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North Saanich council accused of 'political posturing' after shelving OCP work

At the district’s first council meeting last week, new Mayor Peter Jones introduced a motion stopping all work on a draft OCP until the new council has had a chance to explore community concerns

The new North Saanich council has brought work on the district’s controversial official community plan to a screeching halt, in a move one re-elected councillor called “political posturing.”

At one of the district’s first council meetings of the new term last week, new Mayor Peter Jones introduced a motion stopping all work on a draft OCP until the new council has had a chance to fully explore community concerns about the process and document.

The motion passed with a vote of 4-3.

Councillors who opposed the idea of shelving years of work undertaken by the previous council included two holdovers from the last term, Jack McClintock and Brett Smyth.

Smyth said given the amount of time and effort that went into it, it made sense to at least look at the draft document, which was due to be presented to council early in 2023, before rejecting it out of hand.

“I want to see the draft,” he said. “By doing this we have sabotaged that and I don’t think it serves a great purpose. I understand the decision to stop politically, but this isn’t the right way to do it.

“I’m gobsmacked that at least four people on this council dais can’t see it. This is all political posturing — it’s not necessary.”

McClintock, who was against drafting the OCP in the summer, said at this point he was all for looking at the draft document before slamming the brakes on the project.

“Once we have a report, then we can can tear it apart if we want to,” he said, adding it would be difficult for any council to determine what’s wrong with a report without actually seeing it.

Jones, who campaigned on the OCP review process, said he wanted to bring a ground-up approach to establishing a new community plan.

In his address to council last week, Jones said the new council needs time to see where the review is at, and promised not to “jettison” work done by the previous council.

A review of the district’s official community plan, carried out over the last few years, deeply divided the community and was a major factor in this fall’s municipal election.

A group calling itself Save North Saanich, which opposed the review, pushed back against what it saw as a focus on adding development and density in a largely rural community.

Others in the community say more affordable housing options are needed, and called for more “gentle densification.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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