, although he has requested a doubling of his fee.  Many of his recommendations are baffling (60 units per acre on ALR land; urban densities where no servicing of any kind exists, and on ALR and agricultural land, for example), yet we have not even been able to ask him his rationale for these recommendations, nor has the public been given the opportunity to comment on the recommendations -- our council has approved some of them (and left the door open to approve the rest) and this RCS amendment is a result of that.  
-- the lack of affordable housing policy:  the only need that was established by the flawed HSIP report is affordability, but our council refuses to bring in an affordable housing policy.  Further, the HSIP report itself, among others, has clearly stated that increased density by itself does not guarantee affordability.
-- the foundational survey of the HSIP, upon which this RCS amendment is built,  has been assessed by an independent survey professional who stated:  "In my opinion, the convenience nature of the sample, and significant limitations in the question wording and measurement scales (answer choices) in this particular survey warrants significant caution in making key administrative or policy decisions based on the results of this survey [our emphasis]".  The complete report is available here:  http://northsaanich.ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=540&meta_id=24818
-- a different survey done by the North Saanich Residents Association gave a completely different result to what was reported for the consultant's survey, one that generally supports the present OCP.  This should have been a red flag as to the reliability of one or both surveys and prompted an inquiry.  Instead, the NSRA survey and a subsequent PowerPoint summary were rejected out of hand by the Council majority.
(More information on the housing surveys can be found here:  http://www.nscv.ca/p/blog-page_14.html.  More information about housing density issues in NS can be found here:  http://www.nscv.ca/p/blog-page.html)
-- the threat to agricultural land.  One of the proposed densification areas is directly across the road in two areas, and also kitty-corner in a third area, to ALR land, and 13.5 acres of Class 3, improvable to Class 2 agricultural land (divided into six small lots that could be attainable to young or new farmers) is poised for development (providing up to 114 units with the current plan) with the approval of the RCS amendment.  Another medium-sized agricultural acreage is also within this proposed densification area, and we understand that a proposal is in the works for higher density on that property too.  In addition, we understand that there are a number of other applications in process, awaiting approval of this RCS amendment.

For all these reasons, and more, we believe that this RCS amendment should not be approved at this time.  


 Action you can take - circulate the following message ASAP:
 
Dear North Saanich resident,

The rural/residential and agricultural character that we love in North Saanich is under threat and we urgently need 2 minutes of your time to save it.

We need at least 100 people to send a short email to the CRD Board of Directors at    crdchair@crd.bc.ca     telling them they have no business changing our Official Community Plan for us.

Here's a bit of background:  As you may be aware, there is a Regional Context Statement (RCS) amendment going before the CRD Board of Directors on April 9 at 1:30 that, if approved, would significantly alter the North Saanich Official Community Plan (OCP).  If approved, this amendment would allow for average gross densities of up to 8 to 16 units per acre, with some densities as high as 30 units per acre (3 story apartment buildings) in two areas of NS.  In some parts of those areas, these densities would be put on agricultural land, or be situated directly across the road from ALR land.  More information is available on the district website here:  http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Planning_and_Community_Services/Regional_Context_Statement_Amendment.htm
or at the North Saanich Community Voices website here:  www.nscv.ca

To be clear:  if this RCS amendment is approved, its adoption constitutes a change to our OCP.  Our OCP was developed over a long period of broad public consultation and input, and reflects a rural/residential and agricultural vision that has been consistently supported by NS residents since NS was established in 1965.  The proposed RCS and OCP changes would negatively affect our quality of life, increase our taxes, and drastically increase traffic in NS.

Do you believe that a group of regional politicians who don't know our municipality, don't live in our community, don't pay taxes here, and don't understand our unique issues and character should be allowed to change our OCP?  If not, they need to hear from you.  

We believe that the CRD Board of Directors needs to hear from as many North Saanich residents as possible that we believe that broad changes of this magnitude need to be made through an OCP review, not by a group of politicians who don't even know our municipality, its character or its issues.

What we're asking you to do is simple and quick, and if enough people do it, could save the rural/residential and agricultural ambience that we in North Saanich love:

Would you take 2 minutes to send a brief message requesting (or even demanding) that the CRD keeps its hands off our OCP and leaves any decisions around OCP changes up to NS residents ourselves?

Send your comments to crdchair@crd.bc.ca   The proper opening salutation is:  "To the Chair and Board of Directors at the Capital Regional District."  Please send a copy to our North Saanich Council too at   admin@northsaanich.ca

The message can be brief, stating simply that you're a NS resident, how long you've lived here, and that you do not want the CRD making OCP decisions for our municipality.  Of course, you may add more if you wish.

The main thing is to send the CRD Board a message that they can't ignore.  A flood of emails from NS residents indicating our demand that we decide our OCP, not the CRD Board, will hopefully get their attention, and make them think twice about interfering in and significantly altering another municipality's OCP.  We think that at least 100 emails (more would be better!) will make the CRD Board sit up and take notice, and we need your help to achieve that goal.

Please take those 2 minutes right now and send an email.  Ask every adult in your household to do the same.  Then forward this to your NS friends and neighbours, letting them know that you are behind this effort, and asking them to help too.

We've seen too many local areas destroyed by unplanned development.  We don't have to be like them.  Please send an email now, and help us protect our OCP.

Thanks,

North Saanich Community Voices



Application to CRD for Change of North Saanich Regional Context Statement
Why is North Saanich making application for a change?
North Saanich Council is proposing fundamental amendments to the North Saanich 2007 Official Community Plan (OCP 2007) to allow urban densities for small lot and multi-family developments at 2 to 4 times the levels presently allowed.  This urban expansion is inconsistent with the District’s commitment in Section 16.2.1 of its Regional Context Statement (RCS).
What is proposed?
The proposal is to create areas within North Saanich to allow urban development for high density housing.  For this to happen it is necessary to introduce a Regional Urban Containment and Servicing Policy Area (RUCSPA), in addition and as an extension to the existing North Saanich Servicing Area (NSSA).  CRD is being asked:
  1. to approve fundamental changes to the North Saanich Regional Context Statement (RCS), thereby changing the District’s role in the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS); and
  2. to then include two areas: Area 1 – McTavish and Area 2 – Tsehum in the new RUCSPA for the purpose of urban development.
ISSUES
1. Lack of Consultation:
Section 879 of the Local Government Act requires meaningful and comprehensive consultation with residents before fundamental changes to an OCP are undertaken.  The Act states that these consultations “should be early and ongoing”.  This has not happened.  Council has been proceeding on a piecemeal spot-rezoning basis.  Residents have not been provided with a comprehensive planning framework to explain and justify major OCP amendments. A proper and adequate OCP review must be undertaken before changes are finalized, particularly with changing the role of North Saanich in the RGS.
2. Proposed RCS Changes will undermine the RGS in the following ways:
a.    Urban Sprawl:  There are at least two other major urban development areas being considered by Council in addition to the two that are the subject of this application.  Predictably, these changes will open the door to urban sprawl in the rural/residential areas.  The CRD’s RGS Review Report of March 2013 notes at page 24 “Methods to keep the Rural/Residential areas truly rural.  The existing capacity, and existing zoning, in several rural areas can lead to an ongoing sprawl that is neither urban nor rural in character.  A better set of tools is needed to transition from existing zoning to improved rural character and ecological integrity”.  These requested RCS changes will result in urban sprawl contrary to RGS objectives.
b.   The livability symbiosis of North Saanich and Sidney:
The urban core and commercial service of Sidney surrounded by the rural/rural residential and agricultural lands of North Saanich have continued to provide an enviable balance of land use development on the North end of the Saanich Peninsula, ranging from manufactured home parks to farmhouses.  This relationship between North Saanich and Sidney specifically defines the role of the two communities in the RGS (RGS page 31) and is recognized in the municipalities’ OCP’s.
The north end of the peninsula, North Saanich and Sidney, has a similar land area to Central Saanich.  The combined populations of the two is 22,267, compared to Central Saanich at 15,936, according to the 2011 Census data.  The housing options of North Saanich and Sidney include all urban types of housing ranges as well as those mentioned above.
  1. No evidence of broad public support for OCP changes to promote urban development
a.  Since its 1965 incorporation North Saanich residents have consistently supported land use policies that protect and preserve the rural/residential and agricultural land base of the District. The 2007 OCP again confirmed these land use policies after four years of extensive consultation with our residents.
b.  A residents’ committee drawn from all areas of the District developed the nine key policy objectives of the 2007 OCP.  In objective No. 6, it states the District “will ensure that long-term residential development of the community will retain the character of existing neighbourhoods while responding to the need for seniors and affordable family housing.”  The proposed RCS changes will dramatically change neighbourhoods in the urban development areas without addressing these needs.
c.  During the 2011 election there was no advance indication to our residents of intentions to bring policies to change our RCS.
d. In an Ipsos Reid district wide survey in 2007 a key issue for residents was growth as follows: “Overall, growth tops the public’s issue agenda and is also identified as one of the main reasons why some feel the quality of life has deteriorated."
e. There have been two Housing Strategy Consultants Reports, one in 2008 and another in 2013 identifying the needs for “affordable Housing” in North Saanich. Both Reports agree the target group is those families with an annual family income between $60,000 to $80,000 or less for whom affordability is housing from $300,00 to $425,000. The proposed RCS changes would promote market housing that would not serve the needs of this target group.
Conclusion
It is premature at this stage, for the reasons above and in view of the RGS sustainability review,  for the CRD to consider such a dramatic change for North Saanich.  CRD should not consider an RCS amendment which would have significant adverse implications for the role of the District in the RGS without clear support from the community following a full OCP review.