Acronyms to Ponder
In this election, as with most, housing and affordability dominate the discussion. Not without good reason, as housing affordability is a greater concern than ever.
Much of the discussion is reasonable with people trying to improve their level of knowledge so they can make informed choices at the polling booth.
However, the housing topic in North Saanich is burdened with some misinformation and nasty comments. Neither of these are necessary or helpful.
North Saanich Community Voices has, in this election and the previous one, been diligent about providing factual and helpful material for the inquiring voter. We lean heavily towards fact-based decision-making and thorough research before making our own choices and recommending choices for others. Accordingly, we are persistent in holding to our point of view but are always willing to entertain changes that are based on solid information.
What is our point of view? Quite simply, we have no difficulty whatsoever in pointing to the Regional Growth Strategy as the guiding document for planning and land-use (and not just housing) in North Saanich and throughout the CRD. To us, a professional planning foundation would be the obvious choice for any community.
Fortunately, we have an excellent roster of candidates that support professional planning for North Saanich as guided by the RGS. These include Peter Jones (for Mayor), Terrie Rolph, Jack McClintock, Irene McConkey, Celia Stock and Sanjiv Shrivastava.
We and they understand and support the RGS guidance that North Saanich is a rural/agricultural municipality, and that only 5% of growth within the region would accrue to areas like ours which are outside the Urban Containment Boundary. This slow growth policy prevails throughout the CRD (in areas outside the UCB) and is not the self-serving invention of a few grumpy old residents or some rogue Council. Whether some residents or some candidates do not agree with this policy is not relevant. It is the policy and responsible candidates should be clear about respecting it.
So, we do not accept the criticism that we want no development. We have done the research, understand the RGS implications and are happy to "play by the rules.” We think it is reasonable that our fellow residents and candidates should do the same.
The implications of this RGS policy are clear. The planning focus of North Saanich is on the rural and agricultural aspects, very little on housing. That is the responsibility of those jurisdictions inside the UCB. And that is where all residents of the CRD should expect to find the bulk of housing, be it affordable or otherwise.
With this in mind, suggesting that North Saanich is not doing “its share” is just not supportable. Neither are the knee-jerk suggestions or “build more” or “build greater density.” They are mantras, not solutions and have a proven record of failure.
If there is a lack of affordable or other classes of housing, it is because jurisdictions other than North Saanich have failed in their obligation to include it in their 95% "quota." Our obligation is to diligently safeguard and enhance our rural and agricultural assets, not also do the heavy lifting that other jurisdictions are apparently failing to do.
We have no hesitation in supporting candidates that share this point of view and expect the polite respect of those who do not.