Alan Osborne: Growth Facts

This excellent item appeared recently on the one Saanich Facebook page.  See the original article and any comments here: (20+) Alan Osborne | Facebook.

Lots of opinions about the North Saanich election, but here’s a few facts that I can back up after working with local governments around the province.

1. No municipality has ”grown” its way to lower taxes. The infrastructure to accommodate growth is very expensive. Compare the residential tax rate in North Saanich to any municipality that is trying to grow and you’ll see the evidence.

2. Developers can’t build “affordable” housing where land is expensive, especially in areas where they would also have to pay to expand water systems, improve drainage, etc. NS Council can expand housing options to a certain extent, but not nearly enough to satisfy the demand. It’s wishful thinking otherwise.

3. Very few people live near their work. I worked in community planning and was at a conference where “putting housing where people work” was a major theme. When a survey of the planners at the conference was taken it turned out very few of them actually lived near where they worked. They all had good reasons why they lived elsewhere (didn’t want to move away from old neighbourhood, spouse’s job was elsewhere, wanted to be near family or friends, kids went to school elsewhere, preferred the neighborhood, etc.).

4. Focussing growth in areas with good bus service is one of the most effective ways Council can to help families. When families are struggling with inflation, increasing mortgage rates, higher gas prices and other budget pressures they at least have the option of parking the car and cutting back on transportation costs. If they live in an area with poor bus service they have no options. Transportation costs are the second largest slice of the family budget, after housing costs. Adding housing in rural areas is bad for families with limited incomes, and happens to also be bad for the environment.

5. When the Regional Growth Strategy was developed they considered land costs, infrastructure, bus service, etc. and they created the “urban containment area”, to focus new housing on areas where it could be the most affordable, and at the same time allow us to address climate change and other issues. North Saanich was not included, because land here was more expensive than elsewhere, infrastructure was lacking, and bus service was very limited. Yes, it means people may have to drive or take the bus if they work in North Saanich, but they will benefit from lower housing costs and potentially lower transportation costs.

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