Why an RGS?

A resident commented on Next Door, "I hope the CRD is planning for some high density housing on the Peninsula..."

To which Spring Harrison replied:

The CRD doesn't actually "plan" housing but it does direct land-use activities, including planning, through the Regional Growth Strategy. That CRD bylaw is applicable to, and agreed to, by all 13 municipalities. It arose some years ago after regionally unregulated growth lead to unacceptable urban sprawl in some municipalities. Since the municipalities were evidently unable to manage the urban/rural mix, a regional plan was developed after years of consultation and negotiation. That document should underlie every OCP in the CRD. For us in North Saanich, one of the key RGS policies is that a maximum of 5% of growth will accrue to the rural municipalities, i.e., North Saanich. (For the last few years we have been seeing much more than that "quota."). This policy recognizes that the urban and rural landscapes do not mix and that the rural and agricultural values require proactive protection. Unlike the forces of urbanization, they lack a well-organized and well-funded lobby. So our governments are supposed to take on that role. The urban/rural separation is clearly defined by the Urban Containment Boundary, which, for North Saanich is the boundary with Sidney. The fact that there is no "Rural Containment" boundary is telling, to say the least. The other side of this policy is that 95% of growth and development is intended to fall within the UCB. Which leads to the question, why would North Saanich be expected to provide housing solutions that other jurisdictions, which have that specific mandate, are apparently failing to do? I don't believe that North Saanich should put its unique attributes at risk because others have failed at their role within the CRD. This is not to say that housing affordability is not an issue or should not be addressed. It just needs to be addressed effectively and in the right locations. Housing is very flexible as to where it can be located, farming not so much. The effective creation of truly affordable housing seems to be an elusive target despite the frantic pace of building in the CRD. For example, recently in a neighbouring municipality, a development of over 250 units was approved but only eight were designated as affordable! So we are expected to step up where others have failed? The RGS is really good reading…

Resident: Your summary should be required reading for all municipal candidates as well.

Harrison: Thanks [residents], Throughout most of the OCP Review process the RGS was hardly mentioned, much less used as a yardstick for the "Six Big Concepts."

I think the intent was to develop an urbanization mindset, using the housing crisis as a convenient scapegoat. If the previous Council had simply played by the "RGS rules", the OCP would probably now been complete at much less cost and more aligned with the preferences of the community.

Thanks again . . . . .

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