A Balanced Community - But Whose Scale? (2014)
Recently, the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has expressed support for the North Saanich RCS/OCP Amendments about to undergo a Public Hearing and debate by Council. Some of the Chamber's arguments are both perplexing and concerning.
Actually, their first point is generally not contentious - that those who work in a community should have the opportunity to live in that community. Of course, this is quite reasonable. However, others have gone a step further, insisting that workers have the right to live in the communities. I can only agree with the first statement.
It is the Chamber's second reason that causes me concern. They state that "… The ongoing health of our community requires a "Balanced Community" where all age groups are adequately represented." This implies that there is some standard by which to assess the age group balance within the community and, further, there is some "adequate representation" of a certain age classes.
So, who is to determine what is the proper "balance"? Would Sidney, with its preponderance of older people, be considered out of balance? How about Langford? It is highly represented by younger people. That doesn't sound balanced. The demographic profile of North Saanich falls somewhere between that of Sidney and Langford. Perhaps it is actually in balance?
So, how does the Chamber of Commerce get to decide which communities are in or out of balance? I think that they would be among the least qualified, and least objective of all agencies, to comment upon "demographic correctness" and how some ideal standard of that should be achieved. How does this differ from examples of ageism in other sectors of society? It doesn't.
What a remarkable coincidence that North Saanich is suddenly proclaimed to be "demographically unbalanced" with respect to younger people just as land speculators are seeking approval for higher density, but not necessarily cheaper, housing.
I heartily resent being told that my community, because it is apparently burdened with a surplus of older citizens, is somehow deficient and needs "an injection of life" to be considered up to some external and mysterious standard. This philosophy has more than a tinge of Social Engineering which all of us should find abhorrent and reject wholeheartedly.
No doubt there are more than a few members of our communities that have seen "demographic restructuring" first-hand but in a much less benign setting.
I am quite disappointed that the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce would select such odious reasoning to prop up their faltering case for institutionalized spot rezoning in North Saanich.