Staff: the RGS and the OCP
This Would Have Been
Helpful in 2020
[This post refers to a Staff Report being presented at a Council meeting on July 11, 2022 and is a copy of a letter sent to Mayor and Council referring to that Staff Report.]
Rimell is to be commended for a thorough report (Regional Growth Strategy Background Report in Relation to the OCP
Review, being presented to Council on July 11, 2022), which adds much needed context to the OCP discussion. It would have been very helpful to have had this
report prior to Phase 1 as the provisions of the RGS are so fundamental to our
OCP. One wonders what has prompted this
late day offering?
the RGS background material is thorough and clear, problems lurk. As we have come to expect, this report has a
strong housing and growth focus despite the fact that North Saanich is, by
definition, a rural community. There is
little in this report about agricultural and rural values and support for them.
impetus for this focus is the long festering case of Areas 1 and 2. These areas were, like all of North Saanich,
outside the urban containment boundary.
Since bylaw 1352 was adopted in 2014 they have floated as orphans
without a land management designation, neither in nor out of the UCPA. This OCP is intended to decide their fate and
give them a home. They can reside
outside the UCPA, as they previously did, or that boundary can be redrawn to
include them in that urban designation.
guidance are we receiving from the Project Team? Well, given their long-standing demonstrated
proclivity towards growth and development, it is no surprise that they
determine that, for Area 1, "there is currently stronger policy alignment
with the Urban Containment Policy Area then the Rural/Rural Residential Policy
This position is based upon the “existing
land uses, lot sizes, servicing and infrastructure and development and policy
context in these areas”. Of course, none
of those qualities have existed in those areas forever. They have gradually evolved through a mix of
deliberate and inadvertent land-use decisions over many years. In other words, the rationale being used
today to bring Area 1 into the UCPA rests upon its non-conformance with the UCPA!
Area 1 includes Canora Mews and
Eaglehurst, both fine examples of urban sprawl inappropriately built on the
wrong side of the UCPA boundary. (Both
are on former agricultural land.) Area 1
is in RGS-limbo today because of that.
It is not the UCPA boundary that is in the wrong place, but the projects
Those projects sprang from ideology
rather than professional land-use planning and were strongly opposed by the
residents at the time. The Councillors
who championed those developments were one-term opportunists. Not being community minded, at least in terms
of housing planning, they received record low vote counts at the next municipal
election. Although trumpeted as providing
affordable, workforce housing, most of the financial benefits flowed to the
sellers, not the buyers.
it requires enormous logical gymnastics to use an earlier poor land-use
decision to justify an expansion of that process! In essence, this would legitimize poor
land-use decisions as a valid planning tool and replaces sound planning
principles with "planning by precedent."
parallel situation would be to eliminate lower speed limits near schools where
they were regularly being ignored. If
the game moves off the playing field, do we move the goalposts or bring the
game back onto the field?
undermining this obvious tilt towards expanding urbanization is the fact that
North Saanich is already supporting a disproportionately large share of growth
in the rural segment of the CRD. The RGS
mandates that no more than 5% of regional growth will occur outside the
UCPA. On the basis of rural land area, North
Saanich could attract 13.6% of that 5% allotment. In 2017 North Saanich absorbed 61% of that
It is nothing but disingenuous to
suggest that the UCPA needs to be officially expanded into North Saanich. That
has already happened without redrawing the boundary.
we can learn from the above analysis, the so-called “tough decision” about Area
1 is really quite easy:
Recognize the growth in that
area as anomalous, not based on sound planning and not precedent-setting
embrace the principles of wise
land-use planning as expressed in the RGS
leave the UCPA boundary where
it was intended to be, do not introduce “boundary creep”
return our focus to the rural
and agricultural values as directed by the RGS