Development in Central Saanich would remain within the existing urban containment boundary, but would become more concentrated, under the district’s draft Official Community Plan (OCP).
New residential and mixed-use development is proposed to come in the form of infill and densification.
“Uses outside of this boundary should primarily be rural, agricultural or open space,” the draft reads, confirming a continuation of the status quo. About 60 per cent of the municipality lies within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The document recognizes the urban containment boundary more succinctly and clearly in acknowledging Central Saanich’s mix of rural and small village elements, Mayor Ryan Windsor said.
“Council obviously wants to absorb the document itself,” he said, noting it will likely be discussed at a special committee-of-the-whole meeting, possibly around Feb. 23. “Staff are going ahead with the public consultation (and) in March, there will probably be a report back on what we heard.”
Residents can register to get an overview of the OCP in online information sessions available through Feb. 5 and complete an online or physical survey, available through March 6. Visit centralsaanich.ca to find out how to take part.
Central Saanich’s OCP review coincides with reviews being done by Sidney and North Saanich, the latter of which has generated controversy in the community. The process has unfolded more quietly in Central Saanich, possibly due to having more clearly defined boundaries around where development can take place, Windsor said.
The draft OCP calls for residential or mixed-use developments higher than five storeys in Saanichton and Brentwood Bay, specifically when they provide such community benefits as subsidized, seniors or supportive housing; public parks, plazas or community spaces, and at least one floor mainly devoted to a medical clinic or services. It discourages single-storey development in those areas.
The document encourages a transition from predominantly single-family residential to higher density land use on Dignan Road between West Saanich and Stelly’s Cross roads, on properties close to the intersection of Keating Cross and Central Saanich roads, and in Saanichton Village.
Along main travel corridors such as Wallace Drive, East Saanich Road, West Saanich Road and Verdier Avenue, the plan supports moderate- and high-density housing, including townhouses and apartments up to four storeys, where developments are sensitive toward surrounding neighbourhoods.
The draft OCP balances this call for increased densification with policies broadly aimed at preserving Central Saanich’s “rural, small-town character.”
“The (municipality) will continue to protect the agricultural and rural landscape alongside compact villages and nearby residential neighbourhoods.”
The municipality’s commitment to dealing with the effects of climate change will include the application of a “climate lens” throughout the OCP as it continues to enact its climate leadership plan, first written in 2018. Within this context, the municipality will focus on climate actions in five key areas: transportation, buildings, solid waste, municipal operations and adaptation to climate change.
Relating to greenhouse gas emission reductions, the municipality aims to cut community-scale emissions by 45 per cent relative to 2007 by 2030, reduce community-scale and municipal scale emissions by 100 per cent relative to 2007 by 2050, and increase the portion of community-wide renewable energy use from the 38 per cent measured in 2007 to a full 100 per cent by 2050.
Additional revisions to the OCP spell out efforts to improve relations with local First Nations in advancing truth and reconciliation.
“Through enhanced collaboration and support the (municipality) will continue to forge strong connection with the WSANEC Nations and promote awareness of the WSANEC culture through education, public art, signage and community events, and incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into environmental protection initiatives.”
Among other changes, a section on good governance spells out new policies on a range of topics, including implementation of the OCP.
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