A proposal for a 40-lot affordable housing subdivision in North Saanich near Victoria International Airport has cleared a hurdle at the Capital Regional District.
After more than an hour’s debate Wednesday, CRD directors agreed to allow North Saanich to amend its regional context statement in order to allow the development.
The context statement is at the basis of each municipality’s community plan and addresses how local planning and land-use policy fits with an overall regional growth strategy.
The small-lot development is on a 1.6-hectare property at 9395 East Saanich Rd., already serviced by municipal water and sewer.
Former Conservative MP Gary Lunn and developer Jim Hartshorne proposed the development, which they say will provide affordable housing for workers in the area.
The houses would be about 2,100 square feet (lots range from 3,230 to 4,480 square feet) and would sell for about $400,000.
Each would have the option of a legal suite.
Regardless of the need for affordable housing in the area, many CRD directors said they were leery of approving what they called a “one-off” development and that they were uncomfortable providing what amounted to planning and zoning approval for a municipality.
The proper process, they said, would be for North Saanich to first amend its official community plan, which would involve extensive community consultation.
Saanich Coun. Vic Derman, also a member of the CRD board, said his concerns stemmed from a North Saanich staff report that noted the potential for more than 500 units of housing currently under consideration in the municipality.
“That may be entirely appropriate, but it really needs then for this body to be able to have a look at the entirety of the changes being proposed and analyze it in that context,” Derman said, noting that the regional growth strategy “is the only document we have to protect the shared livability of this region for all of us.”
North Saanich Coun. Ted Daly said the report in question was never accepted by his council and the total number of units was closer to 119.
He said the municipality’s 2007 official community plan, developed over four years of consultation, contains a number of references to the need for affordable housing and being a “socially inclusive” community.
A subsequent housing needs analysis and a housing strategy confirmed the same objectives.
“I hear what some of the directors are saying that they don’t want to be the planning and zoning committee for North Saanich,” Daly said.
“The reason we’re down here is because when the [regional growth strategy] was adopted, our council at the time took a position that basically made growth in North Saanich very, very restrictive.”
He said the proposal is within an area already serviced with sewer and water and is within walking distance to transit.
CRD staff said the subdivision fits within growth projections in the municipality’s existing community plan.
Should future applications arise, an amendment to the regional context statement should be required.
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